For many football fans, being a football scout is a dream job. Not only do you get paid to watch football, but it’s also exciting to attempt to predict which players would make a good signing for your club. Most football fans have enjoyed debating which players their team should sign.
But is being a scout a realistic career option? It may feel like such jobs in football are just filled with ex-players and people who have been working in football all their lives, but things are changing. Football is becoming more open to people who have previously worked in other fields.
One of the key reasons for this is the rise of data and video analysis. Scouts no longer have to rely on their subjective judgements and gut instincts. Instead, player recruitment is a much more objective process. A modern scout needs to be able to interpret the data and analyse the video footage. These are skills that anyone can learn.
There are an increasing number of clubs that are hiring scouts and recruitment analysts who have never previously worked in football, based on work they’ve made available online. This includes Jay Socik who has been hired by Luton Town and Ashwin Raman who was hired by Dundee United as a scout and analyst at just 17.
Let’s take a look at how scouts assess players, find out the skills they need to do the job, and then we’ll examine how much you could earn as a scout.
When a scout is looking at potential signings, they look at certain attributes that show the player will be the right fit for the club. A scout isn’t just trying to find talented players. The history of football is full of expensive signings who were stars at their former clubs but failed to make an impact at their new team. To avoid this, a scout needs to find players who will be able to excel in the team’s preferred tactics and who will suit the club’s culture and football philosophy.
Some of the qualities that a scout will be looking for are physical ones. Traditionally, these would have been quite basic qualities. For example, if they were looking for a central defender, they would be likely to want a player who is tall and strong enough to win aerial duels. In the modern game, they have access to much more detailed data. Just because a player is tall, it doesn’t mean they’re good in the air. A scout can now look at data about the number of aerial duels a player has won and watch video footage to see how well they jump and make sure they’re taking up the right positions. They also have access to much more physical data, such as information about a player’s movement on the pitch, the distance they can cover in a match, and how well they accelerate when sprinting.
A scout will also look at data and video footage to objectively measure the skills that a player has. If the team needs an attacking midfielder who is good at creating chances with through balls, they can look at metrics such as Expected Assists (xA) and the number of line-breaking passes they’ve played.
Scouts are also interested in the mental attributes that a player possesses. How confident are they? Do they let their head drop after a set-back? These are harder to measure through data. During the 2018/19 season, a sport scientist at Chelsea attempted to create a set of statistics to measure the psychological performance of players during a match. It was an interesting experiment, but has yet to become standard practice across the game. Scouts still have to watch players and talk to people who know them to assess if they have the right mentality.
There are a variety of skills that a scout needs, including in-depth knowledge of football and the ability to use video and data platforms. They also need to be good at communicating as there’ll be working as part of a recruitment team.
A scout’s knowledge of football needs to include a strong understanding of tactics and the roles that different players perform in the team. This helps the scout to find the right players for their team’s style of play. For example, if they don’t fully understand the difference between an anchor man and a ball-winning midfielder, they could end up recommending the wrong sort of central midfielder.
A scout needs to be able to use platforms such as Wyscout and Instat. These are the kinds of platforms that almost every professional club uses to conduct video scouting and data analysis. They’re now a standard part of the industry. A scout needs to know how they work before they start the job.
If they’re going to be using data, they also need a strong understanding of what the data means. Modern metrics, such as Expected Goals (xG), are complex ways to measure the performance levels of players. It’s important for a scout to understand how these metrics are calculated and what they actually mean in relation to the player’s overall performance. Knowing that a player has a high xG rating is not enough, they need to understand why they have achieved this score.
Finally, a scout needs to be good at identifying which statistics and video clips to include in a report. When so much data and video footage is available on platforms such as Wyscout, it’s impossible to include all the information. A good scout needs to be able to pick what is most relevant for the Head of Recruitment and management team.
There is no specific qualification that you need to have to work as a football scout. Some successful scouts have no formal qualifications. Many don’t have degrees. However, having some relevant qualifications can strengthen your CV when you’re applying for jobs and help you stand out from the crowd.
Having scouting or recruitment analysis qualifications is proof that you have the skills and knowledge that the club needs. They can see straight away when they look at your resume that you know your stuff. One option is to take the Talent Identification courses offered by the English FA.
We also provide courses in data and video analysis to give scouts the skills they need to work in the modern recruitment department. Our foundation course teaches you the essential skills and knowledge you will need when using video and data analysis for player recruitment. After you’ve completed this course, or if you already know the essentials, our Level 2 course in recruitment analysis sets out the best-practice methods used by elite-level clubs. The modules in these courses draw on the insider knowledge of our team of experts who have worked in top leagues around the world, including the Premier League, the Championship and La Liga.
The amount that a scout earns depends on their previous experience and which club they work for. As you’d expect, a senior scout at a top Premier League club is going to be earning far more than a scout who is working in their first job at an EFL League Two side.
At the very lowest level, in amateur football, scouts often work as volunteers. They might do this to help a local team they support or to gain experience. Volunteering can be a great way to enhance a CV, showing that you know how to work alongside others at a football club and understand how the recruitment process works. There are also internships available to get your foot in the door.
There are a number of different football scouts including opposition, video, technical and talent. There is a lot of variation between the money paid for each of the roles and the positions that are available. It is possible to find full-time positions at clubs and you might also see clubs offering a small fee per game and expenses.
At professional clubs outside the top flight, a full-time scout might earn about £25,000-30,000 a year, or about £2,000 per month. This will vary as each club has its own budget and spending priorities. There are also part-time scouting jobs, which will pay less per month depending on how many hours a week you work. At the top of the game, scouts in senior positions working in the Premier League may earn more than £100,000 per year, which is over £8,000 per month.
Many football fans dream of working in the game and getting paid to be involved in the sport they love. Scouting is a job where this can happen. It’s more open than it’s ever been to people who can show that they’ve got the right skills and talent.
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