How Yeovil Town Used Twitter To Scout And Sign A Striker

With just four of last season's team still contracted to the club a desperate Yeovil Town have resorted to the ultimate scouting network to find new players - their own fans.
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With just four of last season's team still contracted to the club a desperate Yeovil Town have resorted to the ultimate scouting network to find new players - their own fans.

There’s not so much been a revolving door at Huish Park lately, more like an exit door such has been the flood of players that have left Yeovil Town Football Club. The departure of the talented trio of Nathan Smith, Dean Bowditch and Andy Welsh and the return of all the loan players to their parent clubs left just four of the starting line-up from the last game of the season against Carlisle still contracted to the club. It’s fair to say that the fans have been eager for boss Terry Skiverton to get some bodies in with pre-season just over a week away. ‘Desperate times call for desperate measures’ and some of the  Glovers faithful have even taken to contacting the gaffer on his Twitter account with suggestions of players to have a look at. To the surprise of many in the game it’s something that @terryskiverton has more than embraced.

The Yeovil manager recently tweeted implying he would consider a return to playing, only to then  describe it as wind-up so some Yeovil fans were initially sceptical about the new transfer initiative . However in a recent interview with BBC Somerset he was quoted as saying “It’s not a bit of fun for me – it’s serious business. I can’t afford a scouting system. I’ve got 1,700 followers and out of that I’ve got quite a few names and there’s been some interesting ones” He then followed it up with a tweet “Just to let you know one on the list will be done tomorrow by 4pm subject to medical. the scouts will be retweeted and thanked tomorrow. stay tuned scouts”. That "one on the list" turned out to be former Everton striker Kieran Agard, or @Kier1010 as he is known on Twitter.

Twitter user @seb_hoyle had been the first to suggest the name to @terryskiverton two days prior to his signing tweeting "Kierarn Agard pacey forward released by Everton...Worth a look!". @seb_hoyle had seen Agard in a Europa League game between Everton and BATE Borisov. The young 'scout' citing his qualities as " direct running, high work rate, not afraid to shoot and led by example". The Yeovil boss obviously saw the same qualities and snapped him up.

@terryskiverton is certainly a manager who does things differently, after completing the transfer he headed to Glastonbury for the weekend tweeting "Thanks for help so far.I'm having a few days off and going to Glastonbury so if I see any Twitter scouts say hello.back on Monday". Whether there’ll be many football scouts amongst the mud and the mayhem on the Somerset farm remains to be seen. What is clear though is we’ve have seen the games first ever 'twansfer' .  This new addition to the Football Lexicon was suitably coined on Twitter by Yeovil fan @benbarrett10 .

This idea of using your twitter followers as an extended scouting network is one that has certainly generated some interest in the football world. Before he headed to Glastonbury @terryskiverton was interviewed on Talksport and the issue has featured in the national press.  The question is though is the ‘twansfer’ a tool for the modern football manager or all a load of media hype?

Yeovil Town are a club rarely talked about when it comes to the beautiful game

The football club, and particularly those on the board, do have their fair share of critics and this new idea could easily be seen as yet another of example of ‘penny-pinching’ gone mad. It also begs the question shouldn’t @terryskiverton and his team do this themselves - it is after all their job?  You’d think a professional League One football club would have a more than adequate field of knowledge of the players and people in the game at all number of levels. All that is true, but fundamentally in the end does it really matter where or how the player gets to a football club? Yeovil fans won’t be bothered if Kieran Agard plays a role in keeping us in League One for another season.

Clubs in the lower divisions have to maximise their resources on every level if expanding their scouting network to include twitter is one of them then so be it. Let’s remember that supporters are only supplying a name, and just a name. Chances are, said players details will have already been provided on PFA released lists, Sky Sports News or an agents phone call. If anything with modern technology there is almost too much information out there, some names could easily get missed by an overworked football manager. If Twitter allows the Yeovil Town supporter to offer their clubs manager a helping hand then all the better – after all the club motto is ‘Achieve By Unity’. The most important point is that it is @terryskiverton who will then deduce whether the player is worth investigating, then worth offering a trial and then ultimately deciding whether he’s worth signing.

A spin-off of this is that it’s not just Yeovil fans tweeting , supporters of all football clubs are getting involved.  In a follow up interview with BBC Somerset @terryskiverton expressed his surprise  "What I didn't realise was other supporters from other clubs had jumped on the bandwagon. I've had supporters from Liverpool, Man Utd, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Championship clubs like Cardiff, all telling me about their best youngsters and players are available on loan.”  The pool of talent that the Yeovil manager is aware of is growing by the day.

Deep down is this really any worse than a former Premier League Manager who used to scout foreign players only if they were featured in the excellent Talent Scout column in World Soccer?

Yeovil Town are a club rarely talked about when it comes to the beautiful game so if nothing else it’s good PR. Also with attendances down by nearly half in recent seasons the move by the Glovers gaffer is a very welcome development in bridging the gap between the club and its supporters. That said it’s up to @terryskiverton to take the whole concept of “giving the supporters a bit of fun” and create a squad of players that will either succeed or fail. That will be the true test of whether there is any substance to this whole story.

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