Some football clubs are the envy of the football world, as they are run at a profit while still remaining competitive on the pitch. While others flounder around, wasting big money on transfer fees and wages, these clubs thrive.
Brighton are big because of Bloom
One prime example of a club building solid foundations is Brighton Hove Albion. The Seagulls’ progression from lower league also-rans to Premier League mainstays has not been a coincidence.
Their rise has been carefully strategised by their owner Tony Bloom, who runs an analytics firm called StarLizard. This is what Business Insider had to say about StarLizard: “A company that treats gambling the way hedge funds treat stocks.”
“Officially, it describes itself as a betting consultancy that uses complex statistical models to generate football odds that are sharper than those offered by professional bookmakers.”
Data is king in recruitment
Bloom comes across as a person who eats, breathes and lives statistics. This statistical approach has been the key to Brighton’s rise up the football period. In football, every bit of data matters and can be used to gain an advantage both on the field and off the field.
However, when it comes to recruitment, it is one of the most crucial factors. In the bygone days, British clubs sent scouts out all over the country, Europe or worldwide if the club had the financial resources.
Now though, through data and analytics, clubs can use data to identify players from all over the world without the cost of expensive plane tickets or petrol bills from scouts travelling the length and breadth of the country.
Most clubs worth their salt will use data in their recruitment. However, Brighton is perfectly placed with Bloom as club owner to use his own experience of how data works to bring in players at a fraction of the cost of other clubs.
Making big profits from sales
|Player name||Cost||Joined from||Fee gained||Destination|
|Marc Cucurella||£20m||Getafe||An initial fee of £55m||Chelsea|
In the recent past, Brighton has been one of the shrewdest operators in the market, not just by buying but also selling players at a huge profit. Here are some of Brighton’s most profitable deals in recent years:
As you can see from the above chart, the Seagulls can often double or even triple their money on big players. If a club is interested in signing one of Brighton’s players, the club from the south coast ensure they get the most from the deal that they can.
Planning the key to success using data
Brighton are the king of planning ahead. Courtesy of their approach to data, the Seagulls have a clear plan if any key personnel move on. Suppose a player is attracting interest from elsewhere. In that case, the Seagulls will have identified three or four players of a similar profile ready to attempt to sign to replace the outgoing star.
This makes it easier for the continuity of not only the club but also the team. For instance, Brighton had a backup plan when the highly-rated Graham Potter left his role as head coach in September 2022 to join Chelsea. That backup plan was another highly-rated coach in Italian boss Roberto De Zerbi.
The former Sassuolo boss was a similar profile to Potter and liked to play a similar style of play. The result was that there was less disruption in the team’s results, and the players didn’t have to adapt to another coach’s style of play.
Excellent people in place
Brighton has built their stability on being a proactive and forward-thinking club. The club’s chief executive Paul Barber has done a brilliant job. He seems to know the club inside out and looks to be the very definition of what a good club executive should be.
Former technical director Dan Ashworth also did an excellent job from September 2018 until February 2022, when he was lured away by newly rich Newcastle. He played a big part in the Seagulls’ progression.
In May 2022, Brighton appointed former Everton centre-back David Weir as their new technical director after an initial interim period in the job. The Scot has been with the south coast club since 2018 in various roles and has reportedly impressed those at the club.
Weir coming in as a replacement for Ashworth is another example of Brighton always having a backup plan. They are never seemingly caught out by exits, on or off the field.
Brighton a great example to other clubs
How Brighton has developed both on and off the pitch in recent decades is a tremendous testament to all involved in the club and the excellent work they do. Although the club’s relative success on the field is arguably heavily data-driven, it takes the right people to make use of those stats in a meaningful and useful way.
The club’s owner Tony Bloom is obviously a shrewd guy. Chief executive Barber has talked about not wanting to rely on the club’s owner. However, Bloom knows that he has hired the right people in the right roles, which is why the club from the south coast has been such a success. He knows his investment is safe in the hands of Barber and the club’s other hierarchy members.
They have analysed the data and come up with a plan that has seen the club thrive on and off the pitch. Many clubs could learn from Brighton’s approach. However, some would argue that the Seagulls are unique and that their methods may well be difficult to replicate.