The Football League: 5 questions with Russell Scott

  • Last year, The Football League celebrated its 125th anniversary. It all began on Saturday March 2, 1888, when League founder William McGregor sent his letter to clubs suggesting, "that ten or twelve of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home-and-away fixtures each season." 

    Fast forward to today and world football's oldest organization has expanded beyond those 10 or 12 clubs into a massive organization. Overseeing digital media for an organization like The Football League is no mean feat. So we sat down with Russell Scott, Digital Director at The Football League (who are also a ScribbleLive client), to find out what his job is like

    What are your main responsibilities as Digital Director at The Football League?

    Clearly there are a lot of operational responsibilities associated with running the digital presence for 91 football clubs. Collectively they play over 2,000 games per season and have nearly 10 million fans visiting their web and mobile sites each month. The key objective for the digital team is to grow audience for the clubs, which in turn increases the financial contribution back to the clubs.

    The Football League uses ScribbleLive to cover things like the 2014 play-offs

    What does a typical day look like at your job?

    It would be clichéd to say that no two days are the same but there’s no better way of describing life at The Football League.  If I’m in our London office it’s an early start with the team over breakfast (the office chef does a great omelette if you’re ever passing by) but I try to get out and spend time with clubs as often as possible. I’m not sure there are many people who spend as much time in empty stadiums as I do!

    What kind of challenges do you face in implementing your digital strategies?

    Managing the central infrastructure of the digital business is relatively straightforward. It’s not without its challenges, but there’s a great team at the league with lots of experience of digital publishing.  The most unexpected challenge is working with clubs when things aren’t going well on the pitch.  The passion for the club makes it very tough for media teams to keep the volume of content they produce up when the players fail to perform.

    Each year, the winners of The Football League Championship are promoted to play in the Premier League. The Foxes claimed that honor in 2013. 

    What do you like the most about your job?

    I’ve enjoyed every job I’ve ever done. I’m sure that says more about me than about what I’ve done but there have been a few times in the past when that’s been tested.  At heart I’m a fanatical sports fan, so spending every day immersed in sport as a business makes it very easy to wake up excited each morning. My other passion is technology, not for its own sake, but for how it can help us better understand customers, get closer to them and give them more rewarding experiences. Working with innovative businesses like ScribbleLive and Google Wildfire give me a fascinating insight into customer behaviour, in turn helping us grow revenues without compromising fans experience.

    Who do you look to as a model for your work at the Football League?

    I think the best way to answer this is to look at who our competition is and what they do well.  In an incredibly competitive market place we’re fighting for people’s attention, for them to spend some of their time consuming our content. 

    We have football at our heart, but strategically we’re running a commercialized digital publishing business with the core principal of growing an audience so we can make money from them. The businesses I’m excited by are the ones that excel in generating revenue from digital audiences, MailOnline, Facebook, YouTube, businesses that understand that to be successful you need to continuously adapt and react to the changes in consumers behaviours.

    Brentford's Alan McCormack celebrates his club's promotion to the Sky Bet Championship with fans.  

    What advice would you give for someone looking to get into your field of work?

    It’s not about being a football fan, it is about being a fan of what you do.  Technology and the opportunities it delivers change so quickly, if you find it a chore keeping up … you’re in the wrong job.

    See how ScribbleLive helps massive organizations like The Football League use content to turn their fans into advocates.

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