Academy Operations Manager
Sheffield United Football Club

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Matt M

00:00:03 I’m Matthew Morley. I’m the Academy Operations Manager at Sheffield United Football Club. I look after the academy players, and the academy staff, and the first team, who are all based at Shirecliffe, which is the training facility. I cater for their needs, whether it’s making sure the breakfast is there, the dinner is there, the equipment is there, the kits is ready, anything really involving the facility and the people who use it. It’s one of them jobs where you can go to the academy or go to work and basically smile. What’s better than trying to improve these children to basically become players?

00:00:39 I was at school at Sheffield, just round the corner from here, which was All Saint’s school on Granville Road. I went to school, always loved sports. I wanted to be a footballer from a young age. Education-wise, I was never the best. I was mainly sports, sports, sports. I actually had extra maths and English lessons away from home to try and, you know, improve my grades. It wasn’t a major focus point. It was mainly ‘I want to be a footballer. I want to do sport.’ The education came second.

00:01:12 Then my dream came true when I actually played for Sheffield Wednesday school boys, so at fifteen/sixteen you’ve actually got a chance of turning into a young player. I got a letter saying that I wasn’t going to get taken on as a scholar, or a YTS player, and unfortunately you have to deal with it. Yes, I looked at it and thought ‘I’ve got to make something of myself. I’m not going to be a professional footballer now, so I’ve got to have second and third choice. I always want to be involved in sport, so basically let me go and study, learn more and see how far it takes me.’

00:01:43 My parents were a big support, massive support. All the way through from a young age, they’ve always been there for me. My father himself, he actually played for Sheffield United. Now, at the end of the day, whether I was good enough or not good enough, he always supported me in my football and what I wanted to do.

00:02:05 I actually went to Sheffield College, which was up at Norton, and studied leisure and recreation, and sports qualifications. My college tutor, Pete Stacey, came to me one day and said ‘Listen, I’ve been asked to set up Paces, which is a specialist Comprehensive School. Do you fancy coming and doing a job for me?’ It was a special school for Cerebral Palsy but they also had sports facilities on it. After a year’s time, he went back to college and he said ‘There you are, Matt. There’s the manager’s job.’ So here’s me, wet behind the ears, you know, straight out of college, you know, dropped in the deep end. It’s one of them points in your life which has been, yes, you got dropped in at the deep end but you had to swim very, very quickly.

00:02:46 I also did a little bit of work, voluntary work, for Sheffield United, and that’s how it came along, keeping my foot in the door, and then after that it’s just snowballed really. To get back into the football environment, you know, it’s like a dream come true. Basically, it’s like living the dream again but you not personally playing.

00:03:07 My partner was expecting my first child in June 2008. Basically, the child was diagnosed Down’s syndrome and it was quite high, and unfortunately there would have been problems in later life if he’d have been born. Decisions had to be made, and it’s one of them thing that I have to live by, and I’ve got to say that disappointment, you know, almost broke me. But if it wasn’t for Sheffield United Football Club and the people who I work with, I think I would have just gone downhill.

00:03:41 My partner’s expecting probably my second child, or first child, in June, so, yes, I’ve got a fantastic job, we’ve got a great set of staff and a great set of boys at the academy, so, you know, I think I’ve got the best job in the world.

00:03:58 End

Matthew Morley is Academy Operations Manager at Sheffield United Football Club. He played for Sheffield Wednesday Boys but the opportunity to turn professional never came. He has followed a career in managing sports facilities and stayed close to the game.

More information about Leisure and sports managers

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

43%  male 
57%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Leisure and sports managers organise, direct and co-ordinate the activities and resources required for the provision of sporting, artistic, theatrical and other recreational and amenity services.
Both graduate and non-graduate entry is possible. Off- and on-the-job training is provided. NVQs/SVQs in relevant areas are available at Levels 3 and 4. Professional qualifications may also be required for some posts.
  • Organises timetable of activities/schedule of programmes;
  • Ensures that facilities are kept clean and in good condition and that appropriate health and safety requirements are adhered to;
  • Keeps abreast of new trends and developments in recreational activities and arranges exhibitions, theatrical productions, concerts, demonstrations etc.;
  • Advises on the facilities available and promotes publicity in relation to shows, games, races, new theme parks, etc.;
  • Determines financial, staffing, material and other short- and long-term needs;
  • Recruits, supervises and trains staff;
  • Ensures custody of all cash receipts and organises regular stock checks.
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