The Postgraduate Diploma in Football Business at Johan Cruyff Institute has helped Steve Martin improve as a businessman and as Commercial Director of Dundee F.C.
He got to know his hometown club, Scotland’s Dundee Football Club, with the eyes of a child, when he went to watch all their matches with his father. Steve Martin, now a businessman with over 30 years of experience, is going to the stadium, but as Dundee’s Commercial Director.
This 59 year-old Scot would have never thought he would help his club get ahead or that he would complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Football Business at his age. But he did both things. Johan Cruyff Institute has helped him as he tells us in this interview, to open his eyes in many ways, to grow as an entrepreneur, and to better manage his lifelong club with more confidence. It’s the passion of a fan, the management of a businessman.
Steve, you are Dundee Football Club shareholder and Commercial Director. Tell us something about the club and how did you reach this position?
I’ve been a supporter of Dundee Football Club since I was a small boy, and I attend all the home and away games, but twenty-two years ago I became a director of Dundee Football Club but I only stayed for a three year period at that time because I had a young family and I was building a business in Spain, we have an office in Valencia as well, and at that time I had to resign as a director to concentrate on my young family and the business. But four years ago, Dundee Football Club went into administration, it was difficult times, so I became a director again to use my experience and help the club with a fan ownership model, the fans owned the club at that time, but it didn’t seem to work with the fans owning the club for they needed a new injection of finance. So two years ago, we had an involvement with an American company who run football academies in Austin, Texas and they showed an interest in acquiring some shares in Dundee Football Club. So we went across there and had a successful negotiation, and at the end of it basically we formed a company called FPS which is Football Partners Scotland and they are now the owners of Dundee Football Club, the majority owners, and I’m a director again, I’m a Commercial Director.
You never would have imagined getting to be Director of Dundee…
I was just the small boy that went to the matches and grew up still going to the matches, and I took my young children to the matches, but to be a director no, you never thought about these things. But a lot of hard work and dedication and looking after the interests at Dundee was what made me find my goal within the club.
Why did you choose the Cruyff Institute for the Football Management Degree?
Well, I’ve been in business for over thirty years but I’m always learning things, I’m probably the oldest student in Scotland, I keep learning things all the time, I have an inquisitive mind. And after I refreshed my memory with the eight week course in Portland, I wanted to continue to learn something else. So, I searched online basically for a management course that had something to do with football and with business management.
How was the experience?
I never thought about a degree at that time, I can’t get a degree at my age, I’m a businessman already. Why do I need a degree? But I applied for the course, was accepted for the course, and in the last eight months it’s been fantastic. It’s opened my eyes in many, many things. Everything was in there, but this course has made me think, it has brought out all the information.
Do you have any new projects in mind as a result of the course?
What I’ve learned already and the friends I’ve made, fellow students, we’re going to continue relationships. Already two of the students and I might start another business together from what we’ve learned at the Institute, and obviously it doesn’t just help my football business at Dundee Football Club, but it helps my own engineering company as well because the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, threats as a daily thing which I ask my staff now, so this will help my business in the future for sure.
Would you encourage footballers to study Football Management when they retire?
My opinion is that too many footballers have no idea what they want to do when they finish their career at 35, 36, whatever. Most of them, if they have an idea to stay in football, will go get their coaching badges, their C, B & A license and just think they can walk into any job. But jobs are scarce right now. There are far too many coaches out there with no jobs whatsoever, but very, very few football players coming to the end of their career think about a management program such as the Institute of Johan Cruyff offers, and I will certainly be telling my players “this is what you need to be doing if you want to go into business management with football” and I think it’s a way forward for many, many players when they retire.