School of Sport and Service Management

Matt finish for students

Applying a Matt finish to their degrees, two Sport Journalism students have had versions of their dissertations published in major publications.

In their final year Sport Journalism students research and write a critical investigation rather than a conventional dissertation, and for the first time in the nine years the module has run, two have found their way into print, courtesy of Matt Maltby and Matt Campelli.

Matt Maltby, who is due to graduate this summer, edited his 5000-word investigation into grassroots football for the highly respected monthly magazine When Saturday Comes, who published it in April under the headline “Root cause”.

Students are required to produce two versions of their investigation – one of 5000 words and one of 1500 – so Matt’s skill in compressing his original article into 800 words stands especial testimony to his journalism skills.

Matt highlights the most damaging contradiction of the English game. “While the Premier League hoovers up record broadcasting revenues, grassroots football is suffering from a lack of funding, for which the governing bodies seem to be blaming each other. Seven million players of all ages, 400,000 volunteers, 300,000 coaches and 27,000 qualified referees help to keep the various forms of the game going, but its future is threatened by increasing costs.”

Earlier this year, Matt Campelli’s investigation into the failure of Birmingham (“an astonishing jewel of a city” as former US president Bill Clinton once enthused) to punch its weight on the sporting field was published in The Blizzard, another vaunted football publication that encourages long-form journalism. He completed it before graduating last year but worked on it extensively to produce the 2500-word version.

Headlined “Second City Syndrome”, the elder Matt’s article focused on why England’s second city, “with a population second only to London”, has not claimed the Premier League or even the old Football League championship since Aston Villa in 1981.

The article features interviews with former international players such as Gary McAllister, Darius Vassell and Tony Morley as well as Richard Beale, the current Birmingham City FC reserve team coach, local authors, councillors and teachers.

A supporter of nearby Coventry City, Matt came to a sad but unavoidable conclusion: “Only vast investment on a Manchester City-like scale will enable a club from the city to compete at the top level of the game. Until then, they can only lament missed opportunities, poor decisions and try to achieve the maximum they can with current resources.”

Kerry Burnett • May 15, 2014

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