Several high profile names from the football world gathered at Wembley last night to celebrate the graduation of the second cohort of the ‘On The Board’ Effective Board Member (EBM) programme. Also recognised during the evening in the presence of football bosses including Bobby Barnes, Deputy Chief Executive at the Professional Footballers’ Association; Greg Dyke, Chairman of The Football Association; and Richard Bevan, Chief Executive of the League Managers Association were Tony Fernandes CBE, Heather Rabbatts CBE and Brendon Batson.
The EBM Award for ‘Significant Contribution to Governance in Football’ is a strategic leadership award which recognises the ambassadorial contribution and visibility in the field and contribution to the advancement of diversity in leadership and supporting the development of the pipeline for leadership. As Chairman at QPR, Fernandes has welcomed the progression of BAME staff including Les Ferdinand MBE who he promoted to Director of Football earlier this year and Chris Ramsey, now manager at the club. In her capacity as the only female Director at The FA, Heather is widely known for promoting the importance of diversity in sport and is a supporter of improving the pipeline of BAME groups across leadership positions in the sport.
A pioneer of black players in football, Batson, along with his then teammates Cyrille Regis and the late Laurie Cunningham were often subjected to extreme racism from fans. Having retired from the pitch, he has worked his way through the ranks at the PFA from senior administrator and previously serving as Deputy Chief Executive of the players union. When being recognised for his contribution, Brendon praised the work of the EBM programmes highlighting the achievements of the graduates and how the programme has been delivered. He gave an empowering address to the audience highlighting some of the barriers that he has overcome over many years in football.
The Award comes at a time when there is still much to do to tackle the lack of diversity on boards within football. According to the Sport’s Peoples Think Tank, “…only 19 ethnic minority coaches are employed in 552 positions across 92 professional clubs, just 3.4% of the roles available.”
On The Board seeks to tackle this issue and help to transfer the ambassadorial experience and insight of players to the boardrooms of clubs across the country. Those completing the course praise it’s aims and outcomes, with Hughton stating; “EBM has given me the chance to broaden my career opportunities, as well as enhancing my ability to relate to boards of directors in my current role.” He is one of only a handful of black managers across the top four tiers of English football. When speaking about The FA’s support of the programme, Dyke stated that; ‘… where BAME players are successful in attaining board places in the game, it will help to widen the diversity of the decision makers in football.”
Created by leading governance consultant Karl George MBE, founder of the Effective Board Member Programmes (EBM), On The Board in conjunction with Sports On Board and sponsored by the PFA and The FA seeks to help players and others involved in football to progress from the pitch to the boardroom. Previous graduates include Les Ferdinand MBE and Chris Ramsey. Notable names such as Chris Hughton, Rachel Yankey, Ugo Ehiogu and Ken Monkou are among the course participants.
The graduation of players throws a spotlight on the continued commitment of the PFA and The FA to tackle the lack of diversity on boards within the sport. The collaboration of EBM and the PFA is achieving results with several participants having already gained board appointments or undertaken board observations. Nathan Blake who graduated from On The Board in 2014 is one example having gained a non-executive position at Newport County A.F.C.
Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive at the PFA, which is the main sponsor of the programme said; “the governance forum is an ideal partner having delivered a similar programme to young, private sector professionals and we are keen to replicate the success with footballers.” The course is accredited by the Association of Corporate Governance Practitioners and Edinburgh Napier University making it a valuable addition to any CV.
For more information about joining the Effective Board Member Programmes, please contact us on 0845 505 1875 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Footballers from the second cohort of the ‘On The Board’ Effective Board Member programme graduate at Wembley on Wednesday 15th April 2015. The ceremony will be attended by graduates and officials from the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), The Football Association (FA) and the League Managers Association (LMA) including Bobby Barnes Deputy Chief Executive at the PFA; Greg Dyke, Chairman of the FA; and Richard Bevan, Chief Executive of the LMA. Chris Hughton, Rachel Yankey, Ugo Ehiogu and Ken Monkou are among the graduates.
Earlier this month, we were privileged to have Chairman of the FA, Greg Dyke join our On The Board session with the current cohort of footballers.
Previously Director General at the BBC, Greg has been the Chief Executive at numerous organisations including the LWT Group, Pearson Television and Channel Five. He also has current roles at HiT Entertainment and has been the Chancellor of the University of York for a number of years.
The FA are a sponsor of the EBM programmes and with his years of experience on boards, Greg was able to share his wisdom and insight with our students as they prepare to take up board appointments once they complete the course.
Over the next few weeks, we will share with you what a few of our current students learned from the session with Greg beginning with Ben Purkiss. Currently a defender at Walsall FC, Ben is also a member of the management committee at The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) who also sponsor On The Board.
For the students of the On The Board Programme seeking positions of governance, the opportunity to listen to somebody of Greg Dyke’s ilk and experience was both insightful and informative.
Throughout Greg’s presentation, which detailed his journey to his current position as the FA Chair, the importance of good governance was repeatedly stressed. Greg has extensive and wide-ranging commercial experience and was keen to emphasise the value of investing time in whatever organisation you represent. In order to govern effectively it is imperative that the director fully understands the requirements of a company and develops an understanding of the company’s aims and objectives. Crucially, not all board members that Greg has encountered had governance training and subsequently lacked familiarity with good governance standards.
With one of the aims of the On The Board Programme being to increase diversity in the boardroom, the support of the national governing body is highly significant. Along with his commitment to good governance practice, Greg reiterated his desire to ensure the FA is more representative of society and hopefully we will see graduates of the course progress to roles within the organisation.
At the PFA we are strong advocates of good governance and work closely with Karl and the Programme to ensure we achieve the highest standards of self-regulation. However, we are always looking to improve and I will be looking to invest even more time in the organisation.
Overall it was an excellent opportunity to listen to first hand insight into the way in which boards operate in practice, the problems they face and notably the relevance of the issues explored on the On The Board programme.
Check back over the next few weeks to see what other on The Board Participants had to say about their session with Greg Dyke!