Burnley launch global talent search via mobile phone app

By Alex HowellBBC Sport
Example of how the app works
The app uses artificial intelligence technology to analyse players - and this is an example of how it looks

The coronavirus pandemic has made football clubs change the way they scout their future stars.

Burnley think they have found one answer - by asking youngsters from around the world to trial for the club's academy using a mobile phone app.

Footballers aged over 14 can film themselves performing specific drills and then upload them to the app, which uses artificial intelligence technology to analyse, rate and compare players.

Burnley, who were taken over by American investment group ALK Capital in December, will invite "exceptional" youngsters identified by scouts from the app to formal academy trials later this year.

"This is a first opportunity for us to introduce new data-led technologies into the football club and promote Burnley to the wider football world by giving aspirational young players an opportunity," said new chairman Alan Pace - whose ALK Capital company has a minority stake in the AiScout app.

"With the pandemic currently leading to a suspension of youth football in Lancashire and across the UK, this trial represents an open and inclusive opportunity for football players to complete a set of drills in their own environment that could end with them being scouted by a Premier League club."

The app's founder and chief executive Darren Peries came up with the idea after his son was released by Tottenham.

He was surprised when scouts approached him for online clips of his son playing football, and that got him thinking.

He told BBC Sport: "I wasn't a football dad, in terms of making sure that I had all this type of information. It intrigued me. I wanted to know why they still had to go out on a Saturday or Sunday morning in the rain when they sign professional guys with data.

"What we've done is take what happens in a six to eight-week trial, such as the drills and athletic tests, and we've put those into the app and made them accessible to millions of people though a phone rather than the lucky few who get scouted. It allows the scouts to get a good view of the player."

The app analyses "technical, athletic, cognitive and psychometric ability" - and has already helped its first fully fledged professional player.

Defender Ben Greenwood, 17, had trials at four Premier League clubs before signing for Championship side Bournemouth and has since played for the Republic of Ireland Under-18s.

"This boy had never been in the academy structure at all or never been scouted," said Peries.

"He was playing non-league in Surrey and thought it was all over.

"We showed the data to Chelsea and they gave him a one day trial to start with and he ended up being there 10 weeks.

"It nudged that club and other clubs to look at him. That's our role. We give the players an opportunity to highlight themselves with data to the clubs."

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