Luis Campos at PSG, Javier Ribalta at OM... What is behind the titles football advisor or football director?

Luis Campos at PSG, Javier Ribalta at OM… What is behind the titles football advisor or football director?

In a sign of the times, new titles have recently appeared in Ligue 1 club org charts: football advisor and football director. So, under these extremely vague names, Luis Campos was recruited by PSG on June 10 and Javier Ribalta, whose arrival was formalized by OM on Saturday June 18. “First fuses”, “club architect”, crutch for the president – what is the exact role of these new directors?

Eric Roy dispels any doubts from the outset: Behind these ranks lies the function of sports director, who is usually better known to the general public. “Even in football there are fashion effects”, announces the Franceinfo adviser: Sport. “The real difference between all these designations is the signed treaty and the missions it contains”. In short, the names change, the role remains. And the latter is essential.

“If all these stars came to Paris, it wasn’t because of the President’s address book. People should not forget that.” Patrick Vernet, former sporting director of AC Ajaccio, defends the brotherhood and in this case Leonardo, who was ousted by PSG and replaced by Luis Campos. The latter, who will thus take over the Brazilian’s vacant role, will come under enormous pressure in the capital. Vernet knows that all too well. “The big disadvantage of this job is that we are even more dependent than the others on the results of the team”. And to continue: “The sporting director is the first backup of a club.”

A man in the shadows who is expelled when the team is not doing well, the sporting director remains a vital cog in the fate of a club. His duties are clearly defined on paper: he has to deal in particular with recruitment, manage contracts, negotiate transfers and, more generally, think about club politics. He acts as a link between his management, the coach and the players. But from theory to practice there is sometimes a gap. There are often battles for influence, each wanting to encroach on the other’s prerogatives.notes Eric Roy, who performed these functions in Nice (from 2009 to 2010, then from 2011 to 2012) and then in Lens (from 2017 to 2019).

The Franceinfo adviser: Sport wants to highlight a role that is not always clear to the general public. And for a good reason: “The roles of a director, be it sport or football, or a football advisor, vary greatly depending on the structure of the club. At bigger clubs his role is more like that of a manager whose job it is to build a workforce meaning he doesn’t necessarily watch all the games. He has a recruiting unit and scouts under his command.”

This will therefore be one of the missions of Luis Campos and Javier Ribalta, but obviously the specifications do not stop there. Eric Roy continues: “The director/adviser can also help the coach to resolve conflicts between players and ego issues in particular. With only 11 incumbents on the field, you can imagine the director having work to keep the backup staff mobile. Therefore, he sometimes has a role as a psychologist.. And Roy at the end: “The director of football is the architect of the club”. The fact remains that sometimes the plans fail and the locations turn out to be fiascos.

“The problems are often related to recruitment, with the coach often blaming the football agent for not giving him the players he wanted“, observes Eric Roy. Hence the desire of some directors to transcend their functions. Bruno Carotti, in office in Montpellier for more than ten years, refutes this practice: Some directors ask for full powers, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. There’s so much to do when you’re still on duty!”

And the ex-midfielder to list: “The championship is hardly over there when we are already preparing for next season, starting recruitment, changing certain infrastructures, etc. In short, it’s a very interesting position because we stay close to the field and to our passion. , but it is very time consuming”.

Patrick Vernet he retains other disadvantages for this job. You have to know how to deal with the situations of players who sometimes have 2 or 3 agents. It sucks to see through all that paperwork.”, he laments. Suffice it to say that Luis Campos or Javier Ribalta, armed with a battalion of lawyers, will not have those kinds of concerns. As we can see, the difference in meaning of the definition of director, whether in PSG, OM or ACA, is evident at all levels. “At the Ajaccio club It’s like a small village. Everyone gives their opinion. There are no clearly defined privileges”laughs Patrick Vernet.

Thomas Tuchel, then PSG coach, and Leonardo, his ex-sporting director, during the Coupe de la Ligue final on July 30, 2020. (FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

However, if there is one point on which all directors or advisers agree, regardless of the size of their club, it is the importance of the relationship between the director and his coach. “A good osmosis between the two is the absolute guarantee for the good life of a group”, hammers network

However, the friction between these two parties is legion and generally makes the headlines of the press. If Bayern Munich are the undisputed champions in this category, then the duels between Jorge Valdano and José Mourinho in the 2010s went down in history on the Real Madrid side. And look at L1 recently to see that there are frequent tensions (for example Garcia-Juninho at OL or Leonardo-Tuchel in Paris).

Presidents also select these men from among their relatives to assert their authority and not be deceived…

Eric Roy

France Info: Sport

On the other hand, when the two clans unite, it is often for the best. Patrick Vernet, who is close to Christophe Galtier, says: “When he arrived in Lille, Christophe met Luis Campos and He told me it helped him gain perspective and focus on what matters. In Saint-Etienne, Galtier had scattered, he tried to do everything, but it was not possible. Meeting Campos changed him”.

When they support their coaches by taking on responsibilities that aren’t theirs, athletic directors also make that connection with their managers. “LClub owners are increasingly made up of mutual funds. Their presidents don’t really know football and need directors or football advisors.”state Eric Roy.

The latter recalls another important point when appointing an agent or director of football: “We must not forget that a club is an organ of power. Presidents also choose these men from among their relatives in order to establish their authority and not be betrayed…”

Roy, who was sporting director at Watford in the Premier League between 2019 and 2020, is also well placed to discuss the differences in role between the two championships: “In England the coach is all-powerful. We call him the manager and he has almost all decision-making power. The director, sport or football, has much less space than in France.”

Also close to Frédéric Massara, sporting director of AC Milan, Eric Roy, on the contrary, reiterates that this position is on a pedestal in Italy: “It’s often said over there that the manager is a temporary man and the manager is a man of the club.”. Which movement will Luis Campos and Javier Ribalta be part of?


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