FA to throw open doors to agencies in 'Big Block of Cheese Day'

Wembley: will host research agencies
Wembley: will host research agencies

The Football Association is reaching out to research agencies it does not currently work with by hosting open days inspired by a running plot point from US political drama The West Wing.

The FA Research & Insight team is hoping to meet 14 agencies across 30 and 31 March that it might benefit from working with. It said the two days would give these agencies a chance to introduce themselves and "let us know what we are missing out on by not currently working with them".

Ross Antrobus, head of research and insight, said the meetings would be used to ask the agencies how they would approach answering one from a list of four questions, allowing them to demonstrate how they might tackle the association's pressing business questions, such as breaking down barriers in transition from youth football to adult football.

Antrobus said that the idea had come about after the FA was named Best In-house Team at the MRS Awards in December: "Being exposed to other people’s work, partly through the MRS awards, partly through seeing other submissions, it made me realise that there’s a lot of good stuff done out there."

He said the point of the process was not to replace existing agencies, or to guarantee work, but to make sure the best agencies were on the FA’s radar so they could be told about appropriate briefs as they came up.

Antrobus added that some of the priority areas for improvement including understanding the role that digital tech plays in people’s engagement with football; getting young girls into football; and reducing drop-off among boys entering adolescence.

Agencies interested in participating should contact researchandinsight@thefa.com.

In The West Wing, White House chief of staff Leo McGarry takes inspiration from early 19th Century President Andrew Jackson, who once hosted an "open house", placed a gigantic wheel of cheese in the foyer of the White House and invited the public to help themselves.

McGarry, played by John Spencer, says: "It is in the spirit of Andrew Jackson that I, from time to time, ask senior staff to have face-to-face meetings with those people representing organisations who have a difficult time getting our attention."

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