Moneyball guru Billy Beane reveals admiration for Arsenal despite the Gunners' recent struggles

 
Frank Dalleres
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Beane is the godfather of the Moneyball approach to sport analytics (Source: Getty)

Godfather of Moneyball Billy Beane, who is credited with popularising analytics in sport through his success with the baseball team Oakland Athletics, has revealed his admiration for Arsenal.

Beane, who is part of a consortium attempting to take over at Championship club Barnsley, praised the running of the Gunners, who are majority owned by fellow American Stan Kroenke.

His praise comes despite discontent among some Arsenal fans at the stewardship of the reclusive Kroenke following a decline in Premier League performance and the unwillingness of stars Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to sign new contracts.

"I won't go deep into it but I'm a huge fan of the Arsenal football club," he told the Leaders In Sport summit in London on Wednesday. "From the football field to the way it has been run to the stadium, it's an admirable football club."

Read more: Wenger heaps praise on Arsenal centurion Giroud

Beane is in line for a first official role in English football in the form of a minority stake in Barnsley if a prospective takeover by a consortium headed by Chinese billionaire Chien Lee and American associate Paul Conway is completed.

The 55-year-old, who has advised Dutch side AZ Alkmaar and is friends with former Tottenham director of football Damien Comolli, says he spotted a data opportunity in football because the supporters are so fervent.

"The closest thing I can compare football to is college football in the States," he added.

"Away fans travel, so I was really attracted to the emotion, the passion that comes from following your local team. The next thing I thought was there are probably a lot of emotional decisions going on here.

"I'd never played the sport in my life. My kids play soccer - my son hates baseball, he plays soccer. My interest came mainly from a business standpoint but I grew to love the sport and the athleticism that comes from it."

Kroenke, who owns 67 per cent of Arsenal, is believed to have attempted to buy out Alisher Usmanov, the club's second largest shareholder, with an offer of more than £500m for the Russian's 30 per cent stake.

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