After facing Watford in the FA Cup third round, Woking captain Josh Casey tells AccountingWEB about balancing his life as a semi-professional footballer and chartered accountant.
For the majority of accountants, starting a new job is a fairly daunting affair. Doing so under the glare of the media spotlight, with news crews and journalists turning up at the office, is fortunately something most don’t have to contend with. However, for CBRE corporate tax manager Josh Casey that’s exactly the situation in which he found himself.
After five years at Smith & Williamson, Casey had recently moved to take up a position at the global property firm. Meanwhile, semi-professional football team Woking, for whom Casey plays left back, was preparing for one of the biggest ties in its history. After overcoming League Two side Swindon in the second round of the FA Cup, Woking faced Premier League Watford in what fans had dubbed “the M25 derby”.
Woking plays in the sixth tier of English football and the club is largely run by volunteers. Despite 110 places separating the two teams, the media anticipated a shock and team captain Casey found himself the centre of a mini media storm.
“It was a surreal couple of weeks,” Casey told AccountingWEB. “In the run-up to the game, we had BBC, Sky and the newspapers coming into my place of work to interview me and get the story on me being an accountant and going up against Watford”.
All 5,700 tickets for the tie were sold, and the £150,000 fee paid for live television is likely to cover around half of the club’s estimated annual player budget.
Unfortunately for Woking, Watford ran out 2-0 winners after a hard-fought encounter, but Casey and his teammates enjoyed the experience. “It’s one of the rewards of being able to manage the semi-professional sport and work,” said Casey.
‘That’s when I followed my second dream – tax!’
Casey began his working life a professional footballer, spending a couple of years at Aldershot and Salisbury. “I realised that I wasn’t going to make it in the Premier League and I was going to have to look at another career,” he said, “and that’s when I followed my second dream – tax!”
Following the end of his full-time professional career, Casey looked at his options and decided to put focus his talents on the world of tax, joining Smith & Williamson’s Guildford office and gaining his AAT and ACA qualifications. After five years at Smith & Williamson he moved to CBRE at the beginning of January.
Despite having now spent five years working and playing semi-professional football, Casey admits that he still finds balancing the two difficult.
“It’s tricky, and every year you get new challenges,” said Casey. “At the start when I first joined I was told something would have to give. There was no way I could do a full-time accountancy job plus the exams plus the football. It was physically impossible, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I saw that as a challenge – I wanted to prove people wrong and show that it could be done.”
When the exams finished Casey admits that he thought balancing accountancy and football would get easier, but that has not happened. “It gets harder because you get promoted at work and you get more responsibility and you need to be in the office longer. It’s challenging and it’s hard and it’s tiring but you wouldn’t swap it for the world.”
“There will come a time when I’m too old to play at the standard I’m playing at,” he continued, “and I don’t want to look back and regret not playing for as long as I could.”
Demands of the job
Casey is yet to come across any other chartered accountants plying their trade in the beautiful game. “I think it’s just because of the demands of the job,” he said, “both in terms of the professional qualifications, the exams and the time commitment involved”
Even outside the world of football, Casey joins a small but elite group of people who’ve moved accounting and sports circles:
- Irish golfer Pádraig Harrington gained admittance to the ACCA in 1994 before going on to win three major championships.
- Former Italian international and AC Milan legend Filipo Inzaghi currently manages Serie A team Bologna, but before his football career he got his accounting degree at the insistence of his parents.
- Boxer Juan Manuel Márquez was a world champion in four weight classes but the Mexican is often quoted as saying that if he hadn’t been a fighter he would “probably be an accountant” due to his accounting degree
- Former England rugby centre Billy Twelvetrees harbours dreams of becoming a finance director and is currently taking his CIMA qualifications.
- Winter Olympic double gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold has completed an Open University course in bookkeeping and accounting. “I did ask my friend who works at the HMRC if she could set me up a week of work experience,” Yarnold told the Telegraph.
- Across the pond, wrestling’s D’Lo Brown graduated as a Certified Public Accountant from the University of Maine and worked in practice before his career in the ring took off. Despite holding European and Intercontinental Championship belts according to our resident grappling expert Richard Hattersley, Brown swapped a lucrative career in accountancy to become a ‘lower mid-card’ wrestler.
Have we missed anyone? Do you know of any other accountants operating at an elite level in the world of sport or culture? Let us know in the comments below.