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How I Started - Chief Executive

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


Name: David Taylor

Job: Chief Executive, Scottish Football Association
Nationality: British
David Taylor is Chief Executive of the Scottish Football Association and has been since the summer of 1999. Scotland has one of the highest number of football supporters per head of population in the world. David's role is key in regulating the game; encouraging participation; and marketing the game. David's also a keen player himself.
Can you briefly describe your role at the Scottish Football Association (SFA)?
"In a nutshell I suppose it is to be a visible focal point of criticism from the media! That's how it can seem sometimes, but seriously, it's the variety of the role that makes it so attractive.
Firstly it involves disciplinary issues such as regulating the game and appointing referees.
Secondly, there is raising the profile of the game to people in Scotland. Encouraging people to play the game.
The third area is assisting in marketing the game and generating revenue from our commercial companies."
When did you first become interested in football?
"I can't remember not being interested in football. It just seemed like it was handed down through the family. My father played junior football. In fact, there's always been an argument in the family about whether he's a better player than I am. I do remember he could strike a ball nicely."
And when did you realise it would become your career?
"It was never my career objective to get into football or sports management in general. It came about by accident when the position simply became vacant here at the SFA.
I was fortunate to have the right kind of skills the organisation was looking for. I was interested in using my business skills to run an organisation of this size. Because it involved working in football I needed no further motivation, football gave it that extra dimension.
Previously I was working as Director of Scottish Trade International, working with partners from lots of different cultures to promote Scottish and British products. This experience translates well into the international aspects of my work here at the SFA."
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
"Beating England! - I have to say that. Before that game I was fortunate enough to meet the players. And to think I used to be standing in the crowds shouting abuse at them... Though of course this memory is tinged with sadness since we still didn't make it in to Euro 2000.
I also had the good fortune of meeting the Pope. I never thought I'd get the chance to do that.
There are very many other things too, such as being appointed to one of the UEFA committees - the Development Assistance Committee. This is important for me because I'm an internationalist and this Committee helps countries particularly in Eastern Europe and Africa to develop the sport there."
What advice would you give to someone who wished to follow your career path?
"The job is intense, it is non-stop - you have to have a real motivation for it because it occupies most of your waking hours. People who are passionate about football have that advantage over others. I think it would be very difficult for people who didn't have that passion to do this job.
Going beyond that you have to have good diplomacy, media, legal, and marketing skills as well as the ability to make decisions.
You also need good organisational skills. When I came to the SFA I felt it was in need of quite a considerable overhaul.
That's quite a wide range of skills and I don't profess to have them all to the same measure, but an essential prerequisite would be that you need the passion for the game."
Are their any formal qualifications that could help?
"None at all. There are increasingly a number of qualifications in the area of sports management which I think are quite interesting. An increasing number of universities in the UK recognise sports policy and sports marketing as specialisms.
I think the way forward for organisations, whether they are national federations or clubs, is likely to be in the field of marketing and sports management. These will increasingly be seen as the most important areas and therefore those skills will be in higher demand because the other skills can be bought in."
Finally, who do you think will win the 2002 World Cup?
"The answer to that of course is Scotland! Actually, like most people my favourite other team is Brazil, though for some reason Scotland always seem to be in the same group as them.
I could see Brazil winning it but at the same time this is the first World Cup to be played in Asia and conditions could be quite different for the players. Therefore, I wouldn't be at all shocked if we have a surprise winner in the next World Cup."



May 2001







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