Sunderland set for reshuffle in key department at Academy of Light after pair depart

Sunderland are set for a change of approach in a key department after two key staff members left the club in recent months
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A key figure behind the scenes at Sunderland has left the club.

As per training ground guru, Akhil Shah, who was lead data scientist at the Academy of Light, has left to join influential analytics consultancy firm Ludonautics. The firm has a significant reputation within the game, with former Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards currently a consultant before he returns to Anfield as the club ownership's head of football operations this summer. The firm describes itself as 'a sports advisory business dedicated to helping sporting organisations improve their decision making capabilities through insightful statistical analysis.'

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Shah joined Sunderland in 2021, part of a new data analytics department alongside James Young (head of data and analytics). Young left the club in October of last year to join Gemini Sport Analytics.

At the time of Young's arrival, sporting director Kristjaan Speakman said the appointment would lead to a 'significant change to our operational processes' and 'introduce a new way of working'. Both members of the department have now left the club.

Sunderland do have a significant partnership with Serios Group, a north east company that specialises in data analytics and testing. Announcing the partnership in 2022, the club said Serios would work with the club's analytics department to 'to create a bespoke player performance and recruitment platform, capable of analysing teams, games, players, and to identify new talent. It allows the club to make rapid evidence-based decisions when preparing for games by providing detailed insights into players’ capabilities using a range of performance, sports science, and medical data. The platform will also allow the recruitment team to select and compare transfer targets using statistics on skill levels, playing style and work-rate – to ensure they are the right fit for the team.'

It's not yet clear whether Sunderland will replace the outgoing staff or whether Serios will take on the club's analytic work.

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