Does soccer analytics work?

(Alternate title: “Do football analytics work?”) This is a question that I like to ask – I don’t find it insulting, dismissive, or silly. To answer it, first we have to define analytics, and then we can talk about whether it might be any good. So let’s start with the basics. There’s a hierarchy in the way we use numbers in soccer, or really any field: We can count things: “Joe Fullback made 32 tackles last season.” Or we can do some simple arithmetic: “Joe Fullback made 1.5 tackles per game last season.” And we can try to add some context: “Joe…
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The business models that work in soccer

(This post from August 28 disappeared after a server migration – here it is again, thanks to Google cache….) What makes a soccer club work as a business? I’ve now spent six years in this industry, and earlier I worked as an economist and strategic consultant. Throughout my time in soccer, I’ve tried to take note of the strategies that club owners and executives pursued: what they wanted to do coming in, what they actually did, and how they coped when things went wrong. As in any industry, a negligent leader is unlikely to get good results, whatever his or…
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The seven habits of highly effective sporting directors

In the background of Euro 2016 and the Copa América Centenario, the summer transfer season is well underway. This is the time for sporting directors and other club executives to shine, filling in gaps in their sides and unloading unwanted baggage. In NYA’s work with clubs, a number of useful strategies have come to the fore. Below is an inevitably incomplete list focused on just one part of the sporting director’s job: recruitment. These strategies may be obvious to some, but hopefully a few will be worth remembering. 1. Do your biggest business early. Being the first mover in the…
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