By Will Lloyd - 7 June 2009
Jose Mourinho is reported to earn around $9 million (£5.4 million) a year as the coach of Serie A football club Inter Milan. Why? Because he’s worth it - or at least his employers think so.
Mourinho has a CV to back up his claims. He steered Inter to the Italian championship this year, won the Premier league twice with Chelsea and the Champions League with Porto.
His record shows he’s a coach with the tactical understanding to unlock games, the ability to recognise and develop latent talent and to inspire his players to produce optimum performance time after time.
Mourinho may be at the top of football’s pay league but he is not alone. The coaches of leading soccer clubs in Europe and of NFL, NBA and MLB franchises earn massive amounts, compared to almost everybody except their own players.
But the Big Bucks have been largely confined to top level sport….until now.
There is a significant and growing body of evidence from around the world that top performance directors and coaches are now enjoying enhanced salary expectations as demand for their talents grows among government, National Federations and Olympic Committees which are ever more anxious to justify massive investment in sport by delivering Gold medal performances at important championships.
There is, of course, a very fine line between success and failure in sport and those performance directors and coaches who are able to help athletes make the often fractional improvement from also-ran to champion are at a premium.
The world watched and admired as the British Cycling team hoovered up medals in Beijing and the excellence of the coaching and performance regimen was at the heart of that success. In swimming and rowing too the back room staff have played a major role in getting the most from the athletes under their control.
The market for coaching talent is global and growing and feedback from our offices around the world and conversations with leading figures in sports administration suggest that the competition for coaching talent is set to step up another gear.
Much of the pressure is coming from those countries which have invested huge amounts in sports programmes designed to engage their own populations and to present a successful image to the world. Sporting success talks volumes. Eventually that investment has to be backed-up by success which will be recognised internationally and provide role-models who will inspire others to take-up sport. In this way sporting dynasties are founded.
Despite the global economic downturn, significant investment is still being made in sport in parts of the world including the Middle East and Asia. They have invested in the best facilities available and are committed to employing the necessary technical talent to help produce competitors who will shine on the world stage.
Outside top level pro-sports you will find a corollary in the United States college sports system. The success of a college sports programme is critical to a school’s reputation and standing and its ability to raise revenue from its alumni. Consequently sports directors and leading coaches are paid salaries in hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now the same dynamics are beginning to apply to other sports.
So where will this trend lead?
While it would be rash to predict it will happen in the near future, there is certainly a case for saying that the $1 million-a -year (£608,000) performance director will eventually be with us. They are the men and women with the Golden Touch and all indications are that the Golden rewards will follow.
Will Lloyd is the co-founder of Sports Recruitment International, whose clients include the Football League, British Basketball and Commonwealth Games England.