The 2022/23 Premier League season saw a range of new footballing appointments at senior levels behind the scenes, including Jorg Schmadtke being confirmed as Liverpool’s new sporting director two days after the end of the campaign.
West Ham legend Mark Noble, who only retired at the end of last season, took up the same role with the Hammers in January, while Manchester United lured Dave Harrison from Everton to become their new Director of Football Operations the following month — a more administrative role, but nonetheless an important one.
Regardless of their official job titles, the figures with responsibility for overseeing the overall footballing health of each club often come under scrutiny during transfer windows, when new signings go sour or when teams are struggling to achieve results.
From former Champions League and Premier League winners to legal experts and finance graduates, The Sporting News provides the list of who’s who at each club.
Arsenal — Richard Garlick
A former legal counsel and club secretary for West Bromwich Albion, Garlick was made Director of Football Operations at Arsenal following his departure from a role with the Premier League in the aftermath of the failed attempt to create a European Super League in April 2021.
The qualified lawyer works closely on transfers and planning with manager Mikel Arteta and Technical Director Edu.
Aston Villa — Monchi
Sevilla sporting director Monchi was reunited with Unai Emery when he became Aston Villa’s president of football operations in June 2023, following his fellow Spaniard to Villa Park.
Christian Purslow had stepped down as Villa chief executive earlier that month. “I can’t wait to work with Unai Emery again,” said Monchi, calling the ex-Arsenal boss “one of the best managers in football”.
Bournemouth — Richard Hughes
Former Scotland midfielder Hughes made more than 150 appearances for the Cherries over two spells as a player before being made Technical Director by ex-manager Eddie Howe in 2014.
New Bournemouth owner Bill Foley relied on Hughes, who spent his youth career at Atalanta and Arsenal, and chief executive Neill Blake to identify winter transfer window targets after the American completed a £150 million ($183.4) takeover of the club in December 2022. Despite spending just over £50m ($60.2m) in the window, Bournemouth went six matches without a win in all competitions in 2023 before beating Wolves 1-0.
Brentford — Phil Giles
Giles was appointed in 2015 in a joint role with Rasmus Ankersen, the Chairman of Danish Superliga club FC Midtjylland, which is also owned by Bees owner Matthew Benham.
Brentford were in the Championship at the time. Ankersen stepped down at the end of 2021 to set up a sports investment firm, leaving Giles as the club’s sole Director of Football.
Brighton & Hove Albion — David Weir
Former Rangers, Everton and Scotland centre-back Weir held various senior roles behind the scenes at Brighton before becoming Technical Director — initially on an interim basis — following Newcastle-bound predecessor Dan Ashworth’s departure in 2021.
Most recently, Weir has been involved in the appointment of flamboyant Italian Roberto De Zerbi as the men’s team manager and former Bayern Munich Frauen boss Jens Scheuer as head coach of the women’s team, which competes in the Women’s Super League.
Chelsea — Christopher Vivell
Chelsea reached an agreement with Monaco for 36-year-old Vivell to become their new Technical Director in October 2022 as an army of new senior figures joined the club following the arrival of Graham Potter, who was sacked as head coach in April 2023.
With Potter gone, Vivell was placed on gardening leave after only seven months in his post. Co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart were said to have been given most of the control behind the scenes.
— Pys (@CFCPys) December 21, 2022
Crystal Palace — Dougie Freedman
Former Palace hotshot and player of the season Freedman joined the club for a third time when he became Sporting Director in 2017, proving instrumental in bringing in impressive new talents such as Conor Gallagher, Marc Guehi and Michael Olise and helping the Eagles to appoint current manager Patrick Vieira, who has praised the ex-Scotland forward.
“This is one of the strengths of the football club: the Sporting Director who played at a high level, who understands the game, who understands the club and understands the demands of the fans,” Vieira said, calling Freedman’s support “massively important”.
Everton — Kevin Thelwell
Former Wolves Sporting Director Kevin Thelwell replaced Marcel Brands at Everton in February 2022.
Thelwell was said to have put together a 120-point plan for the club when he joined but his masterplan came under scrutiny as the Toffees battled Premier League relegation, with head coach Sean Dyche defending the club’s apparent lack of action in the 2022/23 transfer window days after he succeeded the sacked Frank Lampard.
Fulham — Tony Khan
A finance graduate who has a similar role at NFL franchise the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tony Khan has been part of three promotions and two relegations since founding Fulham’s statistical research department in 2015.
Khan is clearly a multitasker: he was made vice-chairman and Director of Football Operations in 2017 in addition to his general manager and sporting director roles at Craven Cottage, and is the founder of TruMedia, a Boston-based firm specialising in analytics “across the athletic industry”.
Leeds United — TBC
Victor Orta was part of the senior team involved in Leeds’ long-awaited return to the Premier League in 2020 but left by mutual consent on May 2 2023, with owner Andrea Radrizzani saying it was “clear” that the club needed to “change direction”.
“I am deeply saddened by the way that this chapter closes as Victor has been responsible for some of the best moments of my time as owner of Leeds United,” added Radrizzani. “I thank him and his people for all they have done in the past six years.”
Leicester City — Jon Rudkin
The head of Leicester’s Category 1 Academy since 2003, Rudkin has retained that role since being appointed Director Of Football in December 2014.
Rudkin’s first full season coincided with a remarkable one for Leicester and English football as the team who had spent much of the previous campaign worrying about relegation stormed to the Premier League title in one of the greatest shocks the game has ever seen.
Liverpool — Jorg Schmadtke
An uneven 2022/23 season for Liverpool was typified by sporting director Julian Ward’s announcement that he would leave the club at the end of the campaign.
Jorg Schmadtke’s anticipated arrival was confirmed on May 30. The former goalkeeper spent more than four years in the same role with Wolfsburg until he left the Bundesliga side at the beginning of 2023, having previously occupied senior roles at Cologne, Hannover and Alemannia Aachen.
???? – Julian Ward signed many big players at Liverpool and is specialized in the Brazilian & Portuguese market as he had a hand in signing Luis Díaz, speaks multiple languages fluently, has experience in working as a scout and worked at Liverpool for 10 years. [via @MikeVerweij] pic.twitter.com/hAVLatzOQw
— ???????????? ???????????????? ???? (@TheEuropeanLad) February 7, 2023
Manchester City — Txiki Begiristain
Perhaps the figure with the most impressive on-pitch CV on this list, City’s Txiki Begiristain won the European Cup in 1992 and four La Liga titles among a long list of trophies as an attacker for Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona, as well as netting six times in 22 appearances for Spain, including a goal at the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
A close ally of compatriot and current first-team manager Pep Guardiola, Begiristain served as Barca’s Director of Football between 2003 and 2010 and was appointed by the Premier League side in 2012.
Manchester United — John Murtough
John Murtough had occupied various senior roles at United before being promoted to Football Director in 2021.
Andy O’Boyle joined the club from the Premier League as Murtough’s deputy in 2022, while former midfielder Darren Fletcher assumed a Technical Director role. Murtough oversaw United’s worst ever Premier League season in 2021/22, but he has since won praise for the appointment of Erik ten Hag as manager, with the Red Devils showing significant signs of improvement in 2022/23.
We are pleased to announce the appointment of John Murtough as the club’s new Football Director, and Darren Fletcher as Technical Director.#MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 10, 2021
Newcastle United — Dan Ashworth
Before joining Newcastle from Brighton after the Saudi-led takeover of the Magpies, Ashworth had worked as Sporting and Technical Director at West Bromwich Albion and Director of Elite Development at the Football Association.
Ashworth spent almost four months on gardening leave while an agreement was reached between Newcastle and Brighton after he stepped down from his role with the Seagulls in February 2022.
Nottingham Forest — Ross Wilson
Former Falkirk, Watford, Huddersfield Town and Southampton employee Wilson left Scottish giants Rangers to join Forest in April 2023.
Wilson succeeded Filippo Giraldi, who joined Forest in October 2022 but was sacked after a difficult start to the season that had left them struggling in the Premier League despite bringing in almost an entire new squad since winning promotion that summer.
Southampton — Jason Wilcox
A Premier League winner and England international as a winger with Blackburn Rovers, Wilcox ended his 11-year spell at Manchester City — where he had become Academy Director in 2017 — to join Southampton in January 2023.
“He is the perfect fit for Southampton,” Saints chairman Henrik Kraft said at the time. “Someone who is hardworking, diligent and passionate about improving himself and those around him.”
Tottenham Hotspur — Johan Lange
Former managing director of football Fabio Paratici resigned from his post at Tottenham in April 2023. Paratici had failed in an appeal against a 30-month FIFA-imposed ban – subsequently extended from Italy to become global – as punishment for capital gain violations as part of the Plusvalenza scandal, which separately saw his former club, Juventus, deducted 15 points.
Scott Munn was made chief football officer, joined the club’s board and took charge of all footballing departments shortly before Paratici’s departure. Lange then joined the club as Technical Director from Aston Villa in October 2023, with Munn praising the Dane’s “excellent track record of scouting and signing many talented and successful youth and senior players.”
West Ham United — Mark Noble
Club great Noble came through West Ham’s academy to spend 18 years as a midfielder for the club, winning Player of the Decade for the 2010s and captaining them to promotion to the Premier League twice.
After retiring in 2022, Noble and West Ham announced that he would return as Sporting Director in January 2023.
Wolves — Matt Hobbs
A part-time scout for the club at one point after joining in 2015, Hobbs was announced as Wolves’ Sporting Director shortly after the appointment of head coach Julen Lopetegui in November 2022.
Hobbs is responsible for a wide range of aspects of the men’s and development teams, as well as Wolves’ academy and women and girls’ programmes.