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Phil Merrick and Lucy Ward

Football Leadership Handbook. How to get the best out of yourself and your team.

Football Leadership Handbook. How to get the best out of yourself and your team.

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Published: March 2023 - Pre-order your copy now

ISBN - 9781780916361 - 252 Pages

‘This handbook provides an insightful and applied link between the effectiveness of leadership and group dynamics and its use goes way beyond the football environment.’ Ali Wareham – Head of A level PE Peter Symonds College Winchester

‘The quality which sets apart the very best from the rest is leadership.’  Howard Wilkinson - football manager and Chairman of the LMA

Whether your club is owned by a rich Arab Sheikh, a local businessman or a Community Trust run by the fans, the important ingredient that makes everything work is leadership. Having lots of money in theory gives you an advantage, but this is not enough without the ability to attract the best coaches and the best players, and, just as important, the right people to suit your football club. You have to build the team and create a winning environment.

Leadership has to start at the very top of an organisation, and this book covers all aspects of leadership at a personal level, team level and club level. It also covers the important area of career development, which is a critical area for anyone involved in football. It’s not just young enthusiastic academy players and seasoned professionals at the end of their playing days who need help. The turnover of management, coaching and operations staff is a frequent event at most football clubs.

The more leaders you have at your football club the more successful your club will be. This is where you come in. Build your own leadership skills while helping other people to do the same.

The Football Leadership Handbook covers all aspects of leading in a football setting and provides a model that everyone can use to ensure a consistent approach across your football club.

From the book:

"Within my career, I was around at the time when women’s football was moving from amateur/enjoyment to professional. There was a lot of resistance to this change from volunteers within the game who didn’t want it taken from their grasp. This was one of the big reasons why it took a lot of years to become fully professional. Change of mindset was key to this transition and the elite players at the time drove this change through their attitude towards being the best regardless of not having the resources to be fully professional. Along with the FA and their great work led by Hope Powell, this then impacted and influenced the next generation." Lucy Ward

"I could predict what sort of players the lads were from teaching them without seeing them play. It is virtually impossible to be lazy about education and then be fully ‘on it’ when it comes to training and playing football. This doesn’t mean that you have to be an academic high-flyer, but you need to give the best and have that work ethic to everything you approach" Lucy Ward

Phil Merrick

Phil is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management and a former senior executive with one of the biggest banks in Europe. He has managed complete businesses from sales through to back-office operations and his senior positions include head of group audit, head of business banking strategy, head of corporate programme management and head of asset finance operations.

As well as spending most of his time in Chester, London and Edinburgh, he has been on assignments in Eire, France, Austria, Australia and New Zealand. Phil and his teams have reviewed the performance of numerous businesses and have led restructures, acquisitions, disposals, start-ups, closures and mergers.

On the sporting front, Phil was a successful semi-professional footballer on the North-Wales coast and managed teams including his local club Prestatyn Town where he was also chairman. Under his stewardship Prestatyn made Welsh football history by winning the Welsh Cup and reaching the Europa League second qualifying round in only his second season at the helm and their first ever attempt in Europe.

He has written books about the business of football and managed a golfer, who is now an Assistant PGA professional, and also a motor racing driver, who became 2013 British Formula Ford Champion and 2015, 2016 and 2021 Porsche Carrera Cup Champion and raced in the BTCC. As a junior, Phil played basketball for Wales, football for North Wales and represented his county at cricket and athletics. Born in Leeds, he is a passionate Leeds United supporter, lives in North Wales with his wife Sian and has three daughters, Gemma, Hannah and Kate, and a grandson, Oliver George.

Lucy Ward

Lucy is a retired footballer who represented England U21 when she was just 16 years old. She joined Leeds United Ladies when it was a community team and stayed with the club as they rose to be one of the best teams in England, spending most of her career there, with one season at Doncaster Belles. Lucy played in the Women’s FA Cup Final against Arsenal Ladies and scored at Elland Road in Lucas Radebe’s testimonial, coming on as a substitute for Gary Speed, where she also set up a goal for Matthew Kilgallon.

Lucy was head of education and welfare at Leeds United’s very successful boys’ academy for 17 years, overseeing around 250 junior players and a number of young first-team players. She left the club against her will in 2015, winning a high-profile legal battle against Leeds owner Massimo Cellino over her unfair dismissal for sexual discrimination.

Lucy now works for the Premier League as an education support manager as well as a football commentator for broadcasters such as BT Sport, BBC, talkSPORT, Channel 4 and Sky. She has worked on World Cups, the Olympics and the Euros since 2007 and in addition covers Premier League games for Prime Video and BT Sport.

Lucy lives with her partner Neil Redfearn, two dogs and two ginger cats near Leeds.

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