• Colin Rickard

Need to win the football talent war? Then command the data dust-up!

Updated: Feb 3

Regular readers will know that we’ve got a bit of a ‘bee in our bonnet’ about the proliferation of data sources in sport. Why? Loads of data in different ‘pots’ kills effective, insight supported, decision taking. It's just too hard to work together as an organisation, one team.

Even at single club level pulling all data into one, shared, platform with role relevant access makes sense. The best sports National Governing Bodies (NGBs) have long proven this to be true.

For football the data mandate has just become far more acute (click

below to read/download ‘Nine Critical Ways that leaders are using data to open a competitive gap in 2022’).

Arise the franchise operating model.

Southampton are the latest to pursue the franchise model. Newcastle may be set to follow. The Southampton ‘Daily Echo’ explains:

’What’s actually exciting is the model for the long term. The success of Red Bull and City Football Group in curating global multi-club networks will probably become more frequent in future, as the franchising-esque of the sport becomes more acceptable.’’

Making the multi-club, multi-league franchise model work is complex. Success requires identifying talent across leagues. It means consistently managing significant numbers of players in different clubs and geographies. Accurate, owned and accessible data makes this possible.

A data set being constantly available from all parts of the organisation becomes the ‘insight alert switchboard’ that puts decision makers in control. This master set of data is the tool that allows the ‘super team’ (again, in the widest sense of ‘team’) to operate together.

- To identify talent needs

- To operate a shared approach to talent identification & management

- To ‘measure’ talent across clubs / leagues using comparable metrics

- To build a sense of ‘togetherness’ across disparate groups

- To ‘know’ when it makes sense to move talent (or sell)

- To facilitate conversations

There are obvious talent cost and access implications for clubs without access to this data.

The impact of Brexit upon English players.

‘’ The market for young English players will become a lot more competitive because of Brexit…what you’ll see now, because the bigger teams can't take players from overseas because of Brexit, [is] they’ll look at Category Three, Four players and their better players at 14, 15, and they’ll want to gravitate there,” Giles said.

There are few clubs, like Brentford, that are well known for their use of data. These clubs know that a failure to identify the right talent is going to carry ever-increasing cost and performance penalties. Of course, all the human skills and experience that sits within scouts and coaches is fundamental. But supporting this expertise with brilliant data is ever more important.

Expecting success from data that's inconsistent, where definitions vary, that's stored in lots of different systems & multiple logins exist is, we think you'll agree, unreasonable. It’s just too plain hard for non-technical users! Result? Gaps for the data sorted to find and manage talent more efficiently.

What does this mean for 2022? Club executives who are serious about delivering sustained performance on the field, for fans, commercially & financially, can move faster than their peers by owning a comprehensive data ecosystem that aligns with their operating model.

In just a few years we predict the advantages of knowledge from data may make it impossible for all bar the super-deep pocketed to catch-up early adopters. The best talent will already be tied up by the data rich.

Right now? There’s brilliant opportunity for fast movers to ‘do their data do’ and shift their dials. We’ll be delighted to help you identify data your opportunities. No obligation expected. Just shout Alan.Thorpe@sportsdata.services and he'll set us up a call.

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