Julian Ward, Liverpool’s sporting director is set to leave the club at the end of the season after only a year in the post.
Julian Ward assumed duties from his predecessor Michael Edwards, who was widely credited with much of the Reds’ recent success in the transfer market but has informed the Reds’ hierarchy that he will be stepping down at the end of the current campaign.
Julian Ward has made it clear that he intends to take a break from football and that there is no intention of taking a new role immediately following his departure.
Liverpool has no doubts regarding his integrity and character, and therefore his ability to continue in the role between now and the end of the season.
Even though the club trust in his abilities, he has chosen to leave as it is understood he wishes to take a break after more than a decade at the club.
His decision was unexpected and is understood to have been greeted with disappointment within the club.
Julian Ward joined Liverpool as their European scouting manager in 2012 having previously worked as a South American scouting strategist for Manchester City.
He handed the newly-created role of loan pathways & football partnerships manager in 2015, and after significant success, he was then promoted to the role of assistant sporting director in December 2020.
With Edwards confirming his intention to leave at the start of the 2021-22 campaign, it was announced that Ward would take over the role in what Liverpool said would be a seamless transition.
However, they are confident the continuity which saw him succeed Edwards will again provide them with some stability, underpinned by long-standing senior staff including Dave Fallows (head of recruitment) and Barry Hunter (chief scout) who continue to have central roles.
With Edwards preparing a ‘soft handover’, Ward spent much of last season as de facto sporting director.
He was, along with chief scout Barry Hunter and head of recruitment Dave Fallows, chiefly responsible for the signing of Luis Diaz from Porto in January, and led negotiations over Mohamed Salah’s new contract, which was signed in July.
He also secured the signing of Darwin Nunez from Benfica, in what could prove to be a club-record deal, and oversaw the departure of Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich, once it became clear the Senegal star had no intention of renewing his contract, and that Jurgen Klopp was open to his exit.
The club has begun a process to identify which model will be most effective for the future and according to the report it is understood that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who recently extended his contract until 2026, will play a pivotal role in the process along with chief executive Billy Hogan.
Ward’s departure comes after the recent news that Liverpool owners FSG are believed to be considering selling the club, though they would prefer to attract new investors by selling a minority stake.
Liverpool made significant efforts to persuade Ward to stay, but changes in organizational structure at Anfield, as well as the looming specter of a possible takeover of the club, have played a big role in his decision. Also, the decision of Mike Gordon, president of Fenway Sports Group (owners of Liverpool), to take a back seat in terms of day-to-day operations to focus on a potential sale reportedly contributed to his decision to step down.
Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, have said they are open to the prospect of new investment into the club, or even a complete sale, should the right offer arise.
As yet there have been no concrete developments in that regard, but Gordon has been tasked with taking the lead, suggesting there is a desire to make progress.
Indeed, there is a belief within the club that FSG’s ownership model, which depends largely on generating revenue through player trading, is reaching the end of its shelf life after a period of remarkable success.