STUDENTS of Burnley’s ground-breaking University College of Football Business have been welcomed to the club just weeks ahead of the big kick-off.
Life-long Claret Alastair Campbell and Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle were among dignitaries laying out the welcoming mat before Burnley’s opening day match against Watford.
The country’s first footballing institution of higher education, a joint venture between the UCFB and Buckinghamshire New University, will open its doors in September and gives students the chance to choose from three traditional degree courses in the first year; football business and media, football business and finance and football business and marketing.
Mr Campbell, of the college’s advisory board, said it was exciting to see two years of hard work coming together. “It’s been good to have seen the development of this step by step and to see where it is now. It’s nice for some of the students to be here at the start of the season so they can get a real sense of what it is all about and feel that they are part of something special.”
Mr Paul Fletcher, chief executive of Burnley Football Club, was in buoyant mood saying he believes everyone connected with the university will benefit. “It’s great. For the last 30 years I’ve been looking at ways to bring in additional revenue for the football industry.
“We wanted to utilise the building, which is really only used once a fortnight, as often as possible and hopefully 365 days a year. It will be great for the club, the town and the people.”
All lectures and seminars will take place within adapted suites in the Jimmy McIlroy Stand and the first year looks set for an initial intake of 125 students.
Mr Phil Wilson, chief executive of the college, said everything was well on track for the September opening and also revealed why Burnley was the perfect choice for this first of its kind university. “We’ve started receiving applications for next year now and have even had one from a student in Canada. It will take time to become a global brand but we’re well on our way.
“Burnley Football Club was one of the founders of the Football League and we see this as a re-birth because the provision of education within this multi-million pound industry is nil at the moment. It is great news for the town and will create 147 jobs right here. It’s obviously great for the club as the well and the people of the town should be very proud it is here.”
Mr Wilson spoke about how the students were the real heart of the programme and 18-year-old Jake Harrison, who lives in Padiham, is one of those anticipating his first day. “I don’t really know what to expect but I’m looking forward to it. I studied media and business at college but had no real intention of going to university until I heard about this. Football, media and business are the three things I am most interested in and this gives me the chance to do all three. It’s a great opportunity.”
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle added: “It’s yet another university in Burnley and it’s fantastic for the town. It’s the first of its kind in the world and it’s a credit to Barry Kilby and his team that they have seen this opportunity, invested their money and made sure it happens here in Burnley.”