[MLS SPOTLIGHT]Only five days before the start of the 2014 MLS season, French-born Jerome de Bontin has left his position as general manager of the New York Red Bulls for personal reasons.
In de Bontin's one MLS season, the Red Bulls won their first MLS Supporters' Shield and averaged 19,461 fans a game at Red Bull Arena for a 6 percent increase over their 2012 attendance, the largest increase of any team that reached the 2013 playoffs. In 2015, the Red Bulls will face the challenge of the entry of New York City FC into the tri-state area at a yet-to-announced location.
“My assignment upon becoming general manager of the Red Bulls was to help the club further increase its relevance in the tri-state area," de Bontin said in a statement. "We wanted to improve our performance both on and off the field so that our loyal fans as well as new fans would have a club that lived up to their expectations as the best club in MLS. I wish the club and staff success in the upcoming season and the future."
De Bontin replaced Norwegian Erik Soler as general manager to Red Bulls' business operations in October 2012, three months after former French national team coach Gerard Houllier was appointed head of soccer of owner Red Bull. The third member of the Red Bulls' management team is Scotsman Andy Roxburgh, the sporting director.
De Bontin is a graduate of Amherst College and has lived for many years in Chicago, where he is the director of Sustainability Investments LLC and Mekar Financial Services. Behind the scenes, he has been very well connected in American soccer, serving for the U.S. Soccer Foundation for many years and working with some of the country's biggest youth clubs, notably Chicago Magic and Rush Soccer, and used his ties with French clubs and the French federation to foster closer ties for American soccer with the French game.
He served as president of French club AS Monaco from early 2008 to the spring of 2009. De Bontin was a college classmate and teammate of Prince Albert of Monaco at Amherst.