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England National Teams welcome Xbox as the Official Gaming Partner

Xbox England

The Football Association of England (The FA) have announced a brand-new partnership which will see gaming giants Xbox become the Official Gaming Partner of the England National Teams.

Xbox are now the Official Gaming Partner of the England National Women’s Team, the Men’s Team and the eLions, as well as Wembley Stadium which is connected with EE and St George’s Park.

The partnership between Xbox and The FA is a celebration of the driving principle of inclusivity in play shared by both organisations. This shared vision to welcome all players is expressed in the newly announced partnership’s message: ‘When Everybody Plays, We All Win’.

Xbox has long championed the importance of gaming being inclusive, accessible and safe for all, while The FA have a continued commitment to ensuring that all football participants in England have a great experience regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, faith or age.

Marcos Waltenberg, Director of Global Xbox Partnerships, was excited to see The FA and Xbox joining forces with a mutual ambition driving them both.

“At Xbox we strive to remove barriers and to empower people to experience the joy of play: millions of people around the world find common ground and connect through playing games, as they do with football,” he said.

“In The FA we see a tremendous organisation which has the same drive and ambition to empower people as we do at Xbox. Through our partnership we aim to bring further value to the England Football Teams and power the dreams of players and fans everywhere.”

FA Commercial & Marketing Director Kathryn Swarbrick acknowledged the importance of the alignment between the two organisations.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Xbox, a brand that aligns with The FA’s values. Gaming is loved and embraced by fans across the world and we see this partnership as an opportunity to take that relationship to the next level for all of those connected with English football,” she said.

“’When Everyone Plays, We All Win’ is a message that rings true of what we strive to achieve at The FA and we hope that our inspirational national teams can bring great value to Xbox.

“As a not-for-profit organisation, commercial partnerships are vital in allowing us to continue to invest millions into all levels of the game, so we thank Xbox for that support.”

SkillCorner: Connecting video and event data analytics like never before

SkillCorner have revolutionised the football industry’s approach to data analytics in a world-leading and exciting fashion.

SkillCorner have revolutionised the football industry’s approach to data analytics in a world-leading and exciting fashion.

Established by then-university graduate in Applied Mathematics and Data Science Hugo Bordigoni and business executive Charles Montmaneix in 2015, SkillCorner extracts physical tracking data from broadcast footage and generates live match visualizations as a result.

By pairing AI data collection with broadcasting, SkillCorner allows fans to see real-time stats gathered from broadcast footage. Metrics such as Sprint Count, Acceleration and Deceleration Count, High-Speed Running Distance and Total Distance are measured via a combination of computer vision and machine learning technology that aids in multi-object tracking over the course of a match.

SkillCorner has since filled a gap in a sporting landscape which had not yet embraced artificial intelligence and had stuck largely to a manual process of collecting data.

In addition, SkillCorner has developed into one of the strongest tools for clubs in their approach to player recruitment. With an access to both a growing database of football tracking data and tracking data on matches that is received instantly, SkillCorner have proven to be a major advantage for some of the world’s biggest clubs.

Whilst SkillCorner’s early days saw their analytics acquired mostly by sportsbooks, their platform came to the attention of Liverpool’s head of research, Ian Graham, in what was a landmark moment for the data analysis tool.

At the time, Liverpool already had access to excellent tracking data for all English Premier League matches – first through ChyronHego and now with Second Spectrum – but it didn’t have anything comparable when considering moves in the transfer market.

In an interview last year with SportTechie, Bordigoni reflected on the manner in which SkillCorner filled a gap in Liverpool’s approach to the transfer market.

“When we started discussing with Liverpool, it was not the plan to go into the performance business. But Liverpool reached us and said, ‘If you’re able to do it for the betting, it means you don’t have some cameras inside [the venue], you’re doing it from the broadcast and it interests us for player recruitment,” he said.

“When they want to scout players playing Bundesliga in French Ligue 1 or in La Liga, they cannot access the tracking data.”

Liverpool’s business last year saw the then reigning English Premier League champions spend $14 million for left-back Konstantinos Tsimikas, $24 million to acquire central midfielder Thiago Alcantara and $49 million for forward Diogo Jota.

Of its three new players, Liverpool had access to rich tracking data for only Jota, who competed in the same league. SkillCorner compiled data from 23 leagues for last year’s summer transfer window and expects to provide coverage of roughly 40 in the near future.

Jota

Liverpool and SkillCorner collaborated for a year to hone the accuracy of the algorithm before agreeing to a partnership.

Word then spread across Europe – prompting more inquiries – and since then SkillCorner has begun working with new clubs in the Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga (including 1.FC Köln and Bayer Leverkusen) and France’s Ligue 1 (including Olympique de Marseille and OGC Nice).

For SkillCorner, event and tracking data are critical to unlocking football performance and engaging with fans. But until now, tracking data has been expensive to collect, time intensive, and not available across different leagues and competitions.

SkillCorner is changing that by providing clubs, betting operators, and media access to exclusive player and ball tracking data without the usual restrictions.

Their fully automated system allows users to access dynamic and contextualised insights that can power a club’s recruitment process or deliver unique new insights to fans. Their Live Match Visualisation is an impressive alternative to live match streaming, with turnkey animation and immediate integration ensuring broadcasts are experienced to their full capacity.

SkillCorner’s recent growth has seen partnerships unfold that will further enhance the options available to football fans and the football industry.

A recently announced partnership with Twenty3 – creator of AI sports data tool Twenty3 Toolbox – will see physical data collected by SkillCorner added to the Toolbox. Twenty3 recently revealed a new partnership with MLS club Sporting Kansas City, giving the club access to Twenty3’s set of AI tools which now include SkillCorner player tracking.

SkillCorner are illustrative of the changing of the guard in the approach to data analytics. Whilst football has embraced data collection as a necessary facet of player, coaching and overall team improvement over time, SkillCorner have established an alternative forward-thinking method that is adaptable to its multitude of user types.

Liverpool confirms expansion for Anfield Road Stand

LFC

Liverpool Football Club’s proposed expansion of the Anfield Road Stand has been confirmed.

The project, which has been undergoing enabling works throughout the off-season in anticipation, will begin with an official ground-breaking ceremony planned for next week.

Liverpool City Council awarded the club planning permission in June 2021, which included the right to hold up to six concerts and major events at the stadium for a period of five seasons.

The redevelopment of the stand will see 7,000 more seats added to Anfield, taking its overall capacity to more than 61,000. Following two stages of public consultation and feedback on the initial plans, Anfield Road’s expansion project will reroute Anfield Road itself around the footprint of the new stand.

Akin to the construction process undergone by the recently redeveloped Main Stand, the Anfield Road Stand will be worked on throughout the season while matches continue to be played.

Liverpool Managing Director Andy Hughes outlined the steps taken by the club to ensure that the Anfield Road Stand redevelopment could go ahead.

“We have been clear from the beginning that in order for this expansion to go ahead we needed the co-operation of local residents and the community, to successfully navigate the complex planning landscape, and to ensure the project is financially viable,” he said.

“We needed certainty for this project to progress and are now in a position to be able to move forward. We began this journey in 2014 and are grateful to everyone for the contributions they have made to bring the project to this stage.”

When complete, the expanded Anfield Road Stand is expected to create around 400 matchday roles in addition to the 2,200 people currently employed in various operations at each home game, of which 95 per cent are known to live in the Liverpool City Region.

The redeveloped Anfield Road Stand is anticipated to be ready for the 2023/24 season and its design will see the lower tier retained and refurbished with a new upper tier built above it.

As well as an increased capacity, the redeveloped stand will be similar to the Main Stand, with improved concourses and sports bar lounge hospitality facilities. This stand will also see the relocation of the Family Park to a covered position.

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