Monday, 22 Jul 2024

Cathy Long – Sports Consultant, Stadia & Events Expert, and Writer

Cathy Long has had a diverse and fascinating career in the football industry, with many more exciting ventures planned for the future. With 15 years of experience at the Premier League and providing consultancy services to various organizations, Cathy offers valuable insights into her successful career and provides advice for those aspiring to work in the industry.

Were you always interested in working in football?

While Cathy wasn’t always interested in working in football, her passion for the sport was sparked by the tragic events of Hillsborough. Witnessing the impact it had on the community made her realize the need for change within the industry. Cathy’s involvement with the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) allowed her to advocate for fans’ views and contribute to making football a better and safer environment for everyone.

Cathy’s experience at the Premier League

Cathy freelanced at the Premier League from 1993 to 2000 before accepting a full-time position in 2001. Her role involved customer service work, which was a new concept at the time. Cathy played a crucial role in engaging with fans and encouraging clubs to collaborate and share best practices. Over time, she built a strong network and created a supportive and collaborative atmosphere within the Premier League community.

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The role of a Senior Consultant

Since leaving the Premier League, Cathy has worked as a freelancer, allowing her to continuously learn and expand her knowledge. One of her notable projects involved assisting Tottenham Hotspur during their transition to a new stadium. This experience provided valuable insights into stadium operations, which Cathy now utilizes to help other clubs facing similar challenges. She also takes on diverse consulting projects, such as supporter engagement and diversity and inclusion initiatives.

The pros and cons of consulting

As a consultant, Cathy enjoys the freedom and variety that comes with the role. However, clients often expect her to bring existing knowledge rather than learning new skills. Despite this challenge, she values the opportunity to work with different clubs, although it can sometimes feel like she’s not fully integrated into the team.

Aposto Ltd – A Digital Platform for Event Staff

Cathy’s latest venture, Aposto Ltd, addresses the need for better engagement and management of event staff. The idea stemmed from her experiences in control rooms and steward briefings, where she realized the importance of providing staff with adequate information and support to deliver excellent customer service. Aposto Ltd’s platform aims to improve briefings and inductions for event staff, ensuring they feel engaged and empowered. Given the current circumstances, Cathy predicts a high turnover of staff in the football industry, making the platform even more valuable.

wearedevoted.org – Building Communities

Recognizing the power of bringing people together, Cathy founded wearedevoted.org, a website that bridges the gap between football and local communities. Inspired by her involvement in community projects, Cathy saw an opportunity to unite football fans and various groups, fostering collaboration and understanding. This venture allows her to work on non-profit initiatives separately from her sports and events work.

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Cathy’s Published Work

Cathy has been involved in several publications, both as an author and researcher. Notably, her book “Passing Rhythms” explores the transformation of football culture, while “The Miracle of Istanbul” focuses on Liverpool’s remarkable comeback. Currently, Cathy is working on a book about fandom, sharing her own experiences as a fan and season ticket holder at Anfield.

Impactful Initiatives and Implementing Change

Throughout her career, Cathy has been involved in various initiatives that have transformed football operations. For instance, she played a crucial role in creating the Visit Football Assessment, which enhances the matchday experience for all fans. The Accessible Stadia Guide, co-written by Cathy, has become the minimum standard for stadium accessibility. Cathy takes pride in being able to implement these changes and make football more inclusive for all supporters.

Advice for Aspiring Football Industry Professionals

Cathy encourages aspiring professionals to reach out to people in the industry, expressing their interest and highlighting their unique skills. Passion is important, but it’s equally crucial to demonstrate how you can add value to a club or organization. Timing is also essential when making connections, ensuring it aligns with the right moment for potential opportunities. Cathy also emphasizes the importance of informal mentorship and recommends joining organizations like Women in Football for networking and learning opportunities.

Cathy Long’s career is a testament to her passion, dedication, and the positive impact she has made within the football industry. With her ongoing projects and commitment to building better communities and safer arenas, Cathy continues to shape the future of football.

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