CEO-less Vale lagging behind rivals

CEO-less Vale lagging behind rivals

Our research shows that twenty of Port Vale’s League One rivals have a CEO or equivalent position onboard.

OVF has been arguing for Port Vale to appoint a CEO to help manage the club more effectively on a day-to-day basis.

  • We believe that the majority of Vale fans would back Norman Smurthwaite’s decision if he appointed a CEO who was well-versed in managing a Football League club.
  • We also believe that many fans would approve of the financial cost of a CEO (even if it was taken out of the playing budget) because most fans believe that, in the long term, a good CEO would bring in more money than they take out in wages.
  • Finally, we believe that Port Vale FC needs the guidance and experience of a CEO to prevent more embarrassing episodes such as the transfer embargo, the Joe Davis FA Cup registration problems or the failure to register Lee Hughes’ loan deal in enough time.

We have been looking at Port Vale’s League One rivals and over half (13 clubs) have a CEO in place…

We have been looking at Port Vale’s League One rivals and over half (13 clubs) have a CEO in place. Of the other ten clubs, most boast a senior backroom figure responsible for the day-to-day running of the club with a job title such as “General Manager” or “Managing Director” – both roles that Port Vale FC do not currently have. The list includes clubs like Stevenage and Carlisle who arguably have much lower turnovers than the Valiants.

Only three clubs – Crewe Alexandra, Gillingham and Shrewsbury Town – do not have a CEO or equivalent position. However, two of those three clubs still boast considerably more backroom experience than the Valiants.

  • Crewe: while Cheshire rivals Crewe do not have a CEO they do boast a number of senior backroom staff such as a Business Operations Manager, Finance Operations Manager and Customer Services Manager – all roles which Port Vale do not have.
  • Gillingham: while Chairman Paul Scally is in charge of the club, he does spend a lot of his time in Dubai so experienced vice-Chairman Michael Anderson has years of experience as a football director and in effect works as a CEO, managing the club in Scally’s absence. Again, vice-chairman is a role that Port Vale do not have.

So, the Valiants find themselves in league with Shrewsbury Town as one of only two League Clubs where the day-to-day operations of the club are the responsibility of the chairman.

Which League One clubs have a CEO or equivalent?





Bristol City







Leyton Orient

Milton Keynes

Notts County



Port Vale



Sheff Utd








Person (job title)

David Baldwin (Director of operations)

Mark Devlin (CEO)

Doug Harman (CEO)

John Nixon (Managing Director)

Tim Waddington (General Manager)

Tim Fisher (Managing Director)

Michael Dunford (CEO)



Matthew Porter (CEO)

Sue Dawson (Operations Director)

Jim Rodwell (CEO)

Neil Joy (CEO)

Bob Symns (CEO)


Ben Rhodes (General Manager)

Paul Douglas (CEO)

Malachy Brannigan (Managing Director)


Barry Webber (CEO)

Steve Anderson (General Manager)

Mick Horton (CEO)

Stefan Gamble (CEO)

Jez Moxey (CEO)


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