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Maximising HR Management tools within the Football industry

Human Resource Management (HRM) practices have not always been a top priority in Football.

However, with the increasing pressure on clubs at all levels to bring in more revenue and be run as commercial entities, introducing robust HR systems and policies is now an important stepping stone to success.

HR departments within football face the challenge of looking after the interests of a diverse workforce - a larger club could have many different areas with varying needs of support spread across numerous locations.

Supporting a diverse workforce

Although it is common practice for the players to sit outside the remit of the standard HR function, the highly skilled professionals who are responsible for the health and success of the team are in important part of the club – the performance analysis experts, doctors, physiotherapists, recruiters coaches and cooks all require good HR support tools to do the best job they can.

Another function is the club’s executive leadership team and back office functions that cover finance, marketing and communications. Their requirements may differ from the frontline staff.

Many large teams now have dedicated Youth academies to nurture talent which require numerous members of specialised staff including youth talent scouts and child support workers – and having the correct policies and procedures in place in this sector is crucial.

And when including the Ground staff, which could include contractors on match days, this adds another layer to a complex set up that’s need tight management to get the best results.

Traditionally many clubs have assigned any HR responsibilities to an existing member of staff as a secondary role, but as organisations grow and become more commercialised, this is no longer a viable option.

Using HR to retain the best people

A football club is much bigger than just it’s current team - a successful club should value all employees at every level.

Implementing an experienced and dedicated HR function into a club is key to recruiting and retaining the best people – it can help a club achieve its goals and objectives.

Simple processes can be set up initially – the development of policies and procedures around contracts, agreed working hours, enhanced sick pay, maternity, adoption and paternity leave pay can help attract and keep the right people.

The introduction of human resource information systems can also contribute towards retention and employee engagement – they can allow staff to book holiday, report absence and track performance reviews. Setting up employee benefit schemes can make a worker at any level feel valued.

Using HRM People Analytics to succeed

Most people within Sport are probably familiar with the ‘moneyball’ principle, which derives from a film based on the true story of how Baseball’s Oakland A’s General Manager, Billy Beane, changed the approach to baseball player selection by focusing on statistics and ability measures versus traditional baseball methods that were pretty much gut feel.

This approach turned the Oakland A’s into a title contender whilst spending less than half the salary of competitor clubs – so not only achieved success, but also created cost savings.

And football is moving in the same direction. Clubs are now using HRM systems and processes more to focus on people analytics, using data and analysis to understand a wide range of issues including recruitment and selection, performance management, leadership and attendance.

Although football has been utilising these types of systems for many years on the pitch, this approach is now being used commercially in the office and in other sectors - Google have recently invested heavily in this, creating their own people analytics team.

HR analytics supports everyone’s development from the first team through to the commercial and community aspect of the club’s operations.

HR Support within the Sports Industry

The success, performance and competitiveness of football clubs or any other institution depends largely on the quality of the employees, and having good HRM systems is integral to this.

If your organisation is looking for HR guidance on policies, procedures and people management or just need some practical HR support, call Sophie Forrest on 01892 726060 or email

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