The Colorado Rapids have announced an addition to its team technical staff with the hiring of Pádraig Smith as Sporting Director. Smith has spent the last three years with European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, and previously worked for the Football Association of Ireland (FAI). He will oversee team operations, working in direct support of Paul Bravo, vice president of soccer operations and technical director, and head coach, Pablo Mastroeni.
Smith has been a key player in UEFA’s Financial Analysis Group, which assesses the top professional European clubs in the areas of finance, corporate and sporting structures. He also oversaw national association and club compliance with Financial Fair Play and Licensing regulations. Smith also played a central role in the drive toward improved analysis of efficiencies within the European soccer marketplace by measuring on-field performance data with clubs’ financial data.
“We are delighted that Pádraig will be joining us in an executive role within the soccer operations department,” said Bravo. “He will work across all levels of our technical staff and we look forward to him adding a level of sophistication and experience to our soccer operations.”
Among the key focus areas for Smith will be data analytics and performance analysis as they pertain to player acquisitions and scouting from a team performance, player and opposition perspective. In addition, he will oversee strategic planning and management of the soccer operations budget, salary cap and ensure that the club is in compliance with all player collective bargaining agreements and FIFA regulations. He also will represent the Rapids, along with Bravo, on the league’s technical committee.
“Having Pádraig join us will allow our technical staff to work much more efficiently and optimize performance, whether that is through scouting, preparation and planning for the first team week-in and week-out, or working with our operations in general.”
Prior to his time at UEFA, Smith also spent four years as Internal Compliance Officer with the FAI, and among his accomplishments was putting in place the first salary cap structure for the League of Ireland. He also served one year as acting Director of Finance. Prior to that, Smith was with international accounting firm Ernst & Young from 2002-2007.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at UEFA,” said Smith. “However, I feel that this is the right opportunity for me to move on to another exciting and challenging chapter in my career. It is clear to everyone in European football that MLS is taking major strides towards its goal of becoming one of the top leagues in the world and I believe the Rapids are poised to play a leading role in that development. It’s a project I’m very much looking forward to playing a key role in.”
At the FAI, Smith chaired the group that looked into the long-term strategy for the professional game in Ireland. His group looked at the future of the game, from the grassroots all the way to the elite professional level, with the goal of ensuring that an optimal sporting pyramid structure was put in place to aid the development of all players coming through the system.
Smith worked closely with Wim Koevermans, the former Dutch under-21 coach who became the FAI’s High Performance Director and later went on to serve on UEFAs coach education expert panel. Smith also worked with longtime Irish international goalkeeper and current UEFA Technical Instructor Packie Bonner during Bonner's term as the FAI’s Technical Director.
“The addition of Pádraig’s diverse, global football experience clearly shows the direction we are headed in the building of our club," said Tim Hinchey, club president, "It also shows the high level of support we have from Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. It's a very important building block as we strive to make the Rapids, top to bottom, the very best professional soccer organization in the country."
Smith says he’s excited about the opportunity and is looking forward to coming to the Denver area.
“I’m leaving a very good role at UEFA where I’ve been able to work with some of the biggest clubs in Europe,” he said. “The only reason I would leave would be for a position like this - something every bit as exciting. From an ownership standpoint, right through to the management team of Tim, Paul and Pablo, it’s just a wonderful group. The impressions I have of the leadership team I’m joining, as well as the Denver area, have been incredibly positive.”
Smith will officially join the Rapids staff as of January 1, 2015.