Bishop & Sewell

Jürgen Klopp will leave Liverpool FC, the English Premier League club he has led to six major trophies, at the end of the current season, saying he’s “running out of energy.” What’s more remarkable is just how few managers ever leave on their own terms, writes  David Little, a Partner in our Corporate and Commercial  department who increasingly handles Sports Law cases too.

“I can understand that that’s a shock for a lot of people in this moment,” Klopp, 56, said in a video interview posted on X on earlier this month.

While at Anfield, Klopp has won the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Premier League, League Cup and FA Cup – the only Liverpool manager to achieve that feat, according to its website.

Although most sports teams have seen a rapid rise in valuations, under Klopp and Fenway the club has become a financial powerhouse, generating €682.9 million ($743 million) in revenue last season, the seventh highest in Europe, according to Deloitte.

Football managers often find themselves walking a precarious tightrope between success and failure. Their slightest dip in performance can spell the end of their tenure, with termination rather than retirement being the usual outcome. Unlike players who often retire at the peak of their powers, managers in the Premier League rarely have the luxury to bow out on their own terms.

One only needs to glance at the list of illustrious names who’ve faced the axe rather than a dignified exit to understand the volatility of managerial roles in the Premier League. Among the most notable is Arsène Wenger, whose 22-year reign at Arsenal came to an end in 2018 amidst mounting pressure from fans and dwindling league positions. Despite his legacy as one of the most successful managers in the club’s history, Wenger’s departure was not a choice he made but a decision forced upon him.

Another iconic figure is José Mourinho, renowned for his tactical acumen and charismatic persona. Despite his track record of success, Mourinho has experienced the bitter taste of being sacked from multiple clubs, including Chelsea, Manchester United, and most recently, Tottenham Hotspur. His inability to maintain harmony within the dressing room or deliver consistent results led to his premature departures, highlighting the unforgiving nature of the managerial landscape.

Even Sir Alex Ferguson, widely regarded as one of the greatest football managers of all time, faced his fair share of scrutiny and pressure during his tenure at Manchester United. While he retired on his own terms after securing another league title in 2013, the vast majority of managers in the Premier League aren’t afforded such a graceful exit.

By contrast to those who bid farewell on their own accord, several high-profile managers have experienced the harsh reality of being sacked from their positions. Mauricio Pochettino, widely lauded for his work at Tottenham Hotspur, was unceremoniously dismissed in 2019 after a series of disappointing results left the club languishing in mid-table obscurity. Despite leading Spurs to the Champions League final just months earlier, Pochettino’s departure highlighted the cutthroat nature of football management, where past achievements offer little protection against the threat of the sack.

Similarly, Claudio Ranieri, whose miraculous title-winning campaign with Leicester City in 2016 captured the hearts of football fans worldwide, was shown the door the following season after a downturn in form saw the Foxes embroiled in a relegation battle. Despite his heroics in guiding Leicester to an improbable triumph, Ranieri’s swift dismissal served as a stark reminder of the fleeting nature of success in the Premier League and the relentless pressure faced by managers to deliver results.

The transient nature of managerial positions in the Premier League underscores the relentless pursuit of success and the astronomical stakes involved. For many managers, the journey is marked by triumphs, setbacks, and the looming spectre of the sack rather than a voluntary retirement. In this cutthroat environment, the notion of exiting at the peak of one’s powers remains a rarity, reserved for the select few who can defy the odds and secure their legacy before the inevitable axe falls.

(Just like the Law.)

David Little, is a Partner in the Corporate & Commercial team and also Head of Sports Law for the firm. If you would like to contact him please quote Ref CB450 on either 07968 027343 or 020 7631 4141 or email

The above is accurate as at 17 February 2024. The information above may be subject to change. The content of this note should not be considered

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