The 2019/20 season will go down as one of the greatest in the history of Wycombe Wanderers, after the club gained promotion to the Championship for the very first time via the play-offs. Gareth Ainsworth’s side upset the odds to earn a spot in the second-tier, beating Oxford United at an eerily empty Wembley Stadium to secure the prize. Working behind the scenes at the club has been UCFB student Shanna Ellis. The Accountability Manager, and soon-to-be BA (Hons) International Football Business graduate, spoke to UCFB to describe her time at Adams Park and what has been a truly incredible season…

Firstly, congratulations on Wycombe’s amazing promotion to the Championship! How have things been at the club since the play-off final?

It’s been absolutely incredible to watch the celebrations of all associated with the club over the past week. I joined Wycombe in January and the first thing I noticed about the club was the passion, spirit and togetherness of everyone who worked there. The club were underdogs for the entire season – tipped for relegation from the first day and even when the club were 12 points clear at the top of the league, many still doubted the heart and fight of the team. To watch them prove everyone wrong on Monday night was magical.

Shanna is the Accountability Manager at Wycombe Wanderers.

Were you one of the lucky few who were able to be at Wembley, or were you celebrating at home?

I was at home watching behind my hands for the most part. As a Liverpool fan too, I can’t quite believe the double success that 2020 has brought! Watching JJ’s penalty to give Wycombe the lead for the second time reminded me of the nerves I felt watching Salah step up to take the penalty for Liverpool in the 2019 Champions League final.

Did you imagine being part of such success so early into your time at the club?

I’ve been furloughed since March to hopefully protect my job at the club. There has been a core team of just eight, including two incredible UCFB students (Josh Easterbrook & Ben Griffiths), working throughout lockdown and they’ve done an absolutely sterling job. The work ethic from that team has been sensational and when you have people like that working for and leading the club, you give yourself every chance of success. The credit must go to the team, both playing and non-playing staff, who have worked so hard to deliver the most amazing achievement. I joined the club after listening to Pete, the CFO, deliver a guest speaker session during a finance lecture at UCFB. At the beginning of the year, I was adamant that after the juggling of first and second year, I wouldn’t be undertaking another placement in my third year so that I could focus on achieving first-class honours. But I heard Pete talking, I heard his vision for the club and I just thought that he was someone I absolutely had to work for. Luckily, I was able to take the placement and achieve first-class honours!

Tell us more about your role at Wycombe?

My role consists of quite a few elements and I try to help in as many different areas of club operations as I can. Having worked in quite a few different roles within football, I was able to lend my experience to areas such as commercial and business development. A key task of mine was to generate weekly reports for Rob, the owner of the club based in the States, to keep him up to date with developments at Wycombe.  

You’ve also spent good time at West Ham, The FA and Leyton Orient during your time at UCFB. How invaluable have those roles been to help you to where you are now?

I’ve always tried my absolute hardest to make the most out of every placement and job opportunity as I understood what a privilege it was to be in them. Those roles allowed me to gain practical experiences within the industry and develop my skillset across a number of areas. I’m also so grateful for the people that those roles enabled me to meet along the way as they often guided me and gave me brilliant advice as a young woman entering the industry. I like to be busy too and I really enjoy learning new things – at one point I think I had three placements alongside my degree which definitely helped me enhance my time-management and organisation skills too!

What aspects of your International Football Business degree have you been able to take into the working world?

I was the only girl on my programme, so from the very first day this was something I had to adapt to. In very module, particularly the football business ones, I really pushed myself to improve my knowledge of the game and my knowledge of the module. I based my dissertation research around the positive action policies of women entering the industry and making it a welcoming place for everyone entering it is something I will always strive towards. The modules themselves were fascinating. Studying from a club balance sheet makes it a lot less intimidating when you are working on a placement and one gets put in front you! I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some brilliant lecturers too, they are really knowledgeable and kind people and I definitely hope to keep in touch with them all.

What are your hopes for Wycombe next season as they prepare for their first ever season in the Championship?

First and foremost, I hope for Wycombe Wanderers to make the absolute most of its first ever season playing Championship football – it’s an incredible achievement and the club is so deserving of it. I also hope that the minute the government allows it, that fans sell out every stadium across the country. Football clubs are really going to need the support and it’s so important to ensure that they are both supported and preserved.