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What Exactly Is A Director Of Football?

7 years ago

We don’t know what a director of football is. We could do with a director of publicity though.

Might it not have been a good idea for the club to make an announcement about this latest appointment, explaining what it is all about?

Instead of that, the new man makes his own announcements to the media, telling us what he thinks his new job is, even though he hasn’t yet spoken to his new colleagues about it at all. Great management. He also chooses to announce a number of historical inaccuracies about his previous time at the club.

We are all still hoping to hear that the whole thing is just a bad joke. However, as time goes by that seems to be becoming less likely. So can we have some facts then please? For instance, where does this role fit in the management structure and what is the job description?

Newcastle United Football Company Limited had three directors; Messrs.Charnley, Irving and Llambias. Third parties are entitled to think that somebody calling themselves a title with “Director” in it is, in fact, a member of the board of directors. So do we assume that there are now four directors at the highest level of management below the owner?

As for the job description we only have the new man’s version of that:

“My job is quite clear: I’m director of football, he’s the manager. I’m not picking the team. That’s what the manager gets paid to do. I’m there solely to ensure he gets the best possible team out on the pitch. The tactics and the coaching are down to him. If he wants my advice on tactics and ideas, he can ask me. But he’s in charge of the team that is put out on the pitch.

It’ll be me [who has the final say on transfers]. What I’m saying is, between me, Alan and Graham [Carr, the chief scout], we’ll sit down and iron it out. If those two decide a player we’re looking at is not good enough, my ears will be wide open. It’s not a case of ‘like it or lump it’. If a close decision is to be made, though, and we’re running out of time and it’s something we have to do, whether that’s adding meat or beef to the team, or pace in wide areas, or someone who can guarantee us 20 goals a season, I will buy those players. I will take that chance once I’ve clarified that with Alan.

I’ll assess the transfer kitty with Mike next week once I’ve sat down with Alan first, find out what is wanted, who can be shifted out of the club – maybe we can get money back if we shift four or five of them – and then look at the targets.”

At least he thinks his role is quite clear, even if we don’t. He also thinks he has the final say on transfers. Either he hasn’t had that explained yet or he hasn’t been listening. If he thinks he can make a decision to sign a cheque for £25 million to buy a player or refuse a cheque for the same amount to sell a player, he doesn’t understand how it works at all. The owner has the final say on transfers.

Perhaps the most telling point is the one about the transfer kitty. In the year to 30 June 2012 the club spent £64 million on wages and salaries.

This included payments to 128 members of the playing squad, academy, team management and support. By now they will know what the comparative figure is for the year just about to end on 30 June 2013. From that a wage budget will have been set for the year to come. At the end of the season the manager may have said that he needs a few more players.

The owner may have said that we already had 128, or thereabouts, and that we brought in 5 more in January. How many more do we need? To bring more players in and stay within the wage budget would probably mean “shifting some out”. As far as we know Steve Harper is the only one retiring, although we understand that Danny Simpson is probably no longer on the payroll. Then we are faced with the age-old problem of getting the mediocre ones to leave when nobody else is prepared to pay them as much as we are paying now.

It doesn’t sound like a great start in terms of staff management to immediately talk about “shifting some out” but this may well be what the main role of the new job is all about – managing the wage budget and transfer kitty. That hardly warrants the title “Director of Football”.


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