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Together stronger: values and visions of Welsh football

13 January 2023

Image of a football with the Welsh dragon printed on it. The football is on the pitch in a stadium.

Putting Wales on the world map alongside the values and vision of Welsh football was the topic of discussion at the Cardiff Business School Breakfast Briefing on 8 November 2022.

Former Wales women’s captain, Professor Laura McAllister, hosted the conversation with Noel Mooney, CEO of the Football Association of Wales (FAW) just before the FIFA Men’s World Cup 2022 kicked off. Laura is Professor of Public Policy and the Governance of Wales at the Wales Governance Centre in the School of Law and Politics at Cardiff University

Laura started with asking Noel: “what’s a boy from Limerick doing in Wales?” Together, they discussed the journey that led him to his current role with the FAW. Noel explained it’s the business of football that has always interested him and shared how he started his own football association age 12 in the village where he grew up in the Republic of Ireland.

Noel said: “I had this great love of football itself but also how to administer, how to grow the sport, how to market the sport. Even when I went on to be a player, I was really interested in crowds and the business of the sport, building stadiums and community engagement.”

Noel’s background includes working for the Football Association of Ireland. He spent 10 years leading strategic development for UEFA, dealing with the biggest clubs in the world.

When he first began at the FAW 15 months ago, Noel explained there was an urgent need to set out a road map for future success. He implemented what he calls “relatively quick-change management” and within 2 months, they launched a new strategy with the following priorities to:

  • drive high performance
  • be a sustainable organisation for the future
  • drive participation
  • build a great workforce
  • build inspirational and fit for purpose facilities
  • put Wales on the world stage

Values are key to Noel: “It’s not just about football, it’s what football can do for communities. We’ve now got this opportunity to live our values on the world stage.” He explained, “it feels like we’ve got a chance to build on something that is not just football but part of the cultural evolution of the country.”

Talking about how they can drive the game forward, he said: “we need to keep evolving our governance structures.” He added, “we need a board and we need a council that reflects a modern Cymru.” He wants gender parity “not because it ticks a box but because we make better decisions”. And the same applies with “people who come from different classes, different parts of the world.”

Their next steps will be looking at the parts they need to expand, using research and data, working with universities and using the whole country to build partnerships to give them the edge. The FAW will also be building on its increasing involvement in public affairs.

Noel explained he wants to lead the FAW through the ebbs and flows and said their goal is to be world class on the pitch and off the pitch.

Watch the full recording of the event.

Cardiff Business School's Breakfast Briefing Series is a network of events, which enables business contacts to find out more about the latest research and key developments from industrial partners.

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