Sunderland Skipper & GM Go Back to University for ‘Sporting Director’ MSD

Six women are among the 27 sports pros and sports business leaders who have been accepted on to the MBA-level Masters of Sport Directorship (MSD) at Manchester Metropolitan University this year, the highest number of female students to join the course since it begin four years ago.

The six, who are embarking on a two-year part-time programme that will make them among the best qualified people in the world for the role of sporting director, include Sunderland Ladies AFC general manager Sonia Kulkarni (right) and the team’s captain Lucy Staniforth (left). Former Everton and Scotland footballer David Weir is also among this year’s ‘freshers’.

Graduates who were awarded their MSD qualifications in July by Manchester Met – the first globally – included Huddersfield Town’s head of football operations David Moss, Leicester City assistant manager Michael Appleton, former England cricketer Ashley Giles and Aston Villa director of football Steve Round.

Course director and leading academic expert on football governance, Dr Sara Ward of Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, said: “It is great to see a further six female students on the course this year, upskilling themselves and preparing for leadership roles in an industry that has historically be overwhelmingly dominated by men.

“Professionalising the industry of sport, from the highly lucrative Premier League, through the many burgeoning Olympic sports and all the way to grass roots non-profit organisations has become a huge priority and this course addresses the needs of this new wave of sporting professionals.”

Delivered by MMU, the two-year, part-time course is designed to deliver a rigorous commercial preparation for the demanding role of sporting director across a range of sports, bringing new skillsets to former sportspeople and raising the professional standards to the existing management within a variety of sports.

The MSD course has attracted a number of professionals from grass roots sporting organisations and national governing bodies. Students and graduates of the course have come from as far afield as South Africa, the USA, Dubai, New Zealand and Germany.

“Many of our students are transitioning between  at the very highest levels of sport ‘into off the field’ and backroom roles, but we also have students who are lawyers, agents, managers and journalists connected with sports globally, and that’s what makes the qualification, as well as the cohorts, so unique,” added Dr Ward.

In addition to sessions delivered by MMU lecturers and professors, the MSD students gain insight on the course from leading experts in topics including strategic sports leadership, personal development, masterminding innovation and change, sports governance and best practice. As with a traditional MBA course, the taught elements are supplemented by personal study and dissertation.

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