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Dr Alex Bond discusses how data can inform strategic decision-making in football

Dr Alex Bond joins members of the Association of Sporting Directors to discuss strategic thinking and using data for decision-making in football.

The following areas were covered within the conversation:
• Timing and strategic thinking linked to recruitment
• The importance of the first 10 games
• The distinctiveness of European football leagues

The conversation began with Alex highlighting to members his background and his academic research to members. Alex then introduced the idea of using data for decision-making and how data should underpin strategic thinking.

An emphasis was placed on ‘the earlier the better’ in relation to having a recruitment strategy in place. This is to ensure plans are in place, to help maximise the success of a transfer window.

Alex outlined how clubs need to manage and constantly review expectations in relation to their individual circumstances, as the season progresses. This relates to both how staff manage upwards as well as having realism in targets and goals.

Alex reiterated across the discussion that the first 10 games were the most important in the season. This is from a strategic perspective, as post-Christmas the changes in league position are dramatically reduced, so if performances have been poor, more emphasis should be on strategically planning for the following season.

In addition, he outlined how the first 10 games would impact the winter transfer window with a positive or negative start to the season. This led to an interesting viewpoint of recruitment, that heavily investing in the January transfer window would ‘probably’ not be worth it in the end.

The second part of the discussion focused on using data to understand different styles of play across Europe, at the league and club level. The purpose was to demonstrate how data could be better used in developing recruitment strategies by using advanced statistical processes. This led into a debate within the ASD members about different playing styles, different styles of refereeing, the influence on performance data and how this may influence decision-making.

The ASD aims to support sporting directors in professional football. These conversations allow members to connect, share practice, develop ideas and innovate. We are grateful to Dr Alex Bond and Professor Ian McHale for an interesting and engaging discussion.

Article wrote by Stuart Swift.

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