Football stars set to graduate from Master of Sports Directorship degree

A host of well-known footballing names are due to graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University’s Masters of Sport Directorship (MSD) course next month, the latest cohort of professional sports people to qualify for the prestigious masters degree.

Among this year’s high-profile new graduates will be Bradford City manager and former Blackpool and Blackburn boss Gary Bowyer; England and Manchester City Women goalkeeper Karen Bardsley; Michael Johnson, the former Derby captain, now head coach of the Guyana national team; and former Bolton striker and Southport manager Kevin Davies. Retired Liverpool, Manchester City and Newcastle player, and now media pundit Didi Hamman is also due to collect his MSD at next month’s ceremony.

Scott Sellars, the former Blackburn and Newcastle winger who is now head of player development at Wolves, and legendary goalkeeper Steve Harper, until last month academy goalkeeper coach at Newcastle, are also among the sports stars who went back to the classroom to achieve an MSD.

Steve Harper said; “The course has been tough and challenging, but I’ve loved every minute. I enrolled because I don’t think there are enough people in boardrooms with experience of playing the game. In the sporting director role it’s important to understand players. You are responsible for recruitment and also need an awareness of departments like sports science and the academy.”

The highly acclaimed MSD prepares sports professionals for the role of sporting director and other senior management positions within sports organisations. Alumni from the post-graduate course include England director of cricket Ashley Giles, former Aston Villa director of football Steve Round, Hull City’s head of recruitment Lee Darnbrough, and West Bromwich Albion coach Michael Appleton.

Taking place in Manchester on 19 July, the MSD degree ceremony will see the sports stars line up in gowns and mortar boards with hundreds of other new Manchester Metropolitan University graduates to receive their degree certificates from vice chancellor, Malcolm Press.

Mark Batey, head of the MSD course said: “The sporting director role has become integral to the success of football clubs, as well as for a huge range of other sports organisations. Manchester Met’s unique MSD is the go-to qualification in the field and has transformed many of our students’ careers.”

He added: “It’s awesome to see another group of professional sports people graduate, ready to guide their organisations through times of great opportunity and change. They will bring the skills of high-performance leadership, governance and commercial management, along with practical insights for harnessing creativity and innovation that are so essential to successful sports organisations.”

The academically rigorous two-year, part-time masters course is designed to develop the commercial skill sets and personal attributes that are required to succeed as a top flight sporting director. The course features masterclasses from world-renowned speakers and engaging sessions that blend expert insight with practical tools. Working alongside fellow sporting directors, students cover leadership, managing high-performing organisations, creativity and innovation, sporting governance and compliance, and finish with a dissertation.

For more information on the Masters of Sport Directorship course at Manchester Metropolitan University visit