Andrew already planning for the long game

It’s often said that those who ‘fail to plan are planning to fail’, and although some still debate who coined the phrase, no-one ever doubts its accuracy.

Bolton Wanderers’ defender Andrew Taylor is certainly a believer in planning ahead; having signed up to two years of study on the VSI MSc in Sports Directorship – aged just 31 “I am probably the youngest on the course, because most of the others have already finished their playing careers, but to me, this is the start of my life after football,” he says. “I was very happy to sign a permanent deal with Bolton, and am feeling fine this season, but you never know what lies ahead in professional sport. “I love playing football, but at the same time I also want to be in control of my future, and believe this qualification will help me identify future career opportunities within the game.”

Andrew even considered starting the MSD course earlier, having first heard about the innovative qualification from VSI the founders of the programme two years ago. “I read up about it, liked the concept, and was impressed by the syllabus and the people who were on the course at that time, but I was only on loan at Bolton then, so couldn’t be certain where I’d be the following season,” he recalls. “Once I had that certainty, I knew this was the right choice. I’ve always been interested in the business side of football, and although I realise I’ll be out of my comfort zone on occasions, that’s the only way to make progress, whether you’re in sport or any other line of work.”

Andrew has now clocked up more than 400 league and cup appearances, having started his career during Middlesbrough’s Premier League days. He came through Boro’s academy system and made 125 appearances for the Tees-side club, mainly under current England manager Gareth Southgate. Having played in an FA Cup semi-final, won promotion to the Premier League with Cardiff City, and reached the Championship with Wanderers last season, Andrew’s enjoyed a fair amount of success.

Equally though, given his current club’s financial woes – and Middlesbrough’s narrow escape from footballing oblivion in the year of his birth – he’s well aware that dramatic change is never far away from the sport he loves.

As I came through an academy, I’ve always been a big believer in what a well-run youth system can do for a club,” says Andrew. “Now though, it suddenly seems as if some people are changing their minds. “Huddersfield have cut back their academy structure, and other clubs are apparently considering doing likewise. Academies are one of the topics I’m looking forward to learning about, and seeing how they might evolve in the future. “I think academies are sometimes just an ego trip for owners, because they think their club should have one, and they’re not genuinely focused on bringing youngsters through to the first team. “At Southampton, there’s a very clear pathway from the academy set-up, but that is very much the exception, certainly at the elite level. You look at Chelsea, for example. They have dozens of young players, but very few ever get anywhere near the first team.

Then again, you look at what Steve Gibson has done for Boro. He rescued them, moved the club to a stadium, took them up to the Premier League and has spent an absolute fortune of his own money doing so, which is why the fans, the players and everyone loves him.

I have no idea where my career will take me after I retire, but working under an owner and chairman like that would be a dream job for anyone.”

To learn more about the VSI MSc in Sports Directorship contact: or call 0845 45 99765

Listen to Andrew on the link below talking about life as a Footballer and the Sporting Directors course on the Mark Saggers Talksport radio show Kickoff