An overview of the role
The role of a football scout is to attend football matches with the aim of finding young talented players to sign. Although football scouting is a rapidly changing industry thanks to technological advancements, the main means of scouting is still by personally attending matches.
Football scouts make judgements based on:
- Personality – does the player have the determination, passion and psychological stability to play at a high level despite the pressure?
- Tactics – is the player thinking ahead?
- Technique – does the player fit the niche that the scout’s company wants to fill?
- The player’s relationship with their team
- The player’s background and family situation
It is no exaggeration to say that there is a great deal of travel involved in the role. A football scout will spend more time travelling between matches than watching them and this only increases in proportion with the scout’s seniority.
Increasingly, scouting is beginning to involve data analysis and scientific and/or digital methods to determine a player’s potential in addition to making subjective judgements. Video scouting is becoming increasingly common and a modern football scout will also find that searching through databases is a large part of their job.
Football scouts often fall into one of two specialised categories:
- Talent spotters – their job is to visit matches of young players and observe in the hopes of discovering the next football talent
- Tactical scouts – their job is to go to the matches of their upcoming opposition, observe gameplay and report back in order to gain a tactical advantage
Some football scouts work exclusively in one capacity but many do both, alternating between talent spotting and tactical scouting depending on what is required.
What are the responsibilities of a football scout?
Key responsibilities of a football scout include:
- Watching matches with a focus on the performance of one particular player
- Searching though video footage of players in order to source players
- Travelling to and from football matches by car, train or plane
- Providing detailed write-ups of each match in order to communicate relevant findings to their managers
Nothing beats playing, but I still get a buzz when the new season starts. You come in feeling like a million dollars on Monday morning, if you’ve won on the Saturday
David Hamilton, Football Scout 1
What qualifications does a football scout require?
Traditionally no formal qualifications are needed in order to become a football scout. However, in order to professionalise the role, in recent years the football industry have been trying to ensure that this changes.
Now there are many courses designed to teach aspiring football scouts the skills they will need in order to be successful in this most competitive role. Foremost among these are the FA Talent Identification courses:
- FA Level 1 in Talent Identification:: an Introduction to Scouting. This is an online course designed to teach learners about the role of a modern football scout. It is free
- FA Level 2 in Talent Identification – this is a more comprehensive course, which covers all the essential aspects of scouting, including:
- Performance vs. potential
- Networking and relationship-building
- Current talent research
- The various rules and regulations of scouting
Applicants who have completed these courses, thereby demonstrating passion and dedication for the role, will be at an advantage.
Do I need relevant work experience to become a football scout?
No official work experience is needed for the role of football scout. Companies provide newly-hired football scouts with comprehensive training, including learning the aspects of gameplay the scout needs to look for as well as how best to convey this information back to their managers in a concise and efficient way.
However, informal football experience will stand aspiring football scouts in excellent stead. It is unlikely that companies will hire a football scout without a sound knowledge of football and a passion for the game
This is my passion, I have great satisfaction seeing the boys develop. I do it because I love youth football. Oh, and I’d like to find the next Lionel Messi.
Andy Penney, Football Scout 2
Is the role of a football scout right for me?
There are both pros and cons involved in the role of a football scout.
Pros of being a football scout include:
- The role offers passionate football fans the chance to watch matches for a living – for many this is a dream come true
- More established football scouts have the opportunity to travel abroad to see matches
- A football scout with some degree of experience can work either freelance or for a company, depending on their preference
- It doesn’t matter where you live. A football scout in a rural area can specialise in small local matches and because a scout’s travel expenses are paid by their company you can travel further afield if needs be
- There is always demand for football scouts, due to the popularity of the game – the same is not true of most other sports
Cons of being a football scout include:
- The role is hugely competitive, far more so than any other kind of sport scout role
- Football scouts are often not well paid, especially in the beginning of their careers – sometimes earning as little as £50 per day. It is difficult to earn a large amount of money as a football scout unless you are working in the top leagues
- The pressure can be considerable – if you pass over a player who goes on to demonstrate considerable talent, your company will want to know why
- Scouts attend roughly five games a week and these may be hundreds of miles apart. Regular long distance travel is an essential part of the job
- Due to the necessity of travel, the football scout must also be prepared to work long hours and work-life balance is generally poor
- There is a lot of administration. Scouts must produce detailed write-ups for every match they attend in accordance with their company’s stipulations – often 20 pages or more