What is a sporting director in football?

You may often hear the term “sporting director ” used in connection with football teams. The role is a very specific one and often found in continental Europe. In Germany, the role of a sports director is common and each of the 18 Bundesliga teams have one.

But what is a sporting director and how do they work within a football club?

Compared to English football teams, clubs in continental Europe often have a different structure. German football clubs nearly exclusively use a sports director and a head coach. In English football, the manager takes up both roles which sometimes does not offer the best results for a team. Having one person dominate the two roles makes it difficult to form an identity, especially when a club changes managers regularly.

The difference between sporting directors and head coaches

The duties of the manager are split between the sporting director and head coach in Germany. A team’s coach is responsible for leading the team on the pitch, training, and picking the team for each game. The sporting director oversees the entire footballing side of things other than the day-to-day coaching.

The sports director sits between the head coach and the club’s chairman when it comes to hierarchy. The sports director has the ability to hire and sack the coach, while the chairman is in charge of hiring and dismissing the sporting director.

The role of a sporting director

The sports director is responsible for the club’s overall philosophy beginning with the youth team all the way up to the first team. The sporting director will discuss the style of play with the team’s coach. The youth teams will follow the same style of play to make things uniform from top to bottom and bottom to top.

Sports directors attend training sessions and all games. They often travel and spend much of their time around the players, and are a common face around the dressing room. The sporting director will also work hand-in-hand with the club’s CEO to identify transfer targets, coaches, discuss budgets, buy and sell players, and offer existing players new contracts.