Next up in our #InsideTheIndustry mini-series is a look into the world of sports management with Michael from Consilium Sports Group.
Based in Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh, Michael’s primary responsibilities lie within the Football Operations team working with players and personalities across the football world.
Like many sections of the sports industry over the last 12 months, sports management has been forced to adapt to a new way of working. With stadiums empty and meetings taking place online instead of in person, Michael has had to be flexible in his approach to work.
How have the last 12 months affected your working life?
I’ve been in a fortunate position that I actually got a new job during the pandemic, joining Consilium Sports Group in November. It’s been a strange start getting to grips with all that comes with a new job mostly virtually, but I’m thankful for being one of the luckier people during these times.
With so much uncertainty in the football world, has it been a challenging time to work in professional football?
Yes, it has but football has been one of the more privileged industries in terms of being able to return and continue in some form during the pandemic. A lot of clubs had to trim costs to survive and many of the players and staff felt that directly with wage cuts. The fans being unable to attend also hits income generation and in turn results in a knock on effect throughout the industry.
Whilst the top end of football has continued without much of a blip, the lower leagues and women’s game in Scotland were postponed for a prolonged period recently. We have a number of players who were affected by this including a strain on the players mental and physical wellbeing. There are a lot of knock on effects as mentioned, such as some players may have needed to showcase themselves this season for a new contract or a move but are now facing an uncertain future due to them not playing.
What have you been doing to manage working from home – has it been difficult to adapt?
It hasn’t been easy and I am sure everyone up and down the country has felt the same. I live in a flat with my girlfriend and have both been working from the same table in the living room, so that can certainly be a challenge.
I picked up a second hand bike back in April and found a lot of joy just getting out on that for an hour or heading out for a run, if the dodgy knee allows. I like to try get out for a lunch break or straight after work to break up the day a little bit, so I don’t find myself just moving from bed to table to sofa to bed. I also found it helped when we moved the table to a different place in the living room every 2 weeks or so, just to give it a different outlook. Although, sat next to the window you can end up a little distracted being neighbourhood watch!
With transfers affected by Covid, has the role of a football agency changed over the last year?
Covid has certainly slowed the transfer market down and money, especially in Scotland, is being spent a bit more carefully. I would say our role is still similar to before as we aim to represent the client in the best way we can.
We are there to provide support, advice and mentoring which does include contracts and transfers but we also pride ourselves on being more than that. We have increased our concierge support services including financial advisory, helped to develop long term plans with our athletes including after sport opportunities and also had our staff complete mental health wellbeing courses to be equipped in ways that may be of help to our talent, especially during these times.
We have also had to think of a new way to communicate with our talent and have started recording a talking newsletter that is distributed out to everyone as a way to keep everyone up to date and feel included.
It’s important to us that we are there for every part of our talent’s journey and not just when the contract renewal or transfer is being discussed. The pandemic has shown this to be even more important and the health and wellbeing of our talent is our number one priority.
With no fans at matches and a much tighter number of staff allowed in the stadiums – has it been difficult to miss out on attending games on a Saturday?
I have really missed going to the football. From a work perspective, we would usually be out watching our talent playing and it’s also a good time to catch up with them after a match to see how they are doing both professionally and personally. It also makes recruitment slightly more difficult due to being unable to watch any new talent in person.
From a personal point of view, getting along to games was also a time to see friends and family so that has been a big miss from a social aspect. Whilst there is an abundance of games on the TV at the moment, nothing beats a live stadium atmosphere.
Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, what are you most looking forward to in your work life?
Getting back to some form of normality will be great. I never thought I would miss an office environment as much as I have, but I have taken for granted the positives of the general day to day interaction and banter you get in an office.
I’m also really looking forward to just meeting everyone in person. Starting a new job and doing a lot of the introduction meetings over Zoom has been rather strange so it will be good to meet more of my colleagues and also the talent as most of them have only ever seen me in a square on a screen. The hardest part of that will probably be having to change out of my pyjama bottoms, but I am very much looking forward to it.
Consilium Sports Group is a Sports & Entertainment Management Agency based in Edinburgh. You can click here to visit their website.