Liverpool sporting director Julian Ward has decided to leave the club at the end of the season, just months after taking over from Michael Edwards.
Ward officially succeeded the influential Edwards in the summer after being promoted from assistant sporting director, though he led Liverpool’s recruitment of Luis Diaz Y Darwin Nunez prior to that while operating in a transitional leadership role.
The 41-year-old’s decision has come as a shock and disappointment for Liverpool, who are now considering continuing the sporting director model first introduced under Edwards in 2016. Jürgen Klopp, who likes the structure of sports director and was close. For both Edwards and Ward, he will have a critical role in deciding how football operations should be run at the end of the season. Chief executive Billy Hogan will also be involved in the final decision that could see Liverpool stick to its current setup and have a third sporting director in just over a year.
No explanation has been given for Ward’s departure, but he has told Liverpool that he intends to take a break at the end of the season and has no intention of starting work at a new club in the immediate future. While the Liverpool-born sporting director has officially been in charge of him for only several months, he has worked for the club for more than a decade since he joined Manchester City.
Ward was a manager of European scouting and a loan and track manager before becoming Edwards’ assistant during a highly successful period for Liverpool. He has a close working relationship with head of recruiting Dave Fallows and head scout Barry Hunter, who will continue to play a central role in Liverpool’s transfer strategy.
Liverpool believe Ward’s early notice, coupled with their long-established football strategy, will ensure business continues as normal this season. They have no reservations about their sporting director staying on until the end of the season, without questioning Ward’s character and professional integrity.
There are further changes scheduled behind the scenes with Liverpool research director Ian Graham, who has been with the club since 2012, and will also leave at the end of the season having resigned in June. He is currently serving a notice period.
In the meantime, UEFA has yet to be notified when the independent review in the chaotic scenes The Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris will be published in May.
The governing body of European soccer commissioned a team led by Dr. Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, a Portuguese parliamentarian, to investigate events at the Stade de France, which saw dangerous congestion problems leading to a delayed start, blocking of fans, tickets that didn’t work and Heavy-handed police use tear gas against supporters.
UEFA stated that it was aiming to publish the report by the end of November, but with less than a week remaining, it is still awaiting confirmation as to when the report will be received. “UEFA has not yet been informed of a specific date for the publication of the report that is currently being prepared by the independent review team led by Dr. Brandão Rodrigues,” a statement read.
concerns were expressed in some quarters by Rodrigues’ appointment just two days after the final, as he previously worked closely with Tiago Craveiro, former chief executive of the Portuguese Football Federation, who in March this year became an adviser to the UEFA President Aleksandr Ceferin. However, fears appeared to have been allayed, certainly among some groups on Merseyside, when Rodrigues and his team visited to gather information and take statements from the club and organized supporter groups.