WIGAN Athletic Chairman David Sharpe has confirmed the club has created a new department responsible for player recruitment.
The department will transform the way the club identify, assess and target new signings, and will be overseen by Matt Jackson, the double promotion-winning captain in 2003 and 2005 and current Head of Football Operations, who, alongside Chief Executive Jonathan Jackson and Academy Head Gregor Rioch, has been involved in reshaping the Wigan Athletic Academy over the past few seasons.
Jamie Roberts has been appointed in a newly-created role of Head of Player Identification, with a new Chief Scout to be announced next week.
They will be supported by a team of recruitment analysts who will interpret statistical data and provide complete information on potential future players.
Sharpe said: “It is a completely different approach for us, one that is being used by other forward-thinking clubs, and is very exciting in that it revolutionizes the way we will recruit players in the future, from the Academy to the First Team.
“It is crucial for the long-term prosperity of Wigan Athletic that, as well as bringing players through the Academy, we put in place a recruitment structure that ensures investment in new first team players is more efficient and in line with a long-term philosophy.
“We want to combine modern statistical methods with the experienced football eye, mixing forward thinking and traditional practices. We intend to know everything about a player before we sign him and most importantly identify his suitability for our philosophy.
“So in other words, we look at him in as many different situations as possible, to build up a fuller picture. Does he perform differently home and away, in good and bad weather, when the team is winning or losing? We will look into his background, his personality, even his social media record will be included in the research. We then cross reference that with statistical research.
“By building up a database of potential recruits of all ages, at any given time we will have several fully -researched targets in every position. Modern analytical tools will help us to remove some of the emotional and subjective decision making that can sometimes happen in this area of the game.
“By setting up a system now, it will enable us to be working one, two or even more transfer windows ahead but in the short term, with the amount of loan players or those whose contracts are up in the summer, we are likely to need at least ten new players in time for next season. The job of identifying those players has already begun and it is imperative we implement this new structure now.”
Roberts was Head of Analysis at Wigan Athletic from 2007 until he left last November to work for Prozone, football’s leading performance analysis system provider used by the most major clubs in the UK.
Sharpe added: “Jamie is a leading professional in his field; we are extremely pleased to bring him back to the club where he has worked since 2007 and supported all his life. He is one of our own, we trust his judgement and along with Matt Jackson we feel that we have the right people for Wigan Athletic to develop this important area of decision-making and provide an advantage over our competitors.
“A new Chief Scout will then follow in the coming weeks, whose task will be to lead a team in continually watching and assessing the talent identified by the club as future signings.
“With Matt, Jamie, the new Chief Scout and Jonathan Jackson, plus Gregor Rioch and Head of Academy Recruitment Kenny Williams, we have an experienced team all working together in a structured manner on recruitment and I hope the club’s fans agree that this is a significant step forwards for the long-term stability of Wigan Athletic.”