In a world where club structure and direction is as important, if not more important, than the who is the manager, the modern day sporting director and their expertise are more than just a business understanding. An intricate web of decision making, strategies in recruitment, staffing requirements, organisation structure and club vision in a range of departments pose a daunting task for the most intelligent professionals.

For my new save, we will be taking on the career path of the modern day sporting director, with the goal of becoming the worlds most sought after professional. First, we need to delve into some of the sporting directors in today’s game and explore their careers to date.


There seems to be a few groups when it comes to the path sporting directors have taken. We have the former player, straight into a deputy role, or even the head role itself. Some examples are Michael Zorc, Monchi, Hasan Salihamidzic and Mark Noble. There is the youth academy pathway, where they are involved in coaching/recruitment in academies and eventually taking over the direction of the entire club.Examples include Dan Ashworth, Dougie Freedman, Ralf Rangnick, and even the extremely underrated Damien Comolli. One of the latest pathways is recruitment analysts and scouts. Michael Edwards is the prime example, Rouven Schroder and Paul Mitchell came up through youth scoutingbut he also has the skills to be grouped with the above.Giuseppe Marrotta is an old school guy who started his career as a scout as well. With the responsibilities required of the sporting director, I feel the path required to gain the most knowledge and experience is the one through the youth team and academies. This gives you first hand experience in managing players/people, tactical understanding, scouting and recruitment, overseeing departments within a youth setup and knowledge of workflow systems.


What does this pathway look like? Lets explore some of the personnel I said in the examples before.







Looking at the examples, there’s multiple paths we can follow. We can go youth coaching/management or we can go into youth recruitment. On average, it took 9 current sporting directors 10 years to reach their current role, from their beginnings in football through the youth teams. Average age when they were first employed is 28 and average age of sporting director role is 39. That will be our timeline, starting in the minimum of 3rd division in Europe’s top 5 and our path will have stages. Our progress isn’t linear, so an academy director at an elite club, is likely better than a sporting director at a lower level club. I don’t have to do each of these roles, It’s up to me to decide what my career will look like.



But, this is Football Manager, how can you play as an Academy Director or Head of Recruitment?

Oh, that’s the beauty of staff responsibilities. We can completely customise our experience to replicate any scenario we want.


Till next time


  1. I find the differences between English professional football and, for example, German professional football, in terms of the distribution of tasks and decision-making, very interesting.
    It starts with the language. The person who is called the manager in English, who stands on the touchline and is responsible for training, tactics and the line-up, is simply called the coach (Trainer) in German.

    The sports director also has – at least in my feeling – a much more central role in Germany, is much more publicly present and usually the really strong man in the club than is the case in the Premier League, for example.

    Two schools of thought have crystallised over the last two decades:

    1. The sporting director sets the philosophy, the idea of football and recruits players (almost) independently of the coach. The coach has to adapt and work with the team that is made available to him by the club.
    The advantages are usually a clearly recognisable idea within the team and a strong independence from the coach. If the coach changes, the core of the team remains the same and does not have to be completely reorganised for the next coach.
    The disadvantages are, of course, that the coach does not get on with the players at his disposal on a footballing or personal level.

    2. The second approach is much more integrative. The coach is very much involved in the recruitment process, is allowed to express wishes for transfers and gets them fulfilled.

    The advantages are, of course, a greater likelihood that coach and team will fit together at all levels and that the coach can play his preferred system without having to compromise.

    The disadvantages are manifold. Firstly, there is usually no overriding concept or philosophy in the squad that has been put together. When coaches change, the squad sometimes has to be heavily reorganised. If a club has had many coaches in just a few years, the squad is usually so confusingly put together and contains various players for different ideas of football.

    In addition, you must not forget that the job of a coach at professional level is now a full-time job that can rarely be managed with less than 60 hours a week – at least if you have a coach who takes his job seriously. This raises the question of how the coach is supposed to have enough time to give sufficient thought to transfer policy.

    As a result, it is almost inevitable that the coach’s transfer requests are usually limited to players from his own league – at least for teams that are not represented in European competitions.

    I clearly favour the first approach.

    I’m very excited about the project and I’m sticking with it!

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