Date: 12th June 2011 at 11:16am
Written by:

Clarets fans will no doubt have heard by now of the University & College of Football Business (UCFB) that has now been set up at Turf Moor. We provide the background and discuss some of the issues.

How many Clarets fans could only see the word ‘gimmick` in front of their eyes when it was first mooted that Burnley FC would be setting up a University of Football at Turf Moor? The brainchild of Operational Director, Brendan Flood was certainly a controversial announcement and has also been widely criticized since on Clarets websites. Many Clarets fans simply could not see how this would be a success but then again how many knew the full story and background to the project and did some fans simply have a negative ‘kneejerk` reaction without knowing all the facts? The purpose of this article is not to support or denigrate the concept but simply to provide some of the facts and let our posters and readers decide where they stand and debate the relative merits and disadvantages.

Whatever the fans opinion, the concept has now become reality with the launch of the UCFB (or to expand on the acronym, the University & College of Football Business). The launch took place in the newly created study facilities in the Jimmy McIlroy Stand at Turf Moor last Friday (June 10)

So what is the background to this project and how can we find out more before making an informed opinion? Well, I was one of many fans last week who received an email from Burnley FC explaining the concept. I produce this in full since I am lazy and it seems to simplify the situation without spending time writing the same thing in my own words.

It read:

“Dear Supporter


Prior to the public launch of the world’s first institution of higher education in the football business at Turf Moor, Burnley, tomorrow (Friday), I write to introduce the concept to you as a valued supporter of Burnley Football Club.

UCFB is being run as a separate entity to Burnley FC but as the first educational establishment of its type to offer three different degree courses in the football industry will be a valuable addition to Turf Moor in bringing round-the-year usage to parts of our wonderful stadium.

For the full package of information on UCFB and how it will operate, see:

The UCFB website provides a full Prospectus, which can also be requested from our Student Recruitment & Admissions Office by email at or 0843 208 22 22

The three degrees courses that are available beginning September 2011 are:

Football Business & Finance (BA Hons)
Football Business & Media (BA Hons)
Football Business & Marketing (BA Hons)

All programmes are three-year degree courses, validated by our educational partner Buckinghamshire New University.

These degree courses provide the opportunity for a student to study a traditional subject area, motivated by an industry of great interest.

If any members of your family are considering a university course and want to study at ‘their club’ to gain a valued qualification in football business please contact us.

For further information, email our Student Recruitment and Admissions Office as above”

Of course the announcement has been high-profile with some heavyweights being rolled out in support of the project including club board advisor and media/communications guru, Alastair Campbell.

Campbell taking about the initiative last week said:

‘If you think about the number of people who follow football clubs and say the whole thing is mis-managed, but actually the reason for that is because people see football purely as entertainment rather than as a business.

‘I think that people will come here to learn about the football industry, but maybe over time the football industry will learn from them.

‘Burnley FC will be bringing in people and revenues and we’ll be developing an understanding of football as a business.’

Burnley FC will open the £2m University & College of Football Business (UCFB) in September this year with about 100-200 students expected to make up the first year’s intake. It also predicted that 150 jobs will be created to keep the project flowing. The lectures and seminars will be held in the Jimmy McIlroy stand much to the consternation of a number of local businesses who have now been chucked out of there to make way for the University. The UCFB will occupy a 30,000 sq ft base with teaching taking place in rooms overlooking the pitch

Each student will have to fork out just over £3,000 a year in tuition fees to attend the lectures which will focus on business management, accounting and the financial concerns affecting smaller clubs. Students coming from EU countries will be changed £3,375 for the 2011/12 academic year, while international students will be charged £7,000.

The students will also be expected to complete work experience assignments with placements expected at a number of football industry establishments in addition to football clubs. The course will also cover football marketing and the involvement and mutual dependence on the media. Students will be given the opportunity for example to meet senior figures at the the BBC, ITV and Sky plus newspaper football editors.

The three-year degrees on offer are accredited by a university in the south of England and UCFB hope to have capacity for 1,000 students over the next few years. Philip Wilson, chief executive of UCFB, said:

“We want this to be something that Burnley as a town and a club are proud of and will have an impact on the local economy that spills out beyond UCFB.”

The UCFB will open in a 30,000 sq ft base within the Jimmy Mac stand, with teaching taking place in rooms overlooking the pitch.

As per the email quoted above the UCFB now have a website which advertises the first places for courses starting in September 2011 and September 2012 plus information about the town and accommodation for students.


So then you Vital Burnleyites what do you make of it all? A great idea that will put Burnley FC on the map or a waste of space doomed to failure? An ambitious plan or one that should be kicked into touch and more thought given to improving the playing side and buying back the Turf? I am not one to dismiss ideas out of hand and to listen to some you would think they want it to fail as well as thinking it will! I hope all the critics are proven wrong but if it does fail the effects could be disastrous so they do seem to be taking a huge gamble. If it a success though a lot of Clarets fans could be reminding themselves what humble pie actually tastes like again.

Join The Vital Debate