Smart Recruitment: Establishing an effective transfer strategy on a budget
For clubs around Europe, the month of January is a key time for the execution of carefully planned recruitment strategies.
With the transfer window open, the nascent weeks of the new year are taken up with scouting reports, analysis and transfer negotiations as clubs look to strengthen their squads for the remaining months of the season.
Recruitment on a shoestring
While the headlines may be filled with rumours of big-money deals between some of the game’s wealthiest clubs, for the majority of teams the realities of player recruitment are far-removed from the news of elite recruitment that occupies tabloid gossip columns.
The vast budgets of Premier League clubs may dominate the public consciousness with regard to player recruitment, but sides further down the league ladder are forced to seek low-cost value as they face the challenge of bolstering their playing staff with relatively meagre funds.
With overall revenue in the Championship just 18.62% of that of the Premier League (falling to 5.76% in League One), Football League clubs are being forced to work extremely hard to find appropriate value in the transfer market. Indeed, with little room for error, intelligent and efficient recruitment strategies become integral not only to competing on the field, but to the assurance of survival off it.
Efficiency through technology
Operating under financially stringent conditions, it’s essential for clubs to be as diligent as possible in terms of their scouting and player recruitment. In the effort to ensure that no money is spent frivolously, many teams are now turning to technological tools such as Prozone RECRUITER
which support them in their scouting operations.
Providing clubs with access to detailed biographical and technical information on over 200,000 players worldwide, RECRUITER presents a wealth of objective data that can supplement the natural intuition of scouts and coaches to enhance talent identification and player recruitment. Facilitating the comparison of players across a wide range of variables, the platform provides clubs with a global scouting network at the click of a button.
Shaped around the needs of the user, RECRUITER’s intuitive technology uses comparison with the game’s superstars to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of lesser-known players who may be available on loan deals or free transfers. Giving clubs an interactive hub for their scouting processes, the platform simplifies the preliminary stages of talent identification and player recruitment.
Objective, bespoke, and completely confidential, RECRUITER is a product that is changing the nature of player scouting and maximising the efficiency and accountability of recruitment strategies in the professional game.
Diamonds in the rough
As a number of clubs have demonstrated in recent years, scouring the lower leagues for talented players can reap rich rewards. The likes of Burnley’s Charlie Austin and Charlton Athletic’s Bradley Pritchard have made the leap from non-league to the Football League in recent years, both becoming significant assets to their respective clubs.
As the table below demonstrates, after scoring 48 goals in 42 Southern League games for Poole Town in 2008/09, Austin was able to transfer his excellent form to the professional game. Following his £50,000 move to Swindon Town, Austin continued to perform at a highly efficient rate despite having moved up six divisions. His performances eventually secured him a major transfer to Burnley, where he's continued to flourish, having already scored 20 goals in 2012/13.
Similarly, players such as Rickie Lambert and Grant Holt are currently demonstrating that what works in the Football League can also be successful in the top-flight. Having joined their current clubs for a combined total of £1.4m, their goal scoring exploits in the Premier League show that successful players at the top level don't necessarily have to cost a fortune.
Investing in the future
Another (albeit longer-term) option available to clubs is gradual investment in youth and the associated infrastructure. Teams such as Crewe Alexandra have proved that a business model built on the efficient development of young talent (later selling those players at a substantial profit), is not only financially sustainable, it can also generate significant on-field improvement.
Given the significant investment in U21
football in the UK of late, age-group football in this country is arguably stronger than ever. With players enjoying a good standard of competitive football from the age of 16 up, an increased amount of competitive playing time at every age level should serve to benefit clubs in the long run.
When faced with the challenges posed by a precarious balance sheet, any improvements that can be made in the developmental trajectory of academy players to more effectively prepare them for the first team can be of huge value. Great emphasis – often correctly – always seems to be placed on astute transfer dealings, but there are alternative means to improve a squad that can be far less costly, less speculative and arguably more structurally beneficial in the medium to long-term.
Pioneers in performance analysis, Prozone is committed to delivering analytical insights that go far beyond the traditional gauges of performance. Pushing the boundaries of what can be done with performance information, we are helping drive the evolution of football analytics at all levels and changing the way we look at football data.