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What players to sign?

An interesting insight by experienced data analysts and economists was found in reading “Soccernomics” by Kuper and Szymanski (2012). This the updated version to the original text in ‘Why England lose’.


At Ballon Sports Agency, Russ and Adrian recognise value in analysis and many of our co-founder’s students have entered such roles in EFL and Non-league appointments.


For thought provoking purposes only, we cite a few of the findings from the authors’ sample and dataset.


  1. More heads are better than one in making that final decision


  1. The best time to buy a player is when he/she is in his/her early twenties (note to Ed. we added both genders here as we are proud to represent female players at Ballon)


  1. Try not to buy centre forwards


  1. Help new recruits especially foreign players with ‘on boading’ and settling in


  1. Sell any player if offered more than he/she is worth


  1. Abstinence – sometimes a Club might not need to recruit through transfers


  1. Traditional scouting might miss talent from a fixation on one outstanding (in appearance eg. hair colour etc) on the field of play


  1. Replace your best players before you sell them


  1. Buy players with problems and help them overcome them.


Tell us what you think?


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Education needs revision

As I contemplate three offers for lecturing in 2018-19, I must confess to a slight air of disillusionment. Some universities are refocussing attention towards PhD and Research led teaching only. The scoring and feedback that I received both from students’ surveys and post-graduation testimonials confirmed the type of educational-DNA we possess, is that which both students want and equally importantly, what employers seek.

Whilst, research is essential, ‘navel gazing’ and focus on that alone is wrong in our experience. The DNA I refer to that I feel to be correct, is that which combines a lecturer with both robust academic qualifications, but also a ‘time served’ practitioner in the ‘university of life’.

The Recomendations that I have received on Linkedin confirm that which I am saying. There are added value, extra curriculum interventions which I have orchestrated that have motivated my students and got them jobs. Some universities market themselves in the way I advocate, but what ‘lies beneath’ isn’t consistent. Some undergraduate and post graduate teaching has staff that have never worked commercially in that sector to which they try to teach the next generation. There are a few universities, quasi-establishments and courses that are starting to appear. Only time will determine if the outcomes are focussed on employability or rather league tables.

In my honest opinion, universities need to refresh themselves and be the first to start revision. It somewhat calls for “Driving with a dashboard” aka Kuper & Szymanski (2012).

Sporting Director

The S’PORT is delighted to welcome Kevin O’Malley to the role of ‘Sporting Director’ at the Club.  With an ever impressive Men’s NVL Team, Women’s/Mixed Local League, talented Juniors and thriving community activities, to secure someone of ‘Kev’s’ pedigree is a major statement of intent and ambition.  Chair, Adrian Stores, states “Kevin’s CV is incredibly impressive and we are proud to have secured his services.  He will assist me Club-wide, especially with juniors, to try and nurture a sustainable Club throughout the Borough, North West and volleyball world”.

So what has he done – or what hasn’t he, more to the point. In his own words:

“I started playing (volleyball) at school and joined with a group of old school friends to start a team (Greetland Volleyball).  We played West Yorks League, which we won 3 times before moving to the old YHVA (Yorks and Humber) League which we won 3 times also. My position was Setter and Coach/most other duties. I also joined the West Yorks VB committee as Secretary, where I ran the leagues and at the high point had 4 leagues with about 50 teams in total playing in just West Yorks.

My ambition was to move to National League (NVL), but the club couldn’t commit to that so I moved to Bradford Mythbreakers and as a squad player won promotion to the old Div 1 National League, where I played for 2 years before we were relegated. At this point I took over the Chair at WYVB and continued in that role for 8 years.

Next I moved to join with some old friends and rivals and was a founder member of Boathouse (Batley) where I played for the rest of my career, becoming a Player/Coach then concentrating on coaching. The team won back to back promotions into National Div2 (there were 4 National divisions in those days).

The club also went from strength to strength and we eventually had both Men’s and Women’s National League teams as well as Yorks and Humber and West Yorks teams junior teams and fun league teams. I was at this time the Chair at the club, but always kept my hand in with playing and coaching. Eventually I did the Chair and Coaching role together.

Our final season before the club disbanded after 25 years, we won promotion to Div 1 and we reached the plate final 2 years in a row, but due to work commitments and lack of resources I had to fold the club.  I continued working with youngsters as Coach for Yorkshire boys U17 and then Coach with North of England.    At that point I joined the National set up as Manager of the England Junior Men, a position I still hold after 5 years, and for the last 2 seasons I have been an assistant coach at Sheffield in the Super 8s.  My Son followed me into the sport, also as a setter and played for Team GB in the 2012 Olympics gaining over 100 caps and became the 2nd highest capped player.”

Welcome Kev from everyone at the S’PORT.