Invest, recruit smarter: How PEC Zwolle bounced back from relegation
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Invest, recruit smarter: How PEC Zwolle bounced back from relegation
by Jack Hyom

Watch Dutch club’s Chief Scout explain why they renewed and upgraded their TransferRoom membership to help deal with financial difficulties and win promotion back to the Eredivisie.

Don't cut the budget, look into the platform and see why it can be helpful for you as a club. I think it can be beneficial for every kind of club. You have several clubs from different levels which you can deal with. If I were a Technical Director or Scout from another club, I would definitely use it as well.
Mark Coonen
Chief Scout, PEC Zwolle

Finding the right players for less money

 

When PEC Zwolle were relegated from the Eredivisie in 2021-22 as the bottom club, they were faced with having to cut costs and sell players to ease their financial difficulties.

But they also needed to rebuild and recruit to try to win promotion back to the Netherlands’ top flight at the first time of asking.

Tasked with negotiating the problem was Mark Coonen, a former agent who was appointed Chief Scout and handed the responsibility of managing their recruitment.

“There was no scouting department anymore,” Coonen explains in the video below. “They asked me to build a new structure [at PEC Zwolle] and see if we can find suitable players for less money.”

His first step was to invest in tools to boost their transfer operations and make Zwolle smarter, not a typical move for a relegated club, by renewing Zwolle’s deal with TransferRoom. 

'Proactivity in the market the key difference'

 

That move ensured they retained direct access to decision makers at a global network of over 650 clubs and 250 Trusted Agents. 

They also kept access to real-time player availability and data on the global market, so they could pitch players to match the needs of buying clubs and be more targeted in the talents they recruit, helping them transfer Siemen Voet to Slovan Bratislava and secure further loan business in the winter window. 

“The biggest difference in what was done before and what we are doing now is the proactivity of searching in the market,” Coonen explains. “Not only looking for players who are good enough, but also who are suitable.

“TransferRoom is helping me to have direct contact with clubs, but also with a certain level of experienced agents, who can tell me what the situation is of players in the market.”

 



Coonen’s strategy paid off, with Zwolle securing promotion back to the Eredivisie at the first time of asking, with five matches left. And he’s also taken the club’s transfer operations up another level by upgrading their TransferRoom agreement, so they can now send targeted Plus Pitches to up to 20 clubs of their choice worldwide.

The club is determined to come back to the top league stronger and is looking to utilise TransferRoom’s platform to strengthen in every position in their squad. 

Coonen has also been utilising TransferRoom’s in-person Summits to open up his network with new connections in over 100 leagues across the globe. 

“I'm using TransferRoom on a daily basis, putting in player ads to see what profiles are sent to us. So yeah, we are digging into this very, very well.

Even the [TransferRoom] events. It's not possible anywhere else to find so many direct decision makers in one place.

For a club like Zwolle, it's very important to have good contacts in the market and to get to know the decision makers, and also have a face behind the club.

“That's what we already did at the last two events. I had about 50 meetings to extend my network and to see if we can find suitable profiles which can help us back to stay in the Eredivisie, because that will be very important.”

Asked what his advice would be for other relegated clubs, Coonen sees TransferRoom as an investment worth making for teams in a similar position, having seen it provide big returns financially and in the quality of their transfer business.

 

"Don't cut the budget, look into the platform and see why it can be helpful for you as a club," Coonen adds.

 

"I think it can be beneficial for every kind of club. You have several clubs from different levels which you can deal with. If I were a Technical Director or Scout from another club, I would definitely use it as well."

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