By Paul Nicholson
September 10 – They are the most important person in the workings of a club but they are also the least protected. A session at last week’s Edinburgh Sports Conference examined the role of managers and coaches in what is a precarious and ever-changing landscape.
“They are the most vulnerable and under-represented category of the football industry,” said lawyer Andrea Bozza of Osborne Clarke, who led a session looking at the role of the manager in the modern game.
“There is no definition of what a coach is, there is no regulation, they don’t have an international association, there is no clear provision identifying how a club could terminate a contract with just cause and no sporting sanction for clubs terminating a contract without just cause,” he said.
Bozza argued it was time that there was more proscription of the role of managers and head coaches, and that an association working in their interests is long overdue.
In the UK there is the League Managers’ Association but there are no equivalent bodies in other countries and certainly know international organisation or ‘group’ dialogue with football’s governing bodies in the way that FIFPro, for example, represents players.
It is an issue that is amplified for coaches working in international markets and former England and Russia manager Fabio Cappello was on stage to give his own experiences of management at club and international level (see Cappello warns of disturbing power of agents).
While many of the issues encountered by Cappello would unlikely to be resolved via a formal procedure, certainly the structure of a clearer definition of roles and responsibilities would provide a framework and protection for managers beyond their contracts with clubs and national associations that are often disregarded and unenforced.
“We need an international organisation with the ability to have open dialogue with FIFA, UEFA and other stakeholders. We need to get to the position where we have some rules,” said Bozza.
One very topical area he highlighted where a stronger set of enforceable guidelines and rules are required was around the relationship between coaches and intermediaries. It is currently a dangerously grey area and one that Bozza described as a ‘Pulcinella secret’ (something that everyone knows but pretends not to because they think it is a secret).
For Bozza the first step would be the involvement of the existing (and very proactive) Italian managers’ organisation and then presumably an alliance with other similar bodies like the LMA in the UK. The ultimate objective being an international organisation that could bring some structure to the Wild West landscape of professional team management.
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