Sporting Directors – Good or Bad for Football Clubs?

Sporting Directors – Good or Bad for Football Clubs?


Tottenham’s experiments with a sporting director has led many Premier League fans to question the wisdom of having such a figure at the club.

However, the reality is that what the English media calls the ‘continental’ system (PC for ‘alien’) has been a very effective way for running a football club. Theoretically speaking, the sporting director does a lot behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera, playing the foil for the board as well as the manager and the team.

Practically, it doesn’t always work this way, although interestingly enough the examples people use most often as an example of the system’s failure are actually the fault of the club’s top echelon.

Jol – Comolli at Tottenham? Jol might have needed to go, but that had nothing to do with Comolli and this fact gets swept away in light of recent events. Monchi – Ramos at Sevilla? As Phil Ball suggests, more Del Nido v Ramos than anything to do with Monchi.

IMO the system is not to blame if the owner picks the wrong people for the job (Comolli) or if he doesn’t trust the manager (Ramos), or even if the director tries to convince the board sell the club – those are personal differences and will arise out of any relationship, and it’s the board’s responsibility to appoint the right team and to give them the perfect environment to succeed.

So…I’d like to hear your thoughts on whether sporting directors are good or bad for football clubs – is the system workable only in theory or should clubs make more of an effort to make it a reality?

Kaka vs Ronaldo, Morality vs Results
South Park Quiz: Who's That Footballer?


  1. Check out Spooky’s piece on Dear Mr Levy. It’s an excellent read and is, as usual, very well balanced.

  2. The role of a sporting director should be restricted to being a figurehead in public. The guiding principle is never to undermine the manager.

  3. Ahmed – This question seemed so interesting to me that my comment grew too big for the space, so I’ve written a post instead at The Run of Play (, if you’re curious). Essentially my argument is that the failure of the sporting-director system in England is completely a failure of execution, and that there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t work in England if it were done right. What “done right” means is addressed in some detail in the post, but I agree with you about the system not being to blame if the board put the wrong people in it. Thanks for the thought-provoking question.

  4. While I agree in theory that the Sporting Director should probably do more good than bad, its a little too many chefs in the kitchen for me. Skewing who has the ultimate authority is confusing and like children who always know which parent to go to when they want something (knowing the other won’t give it) players and owners then have one too many to choose from, and that split in authority and continuity is not good for club.

  5. The problem with clubs bringing in technical directors, sporting directors etc is that communications to other areas of the staff – players included – takes longer and the whole process turns into a game of Chinese whispers. Jose Mourinho didn’t appreciate it during his time at Chelsea and I doubt any other managers would either.
    Coaches come to clubs to stamp their own unique mark on things and the least number of staff they have working with them to run a well-oiled machine the better.

Comments are closed.