FA Cup Streams Fixtures on Facebook

The FA have taken matters into their own hands this week, streaming two games from the FA Cup 5th round on their official Facebook page.

Wednesday morning’s clash between Reading and Sheffield United, which saw the Blades triumph 2-1 in extra time was the first game.

Leicester City’s home fixture against Championship side Birmingham City, which kicks off at 6:45 AEDT is the second game that will be broadcast live onto Facebook.

As is the case with Facebook streaming, fans will not have to pay a single cent to watch this tie.

Partnering with Facebook will certainly allow the FA access to a much larger fanbase, with Facebook easily the largest social media website on the planet.

When you combine that with the lack of a fee to watch the game, fans from across the UK can watch two famous English teams do battle for a spot in the sixth round.

The FA have previously used gambling agencies such as bet365, William Hill, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power to stream some FA Cup games. But the FA are feeling the heat in that department and now seem to be keen to use alternative websites to stream games.

A few months ago, we wrote a piece about the affect that potential changes to the UK’s Gambling Act could have on clubs who use gambling agencies as major sponsors.

The FA could be in a similar position to that, hence why they are now turning away from the gambling industry.

The aforementioned gambling agencies no longer have the rights to stream games not being streamed by major broadcasters, therefore allowing the FA to dip into social media.

Most FA Cup games are shown on major broadcast channels such as Bein Sports and mainly BT Sport in the UK.

The FA does give worldwide fans access to match highlights via its Twitter page, meaning that if you aren’t able to watch these games either on Bein Sports, BT Sport or on Facebook, the highlights are available after the final whistle.

Obtaining the broadcast rights for a match involving a club in the Champions League spots is a huge coup for Facebook.

When excluding their extraordinary title triumph back in 2016, many fans think of the Foxes and immediately think of a side who are probably good for middle table most seasons.

However, under Brendan Rodgers, a manager who nearly took Liverpool to an unlikely Premier League title a few years ago, Leicester fans have been able to dream again of playing European football.

Having one of their games streamed for free on the largest social media platform on the planet is a massive deal and fans in the UK would be chuffed.

The Sheffield United match was also a fantastic piece of business, especially seeing how the match played out.

Chris Wilder has taken the Blades to levels unimaginable at the start of the season. Sheffield United are an outside chance of playing European football next season, only one year after gaining promotion from the Championship.

Their match against Reading was a tightly fought contest, with an extra-time winner from Blades’ striker Billy Sharp seeing his side through to the quarter finals.

It is unlikely that more games in this year’s FA Cup will be shown for free on Facebook, but it certainly a great sign that the FA are willing to this and not just because it is at the behest of gambling agencies.

Would you like to see more games streamed for free online? Get involved in the discussion on Twitter @Soccersceneau

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Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

Player sentiment up, average age down: PFA releases annual report

Sentiment is well and truly up for A-League players, according to the annual Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) report.

This time last year, only 33% of A-League players felt confident about the direction of their football careers.

According to the PFA’s latest annual report, that number is now 56%.

Of the A-League’s 312 players, 200 responded to the 2020/21 A-League survey, capturing 70% of the current cohort, with the results proving that even despite the ongoing turbulence and uncertainty of COVID-19, the majority of players feel much more confident about their futures within the game.

The report highlights that Australian players actively want to remain in the A-League, as opposed to seeking opportunities overseas.

The key numbers that demonstrate this include:

  • 55% of players said they would like to stay playing in the A-League next season, up from 45% last year.
  • 56% of players are confident about the direction of their football careers, compared to 33% in 2019/20.
  • Only 4% of players would move to an overseas league even if it was for similar money and/or playing standard.
  • Only 16% of players who would prefer to move to an overseas league would only do so if the money and standards were better.

Other highlights of the report include that the average A-League player is getting younger.

Over the last 14 years, the average age of the A-League player has consistently trended upwards.

In 2020/21, however, this changed and the average age trended downwards, dropping from 27.6 to 25.1.

The number of players utilised in the A-League who were aged 21 and under came in at 107, representing 35% of the 300 players who received A-League minutes during the 2020/21 season.

The youngest squads on average belonged to Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United, with average ages of 23.6 and 23.9 years respectively.

Another highlight was the fact that of the league’s 312 contracted players, 300 received A-League minutes.

“These reports have been immensely valuable, helping the PFA and the players better understand the industry in which they are employed, monitor the application of high-performance standards, assess technical progress and survey the players’ experience,” PFA Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch said of the report.

“For the last five years, we have been able to utilise these reports to formulate evidence-based positions to improve the environments in which our members work through collective bargaining.

“Promisingly, after a period of significant uncertainty, the players have indicated that they are more confident in the direction of their careers and the future of the competition than this time last year, signifying a positive shift in the perception of the A-League.”

The report also highlights the fact that A-League attendances were the lowest ever in the competition, thanks in large part to COVID-19, with an average attendance of 5,660.

Foreign players in the league reduced by 12 to a total of 51, whilst the average salary in the A-League is $136,791.

Access the full report HERE.

DFL and AWS introduce two new Match Facts to Bundesliga coverage

Bundesliga analysis

The Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have announced the addition of two new Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS that will premiere as graphics during broadcasts and in the official Bundesliga app during the 2021-2022 season.

The two new Match Facts – Shot Efficiency and Passing Profile – will bring the total number of advanced statistics to eight, with each of them aiming to give fans deeper insights into the action on the pitch.

The first of the new advanced stats – Shot Efficiency – compares the number of goals that a player or team has scored with how many goals the player or team should have scored based on the quality of their chances.

The second – Passing Profile – provides deeper insights into the pass quality of a player or an entire team. Both of the stats are generated by gathering and analysing the match feeds from live games in real time as they are streamed into AWS.

Both new stats made their debut during Matchday 4 on the clash between German Champion FC Bayern München and the second-placed team of the previous season RB Leipzig.

The two new Match Facts will better showcase the action on the field – giving fans, coaches, players, and commentators visual support for analysing the decision-making of players and teams.

Andreas Heyden, Executive Vice President of Digital Innovations for DFL Group, was excited to further innovate the matchday experience for viewers based both domestically and internationally.

“Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS allows us to give fans more insight into the game of football, broadcasters more interesting stories to tell and coaches and teams, more data to excel at their game,” he said.

“Last year, the reception for Bundesliga Match Facts around the world was very positive, and we expect through ML and AI to continue to innovate on these analytics to make them even better.

“These two new stats give fans a view into player efficiency that hasn’t been achieved before, and we are just at the beginning of our relationship with AWS. I’m excited to see how technology will continue to evolve the fan experience and the game.”

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