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How Derby County is using SkillCorner data to create a smarter recruitment process

By: Eddie May
• December 2023

How Derby County is using SkillCorner data to create a smarter recruitment process 

Derby County is one of the historic names in English football - a founder member of the Football League, twice champions of the First Division (now the Premier League) in the 1970s, and just one game away from returning to the Premier League as recently as 2019.


After recent financial issues led to the club finding itself in the third tier of English football for the first time since 1985/86, the new regime at Pride Park has put an emphasis on working smarter in all departments. 


This smart approach includes the vital area of player recruitment, spearheaded by the arrival of Head of Recruitment, Mark Thomas, from Oxford United, earlier this year. Since his arrival, Mark (working closely with Head Coach, Paul Warne) has been putting in place a data-driven system for identifying and benchmarking recruitment targets.  This includes access to transfer market and event data and, since July this year, physical and Game Intelligence data from SkillCorner, covering six competitions.


In the summer 2023 transfer window, having access to SkillCorner’s physical data metrics allowed Mark and his team to easily validate the physical performance of players identified by the scouting team, based on a ‘physical index’ of six key attributes required by the coaching staff. Having access to data from multiple competitions and seasons also meant that recruitment targets and existing squad members could be benchmarked against other players and position averages for other leagues. 


Going forward, Derby County plans to integrate data even further into the scouting and recruitment process, supporting the identification of players, as well as the validation of their physical attributes. 


SkillCorner’s Game Intelligence data will also come into the picture, with plans to build a new system for analysing GI data, which will be integrated into the club’s bespoke analysis app. This will enable Mark and his team to identify and analyse the playing style of recruitment targets, gaining insight into areas such as a player’s off-ball run and passing profiles, and their ability to resist pressure when in possession. 



Mark Thomas, Head of Recruitment at Derby County Football Club said: 

“SkillCorner has become a valuable part of our recruitment process. It has allowed us to objectively compare the physical capabilities of players from a number of leagues, which we were previously unable to do.

The physical performance data that we get from SkillCorner has become an important part of our performance profiling, playing an essential part in our customised index scoring method. We are also looking to develop our processes even further by adding in their innovative Game Intelligence data. 

We are very happy with the service SkillCorner has provided and are looking forward to expanding our data coverage into more leagues in the future.”



Paul Warne, Head Coach at Derby County Football Club said: 

The physical side of football is very important to my teams. SkillCorner allows me to look at a player’s data, such as their top speed and distance covered, before we recruit them. Our analysis and recruitment teams can also use the data to compare our current squad and players against others in the league, so we can benchmark our physical performance.” 

Craig Inness, Business Development Manager at SkillCorner, said:

“We are really happy to be partnering with Derby County and supporting their journey to becoming one of the most data-driven clubs in the EFL in terms of analysis and recruitment. Mark and his team are doing some very innovative things with data and we’re excited for SkillCorner to be part of that.”  





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