Noble appointed Sporting Director by West Ham
Written by Simon Austin — September 22, 2022
WEST HAM legend Mark Noble has been appointed as the club's new Sporting Director.
The 35-year old will officially start on January 2nd and work “closely in support of manager David Moyes, as well as working with the Board of Directors, providing input, advice, and assistance across all aspects of the football operation,” the club said.
They added that the role would include "Academy development, player recruitment, and player and staff wellbeing" and that Noble would have “a particular focus on ensuring players both progressing through the ranks and new to the club are nurtured in the West Ham United football philosophy and values."
He will also “play a key role in supporting the continued football development and ensuring strategic alignment across the club and the West Ham family, including our partners and supporters at home and across the globe.”
The midfielder retired from playing at the end of last season, having made 550 senior appearances across 18 years. He is West Ham’s first Sporting Director since Mario Husillos, who had the title of Director of Football and left in December 2019 after 18 months.
Husillos was very much an appointment of former manager Manuel Pellegrini and left when the Chilean did.
The appointment means that Chelsea are now the only Premier League club without a Sporting Director of equivalent (see below). However, they too are looking to make an appointment to the role as soon as possible.
Although Noble has made more Premier League appearances for West Ham than any other player, he has no experience aside from playing. In theory, Sporting Director is the key strategic football role at a club, with all heads of department - including the manager or Head Coach - reporting into him or her.
When Newcastle United Technical Director Dan Ashworth (then at Brighton) appeared on the TGG Podcast in December 2020, he explained: "The principle for a Technical Director is, in my opinion, is to look after the medium to long-term interests of the football club. It’s not about short-term 'get a result against Liverpool tomorrow'.
"I sit in the middle of a wheel and my job is to bring together seven departments, connecting those spokes. And when one of those head of departments leaves, you keep the wheel spinning and find a replacement."
However, some clubs have been keen to bring former players into the role, with Darren Fletcher appointed Technical Director at Manchester United, for example. Despite his title, the Scot is probably more akin to a Head of Development, ensuring that there is alignment between the Academy and first team.
Similarly, Petr Cech was the Technical and Performance Adviser at Chelsea until this summer, with former manager Thomas Tuchel speaking highly of his input. West Ham pointed out that Noble had recently completed an Entertainment, Media and Sports Business leadership course at Harvard Business School.
WHAT THEY SAID
Mark Noble: “I’m really happy to be coming back and can’t wait to get started. I’d like to thank the club for giving me the opportunity – it’s a great honour for me to take up this role at West Ham United.
“I’ve spent the last 24 years as a player here, first in the Academy and then in the first team, and obviously have a deep knowledge and understanding of the club.
“Throughout my playing career, the one thing I strived for more than anything was constant improvement, on and off the pitch. That became even more important to me when I was named club captain in 2015, and the last seven years have given me such great experience and preparation for the next stage of my life and career.
“In particular, the last two years, as my playing days began to naturally wind down, gave me a fantastic opportunity to really spend some time educating myself and gaining greater knowledge and understanding of the work that goes on behind the scenes. This Club has made some fantastic strides forward in that period and I am really looking forward to coming back at such an exciting time.
“I see it as a position that I can grow and develop in both personally and professionally. There are always difficult decisions to be made in football, but along with my colleagues at the club, I will continue to put the best interests of West Ham United first.
“The last two seasons have been a time of great progress, and I want to help us to continue moving forwards in the right direction. I believe in the ambition shown by the Board and I am excited about helping to build on the success that has been delivered so far.
“I feel that it is a great opportunity for me to make a real contribution and help the club in a number of different ways, and I can promise everyone in the West Ham family that I will give it absolutely everything I have.”
David Moyes: “I am really pleased to welcome Mark back and to have the opportunity to work closely with him again. He was a great asset and strength to me as a player and a captain, and I know he will give the club and myself fantastic support again in this role.
“As Mark has said, it is an opportunity for him to develop and grow in the position and he will have our full support in doing so. There is nobody better qualified when it comes to understanding West Ham United and its ethos, and to bring new ideas to take the Club forward in the right direction.
“I know from my dealings with Mark throughout his time as a player – and particularly when we were going through the hugely challenging COVID-19 pandemic – that he possesses all of the necessary skills and attributes, and the right personality and character, to be a huge success in this role.”
David Sullivan (Joint-Chairman): “On behalf of everyone at West Ham United, I would like to say how delighted we are that Mark has agreed to accept the offer to return in this new and exciting role.
“He has been and always will be a part of the fabric of this football club. Mark rightly wanted to spend some precious time with his family after 18 years of non-stop devoted service as a player, but there was never any doubt that he would come back in a senior role in the near future.
“He is already familiar in every aspect of the organisation, he personally knows all of the staff who work here across all departments, and he always puts the club’s best interests at the heart of everything he does. He will help to provide another strong link between the football operation and the wider club, and will continue to be a great asset to West Ham United.
“On behalf of the Board, we wish him all the very best and look forward to seeing him continue to represent West Ham United with passion, commitment and style.”
PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS WITH SPORTING DIRECTOR OR EQUIVALENT
- Arsenal: Technical Director - Edu
- Aston Villa: Sporting Director - Johan Lange
- Bournemouth: Technical Director - Richard Hughes; Assistant Technical Director - Simon Francis
- Brentford: Director of Football - Phil Giles
- Brighton: Technical Director - David Weir
- Chelsea: NONE
- Crystal Palace: Sporting Director - Dougie Freedman
- Everton: Director of Football - Kevin Thelwell
- Fulham: Tony Khan - Director of Football Operations
- Leeds United: Director of Football - Victor Orta
- Leicester City: Director of Football - Jon Rudkin
- Liverpool: Sporting Director - Julian Ward
- Manchester City: Director of Football - Txiki Begiristain
- Manchester United: Football Director- John Murtough, Assistant Football Director - Andy O’Boyle
- Newcastle United: Sporting Director - Dan Ashworth
- Nottingham Forest: Director of Football - Kyriakos Dourekas
- Southampton: Director of Football Operations - Matt Crocker
- Tottenham: Managing Director, Football - Fabio Paratici
- West Ham: Sporting Director - Mark Noble
- Wolves: Technical Director - Scott Sellars