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The one for all seasons and reasons: The director of football

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
459   //    13 Aug 2016, 17:33 IST
Patrick Kluivert
PSG Director of Football Kluivert with new manager Unai Emery

Football is without a doubt the most popular sport across the world. And naturally, popular football clubs are big brands, especially the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Like major brands in various industries, these brands have their own style of functioning.

Over the next few weeks, we will be taking a closer look at certain aspects of a football club like the hierarchy in place and also analyze a few roles. In addition, we will delve into the commercial side taking into consideration the cost and revenue aspects.Further, it will be interesting to see how big business football really is and what do businessmen look to obtain by investing their money in such brands.  

The previous article covered the structure in place in a football club and in brief, described the role of the various departments and certain employees. Taking a cue from that, here we take an in-depth look into the functioning of the Director of Football; a man who has to juggle a number of roles at the same time.

The Director of Football is a senior management figure at a football club. Most European clubs have a Director of Football who closely works with various people at the club. Ex Dutch International Patrick Kluivert was recently appointed as the Director of Football for Paris Saint-Germain. For Kluivert, a challenging job lies ahead. He needs to work closely with new manager Unai Emery to deliver European glory for the star-studded club.

What does the Director do?

As an intermediary and a guide

The main role of the Director is to function as an intermediary between the manager and the CEO. He may or may not be a stakeholder of the club. Also, he may or not be a part of the board of directors. Usually, he complements the work of the manager and relieves him of some of his workload.

In order to ensure that the manager is firmly focused on the first team, the director takes up the responsibility of the youth side and the academy. He works closely with the academy heads and the youth team coaches. Further, he holds the key when it comes to signing new players. He often acts on the behalf of the manager and conveys to the CEO the requirements of the former.

In a way, he acts as an assistant off the pitch to the manager. A director of football is one who possesses vast knowledge about the game and owing to his seniority is in a position to advise the manager on certain issues plaguing the side.

However, in the past, this has created substantial tension especially in England where there have been allegations of excessive interference of the Director by the Manager.

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As Technical Director

The man occupying this position is required to play a multifaceted role at the club. In the past, new clubs have appointed directors to steer the club forward and give it definite direction.

Most notably, former England boss Sven Goran Eriksson performed this role at minnows Notts County. Thus under such circumstances, the role is primarily a technical one.

As Brand Ambassador

Quite often the director acts as a figurehead, like a brand ambassador for the club. For this purpose, clubs tend to bring in former legends for the job. Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton occupies a similar position at the club currently.

Under such circumstances, the emphasis of the job lies more on promotion and marketing rather than on assisting the manager. This is done with a clear cut objective of enhancing the popularity and prestige of the club.

As the crisis manager

Ex-players often occupying this position take over the job of the manager of the club during a period of poor performances. In the past, the likes of Harry Redknapp (Portsmouth), Kevin Keegan (Newcastle) and Graeme Souness (Southampton) have moved from the director’s chair to becoming the manager of the club.

It is largely due to this ability to handle crises why it is important to have a director of football. Owing to his vast experience and knowledge and having worked closely with the previous management, the director is in a position to know what has gone wrong and thereby rectify it.

The manager no longer holds supreme authority over the functioning of the club. Football clubs are big organizations these days and it is not possible for him to look into every detail pertaining to the running of the club.

Though it may be one of the least talked about jobs in the world of football, the director of football holds the key in driving the club forward. He brings in new dimensions and ensures quick decision making; something which is needed for the club as a brand to succeed in the long run.

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