Birmingham City snap up Bristol City scout as Robins look to reform their scouting

Martin O’Connor playing for Birmingham City back in 2001.Martin O’Connor playing for Birmingham City back in 2001.
Martin O’Connor playing for Birmingham City back in 2001.
Blues bring in Martin O’Connor in new player loans role, as Robins continue behind-the-scenes changes.

Bristol City have lost a key scout to Championship rivals Birmingham City.

The West Country outfit’s recruitment department is headed up by Sean Gilhespy, who runs a team of five analysts who are continually working to find new players who might fit what Nigel Pearson is looking for.

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Gilhespy also runs the club’s scouting department, which did consist of former Luton and Newport defender Fraser Franks, former Nottingham Forest talent finder Allan Gemmell and ex-Birmingham City midfielder Martin O’Connor.

But O’Connor joined his former side at St Andrew’s as their new loans manager this week, a role that academy director Brian Tinnion used to perform at Ashton Gate.

Although O’Connor’s role was only part-time at Bristol City, he was one of few eyes-on scouts used by Bristol City, operating mainly across the Midlands region.

The South West club are expected to recruit a replacement in the next months.

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The Blues confirmed on their website that O’Connor’s return to St Andrew’s was something of a homecoming.

The Blues are proud to announce that Martin O’Connor has been named as the Football Club’s Loan Manager.

“54-year-old O’Connor has previously occupied a number of scouting roles, operating as a senior scout for both Bristol City and Brighton & Hove Albion since his retirement and fulfilled coaching roles at Walsall – where he was also the caretaker manager in 2019 - and Halesowen Town.”

The former midfielder also told the official Birmingham City website about his return to Birmingham.

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Some supporters were unhappy at the timing of the postponementSome supporters were unhappy at the timing of the postponement
Some supporters were unhappy at the timing of the postponement

“I’ve got a strong affiliation with the Club and the fans, so to be asked to come back after going through the interview process and being offered the role is great news,” he said.

“It’ll be my job to try and help the young players coming through. Primarily by helping them gain competitive First Team experience and finding them the right Club which matches their ability.”

O’Connor follows on from a string of changes behind the scenes at Failand, regarding player recruitment. Former head of scouting Mervyn Day departed in 2019 and before him Des Taylor in leaving Ashton Gate back in 2017, with former City CEO Mark Ashton preferring a cut-down recruitment team based in-house.

However, new Robins CEO Richard Gould is believed to be more open to a larger scouting department and a return to more eyes-on specialists, especially helping to uncover more young local talents, with moves afoot to reform this area of the club.

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Several young players have come through the Bristol area in recent years but not been picked up by either Bristol City - or Bristol Rovers - including Kaiden Wilson (joined Chelsea), Miguel Freckleton (joined Sheffield United), Kacper Lopata (joined Brighton; now at Sheffield United) and Alvaro Ruiz Rente (joined Birmingham City).

Pre-Academy Manager Ian Rossiter recently departed in a shake-up behind the scenes at the Bristol City Academy, and BristolWorld understands that some further redundancies have been made as the club continues to reform and look to operate more efficiently.

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