Is Angus McNab’s laptop the most coveted piece of technology in the Canadian Premier League?
A long-time executive at Opta and SportLogiq – CPL’s data and analytics partners – McNab has joined York9 FC as a management consultant, arriving after former club president Preben Ganzhorn’s departure in January. McNab was first introduced to the CPL at the league headquarters in Toronto while representing SportLogiq. From there, his interest piqued, particularly with York9.
With a background in football analytics both on and off the pitch, McNab’s part-streamlining, part-audit is underway in York Region – and it’s all going through his computer.
“There is a marked change in everything in the organization,” McNab told CanPL.ca. “Coach Jimmy Brennan, the staff, everyone has responded well.”
McNab’s background in advanced analytics points to Y9’s new approach to on-the-field recruiting and player evaluation, but the native of Scotland is also overseeing all facets of the club as it enters its second season.
“I’m deeply rooted in data and analytics, since my time in Opta, and I’m looking at ways of enhancing the fan experience, and offer more. Not just from a cost standpoint,” McNab explained,
“How do we drive things forward? We looked at a few elements initially, but for me, it was obvious the club and the staff needed a couple of things to attach themselves to. There needs to be a north star – what we should be working towards every day.”
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York9’s new off-field approach? “Sample and trial.”
For the 2020 season at York Lions Stadium, the club is planning a different buildout behind the goal, moving the supporters section to its main grandstand. The aim is to improve fan engagement and have supporters feel as though they are members of a bigger community.
The club’s staff is also offering an improved front-facing product, engaging with fans on social media more frequently and more meaningfully, and moving to a new office/club store hybrid in Vaughan next month.
“There are things the club did over the past 12 months that we may have gotten wrong. We didn’t offer enough to people to come join us and be a part of us. It’s about building authenticity and connections that are true, quite frankly. We have to change that,” McNab said.
“Attendance wasn’t what we wanted it to be so we’re in a different place than others. We need people to sample and trial the product, and then engage with it.”
On the pitch, McNab points to a personalized on-screen dashboard shared by York9 coaches Jimmy Brennan and newly-appointed assistant Paul Stalteri, which shows everything from year-over-year salary cap management to minutes played by the under-21s. Players also have access to a video tool that shows each action, sorted, across an entire 90 minutes.
“We’re able to zero in on what we need to do,” McNab said, referencing the use of the data by Y9 management. “We’ve used the data across everything as we retool our squad.”
Y9 has also signed six-figure, three-year deal with StatSports, a leading development company in the area of on-field performance monitoring and analysis in sports, that provides the CPL outfit with the same GPS product that many of the top clubs in the world use, including Liverpool and Arsenal.
The Nine Stripes will use the GPS system in its training sessions and on gamedays to measure the load/effort on players and proactively manage injury risk. Y9 will also be sharing some of the data (top speeds, distance covered in games, etc.) with fans on social media each week during the CPL season.
McNab’s experience with Opta’s North America division meant he dealt with broadcasters of MLS and the Premier League. He also worked for the Colorado Rapids, and knows Nashville SC’s director of strategy and analytics Oliver Miller-Farrell from their time together at Opta.
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“(Angus) has such a rare perspective of a lot of different sides of the sporting landscape,” Miller-Farrell told CanPL.ca as the club prepares for its inaugural match as one of two MLS expansion teams. “He gets how data plays a role in an organization. Not just from the performance analysis side, but also commercially.
“I’m really excited for him, it’s a great opportunity. It’s a real unique role for him to flap his wings.”
York9 plans to be more forthcoming about contract announcements, McNab told CanPL.ca, denoting multi-year deals when applicable. More signings are expected in the coming weeks, McNab hinted, pointing to South America as a source of more big name signings, similar to Brazilian Gabriel Vasconcelos.
“Over the next two weeks, as we complete the activity on the transfer market and domestically, there are going to be some exciting announcements, bringing the kind of players who weren’t here last season,” McNab said.
“Fans will respond well to that and enjoy what they’re seeing.”
Who will York9 fans be so pleased to see in 2020? Well, check his laptop.