Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport! We’re speaking to Professor, Consultant and Co-Author, Chris Brady!


Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously? 

Currently I am not attached to any University but have several consultative roles. I am an educational advisor to the LMA’s Institute of Leadership and High Performance. I also serve as an independent commissioner on the FA’s Football Regulation Authority. I advise Universities and business schools on strategic issues and have other trustee roles including a directorship of my local tennis club The West Hants Club where it is interesting to see how developmental coaching differs between tennis and football.  


What do you do in your current role? 

I am currently heavy into a research project for the LMA. It concentrates on the evolution of football management over the last 100-150 years. I might also attend to issues relating to organisations with which I have board level connections. I also listen to offers to engage with projects within the sports industry.


What does a normal week look like for you?

I’m lucky because every day is different. 


How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?

I never really understood that there was an `industry’ out there in which you could make a living unless you were a player. Although I had the chance to play football professionally in the lower leagues I chose to stay semi-professional because as a good working class boy I was married with two children by the time I was 21 and I could earn more by playing part-time in addition to having a `proper’ job.  

I had jobs that were good for keeping fit, for example, I was a land surveyor with the Ordnance Survey and on other big construction projects which meant plenty of fresh air and walking. I also played and coached tennis, squash and trampoline during my time at University. I only went to University aged 26 and semi-pro football paid my way through my undergraduate years. Not just the playing wages but also the owner of one of the clubs I played for was a bookie and he gave me jobs in his shops to make ends meet. 

Just after I left University at 29 I was injured and had to stop playing. I was at Romford at the time in the Southern League (equivalent to the National League now) and they said as we have to pay you anyway you might as well coach the reserves. So, I made sure I got my badges and soon became a full-badge (UEFA A licence) coach. At 32 I joined the Royal Navy working mostly as an instructor and intelligence analyst. However, I was also privileged enough to be spared to coach the Navy and the national military teams. Effectively, I had caught two bugs (coaching and education). I studied part-time for my master’s degree and also my doctorate while I served in the Navy. So, when I left the Navy it was natural for me to go into academia. 

My degrees were in decision theory and management and eventually the management side started to dominate. It became obvious that whatever the industry or organisation the management and governance issues were pretty similar. Gradually, I was able to combine my academic interests with my love of football and concentrate on management and governance within the football industry. An early book I co-authored with a friend, Dave Bolchover was The 90 Minute Manager which analysed the similarities between football and business. It sold well and my next career was up and running. The management of the business of football became popular and I was one of the few concentrating on that area.  

Working in this area has meant that I have been able to work with Carlo Ancelotti on his most recent book, Quiet Leadership and hopefully count him as a friend. I miss playing and coaching but being able to stay close to the industry has been a real bonus. 


What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?

The technological advances especially in the growth of analytics and the crossover potential of eSports.


What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?

Be persistent and be lucky.


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Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with Professor, Consultant and Co-Author, Chris Brady!