My job as a football data scout

09/08/2015 | By | 7 Replies More

When you look on Betfair you will see a graphic, this graphic is telling you things like ‘Dangerous attack’. Corner, substitution or goal. Lots of bookmakers use this service now and a lot of them, including Betfair, use it to manage markets automatically.  If you ever wondered where this info comes from, or why a match ‘losses its feed’ or experiences ‘technical difficulties’ read on…..

08-08-2015 - Running ball

How I got a job as a scout

In the couple of years when I was attempting to make a living from trading I managed to get some part-time work as a Football Scout.

This company provides real time sports data to bookmakers and other businesses in the gambling industry. They employ ‘scouts’ to attend football matches and other sporting events to input data in to a small mobile device from the stadium.

I came across the job advert whilst looking for some part-time work through the various on-line job sites. I had thought about doing a few early morning shifts in a warehouse or shelf stacking in a supermarket through the night. Not only would the increase in income be a great help I also liked the idea of getting away from the house and office for a few days of the week. After applying for the job I was contacted by the Area Manager. We had a chat about the role and if I was still interested I could go ahead with the training.

The training

Firstly you have to read a manual which explains how to operate the small mobile device they send you which is used to input the data.  After I had learnt the commands and the correct procedures, which took about a week, I was given a match to be tested on. It was a recorded match from a few years back.

I did the first half and then he gave me some feedback on mistakes made and so on. After a couple more matches I was ready to attend my first game. The mobile device arrived in the post and I was given some account log-in details. When you log-in there’s a list of matches in your area. Premiership down to the lower leagues, women’s football and reserve games. Once you chosen a match you then have to purchase the ticket yourself.

I wasn’t really expecting to have to use my own money, I thought I would be sent tickets to be honest.  That was a bit of a drawback because not only are you purchasing tickets you’ve got the petrol/train costs also. They do cover your travelling expenses it’s just having the funds to cover this until payments are made which isn’t ideal. At the time I was being paid £50 per match.

Performance related pay

You only receive the full payment if no mistakes are made. They list all the potential mistakes and put them in to categories. Your payment isn’t affected if minor mistakes are made as long as you follow the correct procedure to rectify them. There are some that fall in the category of ‘no pay’. The whoppers such as missing a goal, red card, penalty etc. or reporting incorrect info such as a goal for the wrong team.

Reporting data from a match

On my first match I was so worried about being late and getting a deduction in pay that I turned up about 3 hours before kick-off. A bit too keen! As you can imagine I was one of about 5 in the whole stadium. With 15 minutes to go before kick-off I had to log-in to the device and inform everybody I was in the stadium and that I was ready to begin reporting.

I then start the match on the device as soon as the ref’s whistle is blown and begin to tap in the commands for every incident that takes place in the match. It’s fairly simple to operate. There’s ‘safe/attack/dangerous attack’ commands as well as reporting all the throw-ins, free kicks, penalties, goals, yellow cards etc. basically everything.

The game went well, no major mistakes made but there was a couple of connection problems. When you lose connection you receive a phone call from an employee.

As you attempt to log back in and find a connection you have to commentate on every event in the match on the phone. This can be a bit embarrassing. It’s not long before you can hear the supporters around you reacting to seeing someone on the phone saying ‘safe, danger, shot on goal, safe, goal kick’.

I hated having to say ‘Goal to the away side!’ when crammed in with angry fans and then continue to say who the goal scorer was and the current score….you can imagine that would be very irritating to hear all this after your team has just gone one nil down. Many times I heard the other guy in my ear…..could you repeat please… will have to speak up…

Apart from the odd embarrassing moment, I enjoyed the first few weeks as a football scout. I asked if I could attend more matches, they tend to only allow you to go to 1 or 2 games a week but I wanted to make it a little more ‘full-time’ if that was possible.

The standard of my reporting had been pretty good so far and I hadn’t made any huge mistakes so my manager agreed to allocate me a few more matches. I ended up doing as many as 5 in a week.

How to screw things up!

So all was good, I was enjoying it and the money was now pretty decent too. A few weeks after though I encountered a bit of a problem.

I was getting a bit cocky and had 2 games to attend in one day. No problem I thought, two reserve games, one kicking off at 2pm and the other at 6pm. The stadiums were about 45 minutes apart. I got to the ground and settled in to my seat. As I was logging in I heard that the kick off was going to be delayed. The team coach had broken down! After an hour there was still no sign of their arrival.

At this point I should have rang them and let them know I was going to struggle to attend the 2nd match but the gambler in me decided to take a chance and so I just sat there biting my nails hoping they would turn up soon. Fortunately they did and they got playing fairly quickly……it was still going to be tight though to make it to the next game.

Towards the latter part of the match I started getting my stuff together. I began to walk down the side of the pitch, there was only a couple of minutes left now. I got my phone out to check the time and started to weigh up how long I had to get to this other game. Whilst I was deep in thought….a goal was scored!

I quickly tapped the ‘goal’ command in to the device. In horror I realised that I’d awarded the goal to the wrong team…FFS!!! erm,,,erm…what should I do now. Own up to my mistake by ringing the Austrians would be the sensible option, but oh no……I had to try and get away with it!

I pressed the ‘goal disallowed command. Right…if I give a free-kick then wait a few seconds, then input a goal to the other side…that may work. There’s only 10 people here watching this, no-one will ever know.

A few moments later I received the dreaded call: –

“Can you can confirm that a goal was scored, then disallowed and then a goal was scored for the other team?”

“Yes, that’s correct”

“Can you confirm this all took place in the space of 6 seconds?”

…..there was a long pause before I replied with another sheepish ‘yes’. He made out as though it was all fine but we both knew it was load of bull. I made my way to the next ground feeling completely stupid, guilty and worried. I managed to get there just in time and complete the match but that didn’t make me feel any better.

I knew there would be an email on its way, and the next day there it was. It was from my manager….basically querying the incident.

I decided to own up to my mistake which resulted in him losing all trust in me and my work. I had to accept ‘no pay’ for the match and I had basically blown my chances of continuing to cover the amount of games I had been. My record before this was good, the only other poor game I had was when I got caught up in a ‘Poznan’ at a Man City game. I was the only person in the entire stand facing forwards, it wasn’t long before I was shoved round and the pda was on the floor. I got a pay reduction for missing a part of the match and for not answering the phone to my Austrian friend. It was a either taking a pay cut or taking on 5000 Mancunians.

There was nothing I could do in that situation but the disallowed goal incident was a very bad move. I was careless and then tried lying my way out of trouble. I had ruined the good reputation I had built up as being reliable and efficient. Lesson learnt….honesty is the best policy!

A funny story

I don’t want to end on a sad and depressing note so I want to tell you about a funny story. It was a reserve game against Arsenal. There was about 100 people there watching.

It was coming to the end of the first half and I noticed a guy had turned round from a few rows in front. I soon realised it was Phil Brown, the ex-footballer now manager. He was smiling and nodding my way, so I turned round to see who he was looking at. I was on the back row and there was quite a few empty seats next to me on either side. He must be looking at me!

A few seconds later he turned round again and said ‘how’s things?’. I waited a moment to see if any one else answered first to save myself from any embarrassment. No-one did so I just replied with ’yeah, good thanks’. He then got up and made his way over, sat next to me and began to make chit chat.

I didn’t want to be rude and say ‘how do you know me’ so I just went along with it. The half had just finished so I put my mobile device in my pocket.

There were a few kids gathering round someone at the front who had just walked in. It was Roberto Martinez & Peter Reid. He signed a few autographs and then Phil (as I can now call him as we are best buds!) acknowledged them both.

They came up to where we were sat and they both shook mine and Phils’ hand. They must have thought I was somebody, as I was with Phil….a scout or coach or something.

Martinez and Reid only went and sat on the other side of me! I was sat in the middle of 3 fairly famous people in football. It was fantastic, I heard some really personal stuff about players/managers in between occasional rants and outbursts of swearing from Reid.

As you can imagine I didn’t say too much but I was managing to ‘wing’ it and was quite enjoying myself….mingling with the stars. Then I began to panic as the start of the 2nd half was looming. I couldn’t get this device out now and start tapping away. I was supposed to be somebody in the world of football, not a part time data in-putter. It would be so embarrassing for me and especially for my mate Phil as he would finally realise he didn’t know me at all.

As the players came out for the 2nd half I was planning to say I was going to the toilet and then go and hide somewhere but through a stroke of luck I didn’t need to. A few more kids started to make there way up the steps with autograph books so Reid suggested they should make a move inside.

There was a ‘well it was nice to see you again’ from my mate Phil as they headed off with the group of kids following them.

I got the device out and quickly tried to catch up with the game. I was so relieved.

To this day I have no idea who Phil thought I was!

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Category: Football trading strategies

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Comments (7)

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  1. kevin says:

    how are you? i really like your post about football data scout.
    I would like to talk with you abour sportsdata if you want.

  2. LamQuangDieu says:

    Hi. Iam Lam.
    I really like football, so it great to work as a scout like the story you have post. I wanna ask:
    How can I be a football scout?
    Thanks and best regard!

  3. Peter Webb says:

    Just google the job title and you will find the jobs. Plenty of jobs in data as well. High demand for them means it’s unlikely you will get paid much.

  4. jazzy says:

    Hey guys,

    I can recommend you one company who is looking for scouts all around the world –

  5. JoeFagan says:

    Hey guys,

    you can always apply for scouts from here and hopefully we can be collegues –

  6. LamQuangDieu says:

    Thank you guys so much.

  7. Urgent47 says:

    Hey guys. I need your help.
    Apart from SportRadar/Sportsdata which other companies do hire live scouts?

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