Phil Anderton's departure 'no surprise' to Al Jazira
ABU DHABI // Al Jazira say they "respect" Phil Anderton's decision to resign from his position as chief executive for personal reasons.
Anderton informed the club's board he would be stepping down from his role at the Pro League champions two weeks ago and he completed his final day on Thursday before leaving the country on Friday.
Sources say Anderton has returned to Scotland with his wife and two daughters to be reunited with his eldest daughter, who left the UAE in the summer to begin university, and to be closer to his father who is unwell.
"I can confirm Mr Anderton has left," a club spokesman said. "We were not surprised. We respect people's wishes."
The spokesman confirmed that Steve Hall, the commercial and marketing director who has been with the club since March last year after spending nine years at Manchester United, and David Crook, the director of facilities who only joined the club in August, have been "fired" for "cost cutting" reasons. More than 50 club employees are understood to have been made redundant in August.
Anderton's departure comes as a surprise as less than two months ago he seemed content with life in the capital and was recommending players to the board and meeting with prospective new sponsors.
His exit leaves Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the chairman of Al Jazira and owner of Manchester City, searching for a new chief executive at both of his clubs after Garry Cook resigned from his position at the English Premier League club.
George Al Hajj, Jazira's chief financial officer, has been promoted to acting chief executive at Jazira.
Carlo Nohra, the chief executive at Al Ain, was surprised to hear Anderton had resigned. Their paths crossed regularly when Nohra was the chief executive of the UAE Football League (UFL) last season and he said Anderton's legacy will be the way he mobilised Emirati and expatriate football fans to generate crowds of 36,241 and 28,164 to matches at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.
"I like to think that he [Anderton] worked very well to make his board understand the need to attract attendances with genuine marketing and commercial principles," Nohra said.
"The results were there to be seen; they attracted people; they had good attendances. If the club does not follow on the good work that has been done so far, and we cannot say they will not, something could be lost."
Al Nasr, Al Ain and Al Ahli have all undergone significant changes in the boardroom this year. Asked if being a football executive was as perilous a position as being a manager, Nohra said: "In this part of the world, it is."