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NEWS: OptaPro Analytics Forum 2016 accepting entries

The OptaPro Analytics Forum is accepting proposals for the 2016 event, which will take place in February at a central London venue.

Now in its third year, the OptaPro Forum aims to connect football clubs with analytical communities and experts working outside of the professional game.

In February 2015, successful applicants travelled from as far as Tokyo and New York to deliver presentations to over 140 delegates. Forum attendees included first team analysts, heads of recruitment and academy analysts from over 40 clubs and federations including Chelsea, Manchester City, New England Revolution, Zenit St Petersburg and the Deutsche Fussball Liga. 

The invite-only event offers a unique and safe opportunity to share and explore innovative analysis, best practice and analytical frameworks that can be implemented within a football club’s existing set-up.

What is the OptaPro Analytics Forum?

The OptaPro Analytics Forum is a one-day event comprising presentations and posters showcasing effective, relevant data analysis across different topics that can easily be applied to real-life scenarios within professional football. Following each presentation, delegates have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the analysis in further detail, allowing the event to act as a peer review for research benefitting the football analytics industry.

It is clear that there is innovative, high quality analytical work being produced outside of football clubs, particularly within online and academic communities. To ensure this work remains aligned to the practices and operations of a professional football club it is important to connect these networks. This unique industry event offers club analysts from leading clubs, leagues and federations around the world the opportunity to learn from some of the best analytical presentations in football.

Although event attendance is invite-only, anybody can submit a proposal to present at the OptaPro Analytics Forum. All proposals are anonymously judged by an expert panel who have all been chosen because of their experience, knowledge and expertise in football analytics.

The judges

- Dr Ian Graham, Head of Research, Liverpool FC

- Sam Green, Data Scientist, Aston Villa FC

- Devin Pleuler, Analytics Manager, Toronto FC

- Ted Knutson, Head of Player Analytics, Smartodds (Brentford FC and FC Midtjylland)

- Johannes Harkins, Advanced Analyst, OptaPro

2016 event

The OptaPro Analytics Forum will continue to encourage proposals from people with all different football backgrounds, whether that’s professional analysts, academics, bloggers or those beyond these groups who are looking to develop and present a unique idea that can benefit those working within the professional football industry.

It is understood and acknowledged that those who have previous experience with Opta’s XML data may hold an advantage in that their proposals are likely to be more feasible with a clearer outline of how they will conduct the analysis.

For the 2016 event, participants will be asked whether they have worked with Opta’s XML data in the past. Judging will remain an anonymous process; this is simply to provide the judges with additional context that will allow them to better understand the applicant’s level of experience with Opta data, which may have influenced the analyst’s chosen methods.

This is certainly not to suggest that more ‘experienced’ or ‘Opta literate’ analysts will have less of a chance of being selected. This additional question is simply to enhance the judges’ comprehension of received abstracts through providing this additional context.

Abstract categories

There will be two different submission categories for the 2016 event. As with previous events, we want this to be a data neutral event; if you do not require Opta data for your analysis, please specify this in your proposal.

We are delighted that official Premier League tracking data is again being made available for certain proposals. If your analysis requires tracking data, please state this clearly.

- Open call: Opta data/another data source

- Open call: Opta data plus official Premier League tracking data

Application details

In order to submit an abstract for consideration, you will need to provide the following information. Abstracts should be a maximum of two A4 sides and sent in a Word document format.

1. Title

2. I have/have not worked with Opta’s XML data before (select as appropriate)

3. Proposed area of study

4. Proposed method

5. Name(s)

6. Contact details including location

All proposals should be submitted to ‘’ using the subject: Analytics Forum 2016 abstract. Participants can submit more than one proposal.

The deadline for submissions is midnight Sunday 18th October.

Feedback from 2015

We received almost 60 proposals in 2015. All judges commented on the overall high quality and a significant improvement from 2014’s submissions. Areas that were consistently noted by judges last year included:

Feasibility: many abstracts set out ideas that were simply not feasible given what was available and the time limitations faced by the analyst.

Relevance and application: how can this topic be applied within the day-to-day operations of a professional football club? Understandably (and quite reasonably) this is a difficult question to answer for those who’ve not worked in this position or had access to the daily operations of a professional football club so here is some guidance that may help:

- There are existing time limitations as the job role is already extremely demanding

- Analysis has to be presented in a concise manner

- Presentations must be understood by those who are not as data literate as the presenter

- Innovation matters: what hasn’t been done yet?

- The applications of the analysis must be crystal clear


If you have any further questions on the event, please contact:

Posted by Ryan Bahia at 00:00


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