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Martin van Geel will leave Feyenoord at the end of the season. In close consultation with the other members of the management team, the technical director has reached the conclusion that it would be better for him and for the club if he were to leave his post this summer. It will bring to an end eight years of major sporting success for Feyenoord under Martin van Geel after a long barren period. He has also made an important contribution to the club’s return to financial good health.
Martin van Geel joined Feyenoord in 2011-2012, when the club had huge debts and substantially negative shareholder equity. His main task was putting together a solid, recognisable squad with a salary budget that had been basically halved. Players had to be sold, but at first he could expect none of the transfer revenue to invest in new players. That only changed to a very limited degree later on.
In spite of these restrictions, sporting success arrived very soon, with a second place finish in the Eredivisie in Van Geel’s first season under coach Ronald Koeman, who he appointed. All told, Feyenoord won five trophies in Van Geel’s eight years at the helm as technical director, with the absolute highlight the first Eredivisie title in 18 seasons, which was secured on 14 May 2017.
As the club’s financial situation has been put on an even keel (helped by the positive results in the transfer market), the salary budget has continually risen by a million euros on average over recent seasons, while there have been investments in 1908, the new first-team training complex, and the new youth academy complex that is currently being built.
‘It has been a wonderful adventure’
‘I will leave proud of what we have achieved here together over the past eight years. It has been a wonderful adventure and we have achieved a string of successes together that no one at all believed we were capable of. Naturally, it’s a shame that it will end soon, because I could have continued working for years with my immediate colleagues, but the destiny of a technical director is that past achievements and where you have come from as a club are soon forgotten by part of the outside world when you experience a less good period. That’s a shame, but it’s just how things work. The great negative attention I am now getting is not good for Feyenoord. That’s why I am making way. Over the next few months I will make sure that I hand everything over to my successor in the best state possible. I have no idea what I will do after 1 July, but I am still full of energy and ambition. I hope the club can pursue new successes next season with renewed vigour under a new technical director and a new head coach’
It is not yet known who will succeed the longest-serving technical director in Feyenoord’s history, general manager Jan de Jong stresses. ‘So we are also happy that Martin will stay in post for a few months. We will take our time to ensure we make the right decisions for the future, so we don’t need to fear that lots of technical matters will not get attended to. The Martin I have got to know over the past 18 months will work 100% for this club until his last day in the job.’
De Jong observes that there is a huge turnover in management positions across professional football. ‘One person after another leaves football, some forced out, others not. Martin is a positive exception, with eight years of service as technical director. It is concerning, because stability, experience and continuity of policy are important factors in the success of a football club. You don’t win five trophies just like that. It’s no coincidence! Clubs benefit from calm and continuity at the top, precisely when it’s not going as well. And it happens to everyone at some point. Martin obviously has a wealth of experience and a very good record. However, at one point you have to have the courage to consider the wellbeing of the individual and you must assume your responsibilities together. Ultimately, that is the most important thing.’
‘Time will tell, but it would be great if Martin’s current critics over a number of years have the courage to look back and admit that he delivered a truly great performance, often in very difficult circumstances,’ says De Jong. ‘Feyenoord should be grateful to him for his great contribution to the successes of recent years. They will stand forever!’