Chelsea hire West Brom's Leyde to lead position-specific scouting
Written by Simon Austin — October 1, 2023
CHELSEA have hired Jeremy Leyde from West Brom to head up their new position-specific scouting department.
Co-Sporting Director Paul Winstanley pioneered the use of positional scouts when he was Head of Recruitment at Brighton from 2014 to 2022. Traditionally, scouts have covered geographical areas rather than positions.
Leyde was Head of Scouting at West Brom from February 2019 until he joined Chelsea a few weeks ago. He worked with Winstanley at Brighton, where he was a Domestic Recruitment Analyst from January 2016 to February 2019.
Chelsea now have Scouting Managers who are responsible for specific roles within the squad: goalkeepers; full backs; centre backs; wide midfielders and attacking midfielders (#10s); central midfielders (#6s and #8s); and strikers.
The Scouting Managers work closely with Chelsea’s data science staff as well as with the scouts in different territories to filter targets. They then report into Leyde, who, in turn, reports into Sporting Directors Winstanley and Laurence Stewart.
Chelsea believe the positional scouting model is the one that enables them to be most nimble and responsive in the transfer market. Arsenal, Newcastle and Norwich are among the clubs to have followed Brighton's lead in adopting the positional model, while the Seagulls have continued with it despite Winstanley’s departure to Chelsea in November last year.
EUROPEAN SPORT '20 YEARS BEHIND' UNITED STATES ON DATA
Chelsea co-owner Behdad Eghbali suggested there was room for improvement in both Chelsea's use of data and their scouting when he spoke at a Sportico event last October.
"These things (European football clubs) generally are not well managed, in our view, they are not optimised," he said. "Fenway Group with Liverpool or Abu Dhabi with Man City have done it well… but for the most part these things haven’t been optimised.
"We’ve looked at it and we think European sports is probably 20 years behind US sports in terms of sophistication on the commercial side, sophistication on the data side. I had one super high-level Sporting Director at (one of) the world’s top three clubs tell me, when I asked about their approach to data, 'The data’s my eyes, I pick players on my eyes.'
"He has six scouts, no data. We know of good sports teams in any league here (the United States), there’s 10, 20, 30 data analysts and wide use of data. That’s one area we think there’s a lot of runway for European sports.
"The question is how do you run these things more effectively, how do you control salary costs? I think there is a global pool of talent. Where you’re managing your labour costs more effectively, you’re not signing the 30-year-old free agent, you’re signing players and keeping the players.
"If you use data, if you’re thoughtful about this global market for talent and access to talent, you can capture, acquire, retain and monetise talent. There are teams in the Premier League that spend 10% of what the top five, six spend on payroll.
"Brighton, we think they are one of the best run teams in the Premier League. Their founder, owner (Tony Bloom), is a sports gaming, data background. He spends 10% of the payroll (as the top five or six), wins almost as much, and is a very stable mid-table, very profitable club.
"If you apply some of that IP into developing talent, but keeping your own talent. The model of six, seven, eight year contracts, we think can be a sustainable model."