'The Professional Footballers' Association is doing fantastic work to encourage players to continue degree programmes and professionals to do degrees part time'
The financial crises besetting football have been to the fore this week, with Everton obliged to sell star player Wayne Rooney to rivals Manchester United and former Scotland coach Craig Brown quitting as boss of Preston, claiming his mistake had been not to spend as much money as other clubs.
Money has been a key topic at the first conference at the University of Central Lancashire's International Football Institute, a partnership between the university and the National Football Museum.
Jonathan Magee, conference coordinator, a former footballer and chair of the IFI's operational group, said it reflected growing research interest in football, ranging from politics to gender issues.
Dr Magee, who is a senior lecturer in sports management at the IFI, said: "It's a huge global industry but it also connects people at a local level."
With Rooney set to earn an initial £50,000 a week, he asked: "What other industry would pay that sort of salary and survive?"
The conference also tackled long-term employment for footballers, whose professional careers last between five and eight years. "Players are having to look increasingly at getting academic qualifications," Dr Magee said.
"The Professional Footballers' Association is doing fantastic work to encourage players to continue degree programmes and professionals to do degrees part time. One thing professional footballers have is a lot of free time."
Dr Magee, rather than turn professional, opted to go to Ulster University, then take a masters at Loughborough University and a PhD at Brighton. "I realised that for a long-term career it was better to look beyond the game." He had a semiprofessional career in Northern Ireland and the English non-league before retiring with a persistent ankle injury in 1998.
"I miss scoring goals, but with the IFI I can dedicate a large part of my work to football."
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