Importance of the scouting department within a club’s strategy

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Importance of the scouting department within a club’s strategy

In today’s football, we see football clubs across different levels with clear recruitment strategies that ultimately aim to generate revenues and create sustainable club models.

Well-qualified scouts are the key and most-needed component of these strategies. In the first episode of the FOCUS Webinar Series, we hosted Colin Chambers from IPSO to speak about the importance of the scouting department within a club’s strategy.

“Scout from non-league, improve them and sell. That is top business…”

Colin Chambers is a professional football scout who is an expert in player assessment, player reporting and match analysis at the highest professional level. Colin has been in the game for 22 years working in the Premier league for the majority of those years as a 1st team Scout and Opposition Analyst at clubs like Charlton Athletic, Bolton Wanderers & Middlesbrough plus many other clubs but to name a few.

He has worked at an International level under the guidance of the chief scout of Northern Ireland and the Polish National team. Colin has worked as a European scout and senior scout at various clubs. He is the education director at IPSO The International Professional Scouting Organisation. Through his travels delivering courses and seminars around the world Colin has gathered a vast amount of contacts from many different countries and leagues and in the premier league due to the building of IPSO. These contacts are vast and varied with IPSO now established as the worldwide leader of scouting & analysis courses, breaking through into the USA, China, India and many more global destinations.

Colin told some key points about scouting on the webinar session of FOCUS. He detailed how the importance of the scouting department within a club’s strategy. Here are some headlines:

Scouting is the most integral part of a club

It’s the biggest thing that a football club needs. Because not everybody is Manchester City and Newcastle United. We all the money in the world. So, you’ve got to make sure you recruitment’s right if you get your recruitment right you get in place for nothing you get in place coming through and you’re making the club a lot of money and you’re gonna be very successful. So, everything starts at the bottom and the most integral part of a football club the scouts and that’s what it all begins. Without scouts you can’t have players.

Many clubs don’t scouting

Some clubs do scouting, and a lot of clubs do but there is a lot that don’t. When we started off these on IPSO company eight years ago, we were shocked that Poland didn’t have any scouts apart from Legia Warsaw unlike Poznan and even then they have only one or two.  And when you went to all the clubs like Slavia Prag or Ludogorets and Moldovia, all these sorts of clubs all playing regular in the Champions League didn’t have a lot of scouts.  They have scouting departments but they one person just being the scout, you know. But they didn’t look into recruitment. They rely heavily on agents and contacts.

Scouting is not easy

People think scouting is easy and well I mean to elaborate on that I think coaching is easy and right and then people the poor license and no it’s not easy. I know it’s not easy but people have got this myth that anybody can scout. Well, I’ve got this anybody can coach, anybody can pick a bag of balls up unloaded corn and bits go on a football field. And so right you put this on you put that on and away you go. That’s coaching. Whether you like it or not. It might not be great coaching, but it’s coaching. It’s the same with scouting.

Everybody can scout but there is a massive difference between a professional scout and somebody playing at it or somebody just starting off.

Getting rid off biases on player judgement

They have to be very open-minded and they got to be honest. A lot of people are very opinionated. An opinion isn’t right.  It should be facts first. You can’t have an opinion without facts. So, the scout has to be observant to see the facts.  To be a good scout you have to no biases.  As a sports person, a coach as an analyst it’s about not being bias. I’ve done it, you’ve done it. Everybody’s been biased at some point. Not being biased not jumping in with two feet where a lot of people do. People like to show off how good they are. People judge the player intend. It takes time to judge a player. I’ve seen people to play in 5 minutes. Some people just play in 10 minutes.

Scouts from Southampton proved themselves

If you go back in time Southampton has been really good club. A lot of young kids coming through Liverpool’s gone back to Southampton and bought a lot of players ever the past 10 – 20 years. If you do research me I just gonna get the scouts from Southampton. Because they proved they were brilliant. It changed now but Crew Alexandra were a famous conveyor belt for young kids coming. But if you want me to talk about clubs that are doing a really good job at this moment in time on scouting, I would have to say like Peterborough. They scout from non-league, profesion to the club, improve them and sell them one or two million. When they have got money back, they’ve invested back in the skeleton department and going to need it again and they got it again they’ve done it again. Accrington Stanley do the same thing. Scouting system is unbelievable especially from first team.  They get players from non-league and then they sell two or three players a season to keep the club before. That is top business and that is what scouting is.

Our new lecturer is Rodrigo Picchioni who is the Head of Analytics at Atletico Mineiro. We trust for many reasons that Rodrigo will give a proper lecture into how the department of data/analytics needs to be structured and make an impact for the club on and off the pitch.

Rodrigo Picchioni headed a newly created analytics department at Atletico from 2021 on, they demonstrated their commitment to becoming a standard bearer in the region in the intelligent use of data to make better decisions. Prior to Atletico, Rodrigo worked as Director of Football Assistant at Red Bull Bragantino and in coaching roles in different countries.

Aloys is the technical director of elite youth teams of the Netherlands FA as the key part of the football development department. He shapes the certification of the youth training programs, and he contributes to the guidance and assessment of the KNVB coaches. Aloys gives lectures in KNVB’s academy directors educational programs.

Gianpaolo is one of top level legal experts in the intl sports business. He has vast experience in advising all range of sports stakeholders. He lectures in FIFA Diploma in Football Law, in UEFA Football Law Program and in Sports Management at the Uni. of St.Gallen. Previously, he headed the Players’ Status Department of FIFA.

Mads is a writer and a football consultant, with experience as a coach and sporting director, and recently worked for Al-Jazira, the UAE champion as well as at clubs such as Brondby, at Guangzhou FC as head of recruitment, Shanghai SIPG as technical director. Mads recently published the book ‘How hard can it be?’.