A soccer director, or director of football, as it is referred to outside of North America, is an executive figure who facilitates the routine activities of a team or "club." The director performs duties such as administration of wages, expenses, player transfers and game, or match, scheduling. Although the position title and its exact duties may vary based on country, region or culture, the position is of vital importance to professional teams around the world.
Lawrie McMenemy is a former manager of Southampton Football Club and, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, one of the 20 most successful managers in post-war English football. McMenemy is said to be the first person to hold the position of director of football in the English sport. He took the position with Southampton in 1993. McMenemy said, "I think I was the first to have that title... [Southampton] asked me to take over as manager but I didn't want to." He added, "We decided to bring in a younger person on the provision I would work with them . . . they invented the name director of football." Decades earlier, Sir Matt Busby, former manager of Manchester United, assumed a similar position under the title of general manager in 1969. The position lasted only four months.
When asked to describe the job description, Dave Bassett, former director of football of Leicester, said, "You're a buffer. The director of football is answerable to the board but there to assist the manager. He's experienced in football and there to help the board members who don't have that experience." The exact roles of a director of football are not clearly laid out in any football, or soccer, handbooks. Though the term "director of football" originally was exclusive to the U.K., it is gaining popularity. Alternate terms such as "sporting director" and "general manager" are often used interchangeably with it.
Responsibilities to the Manager
The director of football generally acts as a liaison between the coach and the respective executive football board. Directors of football are responsible for hiring the coaches or "managers." They scout, interview and eventually offer support to the coach in myriad ways, while acting as a liaison between the coach and board. Basset said the director "has to be involved in the selection of the manager so that when the manager gets the job he knows the director of football is fully supportive because he selected him."
In many football clubs' opinions, the director of football is not a necessary role. The normal responsibilities of the director of football are still accomplished by someone else or a team of other people. Tottenham Hotspurs of the English league have chosen to forgo the director position. Instead, the club opted to give the coach a budget, as well as the freedom to manage the team and its dealings. This method is often considered old-fashioned, and frequently leads to stories of directors of football undermining their respective coaches or club managers.
Buying, Selling and Transferring Players
Directors of football are responsible for the buying and selling of players. Transfer policies of the clubs are usually set by the director of football. When dealing with and scouting transfers, directors are expected to have a clear grasp of the fees, worth and cost of various players who may be involved.
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