The business models that work in soccer

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 her intentions. But even for a leader who’s involved and intent on success – both on and off the…
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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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What are sports analytics really about?

This week I’ll be speaking at the 10th annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference along with dozens of professionals from baseball, ice hockey, basketball, and more. It’s a chance to reflect on what this industry is for and also why it has been so controversial. Let me start with the sport where, at least in the public eye, it all began. I’ve been a baseball fan for most of my life. During this time, the sport entered the “moneyball” era, with increasingly complicated statistical methods being used to evaluate players and tactics. And for the most part, I didn’t notice. That doesn’t…
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