“Creating Sustained Success: Delivering a World Class Player Performance Model for an Elite European Champions League Club.”

The Business of Sport – Seminar Series

Room BO1 – Clore Management Centre, Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1 7HX

Wednesday 11th February 2009 at 6pm
(For directions click here)

“Creating Sustained Success: Delivering a World Class Player Performance Model for an Elite European Champions League Club.”

Given by:

Michael Forde, Performance Director, Chelsea FC

Historically the English football industry has not been characterised by a high quality of business management practice. Instead there has been tendency, even amongst many of the top clubs, to cannibalise all available organisational resources in the service of player purchase and retention budgets. When combined with a deep cultural suspicion of executives from outside the “football family” the effect has been that English football is still perceived, despite the great progress made since the establishment of the Premier League in 1992, in particular through the process of the movement of some transferable skills from the broadcasting and sports apparel industries, as lagging behind in core management  expertise compared to peer sports organisations in American’s NFL (American football)  and NBA (basketball) leagues.

However, there have been some exceptions to the rule, notably Bolton Wanderers football club. Not an historically fashionable or wealthy club it nevertheless enjoyed a period of unprecedented success under manager Sam Allardyce with the team never finishing outside the Premiership top ten from 2002/2003 – 2006/2007 and qualifying for the UEFA cup in 2005/2006 and 2007/2008, an extraordinary achievement for a club of its size as it regularly punched way above its weight in terms of what might have been expected for a club of its limited financial spending power. A key element of Allardyce’s strategy was to encourage a fundamental commitment by the club to the development of best practice in the wider business management of the club as a source of competitive advantage which saw a revolution in the club’s application of sports medicine, scouting and player retention strategies, performance analysis and administrative support. Bolton’s Performance Director Michael Forde was widely acknowledged as having played the key role in implementing and driving this strategy forward to the extent that he has now moved on to become Performance Director at Premiership top four club Chelsea.

In this presentation, drawing on his experiences at Bolton and having reviewed similar strategies at some of the world’s most important sporting organisations, Michael discusses the challenges in developing and implementing a performance culture at a leading European football club. In particular he will address the following key questions:

  • How do you develop strategies to create a winning environment for sustained success?
  • How do you build and lead a High Performance Management team?
  • How do you successfully apply the use of innovative medical, sport science and psychological techniques to create a winning edge?
  • What are the key criteria for developing a team environment to maximise player performance across different stages of a player’s career?
  • What are the elements in a successful strategy to identify, screen and recruit elite players?
  • How do you develop a winning mindset in players?
  • What are the most effective mechanisms for successfully managing a multi-cultural group of elite players within a team dynamic?
  • What is the effective strategy for balancing the demands of a 60 game season whilst also preparing for the future?


Mike Forde was appointed Performance Director for Chelsea Football Club in August 2007. Through this role he oversees all areas of performance relating to the Senior Squad, including player recruitment, medical, sport science, psychology and performance analysis to drive roster selection. Prior to joining Chelsea, Mike served in a similar position for Bolton Wanderers from January 1999 through to July 2007. He holds a BSc Sport Science from Liverpool John Moores University and a Master’s in Psychology & Sport from San Diego State University.


For further details on this seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Tel: 020-7631 6763 or Email:

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