Restructuring football clubs takes time

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

"I go into a job and I don’t think about anything other than staying for as long as I can. You want to build something, put things in place and then you’ll be successful.”

“When I was at Livingston they’d only been going for about twenty-one years and had something like twenty managers. It was crazy. I said when I took the Livi job that they needed to let me build something. Do that and you’ll reap the rewards, I said. That’s what Livingston did. I was there for three and a half years and they are playing Premiership football now.

“It’s about making that structure and having a club behind you; a club that can function after you leave. That’s what Livingston have maintained. I go into a job and I don’t think about anything other than staying for as long as I can. You want to build something, put things in place and then you’ll be successful.”

The speaker is Bradford City manager David Hopkin, whose success in West Lothian is indisputable. Some cynics might claim the above spiel is also not a bad way for Hopkin to obtain a decent period of job security at Valley Parade, but in his defence there is abundant evidence that the chopping and changing of a manager, and all the attendant disruption that brings, seldom pays off in the long term.

Those in charge of a football club, no matter the size, must decide the structure they want, and can afford. The appointed manager should be a fit for that structure, building and shaping the club within the agreed framework, at all times the major influence on the whole playing side, the leading voice on advising the board/owner on all football matters.

Put like that, running a football club sounds fairly straightforward…but it seldom is. It wasn’t the case for David Hopkin in Bradford. It was he, not the Valley Parade club, who decided he was not the right man for the job, or more likely he concluded he was not the right man to work with the Bradford City owner.

David Hopkin resigned on 25 February 2019 after winning just seven of his thirty-five games in charge of the Bantams. It was a voluntary departure no doubt made easier by the certain knowledge that there are plenty more clubs than Bradford City who require a degree of restructuring.

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