About

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Dr Bill Gerrard is Professor of Business and Sports Analytics at Leeds University Business School in the UK. Bill has been one of the pioneers of the use of data analysis as part of an evidence-based approach to coaching in elite team sports particularly invasion-territorial team sports such as the various codes of football, hockey and basketball. His initial work in the mid-1990s focused on developing a player valuation system for football to aid teams in setting transfer fees. The approach was also applied to benchmarking player salaries in the Scottish Premier League. As player tracking and video analysis software systems started to be used in elite team sports, Bill began work on analysing the player and team performance data produced by these systems to support decision making by coaches. He developed a player and team rating system as well as using win-loss analysis to identify critical success factors in soccer. He was also instrumental in the early development of e-screening systems for player recruitment. Bill has worked with several UK football clubs including Celtic and Bolton Wanderers. Currently he is providing game reviews for AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie. Bill is a qualified football coach (UEFA B Licence).

In 2007 Bill began a collaboration with Billy Beane and the ownership group of the Oakland Athletics to investigate the potential for analytics in football. The motivation for this collaboration was the acquisition by Oakland of the San Jose Earthquakes MLS franchise. Over a three-year period Bill produced 85 reports for the owners including detailed analysis of every game played by the Quakes as well as analysing critical success factors in the MLS, evaluating the player draft, and developing a value-for-money rating for every MLS player to guide roster decisions. Bill has linked up again with Billy Beane to develop the use of data analytics by the Dutch football club, AZ Alkmaar.

From 2010 until May 2015, Bill worked as the technical analyst for Saracens, one of the leading rugby union teams in Europe. Bill played a crucial role in the adoption of an evidence-based approach at Saracens. He was responsible for post-game reviews of player and team performance as well as analysing future opponents. He undertook a number of strategic projects including the integration of coaching data with fitness and well-being data.

Bill has also worked extensively in rugby league. He undertook statistical analysis of performance data for Brian Smith when he was head coach at Parramatta Eels in 2005. In recent years Bill has worked closely with Phil Clarke, the ex-Wigan and Roosters player and England/GB international, and now Sky Sports presenter. They undertook an in-depth study of the factors involved in all tries scored in Super League in 2009. Bill provided statistical support for the Sky Sports coverage of Super League between 2012 and 2014 including the development of the performance gauge, an in-game indicator of game momentum. He has also developed a traffic-lights system of KPIs to evaluate team performance.

In an evaluation of his impact on the application of analytics in the sports industry, Saracens commented that Bill’s contribution is “seen by the entire club as a unique point of difference that has made Saracens one of the leading clubs in European rugby”, “a game changing impact on conduct” and “an integral part of the sustained success”. Billy Beane wrote that Bill’s work has “not only benefitted [Oakland Athletics] but the sports industry as a whole”.

 

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