Ged Rowney is backing his beloved Middlesbrough in their Carling Cup clash later this month with Wigan Athletic.
But once that crucial football match is out of the way, he will be supporting Wigan as the council's new pound;100,000-a-year director of education.
The former secondary teacher is bucking the trend of the past few years by moving from the private to the public sector (see box).
For the past 18 months he has been senior education consultant to the strategic education services division of Capita, working with Sunderland education authority after inspectors said it had made poor progress and with Bradford on city academies.
He said: "I have really enjoyed it. The people involved in Capita want to be partners with local authorities, working with them on what they have identified as issues."
Mr Rowney's career has taken him from north to south and back again, collecting a wealth of experience on the way. He graduated from Liverpool university in history and politics, undertook teacher training in Manchester, taught in Stockport, held senior education posts with the Vale of Glamorgan and Tameside education authorities, and was deputy director at Brighton and Hove, where he lives with his wife Jan, East Sussex's key stage 3 strategy manager.
The chance of leading Wigan's education service, praised by the Office for Standards in Education for its "exceptional" relationship with schools, was too good an opportunity to miss. The Labour-run authority has 21 secondaries, 112 primaries and 10 special schools, and serves a population of 310,000, in an area with pockets of deprivation.
"Wigan has a good reputation. It is a very forward-looking authority and is looking at developing children's services and how that can be linked to regeneration," said Mr Rowney.
He has a tough act to follow. He replaces Bob Clark, the chief education officer who helped the then-failing Liverpool see off a privatisation threat.
Mr Rowney said: "In some ways it is easier to go to an authority that is not doing well, because you can improve. In an authority with a good name, it can be harder taking things forward."
* Newham education director Ian Harrison and his deputy Parin Bahl led the way with their move to Capita, the education services and consultancy firm.
* Others who moved to Capita included Paul Roberts, former Nottingham director, and Jenny Cairns, former Merton director.
* Mark Pattison, former education director of Blackburn with Darwen, is now managing director of Education Bradford, the division of Serco running education services in the city.
* Teresa Whitfield, an assistant director in Hartlepool, also joined the Education Bradford team in 2002, where she is director of strategy.
* Bob Hogg, former education director of Southampton, moved to Mouchel QLM, an engineering consultancy firm that has expanded into education, and was followed by Simon Lucas, another senior education officer.
* Graham Moss, former deputy director in Hillingdon, moved from west to north east London to head up EduAction in Waltham Forest.