When John McKenzie took over the chairmanship of Leeds United, there was mild amusement that a professor whose last management responsibility was for a collection of art colleges had landed one of the highest-profile jobs in football. Since the traditional image of the club chairman has been of the local businessman basking in the reflected glory of his team, it was hard to see why a higher education background should not be a step up. But the common assumption seemed to be that the man from the ivory tower would not understand the beautiful game or get to grips with its off-field problems.
Time will tell if the critics are right, but the plc's confidence in Professor McKenzie makes an interesting contrast to the criticism of higher education management by ministers and employers' organisations. The new chairman may be mistaken when he claims that deans can be more temperamental than star players, but the modern university is a match for most football clubs in terms of complexity and turnover. Perhaps Richard Lambert should take in a Leeds match before he completes his review.