Ambitious AFC Mansfield set up their off the field dream team

Ambitious AFC Mansfield have created a new advisory board for the club, packed with knowledge and experience from a huge spectrum of talent.

Monday, 27th June 2022, 8:32 am
Updated Monday, 27th June 2022, 8:32 am

The club, under new ownership and management by the North of England Football Academy, have set up the board to help develop the strategy of the football club as they look to provide real opportunities for players to develop and it sees Bulls see Nathan Thompson, Chris Brindley, Ian Lawrence, Ed Airey and Iain Kirkpatrick as their new dream team off the park.

Chairman/joint manager Spencer Fearn said: “I have been humbled by the quality of individuals that wish to give their time to help build our club at AFC Mansfield.

“I cannot wait to get started to start developing our club further as one that is recognised as the club of opportunity, a club that stands for second chances, underdogs and hard work paying off.”

Nathan Thompson - part of the new AFC Mansfield advisory board.

Chair of the board will be Nathan Thompson, who has spent the past 13 years as a professional footballer, playing for Swindon Town, Portsmouth and Peterborough United and he is nearing completion of the coveted VSI Sports Directorship Masters Degree.

Thompson said “The opportunity to join AFC Mansfield presented itself and it was one a felt was mutually beneficial as it will allow me to build an even more in depth understanding of how a club operates.

“The ethos of giving opportunities to players whose talents hadn’t previously been fully appreciated aligned with mine, having played with numerous players over the years who had been in similar positions.

“When given a chance and the environment is conducive to allowing players to prosper, the result can be exciting, and I believe that’s what AFC Mansfield are trying to create. Therefore, I’m delighted to join the advisory board and excited to see where this journey takes us.”

After executive roles in the UK with NatWest, British Gas and Metro Bank, Chris Brindley now has a portfolio of non-executive director and chair roles in a wide variety of business and sport.

He also is a global keynote speaker and executive coach.

Brindley has coached executives from companies such as Heineken, Muller, and Halfords and is also a business mentor for the Premier League Elite Academy Managers Programme.

He is a leading authority on performance management, strategy, customer experience and employee engagement; particularly within organisations where change is a feature.

Brindley is passionate about creating a long-term sustainable performance culture.

His accolades include Britain's Best Boss and Most Outstanding Workplace at the National Business Awards and in June 2018, he was awarded an MBE for his services to sport.

Brindley said: “I have worked closely with Spencer for over two years, and he is exactly the type of leader that football needs, as he is knowledgeable, authentic and acts with integrity.

“The other Advisory Board members are a new breed of leaders in sport, and I am excited to work with them in helping AFC Mansfield achieve their ambitions. The tie up with NEFA is a particularly exciting part of the planned business model.”

Fearn said “I am delighted that Chris has joined our board at AFC Mansfield.

“I have had the pleasure of learning from Chris the past two or three years, and he is without doubt one of the best leaders we have in this country.

“You just have to look at his bio to see the unbelievable work he has done, which has been recognised with Chris achieving the honour of an MBE. Chris will take on a general advisory role where we will be guided by his vast knowledge in many areas.”

Ian Lawrence is joining the board as a research consultant with a focus on developing 'our people’.

This role will involve support the club to ensuring that it’s at the cutting edge of learning and development.

He currently leads the MSc Sports Directorship at the Global Institute of Sport and said: “I’m delighted to play a part in what’s next for the club.

“Spencer, Ryan and their NEFA colleagues have a track record of making a positive difference to the lives of young players.

“There is something special about the high-performance culture that NEFA create both on and off the field.

“I’m looking forward to contributing to that high challenge and high support culture that will define the club”.

Fearn said of him: “Ian is one of the leading academics in the country with a fantastic knowledge of football and sport in general.

“His role will be pivotal in ensuring that we are developing all our people at AFC Mansfield. He is another top operator.”

Ed Airey has also joined with a particular focus on sponsor engagement and fan experience.

His current role is as employee experience director at National Express and he sits on the advisory board for Switch the Play, a charity specialising on helping athlete transition out of the world of sport.

His passion lies in creating experiences that have people at their heart.

Airey explained: “Having known Spencer for a few years now, I know his ethos when it comes to developing footballers into better players and well-rounded people and been deeply impressed by the progress NEFA has made.

“As a believer that there is too much wastage in many of our sports with too many people discarded too early, I am excited and massively passionate about what AFC Mansfield are focussed on doing.”

Fearn said: “Ed has had a fantastic career to date and is a real people developer. He is passionate about delivering a high-level experience to colleagues and stakeholders.

“Ed has great knowledge from his role at Switch the Play on how we must make the players the heart of everything we do, both whilst playing and when they have retired from the game. This knowledge will be valuable as we build our club.”

The fifth new member of the advisory board is Iain Kirkpatrick, currently chief customer officer at Nottingham Building Society, having previously been managing director at Metro Bank and head of private banking at Lloyds amongst several similar roles previously.

He also owns and runs businesses in the hospitality and construction sectors and he will focus on the club's commercial activities and help with social media and broader engagement in the community.

Kirkpatrick said “Having worked with Spencer before I was delighted to get involved with AFC Mansfield.

“Spencer’s energy, passion and commitment is unique, and I believe there are very exciting times ahead for all those involved with the Bulls”

Fearn added: “Iain is another brilliant appointment to our board.

“He is an entrepreneur who has vast knowledge of many different sectors.

“The support he will give us on developing our club commercially is very much needed, as is our strategy for social media and community engagement.”

On the field, Bulls have added 24-year-old striker Alex Hardwick to their ranks from Maltby Main of the North East Counties League Premier Division.

Hardwick played 45 times for the Miners over the past couple of seasons and as well as playing as a striker is versatile and can play a number of positions.

Joint manager Spencer Fearn said: “Stan knows Alex very well and speaks highly of him.

“He has a great attitude and work ethic and wants to continue to develop as a player.

“I watched him a couple of times last season at Maltby and was very impressed. It's another really positive signing as the squad takes shape.”

With work continuing on the pitch at Forest Town, AFC have moved two of their pre-season friendlies.

The home games against Grantham Town U23s (9th July) and Dodworth (16th July) will now be hosted at Hallam Sports Park and the game against Belper Town has been replaced with an away trip to NCEL Premier Division side Hemsworth MW (13th July).