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I loved Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball.” The book tells the story of Billy Beane, a proto-typical baseball player the scouts loved who nevertheless fails to find success as a player in the big leagues.

Beane finds his calling as the general manager of the Oakland Athletics by taking a very business-like, very investor-like, approach. Despite one of the lowest payrolls in the league, Beane’s iconoclastic, calculating style leads him to build an above-average team, year after year.

Since the book was published managers around the league have emulated and adopted Beane’s techniques. But an article from Bloomberg today reveals that the book has made fans outside the sport of baseball:

Forget the Brazilian street kids juggling soccer balls with their bare feet. The sport’s next big star may be a mathematician.

Chelsea and Manchester United, who meet in the Champions League final May 21 in Moscow, are among the English Premier League teams recruiting professors and computer wizards to crunch statistics, find the best players and gain an advantage over their opponents. The stakes are high: the winner of Europe’s club championship can net as much as $160 million.

“It is a race,” said Simon Wilson, 29, who is hiring six analysts for Manchester City. “The rewards will be great.”

Soccer coaches are following the lead of Billy Beane, the general manager of Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics who was featured in the 2003 U.S. bestseller “Moneyball.” The book detailed how Beane used overlooked statistics to grade players and build a contending club with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.

Considering the success of his model, I’d go so far as to call Beane the Ben Graham of the sports world. And if you have any interest in sports or investing I recommend the book (Graham’s, too).

Soccer Giants Borrow Beane’s Formula to Chase Champions League
Alex Duff