Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport.
Our latest guest is the CEO of Manchester Futsal Club, Simon Wright!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
Hi I’m Simon Wright. I’m an adopted Mancunian having moved here to study at the University of Manchester where I met my wife Jill. We have two children, Jude 8 and Ruby 4 and we live in Cheadle Hulme.
I’ve been CEO of Manchester Futsal Club for almost 15 years. From the outset I wanted to establish an entirely new project on the sporting landscape of Manchester and I embarked on this journey determined to develop the leading futsal club in the UK and compete in the UEFA Futsal Champions League.
My career started out in football development with the FA in Liverpool, interspersed with a period as a Goalkeeper Coach with the England Women’s U17 and U19’s squads. I progressed onto a national role with the FA as Small Sided Football Project Manager. This focussed on shaping the FA’s strategy with the commercial football sector as well as developing national futsal programmes and events with the England Futsal Team.
I then joined MATCH Services where I was a Project Manager delivering the Ticketing and Accommodation projects for the FIFA Football World Cup 2014 in Brazil and 2018 in Russia. This included a role as Stadium Ticketing Manager alongside FIFA and the LOC.
What do you do in your current role?
My role at Manchester Futsal Club is fully focussed on leading our growth and development at all levels of the club. I am hands on with stakeholder management and securing investment opportunities via sponsorship and funding streams. I’m currently working on an ambitious facility project to develop an arena to house the club and create a ‘home of futsal’ for the sport to thrive in Greater Manchester.
What does a normal week look like for you?
Typically, the 7-day week will revolve around match day and all the preparation elements to ensure the men’s, women’s and development team have everything they need to be ready to perform. So multiple conversations with coaches, support staff as well as the media team to ensure all of the operational details are covered. It is incredibly varied but each week will bring a new challenge.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I’ve made some good choices along the way, and also independently created opportunities to further my experience which has put me in challenging roles where I had to learn quickly under pressure. Leading Manchester Futsal Club is an honour and it is my passion to make a difference as the underlying strength that I draw upon.
I knew I wanted to a career in sport following working at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester 2002, it was a huge catalyst for change in Manchester as well as my focus for a career in sport.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
I think the array of change happening within sports entertainment is very exciting. Futsal is a very dynamic sport and I feel it fits nicely with how Gen Y and Gen Z consume sport. Whilst we are still part of the wider traditional football family I really see change happening through a new generation of players adopting futsal for all the right reasons – it’s an amazing sport to play. For Manchester Futsal Club we want to lead that change so we need to keep pushing the conversation and breaking down barriers.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Careers in the sports industry are competitive, take time to build your network and just ensure you leave a positive impression with everyone you meet along the way. There will be doors that close quickly, but you have to be prepared to push them open as well!
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Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with the CEO of Manchester Futsal Club, Simon Wright!