A new management structure

A week ago, Glentoran announced a new management structure that would take charge at The Oval. Ronnie McFall has been appointed as permanent manager with Gary Smyth taking his up the position as Assistant Manager with Paul Leeman also returning to the club to take on a role overseeing progression from the Academy to First Team.

It wasn’t long before doubts over the future of this arrangement were raised with the Irish FA confirming that neither Gary Smyth nor Paul Leeman currently hold the required UEFA ‘A’ Licence to manage in the Danske Bank Premiership. Further to that, the IFA stated neither man would have the opportunity to earn their UEFA ‘Pro’ licence until 2021.

This is not the first time Licencing requirements have held up Glentoran’s coaching side. In 2007, Roy Walker was appointed as successor to Paul Millar only to discover days later that he only held the UEFA ‘B’ Licence meaning he could not take a permanent managerial position at the club.

The appointment of this new management structure makes sense with a view to Smyth assuming control of first team duties in the long term, aided by Leeman with the academy. Glens fans have been crying out for both stability and a management team who know what it means to be involved with Glentoran. The appointment was met with muted satisfaction and seemingly a lot of acknowledgement that McFall, Smyth and Leeman need (and deserve) an appropriate amount of time to turn things around at the East Belfast club.

Beyond that, the buzz on social media appears to point to renewed optimism at the hypothetical ticket box with season ticket sales possibly on the up with many hopeful of a resurgence following last season’s poor league position.

Ronnie McFall becomes the sixth permanent manager in the Oval hotseat since the departure of Roy Coyle 12 years ago, with the job security becoming almost as farcical as that at Stamford Bridge! All of this begs the question of what we would consider a satisfactory management spell to be in the club’s current climate.

Planning for the present and the future

A return to the top half of the league is a must in the short term with a view to challenging for trophies in the mid-to-long term. With the vast sums available from European qualification, it does not need to be said how revolutionary this would be for the club should they manage to attain qualification via the Irish Cup, playoffs or (at a stretch) a 3rd place finish.

Changes has already been set into motion with Jonny Addis, Jonny Smith, James Knowles and Kym Nelson all leaving the club at the end of their contracts. Decisions were also made not to offer contract renewals to Aaron Harmon, Alex O’Hanlon and Tre Sterling. In a further move it was announced that Eoghan McCawl, Tiarnan McNicholl, Corey McMullan and Conall Delaney would be made available for transfer.

The squad may be appearing significantly lighter but one piece of good news is the two year extension agreed on Robbie McDaid’s contract, a young player who has a lot of potential. Clearly the new management team are ready to make sweeping changes in a bid to turn around the fortunes of this great club. As a Glentoran fan, it is hard not to get excited about the possibility of what lies ahead but patience is a must.

The pathway to coaching accreditation

With questions raised regarding the Licences held by Leeman and Smyth I decided to have a look at the coaching courses offered by the Irish FA. The general pathway followed is through the IFA Grassroots Introduction, IFA Level 1, UEFA ‘C’ Licence, UEFA ‘B’ Licence, UEFA ‘A’ Licence and finally the UEFA Pro Licence.

The minimum Licence that the Irish FA dictates is required for managing a senior men’s team domestically in Northern Ireland is the UEFA ‘A’ Licence. If a club qualifies for Europe, then they are required to hold the UEFA ‘Pro’ Licence.

To follow the pathway from Grassroots to ‘A’ Licence through the Irish FA would cost in the region of £4,565 based on the current rates advertised. The Irish FA does not have details for their ‘Pro’ course publicised but reports from the English FA suggest their price is around £7,595.

These are vast sums for what is a part time league. It begs the question as to whether these requirements are entirely necessary as there would definitely be a school of thought that certain individuals are top quality managers regardless of whatever piece of paper they hold to prove it. Regardless, the rules are what they are and it will be interesting to see what happens beyond the forthcoming season.