Business of Football: How Analytics Is Helping Football Teams Better Target Their Goals


Analytics and football: What has changed?
Analytics uses data to help better predict the future. The big problem for football used to be the data itself. There simply was not enough information kept on what happened on the pitch. Not just goals and assists but everything else. But that is changing, with x,y coordinates of every action on the pitch now being recorded. It is not very hard to get hold of all the data on years and years of football.

Defining measurable problems
The key to deriving value from all this data is to ask the right questions. When it comes to football, there are plenty.
  • Are shots more likely to have a higher % of scoring if they come after a cross, a through-ball, a counter-attack or a long ball?
  • Are passes more valuable if they go directly forward or at an angle?
  • Are teams more likely to play better when they’re winning, losing or drawing?
  • Is it better for these 11 players to play long-ball, counter-attack or possession football?
Once these questions are tested it is easier to predict what will happen next. That is also the root of much successful sports betting. This information can be useful to clubs about individual players

How Analytics can help Football teams define and target there goals better
Interestingly, answering some of the above questions can also help football teams and clubs to think more clearly about what they are trying to achieve. If you have a football club and your objective is to get into the Champions League, and finish in the top four of the Premier League, there are loads of things that are going to control whether or not that happens. It is too big a goal to take on its own.
However, these bigger goals can be broken into smaller analytics problems in order to achieve the goals. Here are some examples
  • So how many points do we need to get into the top four?
  • How many goals are we going to need to score?
  • What is our goal difference going to be?
  • Exactly how many shots we are going to need to have, and how many shots we are going to concede.
Your larger goals can be targeted working back from these smaller but more tangible elements

This blog contain my notes from an article originally published here