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Yes, The CPL Shares A Scouting Database With Its Clubs

By on January 17, 2020 1 4620 Views

Today, the league has revealed to the Edmonton Sun that it has partnered with a London-based data and analytics group named 21st Club to make a shared scouting database of foreign players available to all seven teams in the league.

Clubs aren’t forced to exclusively sign foreign players from the database, but they each have equal access to information from the curated list. The idea is that the database will help reduce the individual costs of scouting, while identifying foreign players who the firm believes can play well at the CPL level without breaking the bank.

The firm has been building a database of players around the world ever since it was founded in 2013, with the company opening up new offices in San Francisco and Singapore, too.

For a brand new league filled with clubs that need to minimize costs as they establish themselves in local markets, it’s a move that makes a lot of sense.

We have the opportunity, because we don’t have one hundred years of history, to be unique and to be creative in the way we do things. We were introduced to the 21st Club, and they’re football and analytics experts. We found that a lot of big clubs around the world that are doing a lot of development of talent, are working with these guys to develop and find talent. The way our league was structured, we thought we would partner with this group to help find us players from around the world where we can see all the stats on them and all the video on them. Instead of us running around the world like explorers, we now have access to these databases to help us find players that may want to come to Canada to play in the CPL.

David Clanachan

While 21st Club has worked with many individual football clubs – and big ones at that, according to Clanachan – this may be the first time that an entire league has partnered with a scouting firm to distribute information evenly to all of its teams.

Our aim is to help shape and execute strategies of clubs, leagues, football associations, and pretty much anybody that operates in the football world. We’re kind of that intelligence layer that sits above certain clubs and with leagues. We also provide data and data models, but our main focus is, that intelligence, decision-making layer and anything else focuses on the relationship with the client.

AJ Swoboda, 21st Club Managing Director

While Pacific FC CEO Rob Friend has yet to announce any international signings for the 2020 season – at least, those that came to fruition – the club executive recognized the value in having a collective database of scouted targets available for the league’s clubs to potentially pursue.

It’s an innovative approach. Part of the advantage in the Canadian Premier League as clubs and owners is that we’re a collective group that can make collective decisions, and by doing that you can make very strategic and innovative decisions instead of having every man for himself. The 21st Club, in my opinion, is one of the best in the business at scouting, finding players, sourcing players and having a vast network and it really enables clubs to take advantage of this group and essentially pool together some of the best talent around the world at a very high value and bring them into the league and increase the quality on the field.

Rob Friend

The offseason has been rife with rumours regarding the league’s international player rules: there was early speculation that a new league rule would put an age limit on foreign players signings, with Forge FC founder Bob Young fanning the flame by chiming in with a Moneyball quote.

Later on, speculation regarding an international player draft exploded when two players named in the rumour both confirmed they had signed to Canadian Premier League teams. While Red Stripe Premier League players Alex Marshall and Nicholas Hamilton are both destined for Halifax Wanderers and York9 FC respectively, neither the clubs or the league itself have confirmed the signings or, for that part, denied the rumoured foreign player draft.

Today’s announcement sparks a bit of much-needed transparency regarding large-scale league operations, though many items like contract length and financial compensation for players still remain unknown.

While the Canadian Premier League operates at an as-yet-undisclosed salary cap that is much lower than the likes of Major League Soccer, Clanachan says the high quality of living in Canada makes the league an attractive destination for players all around the globe. It’s a sentiment that has been publicly echoed by foreign players like Michele Paolucci.

The beautiful thing that people forget is that we have, arguably, the best country in the world to live in and come to. All of the things that we love about this country attracts these young players and we have a new league that everyone is following and is interested in.

David Clanachan

The first season saw the Canadian Premier League impress spectators with a high quality of play on the pitch, with David Clanachan insisting that improvements must continue to be made across the board. Making a shared scouting database available to the league’s clubs is a great way to help teams cut individual costs, while still leaving clubs the freedom to do their own scouting, too. In essence, the autonomy of club freedom is still there, which is crucial to the identity of the league itself.

This week has seen the league explode with rumours of a fast-tracked CPL expansion club in Ottawa which is rumoured to be backed by Atletico Madrid, a La Liga club which has experiencing in founding partner clubs on foreign soil. If the rumours are true, the Ottawa-based club would become the first-ever expansion team in CPL history, with the ownership group ambitiously aiming to join the league for the 2020 second season which kicks off in four months.

While such a club would have access to the shared scouting database provided by 21st Club, it would also be able to utilize the scouting information from its prospective La Liga-based owners, too – though all clubs are still restricted to a maximum of seven foreign players on their 23-man rosters.

Whatever happens, the league’s partnership with 21st Club seems like a helpful partnership for clubs who wish to utilize it.

The league did not comment on if any of this offseason’s already-announced international signings have stemmed directly from this partnership.

Source: Edmonton Sun

1 Comment
  • Lee Fairbanks 4 years ago

    Every one of the seven head coaches of CPL team opposed this move. It moves control of player selection from the coaches to the league. The coaches all have their jobs on the line and the league is limiting their freedom to select players. Although teams supposedly can go outside the approved list of players, that is expected to change in future years and become the only source of players, including all U23 Canadians. The goal as stated is “to make collective decisions”, in other words to try and achieve complete parity, so we don’t see two teams separate themselves from the rest, as happened in Year One. This is a Canadian soccer tradition. It’s called House League.

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