This season’s Champions League proved to be one of the most exciting in recent memory, with remarkable comebacks and high scoring, classic matches cementing the competition’s reputation as the leading club tournament in world football. We spoke with BA (Hons) Football Business & Marketing student Blake Foxall, who is on a student placement at Liverpool FC and attended the game as a fan, about his highlights from the Madrid final and the impact that winning the Champions League can have for a club…

Tell us about the Champions League final. It sounds like you had an incredible time?

I was lucky enough to attend the game in Madrid as a fan, with several colleagues from the club. The spectacle of the occasion became clear as soon as we entered the LFC fan park, where around 60,000 fans had gathered. It was situated in Plaza Felipe II, just a few metro stops away from the Wanda Metropolitano. In 30-degree heat, the joyous occasion was fuelled by on-stage performances from Liverpool fan favourites like Jamie Webster. It seemed easy to forget that kick-off was still hours away, given the unique party atmosphere! Our experience inside the stadium began with a grand opening ceremony and performance by Imagine Dragons, followed by a minute’s applause for the passing of Jose Reyes earlier that day. The early goal was simply surreal, and many Liverpool fans struggled to believe the luck of a penalty in the first minute. Up until the latter stages the game was scrappy and nervy, when the crowd erupted to Origi’s goal. Given all the heartbreak and lows this club has endured over the years, hearing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ following the trophy celebration is an emotional experience I will never forget.

Blake: “The early goal was simply surreal.”

What was the fan experience like in Madrid for an all-English final?

The majority of the fan experience in Madrid was centred around the fan parks during the day-time, largely because the vast majority of fans were without tickets for the game itself. I spoke to fans who had driven for several days, just to be a part of the spectacle and celebration in the city. We had little interaction with Spurs fans – the respective fan parks were located quite far apart from each other, which is, of course, important for security reasons.

Tell us about your Partnerships role at Liverpool FC. What does your work involve? Any highlights?

I work within the club’s Partnerships Sales Team, who are all based within the London office. My role as an insights analyst frequently involves developing commercial narratives for an array of global brands across a number of industries and markets. I’ve also been closely involved with planning and operations for the CEO’s international visits, which has given me the opportunity to interact with a number of key stakeholders across the club.

Do you see winning the Champions League having a big impact on the club in marketing and commercial terms?

It is, of course, a very exciting time at the club, and there is no better time to attract and bring in new partners. LFC now, without doubt, holds a place among football’s few elite clubs, with a fanbase of millions across the globe offering a substantial marketing opportunity for brands. A Champions League victory is clearly a great way to demonstrate such attributes.

How important are commercial partnerships for the club’s overall plans on and off the pitch?

Commercial partnerships are central to both the maintenance and growth of any football club. The emergence of deals in markets such as Asia and MEA can be a great way to attract and engage fans in such regions. Commercial partnerships ultimately present a key source of revenue for a football club.

What’s it like balancing an exciting placement like yours with studying a degree?

Without a doubt I’ll never forget the experience of attending a Champions League final, however, I also recently had the unique opportunity to play a staff 11-a-side game on the pitch at Anfield. Also, earlier this year presenting an overview of my specialised partnership industry to all of the sales team at the office was an extremely rewarding and enjoyable experience.

Blake had the opportunity to play a staff 11-a-side game on the pitch at Anfield

What has been the highlight of your time at UCFB so far?

My highlights so far would definitely involve the experience, skills and contacts I gained in the first year through the university’s Employability & Enrichment programme. From both networking with guest speakers and applying to roles advertised by UCFB, I was able to gain work experience at B-Engaged and Middlesex FA. I also found Neil Doncaster’s Management Games truly inspiring to work in the football industry, with practical sessions and tips that I’m sure will be useful for years to come.

 

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