Live my life as a Ligue 2 sports director: What room is left for privacy?

Until August 31, the transfer window will punctuate the life of clubs in France. Beyond the wild rumours, fabulous offers and fan fantasies, there is a reality that leaders of Ligue 2 teams have agreed to tell us about throughout the summer. This Friday, Grégory Ursule, general manager of Rodez, talks about his particularly busy working days and his method of enjoying – a little – his family.

  • A very generous schedule
    “I arrive at the office quite early, usually around 8 am. I start by dealing with my emails and the many messages I receive on my phone. It’s very time-consuming to respond to all these requests, but I was already doing it when we were in CFA (he has been general manager of Rodez since 2013, editor’s note) and I keep this rigor, because even if proposals do not interest us, we know that one day or another, we will have to deal with these interlocutors again. Then I go to the data software we have, to find out if the players on offer correspond to what we are looking for. There is also the whole human resources management part, which consists of ensuring the installation and well-being of players who have just signed their contract. These are all day-to-day tasks. And we have to do the same for the women’s team (the Rafettes got their promotion to D1, Editor’s note), which doubles the workload. Depending on the feedback we have during the day, I try to go to training, to discuss with the coach, to discuss the desired profiles. It takes us half an hour. I often finish around 7:30-8pm. These are big days. Luckily there is the lunch break, during which I do some sport to release endorphins. During this stressful time, I really need it! »

    “When I sleep, I often dream of football. Sometimes I even get up in the middle of the night to jot down two or three things in a notebook, so as not to forget them the next day. »

  • Pick up, easier said than done
    “When you are a footballer, you are focused on your immediate sporting performance, through your preparation. I would say that we work three, four, even five hours a day for the most assiduous, between invisible preparation and training. There, as a manager, I work ten hours a day, seven days a week. There is no physical effort, but a permanent involvement and presence necessary for the overall project to move forward. Inevitably, it occupies the mind quite a bit. When I sleep, I often dream of football. Sometimes I even get up in the middle of the night to jot down two or three things in a notebook, so as not to forget them the next day. The phone rings all day, but I force myself to switch it off when I’m at home, to clearly mark the boundary between work and family life. This is really a point on which I try to be rigorous. Well, it’s true that I sometimes answer when I shouldn’t, which some people blame me for! In the evening, once the children are in bed, I deal with a few emails, between 10 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., to get the next day’s files moving a little faster. »

    Grégory Ursule in his time as a player.

  • A short respite before the final rush
    “Usually, managers and sports directors go on vacation as soon as the season is over, at the same time as the players, and come back a fortnight later. I have a busy family life with four children. And as I want to spend time with them before the season really gets started, I take two weeks off in August. I’m back at the club ten days before the end of the transfer window, when things get a bit hectic. Developing this young project that is Rodez Aveyron Football is very demanding on a daily basis, it’s true, but I get real personal and professional fulfillment from it. I am on my territory, in my hometown, which is also that of my wife. It’s even more rewarding, that’s why I spend all my energy on it. Later, I may need to take a step back, but for now, my passion and my personal organization allow me to do this job thoroughly. Being a manager in another club would be totally different for me. But in a larger structure, I would probably have more means and, probably, a little more peace of mind! »

    Interview by Raphaël Brosse
    Episode 1 : How to prepare your transfer window, with John Williams (Amiens)
    Episode 2: How to manage a climb, with Jean-Philippe Nallet (Annecy)
    Episode 3: What to do with players at the end of their contract, with Grégory Ursule (Rodez)
    Episode 4: How to properly digest a descent, with Pierre Dréossi (Metz)
    Episode 5: How are the discussions with the agents, with John Williams (Amiens)

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