How good is the Championship?

This week at the Dealmakers in Sports conference in New York, the English Football League’s chief executive, Shaun Harvey, was asked where Major League Soccer clubs would place in his country’s soccer pyramid. He replied that the clubs would probably sit somewhere in the lower half of the Championship or the top of League One, in the second and third tiers respectively. But he added that MLS teams might have a hard time making it through a 46-game season that ran through the winter and would probably be “seen off” by most clubs under his purview. I mostly agree with Harvey’s assessment. NYA uses…
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Identifying top young prospects in soccer

A few years ago I wrote a guest blog at OptaPro proposing the Premier League’s stars of the future, based on a simple check of some old models. And guess what – after a year or two, it seemed like I hadn’t done very well! So I decided to figure out a better way of spotting young prospects. Here is the gist. Young players can’t be expected to perform on the pitch in the same way as established regulars. They’re still learning the game, they may be playing an unfamiliar position, and the psychological pressures of senior football can be intense. Every…
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What do guideline probabilities offer for betting?

Betting seems like an obvious application for analytics, but that doesn’t mean the analytics is easy. New information that’s pertinent to a fixture can come in at any moment right up until kickoff, and we’ll never be able to specify a model that takes account of everything. For that matter, we’d never be able to calibrate such a huge model properly, either, since we’d be dealing with lots of situations that weren’t quite identical. So what can we do? In theory, we’d like to create a huge model of the game that could suck up any kind of news: injuries, coaching changes, the…
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