Man City Hopes Data Driven Acquisitions Can Reduce Transfer Spend


Man City are about to spend £49 million on 20 year old Raheem Sterling but hope data analysis will make future transfers much cheaper

One of football’s longest running transfer sagas appears to be reaching a conclusion after Manchester City agreed a £49 million transfer fee for Liverpool’s unsettled winger, Raheem Sterling.

If the deal is completed, it would be the second largest purchase by a British club and would make Sterling the most expensive English player of all time.

But only last week, City Football Group (CFG), parent company of Manchester City, New York City and Melbourne City, was outlining how it believed data-driven player acquisition and monitoring could make it cheaper for Man City to buy quality players and develop home-grown talents.

Data-driven acquisition

Man cityTo this end, it has agreed a multi-year partnership with SAP to use its technology from the “boardroom to the pitch”, to monitor trends in the world of football and serve the four clubs that comprise the ‘City Football Group’.

“This partnership is crucial for what we are trying to do as a group. We are a football businesses that that is thinking differently,” said Brian Marwood, football administration officer at Man City. “We believe that by partnering with significant global partner like SAP we will have the opportunity to lead in football.

“We are trying to create footballers for the future. It’s becoming more science and data driven, We’re searching for the next trend. We can do that by co-innovating with SAP.”

CFG currently has scouting information on 380,000 players and hopes that by analysing this data, it can spot star players earlier in their career and save money. Sterling is just 20 years old and has just three full seasons of senior football under his belt, yet already commands such a significant transfer fee.

Player data

SAP Manchester City (1)When you consider that English players are traditionally over-valued, signing Sterling would appear to be a contradictory strategy to the one Man City hopes to employ in the future.

“Top talent at every age is becoming more expensive,” added Marwood. “Being first in the market is key.”

But despite CFG’s wealthy owners investing so much in other club’s players, it also wants to develop its own at the Etihad Campus – the new home of Man City’s youth teams – and use data to monitor its squads.

CFG uses cloud technology to store 2,000 coaching sessions and 900 matches to generate game plans and is also using technology, such as heart rate monitors, GPS and sleep monitors to assess injuries and player health.

From next season, the Australian A-League will allow player tracking, the first competition to allow such technology, which will provide CFG with data from Melbourne City that can be used across all of the group’s clubs. CFG expect more leagues to follow suit, providing it with an additional set of data to make decisions.

As part of the deal with SAP, the German firm’s technology will be used in every day management of the clubs, such as finance, HR and marketing, using analytics to improve processes and communication tools to convey concepts and data across all four territories.

The HANA-based Sports One for Soccer will also be used to manage the team, players and create gameplans for opponents, using the data collected along with other databases from the likes of Opta and Prozone.

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