An elite band of household names are heading back to the classroom in order to secure 25 senior executive positions in the world of sport.
Manchester Metropolitan University, working in partnership with privately owned Visionary Sports Investment limited (VSI), have responded to Chief Executive demand and launched a two-year Masters degree in Sporting Directorship.
Managing multi million pound growth in sports as diverse as football, cricket, rugby and formula one has meant that a radical revamp of corporate structures is critical to their success.
In football, the League Managers' Association recently commissioned a world wide study that concluded that the days of an Arsene Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson taking sole responsible for football operations are over. It concluded that a first team coach would now report to a Sporting Director who in most instances will sit on the statuary board of directors.
VSI director Tony Faulkner explained: " There is an appetite across a range of sports for the engagement of Sporting Directors but CEO's currently have no bench-mark to use in their selection process.
"A Sporting Director must operate at a very senior level to be effective and this course delivers to individuals the necessary skills and competencies to function in the boardroom and manage a range of reports including medical, analytics, academy and media.
"it is critical that this individual is able to interact with high level executives from the likes of Prozone who are delivering the latest most sophisticated analysis opportunities. A clear understanding of such information and it's most effective use in the hands of coaching staff can be the difference between winning or losing out on glittering prizes such as the Six Nations in rugby or football's Champions League."
The course at MMU has been created after two years of in-depth research with dozens of individuals at all levels within sport. The likes of the Professional Footballers Association, English Cricket Board, Rugby Coaches Union and Sports UK have provided invaluable information while the Chief Executives who hold the gift of employment have been at one in their enthusiasm for the qualification.
Indeed their executives on the advisory board will be joined by a senior representative from Institute of Directors. They will convene quarterly and deliver input and accreditation at the highest level, ensuring MSD always delivers value and relevance in the market This enables the course to constantly evolve in response to the industry's changing needs.
These organisations also support us with their network of sporting contacts to assist graduates with future positions where possible.
One of the key VSI directors, Darren Royle, son of Everton grandee Joe Royle added: " What makes this course different is that it delivers real jobs in elite sporting organisations. There are other academic courses in sport but none are so vocational.
"Educated talent is a scarce resource and I am certain each of the successful candidates will find high level employment.