Ask any football fan what their dream job would be, and, ignoring the obvious reply of a professional footballer, one of the other likely answers is of course to be a football scout. Its likely to be among other possibilities, such as a manager, coach and suchlike, but I think any fan would love the opportunity to be a professional football or talent scout.
Picture the job – getting paid (a very decent wage if you’re one of the best at it) to travel around the world and watch football. Uncovering hidden gems from the Chilean premier league. Watching your discovery playing week-in, week-out on Match Of The Day to rave reviews. Seeing a youngster develop from the scruffy, obscure talent you first noticed playing in the second division of the Swedish league to become a world-famous name now playing in La Liga. The possibilities, and dreams, really are endless. Who wouldn’t want to get paid to watch football?!
Okay, so in reality it may not be quite as glamorous as it may at first seem. In likelihood you’ll begin your career at the very bottom rung of the ladder. You’ll be travelling back and forth, every few days, watching a near-Sunday-League level of football, with mounting pressure on you to find a new right-back for your local conference side who incidentally have almost no money to spend. And all of this is when your last recommendation, who was probably destined for big things, ended up falling out of love with the game and went back home to South America.
The scenarios painted above may be extreme to say the last, but from what I’ve heard becoming a professional football scout is likely to be a very tough business to be involved in. You need to be very dedicated, extremely analytic (to the point of near OCD), patient, and obviously very talented. Add to this you need to be someone without many commitments, happy to travel here and there as and when required, working long hours with often little reward. Its simply not good enough to have taken Stevenage from the Conference to the Champions League final within 5 seasons on the latest version of Football Manager – as much as many fans probably imagine it is, its not actually that simple to be a good football scout.
Becoming A Football Scout
Here’s a snippet of a job description I saw advertised on the Peterborough FC website a few years ago when they were trying to find football scouts for their club. Although a few years old, many of the skills/requirements still stand now:
The description stated that the ideal candidate will have the following:
In-depth local knowledge
Up to date CRB (must)
Full F,A,C,A Membership
Talent identification Certificate (Preferred not essential)
Be available on the weekends
It appeared that the role was voluntary initially but they would provide many more training programs free of charge, and understandably if they were impressed with your abilities then would surely offer a full-time paid position within the club.
You could even work as a Football Talent Scout for EA SPORTS, helping shape football games and actually getting paid to do so. Currently they are accepting applications online here – EA Sports Football Talent Scout. At the time of writing they state that they have positions available for a Data Editor as well as a Reference Collector, both paid positions.
One recent football scout who seems to have been made famous due to his clubs recent fortunes is Graham Carr, the chief scout of Newcastle. He’s the man responsible for bringing in Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cissé and Cheick Tioté. He’s also the man responsible for bringing Alan Carr into the world – the famous UK comedian, who is of course Graham’s son. Newcastle recently rewarded his work with a new 8 year contract which will keep him tied to the club until the age of 75.
More Articles/Resources On Life As A Football Scout
A very interesting piece on former Chelsea scout Gwyn Williams, who unearthed Tore Andre Flo (signed for £250,000, later sold for £14 million) as well as a 14 year-old John Terry. You can read the full article here.
And another very interesting article from the BBC again, this time on the role of Directors of Football in the game, and their influence upon the scouting process and club transfer policy. You can read the full article here.
In the Guardian there was another great article on the life of a football scout, featuring Walsall’s David Hamilton. He states that a top football scout could expect to earn £100,000 a year or more, obviously very little in the lower leagues though! He also mentioned that you could expect to work upto 80 hours a week, although a lot of that time is spent travelling. You can read the full article here.
Another piece, this time in 2 sections, appeared on the Plan B football site and contained an interview with Roger Smith, a former Cardiff City football scout who was heavily linked to Chelsea. You can read part 1 of the article here and part 2 here.
I’ve also heard about one website which provides a database of players from all around the world, which presumably costs a fair chunk of money to access, and is called Scout 7. Apparently many of the top clubs use the program as a means of monitoring players, with the software providing access to player reports, footage and so-on. They also have a vacancies page, and presumably they hire other scouts to perform the work on their behalf.
Anyway hopefully that is enough information to help you on your quest to becoming a football scout! I’d love to hear other people’s advice and feedback regarding how to become a football scout.