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Irishman leaving UEFA post to become Colorado Rapids sporting director

Pádraig Smith is a former FAI financial director.

Smith will begin his new job in January.
Smith will begin his new job in January.
Image: Twitter/PadraigSmith

MLS CLUB Colorado Rapids have appointed Meath man Pádraig Smith as their new sporting director.

Smith, originally from Mornington, will take up the role at the Denver-based club on 1 January when he brings a three-year spell working at UEFA to an end.

With European football’s governing body, Smith was involved in assessing the financial, corporate and sporting structures of the top clubs as part of UEFA’s Financial Analysis Group.

He previously spent four years as the FAI’s internal compliance officer where he worked closely with the association’s former high performance director Wim Koevermans and ex-international goalkeeper and technical director Packie Bonner on a long-term strategy for Irish football.

Smith also held the position of FAI financial director and is credited with helping to put in place the first salary cap structure for the League of Ireland before departing for UEFA in 2010.

“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.

“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 added.

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 (Hinchey), Paul (Bravo) and Pablo (Mastroeni), 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.”

According to Rapids, the main areas Smith will be involved in are ”data analytics and performance analysis”, “strategic planning and management of the soccer operations budget”, “salary cap” and ensuring “that the club is in compliance with all player collective bargaining agreements and FIFA regulations”.

Rapids technical director Paul Bravo said: “We are delighted that Pádraig will be joining us in an executive role within the soccer operations department. 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.

“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.”

Shane O’Neill, who is the son of two-time All-Ireland winning former Cork footballer Colm O’Neill, is on the books at the MLS outfit, who are owned by Stan Kroenke and managed by former US international Pablo Mastroeni.

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Ben Blake

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