Man City opens up the data vaults
17 Aug 2012
Manchester City is set to break new ground by making player data from the entire 2011-12 Premier League season freely available, with the club seeking to boost the development of analytics in football.
The Premier League champion will today make available the data on every player in every team from every game in the league last season via its official website at mcfc.co.uk/mcfcanalytics. The concept of data analytics has long been a part of American major league sports and the way that fans consume those sports. While analytics has played an increasingly prominent role within football clubs, City’s scheme will make the same data fully accessible to the public for the first time.
Gavin Fleig, head of performance analysis at Manchester City, told The Guardian newspaper: “Bill James kick-started the analytics revolution in baseball. That made a real difference and has become integrated in that sport. Somewhere in the world there is football’s Bill James, who has all the skills and wants to use them but hasn’t got the data. We want to help find that Bill James, not necessarily for Manchester City but for the benefit of analytics in football. I don’t want to be at another analytics conference in five years’ time talking to people who would love to analyse the data but cannot develop their own concepts because all the data is not publicly available.”
The global initiative is being launched in collaboration with City’s official data partner Opta, which has given the club permission to make the 2011-12 database available. Fleig added: “The whole reason for putting this data out there is to open the doors. The data has value, previously it has been kept in-house and behind guarded doors, but there is recognition now that clubs need to help this space develop. There are a lot of people out there blogging and doing their own research and they can do a lot more with this data. I hope it will have a big impact on those who want to do research. It might just be the armchair enthusiast. If the worst it does is show a few people that there are different ways of looking at a player’s performance, then great. If it helps universities and gets the blogging world talking and coming up with fantastic ways of modelling performance, that is what we want. We want to engage with them.”