It is now official: Luciano D’Onofrio (65), sports director of Antwerp for four seasons, is leaving the oldest club in the country. Tensions between him and President Paul Gheysens had become untenable. His contract will not be extended, D’Onofrio even has to pack up immediately. Throughout the past four seasons, D’Onofrio and Gheysens have often been at odds over certain sporting decisions, but both sides have always managed to find a compromise to afford a tomorrow.
But last month, a destructive article in the Gazet van Antwerpen about D’Onofrio and his right-hand man, team manager Frederic Leidgens, caused a definitive breakup. The Antwerp reproaches especially D’Onofrio for having left some files lying around. It is he who is singled out for the signing of Refaelov at Anderlecht. If D’Onofrio had acted faster – waiting until the last minute has always been his policy – the Golden Boot would have already resigned in Antwerp. Gheysens tried to save the furniture in the Refaelov file, but the damage was done.
D’Onofrio’s departure is not good news for Frankie Vercauteren, who was the choice of the sporting director. It is highly likely that his contract will not be extended at the end of this season.