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May 28, 2014
Sporting director Roxburgh on the sporting, business sides of it

By Kristian R. Dyer Contributing Editor

HANOVER, N.J. – No worries on the Red Bulls management front, so says sporting director Andy Roxburgh about the departure of general manager Jérôme de Bontin earlier this season.

In an early March press release, the club said de Bontin resigned as he left “for personal reasons” even as their was widespread speculation that he may not have seen eye-to-eye with Red Bulls management in New York or Salzburg. In April, the team announced that Marc de Grandpre was the new head of commercial operations, a move that appears to see him sliding into a role similar to de Bontin's.

In an exclusive interview with Roxburgh, asked the club's venerable sporting director his thoughts on how the upper-tier of management looks now that de Bontin is no longer in the picture.

“Nothing has actually changed," Roxburgh said last week. "When I came here, they created two sections – it is one club. The idea is that there is somebody responsible for the sporting side, someone responsible for the business side. They changed the name to make it clearer. Here in America, the general manager often does both. Players and coaches – that sort of stuff – and sell season tickets and so on.

"The role of a general manager is not the same in soccer in most of the world where there is a clear distinction in these things. Either on the soccer side on one hand or on the business. You rarely get anyone who is both. That's a unique thing. There isn't an equivalent, I can't even think of one like that."

Roxburgh likened the situation to one that Gerard Houllier, head of global ootball for Red Bull, came from with the French Football Federation. This model seems to be the one that the ownership set-up now favors for its New York club.

“Gerard Houllier came from the French FA," Roxburgh said. "You have the president who is a political guy, then a CEO responsible for business and Gerard responsible for the football. The two of them are independent and responsible for their activity, answerable only to the president. That's essentially our story here. You have someone responsible for soccer, someone for business. We have global managers, one is in charge of business, one in charge of soccer. We related to them, they relate to the owner. The owner is the boss. It's a specialization – one specializes on the sport, one on the business.”

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