Sunderland Lead Data Scientist leaves for Ludonautics

Awhile Shah: Joined Sunderland in August 2021

Awhile Shah: Joined Sunderland in August 2021

Lead Data Scientist Akhil Shah has left Sunderland after two-and-a-half years to join Ludonautics, the analytics consultancy set up by former Liverpool Head of Research Ian Graham.

Shah joined the Black Cats in August 2021 from Deloitte, where he was a Senior Consultant. He was part of a two-person analytics department along with James Young, the Head of Data and Analysis.

Young also joined from Deloitte, in March 2021, but left in October 2023 to join Gemini Sport Analytics. Now Sunderland do not directly employ any analytics staff on the football side. Instead, their analytics function has been sub-contracted to Newcastle-based Seriös Group.

The partnership with Seriös was first announced in 2022, with the club stating that the company was “collaborating with the Black Cats’ internal data analytics team to create a bespoke player performance and recruitment platform, capable of analysing teams, games, players, and to identify new talent.”

The platform allowed the club "to make rapid evidence-based decisions when preparing for games by providing detailed insights into players’ capabilities using a range of performance, sports science, and medical data."

At the time of Young's appointment, in March 2021, Sunderland Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman had said: “The use of data is becoming more prevalent in our industry and our interpretation and application of it will play an important role within our strategy.

"It was key to identify the right individual to lead a combined domain across performance analysis and data and we are delighted to welcome James to Sunderland. This appointment represents a significant change to our operational processes, introducing a new way of working that will support all functions within the football department to ensure they become more effective and efficient.”

Ludonautics have been making a number of recent hires. David Perdomo Meza has agreed to join from Twenty3, where he is Head of Engineering and Data Science, and more appointments are to follow.

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