THINGS may be gradually changing, but there remains an element of mistrust in Scotland surrounding the role of a Director of Football or Sporting Director.
Questions over who picks the team or has final say on transfers are often trotted out, regardless of previous explanations. A lack of understanding of what the job consists of on a day-to-day basis is a contributing factor.
There will be no such confusion at Edinburgh City, who last week appointed former Hearts manager Jim Jefferies as their Sporting Director. With a wealth of experience at every level of the game in Scotland, the 66-year-old has been brought in to help the SPFL new boys make improvements behind the scenes, so that manager Gary Jardine and is players can be left to get on with the most important job – retaining their status as a league club.
“I want to make that clear, I’m not here to put any pressure on Gary Jardine,” Jefferies told the Evening News. “There’s no way that I want to go back into that side of it. They’ve just come up and don’t have a lot of experience at this level. In football over the years, I’ve known who to deal with and who to talk with comfortably, which will be strange for Edinburgh City.
“It’s new for someone like Gary as well, coming into what we call the professional ranks compared to the Lowland League. If I can help give him a bit of support if he feels he needs it then great, but I’ll never, ever interfere with the football side. If Gary wants to talk to me like he did on Saturday after the game, I’m glad to give him my thoughts and advice, but it’s up to him whether he takes it on board, I’ve no qualms.
“It’s where he or the club might need help in other areas. They might need to try and get an emergency loan in and I actively go and do that for them. Maybe sometimes they don’t know the right way to go about it or who to contact and I do. Maybe there’s a few people who are due me a favour! I’ll try and tap into that.
With a heavy Hibs influence on the pitch at Meadowbank, it was Hearts connections in the boardroom that gave rise to the possibility of Jefferies becoming involved. Jim Brown, City director and former Hearts defender first floated the idea via another Hearts old boy. “It was actually Gary Locke who’d said he’d been speaking to Jim and he’d asked Gary for my number,” Jefferies explained. “I think Jim had heard me on the radio a couple of weeks beforehand saying I wasn’t interested in coming back in on the footballing side of it. Out of courtesy, because I’d known Jim previously with him being a big Hearts man, I went to hear what he had to say.
“We sat and had a coffee and I tried to tell him where I was coming from. He said he’d heard me say that if something came up that wasn’t too over the top in terms of time commitment and what I had to do then I might be interested. I could easily have turned round and said ‘look, if you survive, I know your plans going forward and I’d like to come in at the start of the season’ and go from there.
“They wanted a wee lift now though, and I thought ‘wait a minute, maybe coming in now gives me the chance to pick up as much information as I can about them.’ I’ve had a chance to see who’s involved and meet people.
“They’ve been great. They’ve given me a lot of respect for what I’ve done in the game and were delighted to see me become part of it. I’m just here to help in the areas where they need support. For example, they’ve never had a proper physio, so I was able to sort out someone to go up to training on Monday. It’s not going to be really time-consuming for me, but I’ll giving a lot of effort to help them. If they survive, the plans they’ve got, they’re well capable of staying in this league for a while.”
Jefferies’ has seen City twice in the last fortnight, 0-0 and 1-1 home draws with Clyde and Montrose. His last managerial appearance at Meadowbank was more memorable. “I was Falkirk manager when Meadowbank Thistle were in the league,” he recalled. “Terry Christie was in charge and I remember us winning 1-0, I’m sure with a penalty and then, they were our last game of the season here when we came to lift the league championship.”
Staying in League Two come the end of this season will mean just as much to the current boss.