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Empty stands come to life with Autograph Sound 

Autograph Sound added atmosphere for clubs affected by COVID-19 playing behind closed doors or with restricted crowd numbers. 

Autograph Sound has been able to add atmosphere to the game for clubs affected by Covid-19 who have been forced to play behind closed doors or with restricted crowd numbers. 

Even without fans at full capacity, Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers from the Premier League and Championship respectively have partnered with Autograph Sound to generate a realistic atmosphere for their home games as clubs across the UK continue to play without supporters.

Covid-19 has proven to be unpredictable with inconsistency surrounding the number of fans being able to attend events, depending on the current climate. With Autograph, the sound can remain the same.

The UK-based sound operator has been running for nearly 50 years, expanding to football from previous work in the musical theatre and play industry. They’ve been able to support clubs with authentic cheers and chants that you’d normally hear on gameday. 

Lockdowns in the UK meant that theatres were closed to the public, prompting Autograph to utilise their equipment in a different way. As football matches remained in play for professional clubs, the technology headed to empty stadiums. 

Normally if you hear crowd noise with no spectators, it is done through the broadcaster. Autograph wanted to allow players, coaches and other staff to feel that same sense of realism, albeit with artificial noise. 

Using staff from previous projects, Autograph got together with Leeds and QPR to create chants that can spread from multiple sections of the stadium. Watford FC goalkeeper Ben Foster does weekly videos for his YouTube channel where you can hear the QPR sounds in action via his GoPro when he played in goal away at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium (Loftus Road). 

Noise can be heard for the pre-game build up, especially for a club like Leeds who have their own ‘Marching On Together’ song, as well as adapting to match scenarios throughout the 90 minutes such as goals. 

Autograph collaborated with Fan Chants, a company that built a library of 26,000 unique football songs around the world. The extensive collection of sounds ensures that chants are naturally different with a great mix that you’d hear in normal circumstances. 

Autograph will designate at least three people to a game so that they’re switched on to passages of play. Multiple computers can be used to control separate components of noise, with individual staff members to utilise the software.  

The first of these staff control intensity levels, where sound is altered accordingly to situations in a match – scoring a last-minute winner will be significantly higher for instance. A second person can monitor club-specific chants that can reflect the excitement they’d usually feel. If a team is pushing hard on a counter attack, the crowd will lift accordingly. A third staff member has extra control to anticipate key moments for goals, corners, cards and any other game-changing moments. They can even adjust to VAR decisions with a cancel button for goals which have tentatively been given.  

Games can be unpredictable at times, so the comprehensive coverage aims to make noise as free-flowing and realistic as possible to ensure sounds are adaptable to any situation. 

Clubs in the UK have only been able to welcome back up to 2,000 fans at a time throughout the 2020/21 season, but they’re currently back to no spectators at all. 

Even in the event of limited capacity in stadiums, the atmosphere is of course not as good. A partner like Autograph can deliver sounds of the game to help take your mind off the missing void of fans due to COVID-19. 

Autograph are looking to work long-term with UK-based clubs to add crowd noise for games now and for the unforeseeable future with limited to no spectators in attendance. It’s a project that can enhance the overall feel of matches, where players and coaches can get the same level of excitement as someone would at home. 

COVID-19 has been a challenging pandemic for nations across Europe, so Autograph are aiming to assist more clubs and leagues who are interested in getting their chants amplified in their home stadiums. 

Until COVID-19 is fully under control, Autograph’s sound software is one way of getting around the unique and tricky situation of affected crowd numbers if lockdowns for sporting events are forced upon us. 

You can find out more on Autograph Sound here. 

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

Mediacoach: LaLiga’s secret weapon

Coach using mediacoach

Developed by LaLiga, Mediacoach is a video analysis platform which ensures that all 42 LaLiga clubs are able to analyse practically all of the tactical, technical and physical aspects of their own side and their rivals.

In football, the smallest details can be key to deciding the outcome of a match. Mediacoach allows for all clubs from LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank to have access to a depth of tactical analysis like no other. The comprehensive live in-match data covers a range of football statistics including distance covered, player positioning, speed and ball movements.

Big Data is critical to football in the modern era, and this initiative is a fine example of how LaLiga is leading football in an innovative fashion.

Having been introduced to Spanish football in 2010, Mediacoach has grown to have over 430 club staff across 42 clubs utilising the tool. Mediacoach is hoping to expand their features to ensure that even more groups, from club trainers to media partners, can benefit from it.

This season alone has seen a multiplication of the number of cameras in the stadiums in order to progress real-time data tracking to new levels, whilst making the tool available to more users via the cloud.

Coaches like Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone, Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane and Barcelona’s Ronald Koeman (plus their extensive coaching staff) have Mediacoach at their disposal every week. The tool allows for detailed pre-match report, video analysis, accumulated reports to run through all potential on-field scenarios and developments, performance statistics, tactical camera footage and post-match reports.

Ricardo Resta, director of LaLiga’s sports area and the Mediacoach platform, credited the ambitious nature of the world-first initiative.

“The use of data is a huge differentiator for the global sports industry. With Mediacoach we are ensuring that the best information can be accessed by all LaLiga clubs, no matter their size. It’s how we ensure that the league grows as one,” he said.

“Multi-camera technology is able to track movements on a football pitch down to very fine margins. Increasing its use in LaLiga stadiums provides even higher levels of accuracy so that coaches can make informed decisions in the heat of the moment.”

Football Australia signs expanded partnership with rebel

Football Australia has announced a multi-year expanded partnership with rebel - Australia's largest sports retailer.

Football Australia has announced a multi-year expanded partnership with rebel, as Australia’s largest sports retailer has signed on to be the official sponsor of Football Australia and the Westfield Matildas through to 2024.

The partnership will support the growth of the women’s game and grassroots football across the nation. The news comes as the Westfield Matildas are currently in Europe preparing for international friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands this month.

The partnership matches the core business of rebel, who want to encourage Australians to live a healthy and active lifestyle doing the sports they love. Football Australia’s mission is to achieve gender parity in participation by 2027.

With Football Australia and rebel sharing similar values, they will focus on initiatives that inspire more females to play sport, as Football Australia aims to secure over 400,000 new female participants over the next six years.

The ‘Sport is Calling’ platform will be used by rebel to motivate women and girls to unlock health and social benefits of pulling on football boots for the first time – this inspires ambitious players to reach their potential by promoting Westfield Matildas’ training regimes.

The partnership links to Football Australia’s MiniRoos program, which will also include a content strategy to bring football fans and rebel customers closer to the action. There will be exclusive, money-can’t-buy opportunities on offer for rebel active members.

rebel General Manager Customer & Marketing, Jennifer Gulliver:

“rebel is passionate about supporting women’s sport and women’s football and to sponsor Australia’s most loved team in the Westfield Matildas is something the whole organisation is behind.”

“We can’t wait to inspire the next generation of girls over coming years, and perhaps help a few realise their dreams of becoming a Westfield Matilda in the future.”

rebel Managing Director, Gary Williams:

“In just two days’ time the Westfield Matildas will return to international action for the first time since March 2020, which will provide inspiration to thousands of girls and boys across Australia’s football family who are preparing to play the game at community and grassroots levels throughout 2021. This unique timing only adds to our excitement to continue our support of football in Australia.”

“With our ‘Sport is Calling’ mantra, rebel is committed to growing sports participation across the country, and this partnership with Football Australia will unlock exciting opportunities and offers for rebel’s football fans through an array of online, in-store, and in-stadia experiences.”

Football Australia Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson:

“We are delighted to have secured another corporate partner for Football Australia that believes in our long-term vision for the sport, including the enormous potential that exists in the women’s and community spaces.”

“rebel has been a long-term partner of football in Australia, and as Australia’s largest sports retailer, is well positioned to help football deliver positive outcomes across the country. As the national governing body, Football Australia looks to work with organisations that will proactively help us supercharge football’s growth.”

Football Queensland upgrades their Club Support Hub

Football Queensland (FQ) has announced an upgrade to their Club Support Hub so that it's more tailored for clubs and volunteers across the state.

Football Queensland (FQ) has announced an upgrade to their Club Support Hub so that it’s more tailored for clubs and volunteers across the state.

The Hub provides a go-to destination for club administrators to access important resources, guides and assistance with club processes and procedures.

“Football Queensland is proud to strengthen our support of the dedicated volunteers in our game by making it even easier for clubs to download resources and guides from FQ’s Club Support Hub,” FQ President Ben Richardson said. 

“A valuable asset for clubs across Queensland, the Club Support Hub is a fantastic example of FQ’s commitment to investing in resources to make the job easier for the volunteers who run our clubs, as outlined in our Strategic Plan.”

Focussing on five key areas, the Club Support Hub is a vital place for up-to-date information on administration, digital & media, coaching, women & girls and the facilities hub. It ensures the future of football is well supported for community participation.

“Launched in January, Football Queensland’s Club Support Hub has proven hugely popular amongst our clubs with over 2,800 views of the webpage, FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci said. 

“Clubs have taken full advantage of FQ’s free graphic design support, with club-specific Play Football graphics created for 30 clubs across all 10 zones in recent months and 160 clubs currently accessing graphic design templates and resources through FQ’s Club Marketing Portal. 

Clubs are also downloading FQ’s Club Marketing Guide, Play Football Retention and Recruitment Guides for advice on retaining membersgrowing their participation base and creating a presence within the local community. 

“Since its initial launch, the Club Support Hub has been upgraded with a new layout focused on five key areas; administration, digital and media, coaching, women and girls, and the Facilities Hub, making it easier to navigate for club volunteers looking for specific resources. 

“A host of new club support guides have also been added to the Hub in recent weeks, including a Club Coach Coordinator Guide and Blue Card Club Guide. A range of new SAP Community Club resources have also been designed to assist clubs in delivering high-quality participation experiences. 

“Football Queensland is proud to be providing this unprecedented level of support to our clubs and volunteers across the state, and we encourage clubs at all levels of the game to visit the Club Support Hub to access the extensive suite of resources on offer.” 

The Club Support Hub can be viewed here.

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