Academy executives from almost 30 European clubs gathered in Manchester this week for the second onsite module in their ECA Academy Management Programme (AMP) journeys.

This time, Sports Law and Performance were the areas in focus.

The Sports Law course, led by Loughborough’s University’s Dr Serhat Yilmaz, provided attendees with a deeper understanding and application of key areas such as the regulatory regime in the international transfer of minors, compensation regime, agent regulations and working with minors. The dynamic sessions combined theory with practical application through highly interactive discussions and case study tasks which tested the participants’ understanding.

The second part of the module went on to explore Performance, with emphasis on talent identification, profiling players, physical performance and getting ready for the game. In collaboration with Manchester City Academy, the highly acclaimed Academy opened its doors to the AMP cohort with a tour of key areas of the Academy and pivotal insights into its thoroughly rated set-up. This was further complemented by engaging presentations and demonstrations by highly skilled and experienced personnel within the Academy, including Director of Performance, James Thomas.   

It wasn't all hard work however as participants took part in some highly enjoyable social activities during the 3-day get-together, including a friendly 5 v 5 football match and a private behind-the-scenes tour of both the Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford.

The importance of such additional opportunities to connect and interact did not go unnoticed by participants either, as explained by FC Dinamo Tbilisi’s Director of Academy, George Ivanishvili: “It is hard not to mention all the aspects of the trip, all the events and activities were planned with great thought behind it. For me the most valuable aspect of the on-site module was once again deepening friendships through unique content with solid guest speakers. Their expertise and our personal input brought all the presentations to a level which exceeded my expectations”.     

ECA launched the AMP last year and 4 months into the journey, participants have already already covered a wide range of topics both online and in person, including Strategy, Marketing, Finance, Facilities, Talent Development and People Mangement.  Furthermore, participants have also engaged in individual as well as peer-to-peer coaching sessions with top executive coaches, the outcomes of such interactions have already been visible and impactful back at the respective Academies.       

Pouya Yaghoubinia, ECA Football Development Manager, said: “As a product of the ECA Youth Football Strategy and ECA Youth Working Group, it was a brand-new initiative from ECA Campus, and is proving very popular and very useful judging by the feedback we have had.

“At ECA, we are committed to providing learning platforms where participants can benefit from the knowledge and experience of some of the world's leading experts on the football scene. "

The inaugural 9-month AMP programme runs until July 2024 and having already visited AFC Ajax and Manchester City FC, the next and final stop on the journey is Club Brugge in Belgium which will see the participants explore the topic of Community Engagement, present back on their project work, as well as graduate!         

About ECA Academy Management Programme (AMP)

The ECA AMP, which is being delivered in collaboration with Johan Cruyff Institute, is a blended executive education programme which aims to elevate and inspire those in management positions within European club academies, helping them and their club talent operations realise their full potential.               

Participants represented include: Shamrock Rovers, BK Hacken, SC Dnipro-1, FC Universitatea Cluj, Crusaders FC, VfL Bochum 1848, FC Dinamo Tbilisi,  AS Roma, Arsenal Women FC, SK Slavia Praha, FC Dynamo Kiyv, Riga FC, AGF Aarhus, RSC Anderlecht, FC Pyunik, KKS Lech Poznań, Parma Calcio 1913, Eintracht Frankfurt, FC Shakhtar Donetsk, Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Clube Portugal, Larne FC, NK Maribor, Manchester United FC, Celtic FC, Romanian Football Federation (FRF) and European Club Association (ECA).

Johan Cruyff Institute

The ECA AMP is a collaboration with Johan Cruyff Institute, where sport, management and social work are three key pillars of the Dutch great’s legacy. Cruyff’s own experience as a professional footballer, and later as a coach and advisor, led him to devise a plan to help athletes enter the working world at the end of their sports careers, leading to the founding of the Johan Cruyff Institute in 1999. Since then, it has trained athletes, sport managers and other professionals in sport management, marketing, sponsorship, football business, leadership, and coaching. It now offers over 90 study programmes, In Company Training, Sport Xperiences and, besides it’s pioneer Online Platform, has teaching centres in Spain, the Netherlands, Peru and Mexico.