The world of football and its owners stand before a potentially revolutionary change in it’s approach to free spending. UEFA’s Financial Fair Play draws ever closer and it’s guaranteed to have some form of effect. Like most people I myself prior to deeper thought believed that this new legislation would help clubs to cull their ever growing over spending nature whilst helping to bring parity to the big leagues which are often dominated by the same three or four teams year in year out. However, upon further analysis the reality of the situation is that whilst Financial Fair Play may help to provide a greater amount of talent within youth academies across the country it will also help to widen and not bridge the gap between the dominant and lesser clubs across Europe.
Rather than slow or reduce spending on wages and transfer fees the top clubs from each nation will simply delve into new and emerging markets across the world in order to produce increased financial returns. This luxury, which involves worldwide pre-season tours, the signing of huge household names from across Asia and the sale of its own broadcast rights on a global scale, is one which cannot be afforded by the less economically well off sides across Europe. Without the option of global popularity in exchange for increased wealth these clubs will have to change their approach to the way they achieve success in the beautiful game. This leads me to believe that both performance and recruitment analysis will continue to increase in both popularity and importance across the entire world of football.
For those of you who aren’t aware the use of statistics to predict results and outcomes is not by any means a new notion. Statistical analysis or Sabermetrics as it is often referred has been used in both American Football and Baseball for numerous years however it has been pushed to the forefront of peoples minds through Michael Lewis’ Moneyball and more recently by the film of the same name starring Brad Pitt. Both book and film follow the remarkable story of Major League Baseball team the Oakland Athletics and how they “turned the odds on the casino” by finding inefficiencies in the way other clubs valued players and despite having the second lowest wage bill in the whole of Baseball managed to top their division and make the playoffs season in season out.
The use of statistics in football is not a new phenomenon in football by any means and is used by many of the top clubs across Europe and even some lower down the tiers of the sport. However, as Kuper and Syzmanski state whilst “Baseball has had it’s Moneyball revolution footballs change is just starting”. As far as I am aware whilst their may be great supporters of performance analysis such as Boothroyd, Pardew and Big Sam their has yet to be a team lower down the football tier system which have fully embraced the Moneyball philosophy although with the growing margin between Europe elite and the chasing pack it will be only a matter of time before a reincarnation of the Oakland Athletics attempts to take the football world by storm.
Its a point to remember that “the first man through the wall always gets bloody” but others will soon follow.