19 Oct 2017


 Leaving a role out of choice needs to be the result of long consideration and careful preparation.

Words: Jason Ratcliffe

Often when football managers leave their clubs it’s not something they have chosen to do. There will be occasions, though, when you feel it’s time to move on, perhaps because of a family situation or because a new opportunity has presented itself.

Perhaps you’re itching to pursue a new challenge, take a sabbatical or embark on a study visit. You may not be totally comfortable with the direction the organisation is heading in or you feel that you can go no further in your current position. You may decide you don’t have the resources to build the club as you would like or to try the things you want to.


Whatever the reason, it’s important to consider all of the costs and benefits of leaving the organisation and think about how you might make the move in the most positive way possible. Your exit strategy should be bullet-proof rather than based on vague intentions and ideally you shouldn’t leave without either a concrete job offer or a solid plan of what the next step in your development journey will be.

Be honest with yourself about what is expected of you and how realistic those expectations are. How far have you come, where do you want to get to and what more can you achieve in your current role? This applies as much to the people you are leading as it does the wider plan and resources, because when you push against people too hard with your ideas they can rebel and it can be destructive.

Managing your own expectations and those of others is therefore important, as is acknowledging quickly when you start a role what the potential is and how far you’re likely to be able to push things.


It can be helpful to take some informed advice when weighing up the options available to you. There may be cases, for example, when it is better for you to take control rather than see how the situation pans out. Seeking a confidential sounding board, as well as advice on your legal standing, is a good starting point to help assess the likely risks and negative impact of taking a course of action. Trusted friends may also be able to provide another perspective on your situation or raise issues that you may not yet have considered.

If you decide that the time is right to leave, do so with grace and respect, aiming to minimise the damage and maintain a positive relationship with your organisation.

Give your reasons for leaving, being positive, constructive and grateful, and remain professional at all times. Don’t use it as an opportunity to air grievances or make a point and maintain your professional stance after you have left as well.

How you leave a job can reflect positively or negatively on your reputation. Ultimately, though, the impression you leave people with won’t depend on your last days alone but on the impact you have made over your tenure – your behaviour and leadership. Behave in a professional manner and work hard at all times and you will put yourself in the best position should you decide to depart.