It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of clubs having a team of data analysts looking at the details of a player’s performance in order to realize unseen benefits when signing players was unknown.
There has been a boom over the last decade, with Liverpool propelling this a lot in the Premier League through the adoption of data analytics, which the owners of Fenway Sports Group have managed to implement with much success, winning a Champions League and Premier League title over the past two years.
The model isn’t for everyone, however, and given FSG’s lack of transfer spending, it has become a model that can be a dime instead of being at the forefront of a change. in the game. This is something that is discussed.
But all the big clubs are now looking for marginal gains, hiring people into positions that just wouldn’t have seemed possible 15 or 20 years ago.
Manchester City, despite their open portfolio policy under the high spending ownership of City Football Group, have also turned their attention to trying to find value in the margins in an attempt to ensure they stay on top of football. English under Pep Guardiola. .
It wasn’t too long ago that the notion of athletic directors seemed odd, but City has now added a Cambridge University and Yale University alumnus who has studied dark matter halos and galaxy clusters. before data science at Harvard University.
Oh, and he also worked as a successful hedge fund manager.
Laurie Shaw has confirmed he is due to join City in January as part of a deal that has gone under the radar, especially for a month when fans are concerned about the earnings and potential exits of the game staff.
Shaw was working for London-based algorithmic investment firm Winton Capital Management and the UK Treasury when City came to call him and offered him a path to football.
His role within the City Football Group will be broad, working in the Group’s club portfolio which includes, in addition to City, groups like Girona, New York, Troyes, Melbourne and Yokohama F. Marinos, among others.
Shaw will focus on building machine-based models to better manage player fatigue, injury and illness and he will also work on player identification, recruiting and individual development, pre-and post-game analysis. match and recruiting coaches.
Such attention to detail, and the fact that the owners of Liverpool FSG are considering expanding their own club portfolio through their £ 536million investment deal with RedBird Capital Partners, lends itself to John’s way of thinking. W.
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It was in baseball, where FSG’s roots lie with the Boston Red Sox, that the idea of using statistics really entered the mainstream, helped in large part by Billy Beane, the man behind. the art of “Moneyball” and the man who had been in talks with FSG, with Gerry Cardinale, on the acquisition of a 20 to 25% stake in FSG through their acquisition company. special RedBall Acquisition Corp.
That deal was never done, but Cardinale arrives at the FSG table with his company RedBird, and given his own interest in analytics, holding a stake in Zelus Analytics, he will likely be more focused on getting marginal gains in their sports entities.
“We fully anticipate over the next few seasons – as is the case in baseball – that these doctors will also be on the field, in uniform and computer in hand, advising coaches on real-time game decisions.” Paul Conway, director of Pacific Media Group, the company that owns Barnsley, a club in which Beane has a stake, told Bloomberg News.
“There will be an arms race for doctoral students in statistics and physics. ”
Liverpool have invested heavily over the decade of FSG’s tenure in data analytics and have been seen as being at the forefront. But with City now adding Shaw and supposedly hiring three more positions similar to theirs, it looks like they’re now looking to try and take the lead and use it to their advantage in their vast network of clubs.