A UCFB graduate will present and discuss her dissertation on suicidal behaviour and its relationship with professional football at an upcoming conference on the future of the game.

Alice Kelk, who graduated from UCFB Burnley this summer on the BA (Hons) Football Business & Media programme, will present her study ‘Suicidal behaviour, associated antecedents and professional football’ at Future Football: A design for life conference in Manchester later this month.

Her work is an emotional case study on former Burnley FC captain and now UCFB Tutorial Coordinator Clarke Carlisle. Clarke, whose professional career also saw him play over 550 games for the likes of Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers, has survived two suicide attempts and suffered numerous clinically diagnosed mental disorders both during and post his professional career.

Suicide has been steadily on the increase since 2007 and is the largest killer of men under the age of 45 with approximately 5,000 men per year taking their own lives. Alice says recent investigation has found professional football to harbour a high prevalence of mental disorders, but that current treatments and interventions are often argued unfit for purpose in the sport.


As part of her research, Alice conducted two interviews with Clarke – one to explore the occurrence of depression, and one to clarify, understand and interpret the data in a professional sporting environment.

Her results found that triggering factors and associated antecedents include: addiction, rejection, fame, responsibility, environment, self-perception, failure, intrusion, discipline, emotion and perfectionism among others. Alice also concluded that in the case of the professional sportsperson such antecedents are magnified by a “life transparent to the general public and put to the test on a weekly basis.”

Alice said: “I came up with the subject topic through my passion of psychology which I had previously studied at A Level and my combined love for sport. Specific psychological issues have always been of great interest to me, especially subject areas of depression, schizophrenia and addiction, so to work with Clarke was an absolute pleasure. I cannot thank him enough for opening up his whole life to me with such grace and honesty, it’s something I shall always hold dear to my heart.”

Also at the conference, which takes place at the home of FC United of Manchester on Wednesday 30th November, research will be presented on topics as diverse as politics in football; the use of social media; the future of the women’s game and social responsibility in the governance of the game.

Alice added: “There are obviously some nerves but I am determined to show my work to academics and make Clarke proud at the same time. I spent a huge amount of time on the research and my write up of the project so I’m determined to shed light on its importance to as many relevant people as possible.”