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Thursday 21 November 2013

Enterprise Challenge aiming to raise horizons

Students from across London attend Premier League Enterprise Challenge 2013 launch

The latest version of the annual entrepreneurial challenge was launched at Stamford Bridge in November

With the growth of the international popularity of the Barclays Premier League, reaching out to the millions of fans of the league around the world is a challenge for the marketing directors at the 20 clubs.

These professionals have been joined in finding a solution to the problem by 3,000 schoolchildren after this challenge was laid down by Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore for this year’s Premier League Enterprise Challenge (PLEC).

The PLEC tasks students aged 14-19 with developing possible solutions to real-life challenges that football clubs face. The Challenge is the annual highlight of the Premier League Enterprise Academy (PLEA), a programme giving young people a unique insight into the running of professional football clubs, learning by using real business examples drawn from their club.

"The challenge is somewhat deeper and more detailed than it has been in the past," said Scudamore. "The young people have risen to every challenge we have set them so this will stretch them even further."

"We are trying to lift people's horizons"
Richard Scudamore

Created in 2008, there are 24 clubs running PLEAs, which will have engaged more than 90,000 young people by this summer from more than £1.2m in overall investment. This year more than 6,600 primary school students will be taking part in PLEA courses, including the offer of insight from the departmental heads at clubs as well as behind-the-scenes tours of their facilities.

This year's challenge to more than 250 community groups or schools was announced at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge Stadium and Scudamore was accompanied by Matthew Hancock, the Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and schoolchildren from across London.

The special guests saw the work of the Enterprise Academies as students took part in a various business activities, such as presentations, product analysis and development, business plans and profit margins.

"It was an interesting experience," 17-year-old Capital City Academy student Isa Ndanusa said. "We pretended to be a supplier for Premier League shops so we had to buy resources and sell them off for a profit. I had very little idea of the scope of it all. I didn't believe it was going to be such a big event, I am going to remember it for a very long time.

"The Challenge is great, the networking in the room was very evident. It seemed a great way to meet people who are involved in football. I was planning to play football but things don't always go right so to stay in the involved in the game would be brilliant."

"It is not possible for politicians to bring that inspiration the way that the Premier League manages to"
Matthew Hancock

As well as marking the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the launch at Stamford Bridge was accompanied by the announcement that the Premier League and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will join forces for the first time to deliver enterprise education to young people via the PLEA. From this year, the Academy will also seek to develop business skills among "hard to reach" students.

"We are trying to lift people's horizons," Scudamore said. "There are some people who struggle with some of the more academic subjects, with attendance, and gripping education, and therefore we are trying to reach as best people who are, in some ways, challenged in their education going forward."

The Minister praised the Challenge for supporting the Government's drive to build a culture of enterprise.

"The reason why I wanted to come and help launch this year's Enterprise Academy is because the power of the Premier League and its clubs to inspire and to motivate is so all encompassing that it is something that we hugely support in Government," Hancock said.

"It inspired me when I was young, in the same way that it inspires millions of people around the country and, it's fair to say, billions of people around the world. The Premier League is one of the finest leagues in the world and its involvement in inspiring and motivating is unsurpassed. It is not possible for politicians to bring that inspiration the way that the Premier League manages to."

"Everyone likes a competition, the youngsters like it, the teachers love it"
Sam McLoughlin

Expressing his delight at hosting the launch, Buck added that the Challenge mirrored Chelsea’s ambition to use football as a vehicle to engage and inspire.

"Football is a tough industry, as many of you will be finding out over the course of the next few months," he told the students. "What often goes unnoticed is the power of football to inspire and to motivate.

"Football has the unique ability to engage people, to be used as a vehicle to educate, and as a force for good within our communities. It's that ability to inspire that brings us here today."

Having learnt the challenge (see below for the full challenge) today, thousands of 14-19-year-olds will formulate their solutions and present them as they compete for the right to represent their local clubs. Those who win that right will battle against other clubs in regional semi-finals before a national final in London in April 2014.

"Everyone likes a competition, the youngsters like it, the teachers love it," Sam McLoughlin, project manager for community at Newcastle United Foundation, said. "They all want to represent their football club and that's something that is really special about the challenge. When we say it to young people that you have the chance to represent Newcastle at a national event, there's a wow factor. 

"Every year when the Challenge comes around the schools now are emailing me, before I have even told them. They know it's coming, it's a regular fixture on the calendar."

The full 2013/14 Enterprise Challenge

The Barclays Premier League is the most watched league in the world, broadcast to 804million homes in 212 territories.

You are a Premier League Club Marketing Director and your Board wants you to explore ways in which to attract new fans and develop new revenue streams from rapidly growing international markets.

Your Club already has well developed strategies for the UK market and prospects for further growth look more promising overseas. You have been asked to formulate plans to increase your international following and income streams, specifically from Africa and the USA.

Develop fully costed plans to engage a growing fan base from these two regions.

The proposal should cover:

  • How your Club could attract more fans to travel to the UK to experience a match live at your stadium
  • How your Club could engage fans in these regions via the Club’s digital channels, taking into consideration different time zones in relation to when matches are played
  • How you could use your Club’s assets to generate interest and enthusiasm in these target countries
  • You will need to take account of the varying cultures, demographics and economics of Africa and the USA when formulating your ideas.

The Board at your Club is prepared to invest in the initiative, but will want to see a return on their investment over a number of years. Your Business Plan should make clear what the scale and the expected return on the investment should be.

Good luck.

The 24 Premier League and Football League clubs operating a Premier League Enterprise Academy: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool, Bolton Wanderers, Cardiff City, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham, Hull City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Queens Park Rangers, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, Wigan Athletic

Premier League Enterprise Challenge roll of honour

2012 Middlesbough: St Michael's RC School
2011 Blackpool: St George's School - Business and Enterprise College
2010 Tottenham Hotspur: St Mary's High School
2009 Everton: Savio Salesian College

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