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ADI a driving force in LED production

LED screens featuring team banners or advertising have been common in stadiums for several years, becoming a staple for professional teams and leagues.  

New technology has grown in leaps and bounds – over a decade ago we were introduced to live matches in HD and have seen increased coverage overall. 

The idea of featuring LED technology in stadiums is something we’ve become accustomed to, as a new level of interaction and engagement has been achieved for the audiences of clubs and venues. 

ADI has been a provider of stadium screen and digital displays for clubs across the UK, venturing to the fourth tier of English football, League Two. As innovations become bigger and powerful, more professional clubs will be keen to find out what that could mean for them. 

As a company, ADI want to be flexible in what they can offer clubs and organisations. 

“Club’s mindsets are changing. It’s no longer a question of whether they can afford LED technology – it’s about thinking how it can be used to drive revenue,” ADI CEO Geraint Williams said. 

“We’re in an age where fans and brands demand more. Fans want a better experience and brands want better value. 

“Failure to deliver is a huge risk for future growth. There are others in the market who simply install a screen or perimeter LED display and walk away without helping clubs understand how to maximise its value. 

“We’re not that kind of supplier. We very much see ourselves as an extension to a club’s commercial team. Increasingly, we’re working with clubs of all sizes to create new models that increase partner revenue over a long-term basis.” 

ADI offers innovation in stadium hardware and as a content producer, to provide clubs with a valuable revenue generation pathway. 

“Revenue Based Design is a term borrowed from the architecture industry. It’s about engineering something in such a way that maximises the revenue derived from it,” Williams said. 

“In architecture, the theory is applied to buildings and spaces, but the same principle works in designing commercial stadium platforms.  

“Our technical and creative teams work hand in hand to create high impact digital platforms that add value to the matchday experience, whilst maximising the revenue potential of the investment. 

ADI have worked hard over the years to be the frontier of LED technology and a major player for clubs trying to find some extra revenue. They’ve been ever-present for teams in the English football pyramid, including Middlesbrough who currently play in the EFL Championship. 

“ADI completely changed the way we thought about the commercialisation of LED technology,” Middlesbrough Chief Operating Officer Mark Ellis said. 

“We invested in a new perimeter LED system over three years ago. As a Championship club we had to completely rethink the model in order to make it commercially viable. 

“ADI helped us to do that – designing a model that delivered incredible results – a 47% increase in partnership revenue and a 16% profit rise. 

“It’s been so successful we’ve since extended the digital stadium platform with ADI’s help.” 

ADI have not just limited themselves to the UK, but they’ve notably contributed for Germany’s top-flight Bundesliga with virtual advertising hardware.  

A ‘Virtual Hybrid’ can deliver different brand adverts into relevant viewing territories by virtually changing the LED content on screen. This means that clubs and venues have more control over what they want their audiences to engage with. Lagardere Sports, German football’s biggest media rights holder, have deployed this for a few seasons and are able to revolutise the way communications are run on a global scale. 

A move into Germany is just the start of ADI’s ambition. They’ve been servicing customers in offices from five continents overall, including France, South Africa and Ireland, as well as the aforementioned UK and Germany. 

There are ADI franchises in South Africa, Northern Africa and right here in Australia, boasting a vast network across the globe. The ADI brand is still growing, with the company open to adding further partners around the world. 

With COVID-19 posing issues for some clubs and organisations, using LED technology and interacting with audiences has become essential in broadcasts, both for club marketing communications and brand or advertising exposure that affect the success of revenue stream. 

You can find out more about how ADI can benefit your club or venue here. 

Liam Watson is a Senior Journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on international football policy, industry matters and industry 4.0

W-League big winners in new CBA, as greater contract freedom for A-League clubs beckons

A new collective bargaining agreement has been struck between Professional Football Australia and the Australian Professional Leagues.

Equity in high-performance standards in the A-League and W-League, a 32% increase in the W-League salary cap floor and an increase in the A-League salary cap floor are the highlights of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) struck between Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) and the Australian Professional Leagues (APL).

The new five-year deal was described as “ground-breaking” by a joint statement between the two bodies, in an announcement that highlights the newfound confidence in the economic environment for professional football in Australia.

Much of that confidence can be linked to the new five-year broadcast agreement with ViacomCBS and Network 10 and it is no surprise that this new CBA has been deliberately linked in length to the broadcast deal.

PFA Co-Chief Executive Kathryn Gill explained that being able to achieve this agreement was a huge milestone for the professional game in Australia, after such a long period of uncertainty in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the end of the previous broadcasting deal with Fox Sports.

“The players’ vision for the negotiations was economic security and stability for the clubs, the leagues and the players. This agreement is a foundational step towards this objective and our leagues will be stronger as a result,” she said via the joint statement.

“It has been an incredibly challenging time for our game; however, we believe the CBA will provide a platform for our leagues to be re-launched and for a genuine partnership between the clubs and the players to be forged.

“I would like to acknowledge the work of Greg O’Rourke, Danny Townsend, Tracey Scott, Chris Pehlivanis and John Tsatsimas for their efforts and commitment during the negotiations and especially the players who participated so actively throughout.”

PFA President Alex Wilkinson noted the immense sacrifice made by many players to usher the game through the COVID-19 pandemic, which he says helped pave the way for this agreement.

“This generation of players, club owners and staff have been asked to make immense sacrifices to preserve our sport during unprecedented times,” he said.

“As a result of these sacrifices we have been able to take an important step forward and provide greater certainty for the clubs and players and make important progress in areas such as our high-performance environment, player welfare whilst further embedding our commitment to gender equity.”

Under the new CBA, genuine equity in high-performance standards in the A-League and W-League have been entrenched in order to create a “world-class workplace” for all of the country’s footballers.

This CBA will be the first to deliver common standards across higher performance and medical departments across both the W-League and the A-League.

Increases to minimum and maximum player payments are also factored in during the course of the five-year CBA with a particular focus on an increase to the W-League salary floor, providing another massive boost on the back of the recently announced expansion of the competition to also include Central Coast Mariners, Wellington Phoenix and Western United.

There will also be a reformed contracting model that allows for greater capacity in squad investment for clubs, with an allowance for up to two “Designated Player” spots, which will allow clubs to invest between $300,000 and $600,000 in players whose salaries will be excluded from the A-League salary cap.

These “Designated Players” will be in addition to the current exemptions, such as “Marquee Players”.

Furthermore, there will also be greater capacity for clubs to contract youth players with an increase in the cap on scholarship players.

The CBA also provides for guaranteed funding for player welfare and development programs, as well as greater support for the PFA Past Players Program.

APL Managing Director Danny Townsend said the deal was proof that the APL was living up to its promise of greater investment since taking control of Australia’s professional leagues.

“When APL took control of the leagues, we promised it would herald a new era of investment and this agreement shows the progress that has already been made,” he said in a statement.

“This is a clear example of what can be achieved when we work together with a common vision to realise the potential of Australian football.”

APL Leagues Commissioner Greg O’Rourke added the investments would help clubs deliver a much-improved on-field product.

“Players are partners with us in the game and central to its growth. Having all of our partners on-board with the re-imagined future of the game is vital, and this agreement marks an important milestone in our new relationship,” he said.

“There will be immediate improvements across the men’s and women’s leagues, most notably for women’s football, all of which will flow through into improved experiences for players, and ultimately into growing and improving our game.”

Carlos Salvachúa: “Playing without promotion and relegation is a big problem”

Carlos Salvachúa was Victory assistant coach under Kevin Muscat, before taking over as caretaker manager. He has coached professionally in Spain and Belgium, including six years at the Real Madrid academy, overseeing the development of the club’s rising stars.

He spoke to Soccerscene from Spain about his impressions of the A-League, where it could be improved, and how Australian youth need to play more football to reach their potential.

What were your first impressions of the A-League?

Salvachúa: Sometimes the big issue is knowing if it’s a professional league or not – and definitely the A-League was professional. I’m talking about games, organisation, talking about flights or hotels, and training. I was lucky to arrive to Melbourne Victory – one of the biggest clubs there is – and everything in the club was like in Europe and in Spain. Good facilities, good organisation, and a lots of staff in the office. For me the first impression was really professional.

What was the level of professionalism like compared to other leagues you have coached in?

Salvachúa: Belgium is a hard competition. I’m talking about the games, not about organisation – it’s similar to the A-League or in Spain in the La Liga. The competition is tough in Belgium if we compare the level of the players, the games and the competition.

After leaving Melbourne Victory, Salvachúa was Muscat’s assistant coach at Sint-Truidense V.V. in Belgium.

What were the biggest challenges you faced while coaching in Australia?

Salvachúa: One of the biggest for me was the distance to play a game. It was funny because here with Atlético versus Real Madrid they travel 15 minutes to go to sleep at home, and for Victory we spend three days away to play a game, for me this was really hard. In the Champions League we spent five days away to play a game in China or in Japan. For me and and European players as well this was hard, because it was not easy. I remember the long pre-season because the schedule of FFA Cup was really hard for us. We trained two to three months before the first game in the A-League, just to play one round in the FFA Cup.

How do you think the league could be improved?

Salvachúa: For me, playing without promotion and relegation, is a problem, a big one in my opinion for the league. You need to improve the league from the basement – you cannot start the building of the house from the roof, you must start building the house from the ground up. I’m talking about the NPL. They are tough competitions, and you need to give promotion to the A-League, and I think that the competition will be better with this system like in Europe. I think a competition without promotion and relegation is only working with the MLS in USA. In Australia I think that it would be great to create another kind of competition to improve the league.

Another thing for me that is one of the biggest issues was that sometimes the players were receptive – they are professionals about training and have a good attitude to learn, but for me as a coach sometimes the players don’t know how important it is to win – compared to a draw or a loss. Without promotion and relegation, in some games as a coach, in the second half the players don’t understand how important it is to get a win over one point. I think that is probably one of the solutions to change the model of the competition.

How would you rate the level of young talent being developed in Australia?

Salvachúa: Like in other countries, you have good players with talent at 14, 15, and 16 years of age, but in my opinion they need more games. Some players arrive to A-League at 19 years old – playing 18 to 25 games – and it’s not easiest time for the coaches to start these young players in the first 11. If they are not playing every Sunday, they need another tough competition. You need competitive games with a second team like here in Spain or with the under 18s or under 19s – it depends. I think that they need more games here. A 14 or 15 year old kid normally finishes the competition in Spain with 45 official games. 45 games is more than the professionals in the A-League. I think one of the big issues is they do not have enough games and training sessions to develop the players. But the talent is there like in other countries.

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