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Research says 100s of football manager sackings brings instability to game

Dr Sue Bridgewater with Blackburn Rovers manager Mark Hughes.
Dr Sue Bridgewater with Blackburn Rovers
manager Mark Hughes who took the
Warwick Certificate

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Research reveals over 500 football managers dismissed from clubs but new professional qualifications could turn the tide of quick dismissals

Download the report: An Analysis of Football Manager Trends 1992 - 2005 in all Four Divisions(PDF document)

On Tuesday 10th January Dr Sue Bridgewater from Warwick Business School at the University of Warwick will present new research revealing that over 500 managers for the four top English divisions have been dismissed from their post since 1992 bringing damaging instability to the game. However she will also outline how a new professionalism in the post of manager is already achieving results on the pitch and could thus help managers stay post longer.

Dr Bridgewater looked at the 678 managerial changes in the four football leagues from August 1992 to December 2005. During that period she found 94 were still in post, 48 resigned for personal, advancement or other reasons but a staggering 536 of those managers were dismissed from their post. These changes of management have involved 360 different managers.

Dr Bridgewater also found that on average this season a manager remained in post for just 1.72 years (down from an average of 2.7 years in 1992/93). However lower league managers have actually lost their posts at more than twice the rate of the Premiership. Last season three times as many managers were parted from their posts in Championship clubs than in the Premiership.

The Warwick Business School research dispels the myth that this rapid turnover in managers is simply a giant game of musical chairs with managers simply swapping clubs. In fact almost half (49.1%) of first time appointees go out of the game on losing their first post and are never appointed again.

The research also demonstrated that this enormous turnover in managers is creating an unacceptable level of instability that damages individual team performances. The report found that clubs with the fewest managers over the period studied had an average win percentage of 40.91% compared with 32.68% for those clubs with the most frequent changes of manager.

However the report also demonstrated a significant change in the fortunes of managers brought about by the increasing uptake of relevant professional qualifications by managers and prospective managers. This relatively recent interest in gaining professional management qualifications is already making a real difference to management performance and thus length of tenure in management posts. The researchers found that managers with no qualifications, or only the more limited B license achieved on average a score of 30.28% wins whereas those with the Pro License averaged 37.09% wins.

Both the Pro License and the Certificate in Football Management run by Warwick Business School are proving increasingly attractive to mangers and prospective managers seeking to add managerial insight to their considerable football skills. As Manchester City Manager Stuart Pearce put it: on completing the Warwick Business School Certificate in Football Management "I appreciate that the most important thing is to get good results, but to me the bottom line is the more education you can give yourself, and the more preparation you can do, the less chance of failing. That's my philosophy."

LMA Chief Executive John Barnwell welcomed the Warwick Business School research. He said

"I am grateful to the Warwick Business School for producing the most comprehensive piece of managerial statistical analysis ever undertaken in this field.

"There is clearly a major concern to the League Managers Association that the average life expectancy of a manager at a football club has fallen dramatically from 2.7 years in 1992-93 to 1.8 years last season.

"With an average of 40 dismissals per season, it means that almost half the clubs in the Premiership and Football League now change their manager every season.

"Stability is invariably the key to success in any industry and football is no different. The LMA believes it is crucial that our members are given every possible opportunity to succeed at their clubs.

"We also feel it is vitally important that our members are prepared as best as they possibly can be when they take up managerial appointments.

"Our association has introduced a package of benefits and qualifications which we believe helps managers to cope with the diverse challenges they face as managers.

"This is beneficial for the whole of football as no-one wants to see a trend continuing where the tenure of managers becomes ever shorter and leads to constant upheaval within our clubs."

You can listen to an interview with Dr Bridgewater on Warwick Podcast.

Sue Bridgewater with Kenny Jackett and Stuart Pierce, Football Management Course
Dr Sue Bridgewater with Kenny Jackett
and Stuart Pearce who both studied on
Warwick's Football Management Course

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For further information please contact:

Dr Sue Bridgewater Warwick Business School
024 76524341

Peter Dunn, Press and Media Relations Manager
University of Warwick Tel: 024 76 523708
or 07767 655860

Vin Hammersley, Media Relations Manager
Warwick Business School Tel: 024 76524124

John Barnwell, Chief Executive
League Managers Association
07831 690190

Paul Mace, Macesport, 07850 873737

PR1 PJD 10th January 2006