UCFB students and staff have recently returned from an exciting study trip visiting UCFB partner Real Madrid Graduate School where they had a fantastic opportunity to gain a unique insight and understanding into the workings of the world’s largest football club, Real Madrid.

The visit to Madrid was attended in different capacities by both UCFB Wembley postgraduate students enrolled on the MSc Sport Management programme and UCFB undergraduate students participating in the third year module, Global Marketing.

The postgraduate students enjoyed a full week in Madrid participating in seminars, lectures and facility tours around the subject matter of Sports Facility Management & Operations. This formed part of their Masters programme’s Complementary CurriculumTM, in which a case study was prepared by the students during the week and presented on the final day of the visit.

The week started off with a visit to Caja Magica, “The Magic Box”, also known as the Manzanares Park Tennis Centre. It is an all-encompassing sports arena with a retractable roof that houses the Madrid Tennis Federation and is the venue for the Madrid Tennis Masters tournament as well as high profile concerts and shows. The visit to Caja Magica is a core element of a student case study coursework into creating self-sustainable sporting arenas by learning from real life practical examples.

Another highlight of the postgraduate visit was a seminar by Javier Dona, stadia and arenas consultant and MBA in Sport Management lecturer, exploring the design and construction of sports venues with a focus on identifying and analysing the different models of stadiums and arenas. This led to a discussion on how to set up and design the business model to generate different lines of revenue based on the needs and targets identified in each project. Finally, the seminar was concluded with a talk on the essential tools required to convert a stadium site into a financially sustainable model. The seminar was conducted at the Real Madrid Graduate School educational site, Campus Alcobendas.

Real Madrid facilities tour

Real Madrid facilities tour

A further session by Ana Mostaza, Operations department at Real Madrid, on the sport industry was particularly insightful as she explained how CRM is utilised within Real Madrid, examined the youth philosophy of the club and led a guided tour of the different changing rooms, the residence of the first team and the stadium where the youth team Castilla play their matches. The session was held at Real Madrid City, a brand new set of sports facilities currently being developed by the club.

An excited UCFB Wembley MSc programme student, Pedro Bernardini reflected on his time in Madrid:

“My Madrid experience with UCFB can be summarised as nothing short of awesome. We were introduced to some professionals in their particular line of work such as Celia Morales, the Director of VIP Area Operations of Real Madrid FC, Jose Ramon Capdevila, the Head of Football Administration at Real Madrid FC, Real Madrid legend Emilio Butragueno, and of course the extremely helpful lecturers from the Real Madrid Graduate School.

“What I liked most about the trip is that we got to engage in a practical task which somewhat mirrored a real-life working scenario. This was particularly helpful as we were able to use theory learned in the classroom and apply it in a professional setting. We visited the Caja Magica, the tennis centre used for the Madrid Open, and analysed the pros and cons of its business plan and architecture, to which we then needed to present a business proposal based on our final day in Madrid.

“Additionally, and on a more leisurely note, we visited the Valdebebas, the Real Madrid FC training facilities, La Ciudad de la Racqueta, Go Fit Gym, Sports Club Reebok La Finca and Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. We were encouraged to apply theory and critique the structures and business plans of these respective structures and businesses and so we did not just treat these visits as tours but rather, a unique learning experience.

“Finally, before leaving for London we were treated to an exceptional four course meal at the Real Cafe by Marisa Saenz of the Real Madrid Graduate School, which was the perfect send off.”

Head of Football Administration at Real Madrid, Jose Ramon during a lecture to UCFB MSc students

Head of Football Administration at Real Madrid, Jose Ramon during a lecture to UCFB MSc students

UCFB Wembley MSc Sport Management student, Matthew Willis offered his insight on the visit to Madrid:

“The trip to Madrid was a refreshing and unique experience. With exclusive visits to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Real Madrid training facilities and Caja Majica tennis complex, we were able to experience first-hand these exceptional facilities within a sport management context.

“In addition to this, we were fortunate enough to have talks from highly reputable individuals from the sport industry, such as the director of VIP and Hospitality at Real Madrid and highly experienced sport consultant, Javier Sobrino at the Real Madrid Graduate School.”

Programme lead and lecturer Diego Borras during his time in Madrid

Programme lead and lecturer Diego Borras during his time in Madrid

UCFB Wembley lecturer on the MSc Sport Management programme, Diego Borras commented on the trip:

“This has been a great opportunity for our students. They have been in contact with top executives of the biggest football club in the world and have had a chance not only to learn from them, but also to interact with them and build up relations that will enable them to realise their professional goals in the sport industry.

“After this trip, our MSc students had direct contact with a number of top level practitioners of the sport industry, some of them key executives in Real Madrid. Additionally, they have expanded their network, acquired critical knowledge about the sector and worked in international teams to deliver their solutions of a case study.

“To me, one of the major highlights is the generosity and kindness of all our speakers. They shared very valuable information and were highly approachable. All staff members at the Real Madrid Graduate School were gracious and hospitable hosts. A special mention has to be given to the director of Real Madrid Graduate School’s MBA programmes Marisa Saenz, who organised this wonderful event for our group and secured such valuable speakers.

“The final day was a particularly special one. During the case study presentations, the group had a very special visitor, none other than Real Madrid’s vice-president Mr Emilio Butragueño, who after landing from Honduras kindly visited the group and led an impromptu tour around Santiago Bernabéu.”

UCFB Wembley MSc Sport Management students with programme lead and lecturer Diego Borras

UCFB Wembley MSc Sport Management students with programme lead and lecturer Diego Borras

Simultaneously, the UCFB undergraduate student group was participating in a different but equally exciting visit to Madrid. The main focus of their study visit was to gain a better understanding of the sport industry with a primary focus on supporting their third year Global Marketing module.

It also offered the UCFB undergraduate students the chance to gain insight into what it is like to live, work and learn at the Real Madrid Graduate School should they wish to further their education by enrolling on the MSc International Sport Management programme.

BA (Hons) Football Business & Marketing programme leader at UCFB, Russell Preston commented upon returning from the study visit:

“The study trip was an excellent opportunity for our undergraduate students to explore and see first-hand through the stadium and museum tour at the Santiago Bernabéu how Real Madrid Football Club and their brand synergies work on a global scale. This ties in with part of the UCFB academic programme in the final year, where we are challenging our students to think critically and understand how brand synergies are developed between football clubs and corporations such as Telefonica and Microsoft. This leads onto subjects such as brand management and understanding brand equity.

“Understanding the foundations of these synergies then allows a student to think critically about the medium and means by which a football club or a sport organisation can market themselves globally to different cultures.”


Santiago Bernabéu stadium tour

The Santiago Bernabéu stadium tour proved to be a particular highlight amongst the UCFB undergraduate students. The interactivity of the exhibits was an eye opener and became a focal point within the group when discussing how football clubs penetrate new marketplaces. The stunning visual element and rich content of the exhibits inside the Real Madrid museum transcend any language barriers and therefore become an important marketing tool for Real Madrid Football Club.

UCFB Burnley student Bradley Hammans, enrolled on the BA (Hons) Football Business & Finance programme offered his thoughts on the unique experience:

“Gaining the opportunity to understand and see first-hand the way a club such as Real Madrid works in terms of its global partners and sponsors was very beneficial for me to continue understanding football business and finance. It is these types of study trips that go a long way in building a holistic view of the football industry and additionally gain useful insight for the Global Marketing module I have selected as an option in my third year at UCFB Burnley.”


UCFB Burnley students on the Global Marketing module with programme lead and lecturer Russell Preston

In addition to the educational aspect, the trip also provided UCFB students and staff a chance to enjoy the sights and wonders of the city of Madrid. Furthermore, it presented an opportunity for UCFB lecturers and student groups to discuss wider academic and marketing subjects. Both sets of students returned back to the United Kingdom and their studies with lasting impressions and unforgettable memories.


City of Madrid, capital of Spain

“Truly insightful!” – Bradley Hammans, UCFB Burnley student

“Thanks to UCFB and our ever-enthusiastic marketing lecturer Russell Preston. The experience in Madrid was absolutely fantastic!” – Max Thornburn, UCFB Burnley student

“An excellent study trip and opportunity for our students to gain a deeper understanding of the football industry” – Russell Preston, UCFB programme leader for the BA (Hons) Football Business and Marketing

“I would like to thank UCFB for this opportunity and also Diego Borras, whose organisation and support throughout the trip was first class.” – Matthew Willis, MSc Sport Management student at UCFB Wembley

“All in all, an amazing experience!” – Pedro Bernardini, MSc Sport Management student at UCFB Wembley

“Simply unforgettable” – Diego Borras, UCFB Wembley academic

Find out more about the MSc International Sport Management, taught in partnership with Real Madrid Graduate School

Find out more about the BA (Hons) Football Business and Marketing