Gary Holt says he can’t wait to get stuck into his new role at Falkirk as the former Livingston and Norwich City man becomes sporting director.
Holt left his role as Livingston manager in late 2020 after guiding the Lions to two successive seasons of Premiership safety and a fifth place finish. He now returns to the club he used to manage in the 2013/14 season, Holt also having experience in coaching and youth development at Norwich City.
He is looking forward to his new task off the pitch: “Five minutes into my first interview I was actually buzzing. I was like a wee kid in a candy shop, I was thinking that these are proper people who I can work with and are open to ideas, to being challenged and pushed outside their boundaries as I’m going to be.
“Sometimes when you ask a question the answer will be no but it will be for the right reasons because everyone’s focus is the club. It’s not acceptable to say we are a League One club, I don’t want that mentality around the place because if you buy into that we will stay as a League One club.
“We have to push forward, push boundaries and push the players and staff to be the best we can. For me personally I wouldn’t have taken the role (If I wasn’t stepping away from management). It’s maybe a bit ahead of schedule in the career path but it’s an opportunity and when I sat down and spoke to the people involved and went through the process it got me excited.
“I want to expose the Sporting Director role, I think it’s a role a lot more clubs should and probably will implement. There should be a link between the boardroom and the football department, the successful clubs that have it do it very well and it’s a role I’ve always had my eye on.”
First on Holt’s to-do list is creating a development squad at the Falkirk Stadium and he says opportunities are open to all: “It’s about growing the whole Falkirk brand and getting the club back to the levels we want to be at and probably deserve to be at.
“The first steps for reintroducing the youth development side are learning how to walk at this level before running, it’s about being realistic that it’s a long term plan. It’s not ‘let’s get A, B and C’ done by the end of this week, firstly we will be looking about getting a development squad in place.
“People ask if that’s an under 23 team but it’s not, I’m not looking at an age bracket as it’s more about helping the first team but I’ll start by exploring players from 16 to about 21, trying to source players and give them opportunities.
“There will be open trials when we can but it won’t be closed to people over the age of 23, we will also look at players who have fallen out of love with the game. Maybe they’ve been let go or something hasn’t worked at a club or maybe they went down a wrong path and football took a back seat. We will explore the mid 20 age group and boys who want a chance to impress and showcase their talents.
“That’s a wee bit further down the line, first and foremost we need to have a full time programme in place that can work alongside and supplement the first team and produce players that will represent this club. The development squad will be put in place as quickly as I can facilitate it, I’ve already started talking to people who I want for the role of leading that group.
“I’ve touched base with the guy I want to lead that team and hopefully we will get that up and running as soon as we can. We have to engage with the community and offer them the chance to come and work, it’s not about being a footballer it’s about doing a job.
“These players need to know they are coming here to earn money and training to be a professional footballer. The opportunity will be there and it’s down to them to grasp it and prove they have the desire to put in the hard graft.”
Norwich City tips have also came Holt’s way in this new role as he opened up on discussions with Canaries sporting director Stuart Webber: “I always keep an eye on my old clubs and Norwich City have Stuart Webber as sporting director.
“I had a chat with him after I left Livingston to pick his brain on ideas, how he goes about his role, how he goes about implementing things he does, the hands-on approach he has with the footballing department and what input he has there.
“It’s not one cap fits all sporting director’s, we all have different remits. I don’t want to copy someone, I want to put things in place where they want to talk about us, hence why when I was here as a manager they wanted to talk about the youth products coming through.”