Manchester City Gives Stat Heads A Huge Opportunity

Stat heads, rejoice. Assuming I understand what is happening here, Manchester City has decided to make real crowd-sourcing possible when it comes to Opta analysis. It might seem like a small thing, designed to get some free information and give a handful of geeks something to do with their extra time, is potentially a massive step forward.

For all the work that has been done to move soccer statistic forward, up until now there has only been two ways to do it: Work for a team or organization (like The Guardian or MLSsoccer.com) that pays for the full access to data or make due with what you can get from scraping it from chalkboards (which is probably illegal if you publish too much of it).

Despite the fact that Opta and Manchester City make it very clear that they own this data and any analysis you make from it, they are at least giving normal people the opportunity to legally use it for the first time.

I've long argued that the biggest piece of the soccer analytics puzzle that is missing is that all the information is proprietary. In baseball, where there has been the most progress, most of the relevant data is available to anyone who has the patience to compile box scores. That has led to the kind of peer-review that makes any kind of science work and the kind of crowd-sourcing that lends itself to advancement.

We are still a long ways away from baseball-level stat analysis, but this is the first step. Hopefully, other organizations like MLS take note.

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