Sporting Directors Student is Educating Billinge FC

John Evans stood below Billinge Football Club sign

Educating Billinge FC

John Evans is only halfway through VSI’s MSc in Sporting Directorship, but the course has already given him the confidence to take a boardroom role.

After completing his first year in spring  2018, he was named chairman of Billinge FC, of the Cheshire Football League Premier Division, in July.

Evans already possessed a broad skill set and a wealth of experience, having been involved in football and business for 30 years. However, he insists it was the VSI course that gave him the belief he could go ahead and take the reins at a football club.

“The VSI programme has been incredibly helpful for me and, from an aspirational point of view, it gave me the belief that I could run a club,” said Evans, a former director of senior football at Leicester City Women FC.

“During my discussions with Billinge, it gave me the confidence to say: ‘I can see you need help but if I come in, it will be at this level and this is the way I see my role working’.

“Billinge have given me the keys to the door, if you like, to go ahead and do that. And it’s a fantastic opportunity for me to take this club as it currently stands and try and get it through the non-league pyramid using the skills I already possess from 30 years in business, and the additional learning and insight I’ve picked up from the VSI programme.”

In a matter of weeks, Evans implemented key teachings from the course, such as devising a strategic plan and developing a cultural identity everyone could buy into.

This included a new club crest which celebrates the club’s 30 th  anniversary and a new playing strip which is a nod to Billinge FC’s roots in the first half of the 20 th  century.

On the football front, he pulled off a coup by recruiting a manager about to gain his UEFA A Licence (a rarity for a Step 7 club) with a full backroom team.

“So far we’ve had an excellent reaction from the players and everyone involved with the club, almost to the point of their jaws dropping,” said Evans, who aspires for Billinge to progress in a similar manner as Salford City FC, who climbed from the Northern Premier League to the Conference National.

“They want to be part of this and they’re arriving at training with a spring in their step because they feel there is something exciting happening.”

The first year of the VSI course also includes in-depth analysis of high-performance organisations and their ability to operate at the top level of professional sport.

“When you analyse a high-performance organisation like that, it gives you the confidence to look at clubs in lower leagues and say: ‘Actually, using that same methodology, there’s no reason why it cannot work at a small Step 7 club,” said Evans, who has been able to draw upon the expertise of his multi-talented VSI cohort when setting about his task at Billinge.

“The process is still the same. It’s about understanding where the shortfalls are and then putting a business case together with action plans to address those shortfalls.

“Honestly, I would recommend anybody who feels they’re ready to take on a challenge of running a club, based on their experience from the course or their previous management experience, to go for VSI’s sporting directorship programme. I haven’t met anyone on the course who hasn’t found great value in it.”
For more information on the VSI MSc in Sporting Directorship contact:
Tel: 0345 459 9765
Twitter: @MasterSportDir