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Arsenal looking for a big picture sporting hire?

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A new report indicates the club is looking to hire a sporting director.

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Southampton v Arsenal - The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
Ivan Gazidis is the closest thing Arsenal has to a sporting director, and he’s not really close at all
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Yesterday, The Telegraph reported that Arsenal might be looking to hire a sporting director, which would be a part of what they report is, “ . . . part of a shake-up of the club’s off-field structure.” If true, this is reassuring news.

About a month ago, we posted on this site about how the club needed to hire a Director of Football. The whole piece is worth a read, but the TL;DR version is that Arsène Wenger is essentially Arsenal’s Manager and Director of Football, a business model that is becoming more and more obsolete.

Particularly on the continent, clubs these days are hiring a Director of Football to handle the long-term direction of the club, while the manager handles more day-to-day tasks.

That certainly sounds like what Arsenal is looking for, with The Telegraph writing, “The idea would also be to create a wider football operations role, with possible responsibilities stretching to shaping and fine-tuning the structures around sports science, medicine, scouting and recruitment, the academy and logistics.”

Given the Arsenal board’s silence over Wenger’s standing with the club amid recent disappointments, many fans, yours truly included, have been wondering if the club even has a plan for how to move forward after Wenger, who has run just about every soccer-related aspect of the club for years now. Having a good sporting director is paramount in this day and age, and it is good that the Arsenal board recognizes this.

Interestingly, The Telegraph writes that “ . . . sources have stressed that this process is about the long-term and not specifically linked to whether the Frenchman stays beyond this summer.”

Wenger is known to be a micro-manager, so I’m not sure he would really be interested in deferring to a sporting director. Nonetheless, if he does re-sign for another two years with the club, having someone who would be able to take some of the responsibilities off his plate would be a nice addition for a manager who seems to be getting further and further out of his depth.