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Sport Coronavirus - Wednesday 18th March

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Roker Ramble: The EFL are going green... and is this the end of football data as we know it?

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for your weekly Roker Ramble: proof there are things happening in the football world outside of Sunderland AFC!

Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

It’s Not Easy Being Green

This week we start with some news about the environment. Now if you said to some people the phrase “net zero” they might simply imagine Joelinton’s goal tally the previous weekend.

However, this concerns the EFL, and its plans to become more sustainable. Of course traditionally the administrators of football, as last week’s Ramble observed, have been well behind the curve when it comes to issues you might call... progressive. So much so, in fact, that those in football’s corridors of power have been lapped several times by the pioneers of reform in society.

How nice it was then to hear this week then of the EFL’s plan to help its 72 clubs become more sustainable, with its new “EFL Green Clubs” scheme. Now I’m not saying the board are all going to dig tunnels and live with Swampy under an HS2 site for the next few months, but it’s a start.

Granted, the announcement is vanishingly thin on actual detail - other than that clubs will receive bespoke advice from experts as to how to be more eco-friendly.

It’s all been done in conjunction with the EFL’s answer to Greta Thunberg, Dale Vince of Forest Green Rovers. If you don’t know him, he looks like the idol of, and older brother to, Gareth Ainsworth.

Forest Green Rovers v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Andrew Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Forest Green Rovers are a fascinating example of a football club geared up in almost every way to be environmentally friendly: they’re the first vegan side anywhere, and as such were awarded the accolade of the “world’s greenest football club” by FIFA - who knew such a thing existed? Plus, they play in kits made out of recycled plastic and coffee grounds, and during matches instead of showing the score they flash up messages telling us all how mankind is dragging us into environmental armageddon - that we’re all basically up a creek minus the paddle.

I mean come on, they’re even called “Forest” and “Green” for goodness sake.

Trevor Birch, chief executive of the EFL - and also owner of an environmentally friendly name - says there’s never been a more important time to tackle the climate crisis. Except maybe 20 years ago... or more. Maybe I’m being unfair, let’s see how this one pans out.

R*****l S***e

Strange one now from Russell Slade.

I’m not sure if I can actually type his name, for reasons which I am about to explain. You might remember him from his romp around the lower leagues, managing everywhere from Scarborough to Charlton Athletic; he was also twice League One manager of the year, which isn’t to be sniffed at - and not something Phil Parkinson ever achieved.

Now it seems in his 18 months out of the game he’s been a bit of a busy boy, and has been amassing a cabal of footballers - 850 of them, to be precise - who aren’t too happy about having their personal data used in a way which benefits others, without seeing a slice of the pie themselves. So that’s everything from goal data to distance covered in a match. Apparently, one player had 7000 (!) pieces of data. That’s what you call granular detail, and I imagine it stretches to how long he spent in the showers post-match.

So essentially, they’re wanting to be paid for stuff which is to do with them, guv.

Bolton Wanderers v Burton Albion - Sky Bet League One
I’m not telling you the score, that’s classified information pal
Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Fair enough, you might think - and Slade’s company, Global Sports Data and Technology, have sent out letters to 17 companies warning of action - with over 100 more identified, which includes betting companies and data collection firms.

It’s an interesting proposition, and the men who probably want to charge clubs £500 to read out the pre-match teams clearly mean business. So before you start discussing Luke O’Nien’s inside leg measurement down the pub this weekend - be aware, Russell might just be sitting at the next table reading a newspaper, sporting an oversized fake moustache.

Grimsby Town v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Andrew Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

What’s in a Name?

Ah, international break. Otherwise known as the time where we can see fans of other countries out-racist the whoppers from England who abused our black players after the Euros. And at regular intervals since... forever.

Though it does give an opportunity for those who aren’t at the very top of the game to shine on the international stage. Step forward, Ben Brereton Diaz.

If you don’t know him, he’s the 22-year old Blackburn striker who has been banging them in this season, for both club and country. The twist is, he’s half Chilean - but no one really knew until some Blackburn fans playing Football Manager realised, and started a campaign to have him called up.

During pre-season he announced as per Spanish naming traditions he would have his full name on the back of his shirt. Since then, his scoring record is now ten times the ratio of what it was beforehand.

Can it be that the simple addition of four letters has turned this man who was once in the shadow of Danny Graham’s considerable arse, into something rather tastier?

This weekend Brereton Diaz smashed in the opener for Chile in their crucial World Cup qualifier against Paraguay, leading to what you might call the very definition of “scenes.” Lovely stuff.

Imagine if this was possible at Sunderland? The thought of Aiden O’Brien Sanchez or Niall Huggins Torres on the back of a red and white shirt is quite the thought.

Chile v Paraguay - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier
Ben Brereton Diaz proves there is life after Danny Graham
Photo by Esteban Felix - Pool/Getty Images


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