Name: Glenn Thomas
Organisation: Bury FC
What does the average day of a football club consist of?
It’s the best job in the world and I appreciate that I am there are only 72 CEOs in the football league, which makes me one of the lucky few. Yet like most good jobs, there is plenty of responsibility that comes with it. I’m constantly juggling options and looking at ways of managing my staff responsibly and effectively for the benefit of the football club.
It’ important to have broad shoulders when you work in football because everyone has an opinion on how to run the club and you have to weigh up countless ideas and go forward with the way you think works best for everyone involved. I’m very lucky to have a chairman who is both hands on and supportive of the work my team and I do for Bury FC.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
On the pitch, I would say without hesitation that winning promotion on the last day of the 2015 season stands out above all others. It was unbelievable to witness the emotion that poured out that day and the sense of exhilaration etched on the fans’ faces.
Away from the pitch, I’m constantly inspired by the amount of good this club can do when it works with the local community. Too many people these days forget that football is at the heart of the community. Clubs lose their connections to their local surroundings and the fact they carry the town or city’s name stands for very little.
At Bury, we are consciously trying to integrate with the people of Bury and North Manchester because we think it is a fundamental part of being a football club. We do this through a number of activities, from working with disabled groups to putting on events for the elderly.
What are your leadership tips?
Listen to your staff and give them the freedom to not only carry out their job to the best of their ability, but also give them the opportunity to grow both in their job and the organisation. Nurturing the conditions that allow this to happen is one of the most important things a leader can do.
It’s also important to be yourself and to enjoy your job. I’ve witnessed what unhappiness does to someone and they simple can’t be effective at work if they aren’t deriving satisfaction from what they do. I’m fortunate to work with a great bunch of people who email me at all hours with ideas on how to drive Bury FC forward. They do it because they enjoy working for Bury FC, which is rare because the majority of out-of-hours working is usually done out of fear of losing a job, not looking valuable to the organisation or coercion from the boss.
Is it easy to generate positivity in the workforce given the importance of the club to the town and its passionate supporters?
I work with a bunch of highly-motivated people who would thrive in most commercial environments. The fact that their employer is a football club only serves as an additional motivational spur. A new Financial Director recently joined Bury FC and he was blown away on his first day by the engagement levels of everyone involved in the football club.
What does business look like away from the pitch?
We’ve a nice ground and like to show it off by running a number of events that utilise our facilities. I’m always amazed by the range of events we run, from a ladies night, to weddings and christenings, music acts, darts and even WWF wrestling, and this is often done all in the space of one week!
We also carry out a lot of sponsorship engagement. These are very popular. I’ve been to a number of the events and it can be a bit like going back to the old days when networking was more about socialising and less about elevator pitches. Business is fuelled by relationships and this is why we try to facilitate the forming of solid connections by running these sponsorship events. The feedback from attendees is always very positive and we often struggle to get people out of the bar at the end of the night. There’s a real sense of camaraderie, even amongst those who have met for the first time.
To make the sponsorship packages worthwhile commercially, we intentionally only offer sponsorship packages by industry and refuse to consider other sponsorships from within the industry of our sponsors. We want our sponsors to feel comfortable and that they are benefiting from their relationship with Bury FC.
What is the future for Bury FC?
We want to achieve footballing excellence on the pitch, in the hope of achieving more promotions up the football leagues.
Off the pitch, we will continue in our aims of turning Bury FC into a commercially viable operation by focusing on two key pillars: community integration and youth development.
Just because we are a comparatively small football club, it doesn’t mean we can’t be professional in the way we go about things and continue in our aims to be first class.