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This content is taken from the The University of Edinburgh's online course, Football: More than a Game. Join the course to learn more.

Why is football data important?

In this step, we’ll look at why football data is important and how it can be used to explain and explore a number of key questions.

  • Read the short piece below which helps to explain some of the background to the data we have covered but also serves to remind us why data in general is useful.

  • Follow the CIES link and discover more data about the Big Five football leagues if you want to

A number of factors can influence the make up of a club team or a national team. Football managers are provided with an increasing amount of data to analyse and ultimately to use to make decisions about players and performances. Evidence comes in different formats and from different knowledge bases, for example it can be financial or physiological. Just one example might be the results of fitness tests which players have to pass before transfer deals are concluded.

This wealth of data is the reason that Alan Hansen earlier in this course comments that with so much money involved in some football leagues, a manager could buy a player for £20 million pounds without even seeing who is being bought.

What can data help us to do?

Evidence and data in football are helpful for some or all of the following reasons:

  • They allow us to make comparisons

  • They help us to make judgements

  • They provide answers

  • They identify trends

  • They help us to assess value for money

  • They are necessary for risk assessment and informed governance

  • They help to destroy myths about, for instance, an issue, a player and/or an idea

Throughout this course you have been presented with different forms of data and evidence, for example, historical, financial, geographical and scientific.

Big Five football Leagues

It is impossible here to provide a profile of every footballing country or club that played in World Cups or Championships but you can look at some of the data provided by the CIES Football Observatory and what it allows us to say about different football teams and countries.

You may wish to explore this further for yourself after the course has finished

What’s next?

This article is simply a reminder that data is needed in order to make judgements and comparisons. In the downloads section below, you will find three PDF’s containing various football data. You are encouraged to read these PDF’s and complete the provided exercises if you wish. We now move on to listen to a series of speakers on different football issues.

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This article is from the free online course:

Football: More than a Game

The University of Edinburgh