Non-League Sporting Director utilising new skills on the job

Mark Fogarty

Non-League Sporting Director utilising new skills on the job

Mark Fogarty is only halfway through VSI’s MSc in Sporting Directorship,but has already been able to implement a huge amount of what he has learned.

The 56-year-old has overseen great progress in his five years working at National League football club Solihull Moors, where he has held many positions and is now Sporting Director.

However, Fogarty insists the first 12 months of the two-year VSI course have already made him approach his job much differently, and prompted him to adopt a strategy that may never have otherwise occurred to him.

“I’m in a great position because I can go and apply what I learn straight away and see what works for me and what doesn’t,” said Fogarty, who has worked at six professional clubs, serving as head of recruitment at four.

“That practical application is a Godsend for me and I’ve learned so many things that have taken us on to the next level.

“Above all else, it’s taught me the value of outlining a purpose: what we are, what we’re striving to achieve and making sure everyone within the club, regardless of their role, can share in that. The course is helping me to underpin everything our club does with a strategic focus, identity and culture.”

Fogarty takes pride in Solihull, who finished 18th in the 24-team National League in 2017/18, being a true community asset.

He has helped introduced a brand of “Moor than Eleven” across every section of the club, which has eight full-time under-18 teams and 74 junior teams, including five disability teams. The club also works in 30 local schools a week.

In terms of the first XI, Fogarty’s ambition is for Solihull to achieve promotion to the Football League. But he believes the role of sporting director will become more widespread up and down the English football pyramid.

“You will see the model of a head coach working alongside a sporting director become the majority, rather than the minority, because too often managers have been asked to do anything and everything,” said the former Coventry City head of recruitment.

“A manager may want to do that, but with all due respect, they may not be qualified. You have to qualify for everything else in life, so why shouldn’t you have to qualify for a business position at a football club?

“Ultimately, as a sports director your job is to help the manager to win, by taking all of those other non-football distractions away from them. Surely that must create a better environment for them in terms of winning.”

While on VSI’s MSc, Fogarty has also relished the opportunity to learn alongside and network with professionals from other sports, including Olympic track and field athletes, gymnasts and swimmers.

He said: “You start to strike up relationships and, because you’re learning with people from other sports and other countries, you start to think outside of the box, rather than doing what you have always done.

“With this qualification, you could go and work at an elite level with confidence and the have ability to make your ambitions understood and organise people.

“When I tell people I’m on a Masters in Sports Directorship, the response I often get is: ‘that’s real top level, isn’t it?’ It really is, and I feel very privileged to be on it.”

For more information on the VSI MSc in Sporting Directorship contact:
Tel: 0345 459 9765
Twitter: @MasterSportDir