The University of Portsmouth is helping Academy managers of football clubs at all levels of the game, including Arsenal, Man City, and West Ham, with their financial management skills.

Director of Postgraduate Curriculum in the Accounting and Financial Management subject group, Christina Philippou has created a football finance course as part of the Premier League’s Elite Academy Managers programme (EAM).The EAM programme, which is primarily sponsored by grants from the Premier League, works with individuals to provide the necessary skills to fulfil the role of a Football Club’s Academy Manager. A football club’s Academy combines specialist football training with first-class education for young aspiring footballers striving to achieve their footballing potential.

The course is bespoke as each Academy Manager role requires different skills, and each participant arrives with unique strengths and weaknesses in separate areas. Many participants in the EAM programme are ex-coaches with expansive knowledge of football, who need help in developing their financial management and business capabilities.

Christina Philippou was initially contacted after the Premier League, who were already working with the University’s School of Sport Health and Exercise Science, asked if the University could deliver a course in football finance for their Elite Academy Managers programme. Having worked in sport finance previously, the request was sent through to Christina, who went on to develop and run the EAM Finance course.

Christina’s course provides an overview of financial and management accounting, as well as exploring finance in relation to more specific football-based topics such as transfers, budget changes due to relegation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elite Academy Managers are essentially CEOs of the football clubs’ Academies dealing with everything from transfers to budgets to sponsorship and strategy. In our course, we cover financial statements and their uses as well as management accounting - basically the financial side of business. Colleagues in Sport Science are running modules on strategy and operations for example.

Christina Philippou, Sport Science

The course initially piloted in March 2020, as a two-day physical workshop, however in accordance with Covid restrictions, the programme was later modified and restructured to be carried out online, taking place across three half days over three weeks.

The course remained highly interactive and welcomed a further two cohorts in November 2020 and January 2021, including Academy Managers from football clubs across the football pyramid, including West Brom, QPR, Wigan, and Forest Green Rovers.

The EAM Finance course will continue throughout 2021.