The Factory System


Many years ago a system was created that transformed industry. Henry Ford created a production system that made cars in large volumes at a relatively low cost. This new production system replaced skilled mechanics who produced cars on a ‘one-off’ basis with labourer’s who were paid to follow a defined process. I believe the Academy/Pro-Youth system is the football equivalent of Henry Ford’s factory. Nowadays we produce lots of players of a consistent quality. Dare I say average players? Is there any coincidence that a Formula 1 high end performance vehicle is not built on a factory line?

The world is changing and the workplace is going through enormous transformation.We are moving away from the factory production line as robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can take over most tasks.The job for life and the ‘safe’ career is dying. The focus and growth is now on freelancers, consultants, artists who are experts in a chosen area. They have specific skills and expertise that can be leveraged to the benefit of the whole system. If football is to develop then we need to understand what is going on in the world today. If we are to follow the creative thoughts of renowned strategists then how do we shut down the factories and start producing the artists, game-changers and one-offs that are the future of our game?

The recent past and current position has meant that everyone has to have gone through this system if they are to reach the professional game. The players had to rely on being picked or been spotted by an ‘old-school’ scout. This system is redundant. Today you could film yourself, post it on Youtube or send it to every club in the world. Being picked is less of an issue today. You can choose yourself (to quote James Altucher). The real problem is not on choosing the player with talent but understanding what now needs to be done to produce the player who understands that decision making is actually more important than technical ability.

Football needs to understand that the world has moved on but it is still stuck in an antiquated system (just like our schools and universities who are still producing students for a workplace that no longer exists). Like Henry Ford said, you can have any colour you want as long as it is black. I think the football mantra is ‘you can have any player you want as long as he/she can pass’ We have failed to move on and are now suffering as a result.

Arguably the production system I refer to produces ever greater efficiencies but the price we have paid is we are disappearing into a world of blandness. By it’s very nature efficiency is on an exponential curve but we have reached the top of it and instead of producing vibrant bright colours, greyness is the result.

The system needs to change. Change the system and you can change the results. Going back to my last blog post, I would say the Resistance is in charge of the current system so we need to replace these leaders first to bring it down. Of course turkey’s don’t vote for Christmas but we can all start to ‘clock out’ from the factory and start building the new world.

The Factory System

3 thoughts on “The Factory System

  1. Ivor Smith says:

    This is a fair assessment, but are Grassroots coaches able to offer anything different given that all coaches have to have the coaching badges offered by the SFA and are the product of a very narrow system?


    1. Thanks Ivor, I suppose it’s a bit like work. I can’t think of many subjects that I studied at school or uni that I use in my everyday work however it gave me a foundation. I think that is what the badges do and then it is up to each of us to develop our own philosophy in the grassroots game. We have a captive, willing audience as coaches with a privileged position. What we do with that privilege is up to each individual coach. You can take it wherever you want to go!


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