From Head of Analysis in the Football League to a New Venture with Ben Cirne

Ben Cirne is currently Company Director at BCAnalysis Ltd., having previously spent time as Head of Analysis at Southend United. We had a chat with Ben to discuss his career so far, his new business venture and analysis in the football league.

PA UK: Tell us about your background and what has led you to this point....

BC: "I started as an analyst for Southend United whilst finishing my university degree, I previously had a coaching role at Colchester United whilst also working at a supermarket and glass collecting in the evenings. Whilst at university the opportunity came up to volunteer my time at Southend United as an academy analyst and I took it. I saw it as a chance to gain experience on that side of the game and learn much more about football. Within a few weeks I was offered a part time paid role within the academy, so I quit my other jobs to focus on finishing university and working as an analyst there. After I finished university I was offered the chance to be employed full time as Head of Analysis and was tasked to build a department from scratch with no budget. I helped oversee full time employment of five volunteers within the clubs analysis department and oversaw more and more academy games getting filmed and analysed. I worked there for six years building the department up, gaining promotion to League One. I worked under some great coaches and worked with some great staff during my time there.

After the 2018-19 season at Southend, I focused on finishing my coaching badges and finished my Masters in Performance Analysis and was asked to join Millwall as an assistant first team analyst."

PA UK: How did working in your current role come about?

BC: "I was actually approached by a friend of mine to code some games for his team and it got me thinking that there are those clubs, soccer schools or college scholarships that have their games filmed but maybe don’t fully understand what to do with it afterwards or maybe haven’t got the equipment or skill set to use it as feedback to their players. So I created BCAnalysis Ltd to help those types of clubs and coaches understand the full potential of video. My main aim is to make sure clubs are able to use analysis to improve their players rather than it sit there on their laptop and nothing is done with it."

PA UK: Best moment in analysis?

BC: "Promotion to League One via the Playoffs in 2015 with Southend. Last minute equaliser to take it to penalties and won it."

PA UK: Best player that you have worked with?

BC: "Daniel Bentley". The former Southend goalkeeper moved on to Brentford and now plays in the Championship for Bristol City.

PA UK: What’s the ultimate goal for you and why?

BC: "My personal goal is to make sure my family are well looked after and I don’t miss time with my son at this early stage of his life but professionally I want to build BCAnalysis Ltd to be a serious competitor in the analysis industry and to bridge that gap between the coaching process and the analysis process at all levels of the game."

PA UK: Are you more data or video heavy in your work and why are you more heavy on that area?

BC: "Heavily video based, we aim to touch upon some data in games but I feel the effect video has when providing feedback to a player to vital when helping players reach potential."

PA UK: How do you use data to affect performance?

BC: "I've used data a lot to give a coach or manager feedback on how a game went or is going. At Southend we used data a lot at half time to give the coaches an indication of how a game was going or maybe highlight an area of the pitch we need to be stronger in. At Southend I used to gather every bit of data myself as it was unaffordable to them to outsource it. It was time consuming but also handy in a way because we could use our own operational definitions on all the KPI’s and could create our own ways of using the data."

PA UK: Do you think EFL clubs utilise analytics to its potential?

BC: "I feel it’s slowly getting that way. More and more clubs now are seeing the positives to it. The likes of Brentford are doing very well using it so I feel it's certainly going to be an area clubs will invest more in."

PA UK: What do you think is next for the analysis industry?

BC: "I think you are going to see a lot more analysts looking to build their coaching knowledge and background to try and help the manager/coach optimise their time. Rather than a manager or coach looking through footage with the analyst, I think the trust will swing massively into a person they can trust and rely on to provide that information. Which is why you are seeing more analysts being taken with a coach to a club because, they know exactly how they work, what they are looking for in a game and how they want to get that message across to their players. I also see the industry swinging more onto the data side of things, especially when looking into the tactical side of the game."

PA UK: What tool has the biggest impact on your job?

BC: "The software I’ve used for sure, I've used SportsCode my whole analysis journey, but I have recently changed to In-Play who are doing great things with their software at an affordable price as well."

PA UK: What advice would you give someone that wants a job in the industry?

BC: "My advice would be to dedicate your time and knowledge to learning everything about the industry, talk with analysts and research what you can. Go and learn about the sport you want to go into. If you feel it's an industry you really want to go down then look to study it at university or continue the studies to a Masters. It’s a very hard industry to get into, it’s going to take a lot of dedication and volunteering hours to break through but if you work hard, take everything onboard and have a willingness to learn then it will turn out great for you."

We thank Ben for this interview with Performance Analysis UK. You can find more information about BCAnalysis Ltd. here.

If you are interested in becoming an analyst or know more about what the life of an analyst involves, take a look at our Introduction to Analysis Course here!

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