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Dribbling Masterclass: Sports Interactive’s Miles Jacobson on Football Manager’s Scouting network

Miles at Develop 2011

We caught up with Sports Interactive’s Studio Director Miles Jacobson to talk about his plans for Football Manager’s scouting network. Almost as interesting as the network size and its professional usage was what he wouldn't tell us about. You can find out what it wasn't after the jump.

Have you any plans for your amateur scouting network?

What do you mean by amateurs? People say to us a lot, ‘you’ve got this huge scouting network, but they’re just football fans”. I’m like ‘what gives anyone a qualification to be a scout apart from being able to tell if players are going to be good or not. It doesn’t matter that Jose Mourinho or Alex Ferguson didn’t play at the highest levels of football, they’re still the best managers out there. If you look at the person who’s currently being regarded as the best in the Premier League, Graham Carr at Newcastle, who spotted a bunch of French players that anyone who’s played Football Manager over the years knew of ages ago; he hasn’t played football for many years, but he still knows what a decent player’s like. 

How big is the network these days?

I’m incredibly proud of the network we’ve built up; well over a thousand scouts in 51 regions. There are still regions we’re not strong enough in - Africa, but that’s something we’ll be working on in the future. When you have a network of people finding out about people like Leo Messi when he’s 12 years old and putting them in the game when they’re 16, which is the earliest we can legally put them in, and then becoming world superstars... it’s something I’m incredibly proud of. 

How accurate is it?

People bring up the few we’ve got wrong; we’ve got over 480,000 players and staff in our database. If we’re getting 15-20 wrong a year, so be it if we’re getting the others right. Everton have a license to use our database officially as part of their scouting network; we’re sure there are others using it unofficially. And to be honest, if they’re not, they’re crazy. Why would you not take on board the opinions of over a thousand football fans who are watching players week-in, week-out at youth, reserve and first team and who have a pretty amazing strike record of finding players at a very early stage. My twitter account is currently bombarded with people talking about players that they’ve been signing for years that they’re seeing play for the first time in this Euro 2012 tournament.

Do you have any commercial plans for your network beyond Everton? And do you have any people in your scouting network who do scouting jobs?

Yeah, we’ve got a few guys in our network doing professional scouting jobs. Part of their arrangement is that they’re able to do it. At least one of our current scouts is scouting for a top division club in his or her country.

Do you have any commercial plans for your network beyond Everton?

… next question.

You can read another excerpt from our chat with Miles here.

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