De Bontin's departure due to strategic differences

Mike Stobe

Former Red Bulls' General Manager Jerome de Bontin sheds some light on his decision to step down, and it's worrisome.

With just a few days before the Red Bulls kicked off the 2014 season, General Manager Jerome de Bontin announced his resignation.

At the time, he cited personal reasons (and at the time we were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt), but at the Hofstra Soccer Conference, he elaborated on what caused his ouster to Big Apple Soccer's Michael Lewis, and it's a little worrisome...

"All I can say about my departure is we no longer agreed to the strategy," de Bontin said Saturday. "I think I am very ambitious for New York and very ambitious for soccer in this country. The objective that I had did not necessary match those of the Red Bull organization in Austria. I felt it was better with this in mind that we parted ways."


De Bontin came to the Red Bulls amid a front office reorganization that put the general manager in charge of business operations. The hallmark of his short tenure seemed to be making the Red Bulls are more inclusive organization: He talked about bringing kids who play the sport and adults who played into the fold, they did an in-arena broadcast for the blind and de Bontin even put himself out there, sleeping in the street for charity.

And, fine, that stuff isn't explicitly soccer related, but it was cost effective (think about how much we've heard about the team's small marketing budget) and it got across the idea that the Red Bulls were invested in the community. They want you to come out and enjoy the game, not just take your money, which is an easy thought when you're watching a team named after the company that owns it in a stadium by the same name.

At the same time we get this news, Lewis also drops this on us: Marc de Grandpre is in line to become the team's commercial manager, whatever that means. De Grandpre was the Red Bulls' managing director. He's most famous for having interns run through the streets of New York with bull horns on, in some kind of weird convoluted attempt to drum up support for the team.

And while it's important to remember things have changed since de Grandpre's first go-round with the team, it, unfortunately, says a bit about the team's priorities: Chasing out a guy with some pretty good ideas and replacing him with a guy who had terrible ones.

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