BURNLEY FC’s dream to create the country’s first ‘university of football’ is to become a reality in a major boost for the town.
The £2million university, the brainchild of Clarets’ director Brendan Flood, is set to open in September for the 2011/12 academic year at Turf Moor.
It will take on 200 students and create 150 jobs.
The news has been hailed as a ‘fantastic boost’ to both the club and the town and will see students from across the globe travel to Burnley to enrol on the unique courses.
Bosses at the University and College of Football Business (UCFB), which offers three-year degrees accredited by a university in the south of England, said they hope to have capacity for 1,000 students within a few years.
The UCFB will open in a 30,000 sq ft base within Turf Moor, with teaching taking place in rooms overlooking the pitch.
Courses will focus on the management of football clubs, and what it takes to run a top side in leagues like the Premier League and the Championship.
A high profile non-executive board has been appointed by Flood to help oversee the project, which includes former Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association Gordon Taylor and Clarets fan and former Downing Street press chief Alistair Campbell.
More than 100 prospective students have registered their interest and teaching staff will include full-time academics as well as visiting lecturers from the Premier League, Scottish Premier League, Football League and PFA.
Chief executive Paul Fletcher said: “It is a fantastic idea.
"We are a small club and we make sure that we are run responsibly on a tight budget.
"If this is a success then it will be massive for us.
"Education is a serious business, which will generate income for the club “People will come here from all over the world to learn how the game is run in this country, where we have the best league in the world.
"Even the Championship is one of the biggest leagues.
“There has been a lot of interest already, from people as far away as Nigeria, Singapore and Australia, as well as foreign clubs who want to learn how things are done in England.”
Gordon Birtwistle, Burnley MP, said: “I believe that this will be the only one of its kind in the world.
"It is an inspirational idea that will have such a positive impact on the town.
“The club has done it all on its own and to see it come to fruition is an amazing feat of achievement.”
Philip Wilson, chief executive of UCFB, said: “Football involves more than just the game, off the pitch there is the media and marketing, supply chain management, logistics, business and finance and we want the UCFB graduates to leave with transferable skills that they could just as easily take to Mars or Deutsche Bank as a football club.
“We want this to be something that Burnley as a town and a club are proud of and will have an impact on the local economy that spills out beyond UCFB.”
The university aims to tap into the global appeal of football and attract overseas students, and an accommodation block that will have between 200 and 250 bedrooms is planned for a site next to Turf Moor.
The courses offered will all be BA (Hons) degrees in Football Business and Finance, Football Business and Marketing and Football Business and Media, and all will be over three years.
Mr Wilson said the college would be advertised via UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
The space within Turf Moor will include library, seminar rooms and student common room areas.