Q&A: Meet CEO Andrew Feakins

Andrew Feakins was appointed the new CEO of Sligo Rovers this afternoon.

Here we ask Andrew about his career so far and becoming the new CEO of the Bit O’ Red.

You can read about his appointment here

Q&A with Andrew Feakins

Q: You’re welcome to the club, Andrew. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A: Thank you. It’s a great honour. I’m originally from Essex and I’ve been Managing Director and owner of IPS Global Recruitment from over two decades. We’ve placed over 320 port and logistic professionals across 50 countries. The company is well-known in a niche market and very well established in the industry.

Q: How did you end up relocating to Sligo?

A: My wife is from Belgium and our children were born there. We were there for 12 years and were very much part of a European community. We had settled back in the UK after going there for family reasons. But when Brexit happened, I wanted my children to have the rights and opportunities of being in the EU. We decided that Ireland was a great choice and having made several visits, I loved the community feel and the people. Sligo became home because of a school we wanted for my son. We moved to Geevagh and it’s been a great decision for all of us. We immediately felt part of the community.

Q: When the job was advertised, did it immediately appeal?

A: My wife saw the advert and said this was something I simply had to go for. I looked at the description and spec and I knew it was too. I had already attended a number of matches and the history and story of the club is incredible. I firmly believe that the clubs potential is significant. I applied, met the committee officers and members and came through the process. I didn’t know what would transpire and to get the call from Tommy Higgins to offer me the position was like a dream. To work in football is something everyone wants. My wife and others will be taking over my recruitment firm so I can concentrate on Sligo Rovers and its future.

Q: What is your experience in the game?

As a teenager I played at Southend United as a youth player and then played non-league with Grays Athletic and Billericay Town as a semi-professional until I was about 27. My knee wouldn’t let me play beyond that unfortunately. I began to focus on my working life in business after that. It will take some time to become familiar with working in football and that will be a learning curve, but I do feel I’ll quickly pick it up. I’ve always harboured the desire to be involved in football and the passion I have for it will make it easier to get a grip on it. 

Q: So you’ve already had an experience of sport in Sligo.

Yes. I have been a coach at youth levels in a number of sports because it is a passion. I’ve been helping out coaching youth sides at Arrow Harps (football), Shamrock Gaels (Gaelic) and Sligo Rugby. I love football and to work in it is really special. My job of course requires an understanding of football but really I am responsible to support John Russell, Steve Feeney and Conor O’Grady because they lead the way in terms of football. My responsibility is to do whatever I can to make their task easier. A crucial aspect of that is having the resources to do their work. Budget is all-important of course so I know it’s up to me and indeed everyone to maximise commercial opportunities so we can to put the best teams out on the pitch.

Q: What will you do now you’ve started the role?

The first three to four months is going to be a significant learning curve to get to know everyone within the club, the day to day, how things are done, working with the FAI, other clubs and understanding, really, the  DNA of Rovers. I’ve seen the commitment of the volunteers, what they all do, so I need to plan how I can support them going forward.

And of course, just understanding where the club is looking to go. Clearly European qualification is very valuable to the club. The development plans for the stadium was also a key factor in my desire to take on the challenge. That is can create a bright future for the club.

But, ultimately, my job as I see it is to really be a support person to John Russell and all the teams that are here, the volunteers, and just try and help everyone to get their jobs done in the best possible way and provide as much help and guidance as possible.

Q: What’s something which appeals to you early on?

The opportunity! My goal is to communicate to the community and companies out there, about the incredible possibilities they have when it comes to investment and sponsorship of Sligo Rovers. There are excellent opportunities for them in getting their brand out there for local and national exposure.

And even international exposure, as we saw in beating Motherwell in 2022. There is already fantastic support and I aim to develop the commercial value to the sponsors, the community and ultimately the club itself. Needless to say, this has to sit hand in hand with the fact that we are truly a community club, in the hands of the supporters.

I’m am excited to bring my commercial acumen to the club, I’ve spent most of my life in the commercial environment.

I feel that improving our digital media output will be beneficial to the club and sponsors. That’s a massive growth area and excellent for fan engagement. As I said earlier, in the interview process, I shared some thoughts and ideas with the committee.

Q: How do you feel you’ll cope with working with a club with such a strong volunteer ethos?

It’s important to learn from those that have held the role before. Colin Feehily has an incredible reputation within the club. He’s come all the way through and was clearly, a very skilled individual when it came to knowing the club, knowing what needed to be done. I can see the club was in great hands under his stewardship.

I hope I can pick up the baton he ran with and also add my own strengths for the good of the club. I have the utmost respect for the volunteers. They are the glue that holds the club together and I hope to get even more on board with the help of the committee. It will be needed.

Q: Friday will be your first night officially in the role. Crowds have been strong all year. Are you looking forward to it?

A: Of course. From what I’ve seen, the supporters turn up, week in, week out.  That’s in the good and bad times, good and bad weather, you name it. Maintaining a committed supporter base is essential for this club.

As a community club, we need the community come out and support their local team. We also need to make it an attractive place to come. The committee have done a lot of good work with the stadium and telling the story. We have our long-term plan with the stadium redevelopment but that’s down the road.

Fans play a massive part in everything from the lotto, 500 club, programme purchases, merchandise all these elements feed into the, not just survival, but hopefully the growth of the club going forward.

Q: You have been on the ground already the last few days. How has it been?

It’s been overwhelming. You know, I have to say quite honestly, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect coming in.

I have seen the enthusiasm, clear motivation and drive from everyone involved, from the committee right through to all of the volunteers that are turning up every single day to make this club what is, it is just quite incredible how much commitment there is and a goodwill in the club.

When you’ve got that sort of support, it’s humbling to come into a place where people are putting in so much in their own time.

The staff that are employed here are also so dedicated. There’s always someone working here, first thing in the morning to last thing at night.

I’m going to be doing the same. There’s no doubt that the club deserves a great deal of success just purely based on the commitment of so many people. My job will be to make sure we’re all working in unison to try to get there.

Q: Any final message for now?

To the fans, the club needs you and thanks you for your support. I will work hard to get familiar with everything and everyone. There isn’t time to waste so I will be immersing myself in the club activities. I want to get as much knowledge as I can and just build on the fantastic football club we have here already. Up the Rovers!