English football throughout the 90s and early 2000s was often seen as being woefully behind the times, still adhering to the sorts of work practices one would expect at a Sunday league kick around rather than at a multimillion-pound business.
In the end it required foreigners to come and show us how it should all be done, with the likes of José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola taking control of the reins of some of England’s biggest clubs.
Part of their footballing approach was about injecting professionalism into the game, harnessing things from the corporate world that could benefit managers, players, and fans alike. One of those things was good HR.
Here are how solid HR principles are bettering pro footballers and making them more valuable assets in the process.
Football clubs are understanding that there is so much added value that can be gleaned from sound human resources practices and staff development
Education Away from the Training Ground
In the good old days of jumpers for goalposts, slices of orange at halftime and phones that could not handle betting apps, the idea of professional footballers needing to be educated on anything other than a sliding tackle or a through ball was an alien concept.
With the arrival of advanced training techniques, and football clubs becoming streamlined businesses, players are now expected to be so much more than just athletes who can string a sentence together during an interview.
This includes many Premier League clubs going out of their way to ensure that players are being given the mental stimulus they need away from the football pitch. This can include anything from music classes to foreign language sessions to maths courses.
Of course, there is method to this approach, with an intelligent player capable of speaking multiple languages holding more worth on the transfer markets or sports betting markets than one who is better known for hosting house parties and clubbing into the small hours of the morning. This is known to be the case because studies have shown that players who keep their cognitive abilities sharp will ultimately perform better on the pitch, due to being able to assess a match situation, see a killer pass more quickly, or make tactical adjustments without needing to be prompted by their manager.
This means that football clubs now employ people known as “player care managers”, who ensure that a player is mentally stimulated off the field so he can deliver results for fans who have wagered their hard-earned cash on him to score or register an assist. There is no doubt that this attention to detail is part of why many clubs pioneering such moves, like Everton and Man City, are at the forefront of punters’ minds when they come to choose offers from bookmakers either online or down the high street.
Looking after players when they step off the training ground is of paramount importance to the success of any football club with lofty ambitions
Providing Services for Players and Their Entourage
While many clubs, like regular businesses, would love to see their assets increase in value every waking second, it is of course necessary for human beings to relax and recoup after a long day at the office or playing field.
This is the other vital area that Premier League HR departments work in, ensuring that everything from housing to transport is taken care of, so that players can get the rest they need.
However, the players are only half the story, with many having extended families and groups of friends who also need looking after for the player in question to be comfortable.
Making Sure Money is not Squandered
Ever wondered why there are less stories written in the papers about football players going bust soon after retiring?
Well, HR is once again the reason for this, with most clubs now providing financial advisors who help players to wisely invest and save for their futures, so when that career-ending injury comes, there is a golden nest egg waiting to help them transition back into normal life, rather than leaving them wondering how they will make it through the year.