Burnley striker Rodriguez is North West Championship Player of the Year

Chief executive of UCFB Philip Wilson, Brendan Flood and Jay Rodriguez

Chief executive of UCFB Philip Wilson, Brendan Flood and Jay Rodriguez

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CLARETS striker Jay Rodriguez is the North West Championship Player of the Year.

The 22-year-old received the accolade at the glittering MBNA Northwest Football Awards, hosted by Sky Sports News presenter Ed Chamberlin, at Lancashire County Cricket Club.

Rodriguez topped a supporters’ poll to beat Preston North End forward Iain Hume to the prestigious prize thanks to an outstanding campaign which saw him finish as the Clarets’ leading Championship goalscorer in 2010/11 with 14 league goals in his first full season for the club.

“It’s a fantastic award and one I am very proud to have received,” said Jay. “It was a great season for me and I hope only the start of something. I am very grateful to all my team-mates and the management staff for helping me achieve it.”

The Turf Moor favourite was also capped at England under-21 level in a break-through season as he featured for Stuart Pearce’s men in an international friendly against Italy at the Stadio Carlo Castellani, Empoli, back in February.

Rodriguez collected the award - won last year by Blackpool’s Charlie Adam - in front of a guest list of some of the top football personalities in the North West at the gala dinner staged at the Point, Old Trafford.

The Clarets also claimed a second honour at the awards ceremony, winning the Most Innovative Non-Matchday Use of a Football Ground award for their work with the recently opened University and College of Football Business (UCFB), which operates from Turf Moor.

The ground-breaking higher education institution beat off competition from Premier League giants Manchester City to scoop the prize.

Judges recognised the unique way in which Burnley uses its ground away from match days, partnering with UCFB to secure the institution as a full-time tenant at its Turf Moor ground. UCFB opened in September and offers, in partnership with Bucks New University, degrees in the operational facets of football. It offers BA (Hons) degrees in football business and marketing, football business and finance and football business and marketing.

Philip Wilson, Provost and Chief Executive of UCFB, said: “We’re only in our third month and it is fantastic to receive this accolade recognising the innovation shown by ourselves and Burnley FC.

“Innovation is at the heart of UCFB, not just in our location, but in the degrees and education that we offer. We’ll continue to develop and evolve UCFB to ensure that we’re always at the forefront of football industry education.”

Paul Fletcher, Chief Executive of Burnley FC, said: “The opening of UCFB has been a big step for the club. By using one of our biggest assets, the stadium, has provided an extra revenue stream and raised the profile of the club to a different audience.