Vincent Mannaert denies that poor relations with Bart Verhaeghe are the basis of the break: “There was no desire to fill the job”

The news was actually no longer very unexpected when Club Brugge announced on Tuesday evening that Vincent Mannaert will be stepping down as CEO of Club Brugge at the end of the season. “After a long and thorough thought process, and a long conversation with Bart, I have decided to step down as CEO at the end of the season,” Mannaert opened the press conference. “I didn’t make the decision overnight. It must have been thirteen seasons. The most intense years of my life. I especially remember pride and gratitude that I was able to do it. I am especially proud, and I want to remember the positive aspects of those many years. And I still want to say goodbye in a beautiful way. I’m going to work very hard to end this season as best as possible. Both sportingly and off the field. I told Bart about it yesterday. Then to the board of directors and the employees. There is nothing else planned for my future. I mainly focus on what challenges still lie ahead of us.”

Mannaert’s farewell does not come as a surprise to many: the split had been in the air for several months. What ultimately made the difference? “A combination of many factors. I have experienced a lot here in twelve years. If at a certain point you notice that you are gradually lacking the desire to generate the energy to do your job, and that you can no longer turn it around, then a good analysis must follow. Then you have to be honest with yourself. Little time passed to communicate my decision. I only communicated them to Bart yesterday.”

Mannaert will step down as CEO of Club Brugge at the end of this season. — © BELGIUM

Mannaert denies bad relations with Verhaeghe

According to Mannaert, a bad relationship was not the basis for the break, he emphasized. “If the relationship had been problematic, we wouldn’t be here now. And not being able to come to a decision in such a short time. We are both outspoken people with outspoken opinions. If you have been working together for twelve years, things can sometimes clash. But we have always retained the gift of expressing that to each other. We have been very transparent with each other. After several hours of conversation, we found common ground on a decision I had already made.”

His problems with alcohol are also not the cause of his retirement: “I have taken the necessary steps and have evolved (referring to his alcohol consumption, ed.). There have been tensions in that area in the past, but we have always talked it out. Today we sit here in complete serenity,” said Mannaert.

Bart Verhaeghe about candidate successors: “There are also many people internally who would like to grow”

Chairman Bart Verhaeghe says he has full respect for the decision that Mannaert made. “A difficult, but honest decision. I am grateful for the fun and fruitful collaboration. Football is a special business, very heavily mediatized. You have to achieve financial and sporting results. That asks a lot of a person. Vincent got that right gerund. As a Club we can be grateful for that. He also installed a structure and drive. Many people were given opportunities to develop themselves here. Here is a house as an organization. A training center, too. Vincent remains a shareholder of Club Brugge, so he remains affiliated with Club. He’s a friend. I am very grateful to him. Club continues to work, in complete stability. We are still participating on three fronts and want to make something special out of it,” said the chairman.

Verhaeghe. — © BELGIUM

Verhaeghe heaped praise on Mannaert when asked about his business partner’s greatest achievement. “Club had to become the biggest club in the country again. He has accomplished this in a modern way. Other people were motivated and inspired by him. They were given responsibilities. But from professionalism. In the beginning we were a non-profit organization that was transformed into a public limited company with barely twenty employees. Today more than a hundred people work here.”

The question then is: what now? Does Verhaeghe already have a successor in mind? “We still have to think about how to implement it. But we’re not going to take that one day. We give ourselves time. Looking for a CEO is a very important job, but so are the other management positions. We will first think about the content and structure of that job. And only then will we talk about names. First the structure, then names. We give ourselves until the end of the season to find the right man or woman. There are also many people internally who would like to grow.”

Mannaert and Verhaeghe did not lose their smiles at the press conference. — © BELGIUM

A question that was on everyone’s lips – and therefore also on those of the journalists present: what about the takeover of Club Brugge? “The press made it clear that we wanted to sell Club. We have appointed Raine (investment bank, ed.) to test what options there are for finding the right partners in football for the future. Before the construction of the stadium, participate at the top in Belgium and stay on the map in Europe. The strategic leadership of Club Brugge will remain with me in the coming years. Hopefully that will provide peace and stability in that area,” says Verhaeghe.

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