ACADEMICS have devised a tailor-made course for football fanatics in a bid to attract more men back into the classroom.

In response to a gender shift in favour of female students at Teesside University, boffins have put on their thinking caps to come up with the course especially for mature men.

The programme, entitled "The History of Association Football" looks mainly at the formation and development of five major English clubs - Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Everton.

Dr Graham Ford, an expert in Modern European History and the course leader, said it has already provoked healthy debate.

"I have had to vigorously defend the inclusion of Aston Villa and Everton, but historically, these two football teams have won more trophies and championships than many of the so-called big-name clubs," he said.

A crucial part of the course, thought to be the first of its type in the North, is developing the analytical skills required to study more conventional subjects.

Students will also be expected to probe football club and fan web sites and give a critical evaluation of how useful they are.

Once students have completed the seven-week course, starting on Tuesday, at Stockton Sixth-Form College, they can progress on to a second module looking at the history of local football clubs.

For more information on how to sign up, contact (01642) 384223.