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DMU grad redefines the match day experience for fans at rival football clubs

A De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) graduate has split allegiances as he works to create better fan experiences at two football clubs in the same city.

Leighton James, 24, is so passionate about improving people’s enjoyment of football that he works for both Notts County and Nottingham Forest.

Leighton James graduation 2018.WEB

Leighton James graduating from DMU in January 2018

The football fan juggles part-time roles at both the rival clubs to pass on his passion for making football games a positive experience for families.

The evolution of the match day experience means Leighton tries to create a more connected, engaging and interactive environment so that the clubs can create stronger relationships with fans.

Leighton left DMU last summer after gaining a BA in Arts & Festivals Management and a Business Management in Sport MSc.

He said: “I work for both clubs in Nottingham, which does seem strange to some. But I’m a huge football fan and football is football.

“There is a neighbourly rivalry across the river between the two clubs, but I just concentrate on my work to get as many people involved and engaged in football as possible.

“I make sure people enjoy themselves at football games. You can’t control what happens on the pitch, but you can make sure people have a high-quality and enjoyable experience in the stands.

“The people behind football clubs are multi-millionaires but we can’t forget the everyday people who are spending their hard-earned cash on match day tickets. They are the people I am aiming to please.

“We have to justify every penny a fan spends to ensure they have a unique and memorable experience.”

Leighton James at Notts County.WEB

DMU graduate Leighton James, left, working at Notts County

Leighton works with corporate hospitality fans at Notts Country and works as an Assistant Supervisor in Crowd Safety and Customer Service at Nottingham Forest.

He said he likes nothing better than seeing the faces of children visiting a football stadium for the first time, especially if they are with older generations of their family.

Leighton, who is originally from Northampton, said: “Football has always been a huge part of my family’s life. We travel up and down the country and go abroad to watch football games.

“My dad is a Liverpool season ticket holder and I actually support Everton. We were pretty much allowed to support anyone as long as it wasn’t Manchester United!”

As a teenager, Leighton also played for the youth academy of the Milton Keynes Dons for about a year but said this was when he realised he ‘wasn’t as good as he thought!’

Leighton James at Goodison Park.WEB

Everton fan Leighton James at his beloved Goodison Park

Leighton originally started work at Notts County in June last year after carrying out a successful three-month internship as part of his Master’s.

He started working as a Sports Consultant then as Marketing and Communications Manager at Notts County’s ‘Football in the Community’ programme, which supports grassroots projects and builds links with the local community.

It was here that he spearheaded a pilot project at the club’s community hub to give young people the chance to express their creative skills. The project is run with funding from Nottingham Contemporary.

Leighton said: “There is a lot of creativity and expressionism in sport, just as there is in theatre, so I wanted to try to bring them together.

“Young people involved in football now have the chance to express themselves through the arts; they have somewhere to go to draw and paint, write poetry and learn about performance.”

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Leighton chose to study at DMU as he was “immediately made to feel welcome” by students and staff at the university’s open day.

He said he will fondly remember his time at university, especially playing hockey and rugby and going on #DMUglobal trips to Barcelona, New York and Munich.

“I really appreciated being taught about professionalism and the way you should present yourself, Leighton explained.

“I was also really encouraged to extend my learning outside of the classroom, such as the ability to network and get along with people.

“I made the most of all the opportunities I was given at DMU and learnt so much during my time there.”

Posted on Wednesday 28th March 2018

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