By Paul Fletcher MBE

No matter how well you perform in your final grades upon graduating from UCFB, one question you will be asked at every job interview will be: “What experience do you have?”

It’s a tough question when you’ve been studying hard for three years. I found myself in a far more difficult situation when I retired from football with a serious injury aged 31. I had no interest in becoming a manager or a fitness coach, as I could see the ‘business’ of football steadily growing following the introduction of televised games in the 1980s. So I decided to gain some experience in the football business when I joined Colne Dynamoes (who played in the HFS Loans League – today’s National League) in 1988 as commercial manager.

I had no experience to do this job but I did attack the role with passion and abundant enthusiasm, and after 12 months I fully understood the role. By that time, I had produced a new sponsored match programme; set up a radio station for the club; arranged sponsored cars for some of the players; organised a number of sportsman’s dinners; arranged a golf day; sold all the perimeter advertising boards; found a club sponsor; designed a new club strip with the shirt sponsor; and we even had a penalty competition for the fans at half-time.

Every Saturday morning, I visited all the agents who sold lottery tickets on behalf of the club to collect the money and tickets. I watched carefully how the car parking worked, and the stewarding and catering, and how the match officials were looked after. It was also my job to put together a match report for the local newspaper. That year we won the league championship by 27 points above the second placed club… but that’s another story.

A few weeks later I took a call from the secretary at Huddersfield Town FC who asked if I’d like to be their commercial manager… and I was then on the football ladder.

I won’t bore you with my career path after that, as it’s not the point of this letter – I’ll only mention that I ended up as commercial director at the new £760million Wembley Stadium!

The UCFB partnership with the National League offers you a far better opportunity than I ever had. Why? Because you will have three years of education to call on, and a degree. But it’s important that you understand how the football business works, and while you are gaining this experience you’ll see opportunities in this wonderful business that you never dreamed existed. Get it right and there’s a lot of money to make.

Do not miss this gold£n opportunity. I’m glad I didn’t.