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Gillingham chairman Brad Galinson and managing director Joe Comper talk about their approach to recruitment and the use of data and analytics to find targets

Gillingham intend to expand the use of analytics in the hope of getting ahead of the game when it comes to the summer transfer window.

New managing director Joe Comper will become part of the process when it comes to recruiting and he says out-thinking the opposition will be key rather than outspending them.

Gillingham chairman Brad Galinson says the club will be data-driven as they look for new players
Gillingham chairman Brad Galinson says the club will be data-driven as they look for new players

Chairman Brad Galinson expects the club to be looking at recruiting a handful of new players in the summer and believes their current budget is sufficient - albeit with their status still unknown as they chase a League 2 play-off spot.

Comper, speaking alongside Galinson ahead of the Good Friday clash with Crewe, said: “You can’t outspend people so you have to out-think people. That process needs to start now.

“We are further forward at this stage now than we were for last summer, in terms of identifying targets and making sure those targets are the right players for us.

“We are getting players in that we really need that are going to strengthen us. We all know where our weaknesses are, of course, we need to score more goals, that is the problem we have to solve very quickly and we’re identifying people we think are going to fit in with what we have already got and solve that problem - that’s the plan.

“If we manage to pull it off and get into League 1, this year or next, we are in a position where we can compete with people who are outspending us because we are out-thinking them, I think that goes back to culture and process and everyone at the club pulling in the same direction.

“Luton did it, they out-thought people, they didn’t outspend people in the Championship and probably didn’t outspend people in League 1. They have outfougth and out-thought and that is where they have got their success, that is where we are at now.

“We have got people in the building like Kenny (Jackett, the director of football) and Hess (Andy Hessenthaler, head of recruitment), people who have played the game at a good level and can watch a player, 100%, we are sorted there.

“They have proven that with the likes of Shad Ogie and Ethan Coleman, look at how good they have been this season.

“What we are starting to add is the analytics of broadening that net and not relying on just people we have seen or people that are obvious to everyone, those are the players everyone is competing for, everyone has to over-pay for that player and it becomes a bidding war.

“The analytics casts the net much wider and creates that longer list which is where then we can use the skills of Kenny and Hess and the scouting network to do their due diligence on the players and watch them and analyse them.

“This is like phase two of the Galinson recruitment era. We have great people in, now it is adding a more thorough and impressive database to their eye.”

Gillingham’s B Team looks set for an overhaul with a focus on senior players getting minutes in behind-closed-doors games and the younger players heading out on loan.

Those loans will be more considered than before with Comper saying: “We are looking at it as they will either be part of the first team squad and playing B Team fixtures, or those lads out of the academy and realistically aren’t close to getting near the first team, can we get them a good quality loan?

“We don’t want to go, ‘you know what, they are up the road, we’ll palm them off there’, it’s a case of ‘are they going to play? Is their manager the sort of manager we want our young players to be playing for? Do they play a style of football that we want them to come back and play? What we do with that group is probably evolving.”

New Gillingham managing director Joe Comper will help with recruitment in his new role Picture: Kent Pro Images
New Gillingham managing director Joe Comper will help with recruitment in his new role Picture: Kent Pro Images

Speaking on the playing budget, Galinson added: “I think the budget we are on will be plenty for next season, it would have been for almost any previous seasons but it is not only budget, I would say a budget is 70% correlation of your success in English football, the single biggest, but an over capitalised company can also make dumb errors, it is not everything, it is how smart you work and how much money you put in, both together.”

Asked what he thought of the current recruitment, he said: “We have done really well for maybe two-thirds, it is not necessarily recruitment, there are a lot of things, it might be injuries, right player, wrong players.

“Goalscoring has fallen short, I wouldn’t necessarily say that is terrible recruitment, it is part of it, the good part of it is that this window we are going into in the summer, we require the least number of players. You start needing 22, then 15, then eight, now we maybe need, two, three or four. I would say on one hand I am pleased with it, pleased with the people, but on the other hand I am quite impatient.”

Commenting on use of analytics as the first focus in recruitment, he said: “Behind the scenes we are adding a lot of analytics, we are adding a lot of computer AI, we are bulking up our recruitment team. We have smart people here but they all have to be brought together as one communicator, one vision, one interpreter, that is what Joe (Comper) is.

“Everyone is focused a lot on the summer, the team that we have built over the last year from where it was, is magnificently better but it’s not done, it’s actually never done, we’re truly not done.

“We’re is at the strategic stage. What do we need and why do we need, what kind of players, how does it fit into formations and how does it fit into Steve (Clemence, the head coach) and Robbie’s (Stockdale, the assistant) vision.

“Do we need more analytics, do we need more computer people? That kind of thing. It is very much top of the mind to get ready, to start in April and into May becomes intense and then becomes everything for the beginning of summer, it is a huge priority.

“We are trying to be really methodical in what our identity is. Luton did a really good job over many leagues with a single identity, their identity was different to others, so for us, we want to come up with an identity with Steve and Robbie and Kenny and then you want to use analytics to identify with what players fit that identity.

“They are not necessarily the best players, depending on how you define it, they are the players who will fit best in your identity.”

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