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The 2023 Opta Forum: Looking Ahead to the Day

Ten Years of The Opta Forum, Ten Years of The Numbers Game, Ten Years of Change

By: Alex Rice

2023 marks ten years since the first iteration of the Opta Forum, an event which has evolved over the last decade almost as much as the way we play, watch and analyse the game we’re gathering to talk about. The event first came about as the Opta Sports Pro Analytics Forum in 2014 with the goal of bringing together the best minds in Football Analytics together in one room. Since then, we’ve welcomed over 2,000 attendees, outgrown four different venues and provided a platform for 60 different speakers, many of whom we welcome back on Tuesday in their various roles leading analyst teams and continuing to push the game forward at clubs, and in the media.

This year, those in attendance will likely notice some new faces. In the earlier years of Opta, much of the battle was convincing members of the industry, particularly in the media, about the value of sports data and metrics to enhance their coverage and make it more informative and entertaining. People will recall the early responses to Expected Goals! Some may even have been there for the mixed response to Sky Sports introducing a time and scoreline graphic to the top left of the screen. That mentality has of course shifted, reluctance has been replaced by appetite and that appetite is the reason we’ve introduced a new Fan Track for the 2023 event. We extend a very warm welcome to those from the fan-facing media and broadcast worlds joining us for the first time on Tuesday – it is a really valuable occasion and we’re delighted to be able to connect you all.

The professional club space will always be at the centre of football analysis. It’s where new metrics are born and new approaches take shape, before bleeding into the wider footballing space. Increasingly we’re seeing individuals within this very room move from the club space to the media space, from the media space to the club space from the coaching space to the commercial space – the lines are blurring as the desire to better understand football increases, along with a realisation for what deepening that understanding means for both on-field performance and fan and sponsor engagement.

As always over the last decade of the Opta Forum we’ll be hearing from a range of members of our footballing space, all from different backgrounds. 2014 wasn’t just the birth of the Opta Forum. It also marked the year that Chris Anderson penned The Numbers Game. We’re delighted to have Chris back today to discuss what’s changed over the last ten years. He’ll be joined by a range of other industry members who we hope will make for a thought-provoking, inspirational collection of speakers and panellists.

Those joining us will also have the chance to look at, try out and learn about the new metrics we’re now producing through Opta Vision. Every single iteration of this event has had a tracking element to it, but this year our focus is taking football analytics beyond tracking. We want to help you reveal insights and patterns beyond what is obvious, which has exciting implications for both club and media analysts. If you’re with us on Tuesday, do take a look during the breaks at the poster exhibits and the demo stations manned by our Opta team.

For those able to join us on Tuesday, I hope you enjoy what you hear, who you meet and what you take from the day. For those on the waiting list or unable to attend, we hope to be able to host you in 2024 and please do keep an eye out for videos of the presentations after the event.

Alex Rice, Chief Commercial Officer, Stats Perform