SixFive Sports And Entertainment Hires CPL Director Of Football Oliver Gage
Pacific FC and Vancouver FC owner SixFive Sports and Entertainment has recruited the Canadian Premier League’s own Director of Football, Oliver Gage.
The high-profile acquisition took place behind the scenes shortly before the unveiling of Vancouver FC, one of the clubs in SixFive’s multi-club ownership umbrella in which Gage will now be tasked with growing.
Gage helped the Canadian Premier League build upon a Canadian soccer data scene that was still in its infancy when he arrived, and he now departs after having matured their data-driven decisions for both player recruitment, sales, and a plethora of organizational best practices.
Suffice to say, he’s a big pickup for SixFive.
Gage’s career in analytics began with Sheffield Wednesday FC, where he worked as a traditional scout to help the side prepare for specific opposition. His shift to North America came through the University of Virginia, where his work helped the Cavaliers secure a national title before he transitioned to Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo. There, he helped cement long-term practices for data-driven choices and saw the side collect a US Open Cup.
His arrival to the Canadian Premier League saw him cover a lot of bases in the startup league: initially starting as the CPL’s head of on-field performance and recruitment, he oversaw a department that provided actionable player data to every club in the league, helping sides make informed decisions when it comes to both domestic and international recruitment. This included the gargantuan task of helping the league’s seven inaugural teams build high-quality squads from the ground-up in just a number of months, and they immediately proved competitive against MLS sides.
He was named the league’s Director of Football after the inaugural season, where he added further hats to his analytic work: his department has been a key cog in generating interest for CPL athletes to be transferred abroad, resulting in moves like Aribim Pepple to Luton Town and Victor Loturi to Ross County. With Pacific FC and Vancouver FC both playing in a developmental league, this focus will be crucial for sustained success.
Gage also helped the league and its club with infrastructure and technology organization, implemented best practices for both athletes and teams whilst also providing opposition analysis when CPL sides faced external teams in cup competition. Given how much CPL sides have punched above their weight against both MLS and continental opposition, that work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
He’s also worked to help the league focus on bringing in young international talent, and the fruit of that labour was on full display this year as two of those internationals secured trophies: Ollie Bassett picked up both the Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards, while Alejandro Diaz took the Golden Boot by bagging thirteen goals before Pacific sold him for a club record fee midseason.
With Gage’s department having proven a massive success, how they’ll operate without the new SixFive Sports and Entertainment executive remains to be seen: he’s said before that the sign of him doing a good job for the CPL is when he’s no longer needed, and it looks like clubs from coast-to-coast have benefited largely from his work and may now have to manage on their own.
“What I can say is that I’ve been nothing but encouraged and impressed by Commissioner Noonan‘s thoughts on the game and ambition,” said Gage on the transition. “I’m sure they will do a great job whether they want to replace me directly or go another direction.”
Gage’s transition to his new company came after SixFive’s Rob Friend had approached him to help structure a multi-club ownership model. The CPL’s Director of Football evidently put together a good plan, because an offer of employment enticed him out of his league office role not long after that.
Gage also had offers from League One and League Two for sporting director roles, along with an assistant sporting director opportunity in the English Premier League. Instead, he was enticed by what he’d seen at SixFive and the group’s ambition to expand their network with a club in Europe.
The organization’s new hire has already been heavily involved in coaching recruitment process that netted Afshin Ghotbi, and he’s almost certainly involved in helping the club’s new gaffer build out a squad Ghotbi hopes can prove playoff contenders in year one.
This won’t be the first team we’ve seen high-ranking members of the league office join clubs within the league: Eva Havaris left to work with York United following the 2020 season, while the league’s first commissioner stepped down to focus on his own expansion club in Windsor.
Having played a significant role to help the league’s product on the pitch grow by leaps and bounds in just four years, Gage arrives to SixFive Sports and Entertainment as a heavyweight addition to a company which intends to grow further upon its multi-club ownership model.