Constrained by Taboos? A Critical Perspective on the Business Model of Lower League English Football

A seminar as part of the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre Public Seminar Series

Given by: Ryan McKnight

B20 Lecture Theatre
Main Birkbeck Building
Torrington Square
London WC1

Tuesday 28th April 2015 at 6pm

For directions click here

Attendance at the event is free but you need to register


In this presentation Ryan McKnight, currently a consultant to Football League 1 side Port Vale and formerly CEO of Stockport County (the former Football League club currently playing in the Conference North) will draw on a decade of experience in the football industry to cast a critical eye on what he sees as the realities of the business model of English football, particularly in the lower divisions, in 2015.

Specifically Ryan will outline what he believes are the key factors that limit the collective progress of English football, and the individual progress of individual clubs, and make the case that to some extent the most significant barrier to English clubs developing a sustainable business model are a collection of taboo issues that few club or league executives are prepared to address. In addressing this topic Ryan will pose the following key questions:

  • What are the implications/realities of not treating football as an industry in its own right?
  • How can club business management cope with the “McDonaldisation” of modern football clubs?
  • What is the economic philosophy of Financial Fair Play (FFP), and other financial protocols, as they are applied in English football, and what has been the impact of their implementation?
  • Why does the football industry not recognise the significance of a new phenomenon: the rise of the “anti-supporter” and its implications for the future of the game?


Ryan McKnight is a consultant to the football industry and commentator/researcher on the business of the game. Currently working with League One side, Port Vale, Ryan became the game’s youngest ever CEO when he took charge of Stockport County in January 2013 before resigning in April 2014. Prior to that he had held positions as CEO of the World Football Academy UK and Editor-in-Chief at the football industry trade group fcbusiness. Known for his often forceful observations on the governance, structure and philosophies of clubs and the game, Ryan is a regulator commentator at universities and in the wider media.

Contact Details

Follow Ryan on twitter: @fcryan

For further details on this seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil

Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Tel: 020-7631 6763

Twitter: @Birkbecksport

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