Gain a unique qualification in sports executive education.

We set out to create the sports industry leaders of tomorrow through the role of the Sporting Director.

We passionately believe that this key role at the heart of any sports organisation’s culture and structure is the way forward. But we also accept that we need to equip people with the skills and competencies to deliver at this level.

Sport businesses need people who can develop a successful vision and strategy and have the leadership skills to deliver for the long-term success of sports organisations.We’re proud to work in collaboration with University of East London on this innovative programme.

The Master’s Degree in Sporting Directorship is the first of its kind designed to develop all the personal and commercial attributes you need to become a successful Sporting Director.

Ashley Giles former captain of England Cricket, ECB Director of men’s cricket, and graduate of the Masters in Sports Directorship

Les Reed Executive Director Southampton FC talking at The Sporting Director Summit

“You can bumble along happily but if you want to take the next step and go to the next level, I believe this is the way forward”

Les Reed

Exec Director, Southampton FC

The programme was launched in 2017 with a high profile cohort including the likes of Ashley Giles, ECB Director of Cricket;  Steve  Roundformer England and Manchester United coach; and James De MountfortPerformance Director in  Formula 1 motor racing, to name but a few. Current students include the Olympians Beth Tweddle, Kelly Sotherton and Goldie Sayers.

“Football needs a new model that can combine the best of sport and the best of business”

Kevin Roberts

Exec Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi

Masterclasses on the course include inspiring speakers like Kevin Roberts, Executive Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, former director of the New Zealand Rugby Union, former chairman of USA Rugby, passionate Manchester City fan and co-author (with Clive Gilson and Mike Pratt) of Peak Performance: Business Lessons from the World’s Top Sports Organisations



The MSc in Sports Directorship qualifies you for one of the most important roles in modern sport. Tailored to meet the real demands of leading sporting organisations. Covering sports leadership, personal development, masterminding innovation and change, sport governance and best practice along with a diverse range of extra-curricular experiences. All the formal skills needed to operate at the highest level of any corporate structure.


This degree course provides unrivalled preparation for the role of Sport Director. Uniquely the course is underpinned by the skills of neuroscience – the science of performance. Already used to great effect in many sports, this degree course brings the power of neuroscience into the business arena too.


The structure of the programme is based on detailed research from VSI which revealed an appetite among franchises across a range of sports for a new generation of leaders capable of managing, massive financial growth with all the challenges such wealth placed on their traditional, creaking corporate infrastructures.


Sports organisations recognised the need for a Sporting Director, equipped to sit as a statutory board member and capable of shaping an organisation’s vision and philosophy while managing its sporting operations. Their challenge was the absence of an appropriately qualified talent pool.


The programme is designed to accommodate individuals who may have left the classroom as 16-year-olds but had enjoyed a life-time of extraordinary experience the like of which made them uniquely equipped for such a ground-breaking finishing school.


Working with VSI, and in collaboration with GIS (Global Institute of Sport) and UEL (University of East London) represents the perfect for opportunity for individuals with ambition to showcase and refine their talent at a location seen as synonymous with innovation and change.


An extra ordinary group of master-class speakers exposes cohorts to owners, Chairman, Chief Executives from the world of sport, business and politics.

Ensuring you get the best out of yourself and those around you is central to the role of Sporting Director. That’s why we’ve placed neuroscience at the heart of the Master’s Degree in Sport Directorship.

Recognising the brain first and foremost as a social system, neuroscience enables a better understanding of how leadership styles have the potential to impact on performance across all age bands, cultures and backgrounds.


  • Personal leadership
  • Critical reflection
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Leader as coach
  • Leadership development


  1. Critically evaluate the need for reflective learning and self-awareness in relation to the role of Sports Director as leader, development of leader as coach, and practice of leadership.
  2. Evaluate the challenges and opportunities to integrate coaching, mentoring and action learning approach within an overall leadership approach for continued development of self, development of others and inspiring leadership practice.
  3. Critically evaluate the contribution of theoretical models and approaches associated with leadership when applied in a complex setting.
  4. Examine the dynamics of trust, power and conflict in complex relational and collaborative setting of leadership practice and evaluate impact on personal development and development of others.


As a Leader, Manager and Coach a critical skill required is the importance of understanding yourself and others. Understanding neuroscience, how your brain responds and reacts is fundamental to how you perform. Throughout this unit you will develop and understanding of emotional regulation techniques, the myth around multitasking, brain hygiene and the neuroscience of smart work.

This Unit explores leadership through a reflective lens to enable critical reflection on self as Leader, development of self, leadership and management practice within a Sporting Directorship context. It critically examines the importance of coaching, mentoring and action learning as approaches to facilitate development of others, develop leadership practice and develop leader as coach. The Unit will critically examine leadership dynamics within complex settings.

Personal Leadership: Personal critical reflection through the use a Leadership profiling tool, neuroscience of leadership and theoretical reflection frameworks.

Critical reflection: Reflective frameworks and approaches (mindfulness, coaching, mentoring, action learning) to critically explore self, self as Leader, development of self and leadership practice in the complex context of Sporting Directorship.

Coaching and Mentoring: Critically examine the importance of coaching, mentoring and action learning as approaches to facilitate development of self, leadership practice and others.

Leader as coach: Critically start development of Sporting Director /leader as coach; evaluate role of leader as coach and complexities of developing and inspiring others

Leadership development: examine the complexities of leadership drawing on leadership theories including sports leadership and emerging fields of leadership (e.g. Relational, Collaborative, Authentic, Emotional Intelligence and Neuroscience). These will be evaluated in relation to dynamics of leadership in a complex settings and will include areas such as conflict, power, trust, collaboration and context.

As guardian for the organisation’s future development, the Sporting Director needs to be a visionary and inspirational leader, focused on performance delivery and not afraid to take centre stage. Introducing change to an organisation requires focus and excellent personal leadership skills.


  • Leadership advantage – sense making to find strategic advantage for sporting organisations
  • Communicating and leading to build a performance culture
  • Shaping high performance


  1. Critically evaluate strategies in the sporting context to create advantage.
  2. Critically analyse relevant emerging leadership literatures and reflect on their significance for unpredictable sporting contexts.
  3. Apply action learning and action research principles, and identification of appropriate research methods to investigate the high performing sport organisation context.
  4. Assess the leadership role of sense making, influencing and communicating to build a performance culture
  5. Critically evaluate and assess strategies for shaping high performance in the sporting workplace.


This unit is about how leaders create a high performance sport organisation. It will help leaders identify strategic advantage and navigate the unpredictable nature of sporting contexts. It explores how they communicate and influence to effect and lead cultural change to shape high performance sports organisations. Throughout this unit you will come to see what a substantial role and understanding of neuroscience can play in how we work with people.


  • Managing change and innovation in a sports organisation.
  • The effects of change on the individual through the lens of neuroscience.
  • Structure and innovation. International cultures and innovation. Global innovation networks – examining the role of regional, international and global networks on the innovatory capacity of organisations.
  • Developing core competence and absorptive capacity the mechanisms by which organisations develop the capacity to innovate and change.
  • The problems of managing innovation in organisations. Organisational culture. Developing cultures that promote innovatory activity.
  • Organisational structure and the effective management of innovation. Interconnections between innovation, change and strategic management.
  • Roles of external sources in innovation. Formal networks (joint venture and strategic alliances) and informal networks (communities of practice and invisible colleges).
  • The relationships between innovation and sustainability at the individual, organisational, industry and societal level. Key opportunities and challenges presented by administrative, economic and socio-technical systems oriented towards sustainability.


  1. Critically apply key concepts associated with change and innovation management in a sporting organization context and acquire experience in applying those concepts to organisational activity.
  2. Develop the skills and techniques required to improve organisational performance by regularly introducing new products, services and processes.
  3. Evaluate the importance of viewing innovation as an important strategic factor in the long-term survival and success of any organisation, and sustainability in more general terms.
  4. Synthesise the relevance of neuroscience in maximizing innovation and change.


This unit takes an action research-based approach to explore the effects of innovation on organisations, drivers of change, and the challenges of implementing change in the context of high-performance sporting organisations. Students will learn to understand that a change from the norm often creates a chemical response within the brain that will drive our mental, emotional and social interactions. Throughout this unit the Sporting Director will be empowered to understand and learn how feedback often produces an intense threat response in the brain.

Understand the rules and procedures needed to make organisational decisions in the best possible way to optimise performance whilst demonstrating transparency and accountability.


  • International sport governance and legal frameworks
  • Legal, political and economic issues
  • Competition Law, litigation prevention, risk management
  • Regulation and Media policy
  • Exploitation of commercial rights
  • Violence, doping, social responsibility


  1. To develop a critical awareness of the institutional and economic operating environment of European and International sport and define the concept of governance in a sporting context, the concepts of the specificity of sport and the European model of sport.
  2. To synthesise the core mission and objectives of sports governing bodies and elaborate the various structural forms, management decision-making processes and commercial revenue generating activities through which sport governing bodies operationalise their mission and objectives.
  3. To critically evaluate the key strategic governance challenges and policy responses available to sports organisations in the context of sports ‘special’ economic framework.
  4. To analyse the need for a genuine marketing approach of sports properties and develop the valuable commercial property rights sport generates.
  5. To evaluate the range of legal and ethical challenges facing sports organisations and outline key mechanisms for addressing them.


The Unit will address the challenges facing the professional sport industry in relation to international developments in recent years. It will also cover the challenges associated with commercial development, establishment and development of European political and economic institutions. Finally, students will also address the global challenges of governance on multi stakeholder organisational interest in sport. Throughout this unit students will be called upon their understanding of neuroscience and its relevance to human performance. Such understanding will enable students to apply neuroscience to how they lead, manage and coach people within the sports organisation.

Emphasis on the International Sport Governance and legal frameworks. In addition, the North American Sport Model will be looked at and analysed against. Content will cover a multidisciplinary approach by providing an in-depth analysis of legal, political and economic issues (e.g. competition law, litigation prevention, risk management, regulation and media policy). The unit will focus on current and future key challenges faced by sports organisations (specificity of sport, competitive balance, exploitation of commercial rights, social dialogue, violence, doping, social responsibility, etc).


In this unit students are expected to identify, structure, frame and investigate a complex managerial or business issue and produce a substantial written document of their achievements and conclusions.


  1. Identify the macro and micro organisational context for the project and the objectives of their research. This should be in the light of a client’s briefing if applicable.
  2. Critically review and synthesise the relevant literature on the subject area in order to construct a conceptual framework to underpin their research.
  3. Identify the nature of relevant evidence and associated data sources to support their research objectives.
  4. Apply an appropriate methodology for collecting and for analysing primary data with due regard to ethical considerations. Critically discuss the methodology used for secondary data where applicable.
  5. Interpret and present data clearly, integrating data from different sources where applicable and critically discussing their findings.
  6. Appraise the implications of their research outcomes to managerial professional practice in response to strategic issues.


Students may fulfil the requirements of the Unit by undertaking one of five types of dissertation:

  • Consultancy based: Entailing the answering of distinct research questions, which are triggered by an issue of strategic or operational importance to a specific client organisation, mainly by conducting fieldwork (collecting primary data) in that organisation, with the objective of offering an appropriate short to medium term solution to the business, and also drawing out the implications for the wider managerial professional practice.
  • Empirically based: Entailing the answering of distinct research questions, which are triggered by an issue of strategic or operational importance, mainly by conducting fieldwork (collecting primary data), with the objective of drawing out the implications for the wider managerial professional practice.
  • Library based: Entailing the answering of distinct research questions, which are triggered by an issue of strategic or operational importance, mainly by gathering secondary data and doing a meta-analysis of published interpretations of existing data sets, with the objective of drawing out the implications for the wider managerial professional practice.
  • Action Learning: Entailing the reflective examination and interpretation of a problem-solving ‘action intervention’ made by the author in his/her organisation through the lens of relevant literature with the objective of demonstrating insights and enhanced managerial competence and drawing out the implications for the wider managerial professional practice.
  • Enterprise Based Business Plan: Entailing Developing a Business Plan for a start-up business, underpinned by secondary data and fieldwork on the proposed business area, with the objective of a possible launch of a small enterprise.

Learning on the course takes many forms and one which our delegates find very valuable are the Masterclasses.  At each taught element of the course (approx every 6 weeks) there is always at least one Masterclass from which to gain knowledge and understanding via the insights and experiences of a range of senior people from the world of sport and business.

In the first year these are mostly from the world of sport, people in board positions and those responsible for strategy, leadership and management as well as people to inspire and motivate performance and your personal leadership style.

Masterclasses on the course include inspiring speakers like Kevin Roberts:

Executive Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, author Peak Performance: Business Lessons from the World’s Top Sporting Organizations, an inspiration-driven business theory and practice, former director of the New Zealand Rugby Union and former chairman of USA Rugby, passionate Everton fan.

Uniquely this course is underpinned by neuroscience. Ensuring an in-depth understanding of neuroscience and its applications enables students to get the very best from themselves and those around them.

Gaining the competitive edge in the modern game is everything. Which is why more and more successful sports organisations place neuroscience at the core of their development strategy.

Understanding what drives human social behaviour enables athletes to harness mental power for ever greater physical achievement. Leadership styles have the potential to impact upon this by treating the brain as a social system that responds either positively or negatively according to stimulus.

This knowledge underpins all the learning outcomes on the MSc in Sports Directorship and the MBA CEO of a Sports Organisation courses. Ensuring an in-depth understanding of neuroscience and its applications enables students to get the very best from themselves and those around them.

It’s time to put the future of sport in your hands If you’re ready to take on your next challenge, then apply for the MSc in Sports Directorship today.

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