WHO ARE YA? Geoff Wilson, Head of Marketing and Communications at the Irish Football Association (Northern Ireland)


Geoff Wilson, Head of Marketing and Communications at the Irish Football Association (Northern Ireland)

1) Who are ya?

Geoff Wilson, Head of Marketing and Communications at the Irish Football Association (Northern Ireland). I have just turned 40 and have over 17 years marketing experience in a wide range of organisations including BT, the Irish FA, FIFA and UEFA.  My Twitter id is @geoffwnjwilson

My current role involves building the Irish FA brand, merchandising, sponsorship, database management and public relations.  I have managed to secure some of the largest sponsorship deals in the history of the Irish Football Association together with redeveloping the Irish FA brand.  In 2009 I received the prestigious ‘Marketing Director of the Year’ award from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) in Ireland and in February 2010 I won a Marketing Excellence Award, within the SME sector throughout the UK, from the CIM.  I am currently on a ‘Marketing Expert’ panel for FIFA, advising Member Associations on a variety of marketing topics.  In 2009 I worked with the Ulster Grand Prix (the world’s fastest road race) to redevelop its brand, merchandise, sponsorship and PR strategy as well as communication channels to fans.

I regularly speak at conferences in countries such as USA, Switzerland, Slovenia, Turkey, Cyprus, Denmark, Austria, Malta, Georgia and Jordan for UEFA and FIFA.  I am also a member of the board of the Chartered Institute of Marketing in Ireland.

2) Who do you support?

I have been a lifelong Liverpool and Northern Ireland fan.

3) What was your first game?

Northern Ireland international in Belfast v Austria

4) What do you do for a job?

  • Responsible for all marketing, PR, CRM and commercial aspects of the Football Association and overall development of the Irish FA brand.
  • Accountable for growing and maintaining commercial revenue incorporating sponsorship and advertising revenue streams in addition to account managing sponsorship partners and negotiating commercial contracts for newly secured sponsors.
  • Developing an effective merchandising strategy.
  • Ownership over the launch of a new brand, logo and marketing campaign (through a variety of marketing channels) for the domestic league in Northern Ireland.
  • Generate positive PR across all of the Association’s activities, providing crisis management when necessary.
  • Manage the government lobbying strategy with the Association, meeting and developing long term productive relationships with politicians and other relevant individuals within both local and national government.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

No, just my National Association, the Irish FA.

6) How did you get into it?

Previously I worked for BT gaining valuable marketing experience before responding to a job advert for my current job. I went through a rigorous recruitment process and was then appointed to the role in August 2005.

7) What do you get out of it?

  • Pride. Working for your National Association gives me tremendous pride especially when I look back on how we have moved the business forward.  In eight years, we have doubled turnover, changed the Irish FA brand, introduced new communication platforms for our fans/stakeholders, as well as implementing a wide number of community programmes throughout Northern Ireland .
  • Valuable experience in sponsorship, merchandising, brand building and CRM.
  • Networking with other people in the sport of football, fans and major brands.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

  • Get good grounding in marketing.
  • Network network network.
  • Try new things – be first to market.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

  • Build more network at Premiership and Championship clubs.
  • Additional focus on marketing our women’s game.
  • Additional work on our club development programme.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

Dennis Bergkamp – great reader of the game and fantastic role model off it.

Hipster goalies – Pat Jennings

From BBC Sport’s Football Legends archive:

“Pat Jennings was snapped up to appear for English club Watford while still a teenager after playing from an early age in Northern Ireland. He went on to spend 13 seasons at Tottenham Hotspur and a further eight at Arsenal. He won a record number of caps for Northern Ireland and played in over 1,000 top-level games. However, he could have settled for a very different life as a forester in his home town of Newry, a career he had already started before his football skills took him down another path.”

From FTBPro, “Pat Jennings Joined Arsenal To Get Back At Tottenham. Crazy Days At The Lane“:

“Pat Jennings played for Tottenham for 13 years and he was the best goalkeeper of his and probably any generation. At 32 he was in his prime and the then board of directors decided not to offer him another contract, he was blanked and disrespected by the “suits” of the club he loved. Tottenham had been relegated and he was prepared to go down with them. He was and is Spurs through and through but he was royally shafted.”

“Pat played Gaelic football at a high level in Ireland in his early years, this contributed to his incredible aerial ability to catch and control the ball and coupled with those big hands and that big heart, contributed to those famous one handed catches. He was a one off.”


Pat Jennings


Panini sticker, playing for Arsenal


Making a save against Paul Mariner of Ipswich Town, in the FA Cup Final

From the Spurs website:


“Our Northern Ireland goalkeeping legend, Pat Jennings, occasionally hosts matches in his lounge which offers a delicious three-course meal including a carvery and a tremendous view from the East Stand Upper Tier or the South Stand Lower Tier of the stadium along the entire length of the restaurant.

This beautiful open viewed lounge will let you take in the atmosphere in the Park Lane crowd.

The three course carvery produces some fine food and the chance to meet Spurs Legends is added benefit.

With seats in the East Upper you can witness the game from a different perspective.”