My Week: Scott FieldScott Field, head of media relations at the Football Association, on Hodgson’s choice...a new whistle...and why we should hear more of Lineker...
Monday May 14
The beauty of working in The FA’s media team is always the sheer variety of subjects we have to cover, and my start to the week is no different. Whilst everyone else begins the week still savouring the greatest end to a Barclays Premier League season there has ever been, my start is dominated by the other side of the game - mainly dealing with the disciplinary fall-out from the weekend that was. After scouring the 125 pages of newspaper cuttings – all featuring The FA or the England team – on the train, it’s an 8am start at my desk and a brief flurry of calls. Following up the nationals’ lead stories on Joey Barton’s potential suspension, the broadcasters are first to call to clarify the situation. Disciplinary matters are always very tricky for us as we have to make sure we are not prejudging any outcome, but at the same time we have to help guide the correspondents through the various hypothetical scenarios that they put to us.
Tuesday May 15
Preparations for the European Championship are in full flow in the office, but with the Olympics getting ever closer there are also plans to be put in place for our participation in the football event. Two of us from the FA media team will be seconded onto Team GB media duty, which means the morning is spent ensuring my laptop gets an IT health check, to enable me to work remotely during the Games. That’s followed by a suit fitting for the European Championship and a brand-new whistle from M&S, which can’t be bad, can it? Another major event on the horizon is the opening of the national football centre, or St. George’s Park as it is known. I usually spend at least one day a week on site at Burton, but not this week. Instead it’s a series of meetings at Wembley ensuring we’re keeping a good communications flow locally and nationally.
Finally, a quick dash into central London to meet our colleagues at the Football Foundation. The Foundation does some sterling work, renovating and upgrading some of the country’s most dilapidated grassroots facilities, so it’s always a pleasure to meet up with my counterparts to talk about their good news stories. Oh, and we all pick our England squads over a pint, which causes some lively debate.
Wednesday May 16
Roy Hodgson has chosen to name his England squad today, which means it’s one of the busiest days of the year in our office. My colleague Mark Whittle is handling Roy’s press conference, as Head of Media Relations for England, so it’s a watching brief for the rest of us as we huddle around the bank of four TVs we have in the centre of the office. Roy comes across well and handles the line of questioning with great skill. It always amazes me how little actually gets asked about football, just the news of football instead. After some three hours of media and supporter activity Mark and the excellent FA media operations team troop back up to the office, a little weary, to news of Kenny Dalglish’s departure from Anfield. As often happens, an already busy news day turns into an incredibly busy one. We finish the day with some of the writers who will shape the England stories of tomorrow, as we join Shaun Custis, Henry Winter, Andy Dunn, Paul McCarthy and Matt Lawton amongst others at the FWA Live event in town. Our Managing Director of Club England, Adrian Bevington, puts up a good argument on the panel in an animated session, which also features some fascinating insights from Gary Lineker – which makes me think Match of the Day would be well served by letting Lineker have more of an opinion on a Saturday night.
Thursday May 17
The newspapers are, on the whole, very supportive of Roy’s squad picks, which makes for good reading on the way into Wembley. I’m very privileged to have worked at some fine clubs like Watford and my first love West Bromwich Albion, but to be greeted by the imposing Wembley arch every morning is something quite special. I always enjoy spending time with some of our finest sports writers and so it’s with some enthusiasm that I go to my first meeting of the morning, with the excellent Patrick Barclay. There are a small number of topics on the agenda, not least Paddy’s enthusiasm for Roy Hodgson’s appointment. As a Throstles season ticket holder it doesn’t take long for me and Paddy to find common ground on the benefits of Roy’s teams. The rest of the day is spent preparing announcements around the England Under-21s, St. George’s Park and our upcoming CSR work in Poland.
Friday May 18
With everyone in the football world turning their attentions to the Champions League Final in Munich, it’s a chance to take stock and press on with a few day-to-day tasks. You can tell all of the writers are in Munich as the phones are quiet – a rare respite. This gives me chance to put into place a few plans for what will be one of the most important votes in grassroots football for a generation. On May 28, the FA shareholders (counties, leagues etc) will vote to introduce small-sided football for age groups up to Under-12s, meaning also that 11 year old goalkeepers will no longer have to defend the same size goal as Joe Hart. We need to secure 75% of the vote, so some positive coverage will go a long way for us. Thankfully we’ve had some great support from proponents of the common sense move, like Martin Samuel, Henry Winter and Pete Lansley. Wembley Stadium is hosting the play-offs this weekend, and at least one member of the FA press office will be on duty at each event. I’ve got this weekend off, but I’m down for the League One play-off final between Sheffield United and Huddersfield, but that though, is one for next week…