Donald Barron

MPhil, PgCert

Pronouns: He/him
  • Applied Performance Analysis Lead

Donald joined Loughborough University in the summer of 2020 from the University of Suffolk and is the Programme Leader for our innovative MSc Applied Sport Performance Analysis course which he developed and launched in 2021. In his role as Applied Performance Analysis Strategy Lead, he oversees the development of performance analysis across the campus and collaborates with staff across the university and external partners to deliver our development pathway.

He has a wealth of applied experience, having worked in professional football for over ten years before moving into academia. He worked in the Premier League and the Football League Championship with Leicester City, Coventry City and Norwich City, and was part of the support staff when the Canaries achieved promotion to the Premier League at Wembley in 2015. Donald’s roles within football involved working as Head of Performance Analysis and Head of Technical Scouting, where he utilised innovative processes and technology to provide elite support within the 1st team environment. These senior roles have provided him with a detailed knowledge of the role performance analysis can play in coaching and developing players as well as the due diligence process within modern scouting and recruitment departments.

Alongside his roles in analysis and scouting, Donald completed an MPhil titled 'Artificial Neural Networks and Player Recruitment in Professional Football' at Nottingham Trent University. The research focused on applying modern machine learning techniques to predict and evaluate players’ career progression. He is now studying for a PhD focusing on the working practices and implementation of data within performance analysis departments in elite football.

Donald has a range of research interests around performance analysis, elite performance and sports analytics. These include:

  • Performance analysis.
  • Talent identification and player recruitment in elite sport.
  • Sports analytics.
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Donald is a reviewer for a range of peer reviewed journals including:

  • Journal of Sports Sciences.
  • PLoS One.
  • Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology.

Featured publications

  • Barron D, Ball G, Robins M & Sunderland C (2020) Identifying playing talent in professional football using artificial neural networks, Journal of Sports Sciences, 38 (11-12), p. 1211-1220. DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2019.1708036
  • Barron D, Ball G, Robins M, Sunderland C (2018) Artificial neural networks and player recruitment in professional soccer. PLoS ONE 13(10): e0205818. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0205818