Sports Academy’s ‘Student Of The Year’ signs professional football contract with Birmingham City


Former Hartpury College student Laiith Fairnie has signed a professional football contract with Birmingham City FC, just weeks after completing a Level 3 Extended Diploma Sport (Football) and picking up Sports Academy Student of the Year at College Prize Day. Laiith is now one of more than 40 Hartpury alumni to sign a professional football contract.

Birmingham City FC had previously given Laiith opportunities to showcase his talent in a number of trials in the spring.

Coming to Hartpury from his native Jersey, Laiith attracted attention as a result of his performances playing within the Hartpury College football programme and for Hartpury University FC. In 2022, the University team was crowned champions of the Herefordshire FA County League Premier Division, winning promotion to Hellenic League One. In the same season, the team also lifted the Herefordshire County Cup and Herefordshire Senior Cup. In his second season Laiith went on to captain England Colleges, England Schools and our College teams, as well as pushing Hartpury University FC to a play-off final. 

“Hartpury has the facilities, the people and the culture to help you go far,” said Laiith. 

He continued: “When I first came to Hartpury, I didn’t realise that the coaches and staff around me would’ve been able to unlock my potential like they did. All you need to do is put in the hard work. This hard work paid off through England trials and led to my professional contract. Going to play for England gave me an insight on the professional game and helped me gain recognition from across the UK.”

Spencer Hamilton, Hartpury’s Junior Football Head Coach said: “Laiith has developed tremendously through the football programme the past 2 years. He has shown a real drive and determination to want to improve and this has been demonstrated on his involvement with us through the college programme, working his way up to our U19s first team and being a key player in the Hartpury University FC team. Not only that, he has been an excellent student, awarded the Sports Academy Student of the Year at our FE Prize Day signifying all his hard work across the 2 years. All of us at Hartpury are wishing Laiith the very best in his next steps in his footballing journey, as this professional contract is something he fully deserves”

Dr Martin Longworth, Hartpury University FC’s Head Coach said: “He had offers from clubs higher up the pyramid when he first joined as a 16 year old but he fully bought-in to the process and trusted Hartpury with his long-term development. At 18 years old he played over 50 games for the FC across Step 7 and 6, an integral part of the clubs success and i know everyone associated with Hartpury is proud of him. A huge success story for the club and we hope many more can emulate his alternative route into the professional game”

Student footballers studying at Hartpury have the chance to study, train and play in an environment that’s as close as it gets to a professional club, all while they study A-levels, diplomas or degrees. High-level coaching and support ensures student footballers develop their talent alongside their studies, with opportunities to play for Hartpury teams and utilise the institution’s industry connections.

State-of-the-art facilities include performance analysis cameras, a rehabilitation suite, human performance and biomechanics laboratories, therapy suites, a performance analysis suite, assessment and testing laboratory, an altitude chamber with an anti-gravity treadmill, together with power, cross-training and performance gyms. Football students also benefit from an ultra-modern football 3G pitch, four football grass pitches, and high-quality training and conditioning facilities.