In this episode, Ian Fitch chats with Ian Mather, so it’s less a tale of two halves, and more the tale of two Ian’s! Sit back and listen to them ‘kicking around’ thoughts on what it really means to pursue a second career. Ian Mather is a retired solicitor and former partner at Mills & Reeves, but decided that retirement wasn’t for him, especially once the job of CEO of Cambridge Football Club presented itself.
Ian specialised in employment law and was an advocate of mediation over expensive litigation throughout his career. With the skills he learnt in how to mediate successfully and to manage his own company and staff, Ian felt he had a sound basis to step in and guide the football club to promotion.
Ian talks about the benefits of having a clear strategy and the importance of communicating this with your teams, especially when you‘re new to a business. Ian looks back to the beginning of lockdown and reflects on how important it was to develop quick decision-making skills; which led to developing the idea of fan bubbles and Cambridge FC being the first club in the UK to welcome back fans.
Ian considers the key to his ongoing success is treating people decently and listening to them. During his first few months with the club, he focused on observation; what was working well and what wasn’t, and he developed his relationships with the team which helped guide them out of a turbulent time.
Ian believes passionately in clubs engaging with their communities by actively taking part in youth groups, adopting sustainable practices, engaging fans and helping out with community work.
The club signed up to Fair Game, a regulatory initiative supported by Government, to make clubs more accountable. This involves closer financial monitoring to avoid closures, and creating a sustainable business model for football clubs. Ian discusses how the current financial model in our national game is broken, and provides insights into why more and more clubs are signing up to Fair Game.
This episode is a fascinating listen for business leaders and football fans alike and provides a great example of how taking risks by transferring your skills and talents to a new role you are passionate about, can be fruitful and fulfilling.
There are no red flags in this episode, only golden boots, so join us in this peek behind the scenes of the beautiful game and learn from a man working to turn its financial credibility around.
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