Book Review: “Minding My Own Football Business”: The Inside Story Of Leicester City’s Success In The 90s by Barrie Pierpoint

At the point this review was written in February 2020, Leicester City sat third in the Premier League, and were considered by many to be an established top-flight club, having taken the title in a never to be forgotten 2015/16 campaign. Go back though to May 1991 and The Foxes were on the brink of dropping into the third tier of the English game but saved themselves with a last day victory at their former home, Filbert Street, with a win over Oxford United.

The club knew that they had to make changes to return to the successful years of the 1960s, when Leicester won the League Cup in 1963/64, finished runners-up the following season and appeared in three FA Cup Finals (1960/61, 1962/63 and 1968/69). Into the club came Aston Villa legend Brian Little as manager from Darlington, whilst off the pitch, Barrie Pierpoint was appointed as Director of Marketing.

The story of what happened next is told in, “Minding My Own Football Business”: The Inside Story Of Leicester City’s Success In The 90s. Mathew Mann ghost-writes the tale having convinced Pierpoint that there was a story to tell. The Preface from Mann and Introduction from Pierpoint, set the tone for what is to follow, with Pierpoint stating that, “I don’t want it to be controversial” and so they, “agreed to write a light-hearted, nostalgic tale”. Therefore, readers looking for a warts and all expose of the final months of Pierpoint’s time at the club, will be in the main disappointed. Sensibly though, the events aren’t avoided, as Pierpoint provides his side of the story in Chapter 13 leaving readers to “make up your own mind about the part I played in Leicester’s success during the nineties.”

However, it is clear that his departure along with three other directors at the end of 1999 plays a part in forming aspects of the books construction. For instance, each chapter relating to his spell at The Foxes, is divided between, On the pitch and Behind the scenes. This allows on the one hand readers to appreciate events of a football and commercial nature side-by-side in each season, but also provides a deliberate demarcation between the two, in deference to the accusation made that Pierpoint wanted to take over the whole club including the football activities. The title also is a play on the phrase ‘minding my own business’ reflecting Pierpoint’s sharp with a knowing glance to those who ousted him, and the others dubbed the ‘gang of four’.

And whilst Pierpoint’s time at Leicester ended in an unpleasant fashion, the book rightly focuses on all that he and his team (to whom he repeatedly gives credit) achieved in providing revenue that supported the activities of The Foxes on the pitch. During his spell at the club, Pierpoint achieved commercial success that saw the club win business, training and entrepreneurial awards, create innovative ideas to sell the club to businesses and fans alike, and oversaw the rebranding of the club and impressively the building of a brand new stand that became the focus for further income generation. On the pitch, The Foxes went to four Play-Off Finals (winning two) and won the League Cup in 1999/2000 having been runners-up the season before. Truly a successful period for the club which cannot be disputed, even by his detractors.

Given that success and the number of contributors to the book from directors, staff, fans, journalists, managers and players alike, including Steve Walsh, Emile Heskey, Simon Grayson, Gary Mills and Tony Cottee, amongst others, Pierpoint, oft described as ‘flamboyant’ due to his coloured glasses and matching suits, must have been doing something right. Ironically two years after his departure in October 2002, the club went into administration with debts of £30 million – make of that what you will.

This well produced publication, which has a range of well selected and positioned images and a very readable and generous font size, ends with Pierpoint’s time at Portsmouth, Bradford City and Boston United and a Postscript detailing very briefly his childhood and years since leaving Boston United and his current role as a Management Consultant and Business Adviser. This is a must read for Leicester City fans, but also those with an interest in the business of football. The modern game is big business and Pierpoint showed during his time at The Foxes that he could make a success of it.


For every copy sold a donation is made to Rainbows Hospice for children and young people


(Morgan Lawrence Publishing Services. December 2020. Paperback 264 pages)


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Posted February 9, 2021 by Editor in category "Reviews

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