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On The Board: Chris Hughton

On the board

Chris Hughton

The Brighton boss – and On The Board Cohort 2 graduate – on planning for life after the dugout and boosting his managerial skills.

Why did you sign up for the On The Board programme?

My role as a football manager has a lifespan that goes with it. What interests me is the possibility – once I’m not managing, coaching or scouting anymore – of being involved in the administrative side of the game.

What did you learn from it?

It was an eye-opener about the roles and responsibilities of being on a board – that was the biggest thing. If you have a board above you, it’s an appreciation of what they do and gives you a bit more of an insight. It certainly makes you pay more attention to conversations you have with your chairman or CEO. It really helps to have that understanding about what they do.

What makes the programme different to other courses you’ve done?

It deals with a role that isn’t just football or sport-specific. It’s the first course of that nature I’ve been on. It’s very interesting that it’s not necessarily leading towards a full-time role but roles you can do in conjunction with jobs as a manager, coach or if you’re involved in scouting.

Football seems to differ from other industries where people are promoted from the operational side to the boardroom quite regularly…

You’re right, it just doesn’t happen. There might be a handful of ex-players that are on boards. Normally they went into management and then on from there. If you look at the make up of traditional football boards, they were very family-oriented before and became very businesslike with a lot of foreign investors making up boards. It’s something I see changing but not dramatically. In coming years I don’t see there being a vast number of ex-football people employed on the boards of football clubs. It would be a good thing, there’s no doubt about that.

Is this programme, which aims partly to tackle under-representation, important for football?

I think it is. At the moment there is an enthusiasm from stakeholders to see more representation in the game. Certainly a lot more black and ethnic coaches are involved at academy and scholar level. Once we start going up into senior squads and the Premier League there’s no doubt there is an under-representation. I genuinely feel there is an enthusiasm to change that. How quickly that will come, I don’t know. A big part of that isn’t coaches and managers, it’s other aspects of the game – sport science, analytics, senior roles and absolutely that can also be at board level.

What would you say to others thinking about taking part in On The Board?

It’s absolutely something I would recommend. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The work was tough – particularly fitting it in around other things. For half the course I wasn’t working and for half I was a manager. It was tough to do all the work but I enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. I completed the course and at some stage I would like to revisit it.