fbpx

How La Liga is successfully approaching digital transformation

Digital transformation is a key part of the future of football.

Spain’s La Liga competition continues to be at the forefront in this area, with administrators guiding clubs to embrace new digital tools to communicate with fans, streamline services and acquire new data.

La Liga recently shared its technological expertise with Spain’s Chamber of Commerce, to produce a paper for the country’s small to medium-sized businesses.

In the paper, businesses are provided with an explanation of the underlying principles of digital transformation and are encouraged to adopt various technologies in their operations.

The resource will also be further useful for La Liga clubs themselves, to expand on the growing culture of digital transformation in their processes.

Since 2013, La Liga has identified technology as a pillar of future growth, assisting clubs with various digital transformation projects.

The ultimate aim for the organisation is to ensure all 42 clubs (in the first and second tier) move towards the same direction.

Minerva Santana, La Liga’s director of innovation, strategy and technological transformation, explained in the La Liga Newsletter: “The first step is to generate awareness at all levels, but especially at the level of leaders and decision makers, the relevance of digital transformation as a lever for competitiveness and value generation.

“From there, it’s useful to have a self-evaluation process to work out which point in the digital transformation process a business is at,” she added.

“This creates a baseline from which you can establish objectives and a strategy. Once the objectives and priorities are established, it’s important to build a plan and to seek support internally and from external partners.”

Recent examples that have been successful and referential in world sport include, RCD Mallorca adopting technology that is wearable and remotely monitors player’s workouts; Osasuna introducing intelligent shinpads into their club academies; Real Sociedad developing smart scarves and shirts, using wearable NFC tags; Celta de Vigo installing remote video technology at their training complex and Valencia CF creating a seat delivery service which allows fans to order food and drink from their seats at the stadium.

In Spain’s second tier, La Liga Smartbank, clubs are increasingly ambitious when it comes to technological growth. Clubs in that division have grown their online presence by 23 percent since July of last year, which is a growth rate far higher than any other second tier in Europe’s top leagues.

UD Almeria, CF Fuenlabrada and Cádiz CF have recorded growth of over 85 percent, year-on-year.

“This shows that an increased focus on digital helps clubs to reach a wider fanbase,” Santana added.

“In the last year, La Liga clubs have recorded some of the highest growth rates in Europe when it comes to digital adoption, particularly within digital communications.

“Our focus is to continue building on what has been achieved and to continue working with clubs of all sizes to embrace new digital tools that will help evolve their business and support the growth of the entire competition.”

La Liga has formed alliances with technology giants such as Microsoft, building dedicated teams of technology experts in innovation, as well as data analytics.

These teams have continued to stimulate growth opportunities for clubs, through the sharing of resources and expertise.

“At La Liga, we’ve created a portfolio of digital services and integration programmes that allow us to respond to the concrete needs of each club,” Santana claimed.

“We’ve built an ecosystem in the areas of innovation, digital and data that we’ve made available to clubs to help them with their business objectives.”

Examples of this include platforms that are shared with clubs to help them build apps and websites, the use of the Sandbox tool for analysis of match data in the cloud and much more.

“The new technologies that come from digital transformation provide the flexibility to adapt to constantly evolving behaviours and consumption habits, so the appearance of new products and services, as well as the appearance of new models, will be more frequent,” she said.

“This will make the competitive environment more complex but richer.

“At La Liga we have always conveyed the importance of digital transformation to clubs and its impact on competitiveness. The success we are seeing is creating a drive for new innovation across the competition and this is something we will continue to support,” Santana concluded.

For more information on the local scene, read our piece on why digital transformation is vital for Australian football here.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Digging Deeper: Inside Melbourne Victory’s StatsBomb partnership

Melbourne Victory dropped a bomb on the A-League competition when it announced its new partnership with StatsBomb,

Melbourne Victory dropped a bomb on the A-Leagues when it announced its new partnership with StatsBomb – a name that will be unfamiliar to most Australian football fans.

However, whilst the name might be new, the pursuit is not.

As the role of data analytics continues to rise in football, many clubs and organisations are still coming to grips with how to best process and present that data and how to use it to make tangible differences on gameday.

In StatsBomb, Melbourne Victory will certainly hope they have gained an advantage on the competition.

StatsBomb firmly believes it is up for the challenge – and why wouldn’t they?

Already trusted by the likes of Liverpool FC – a club now renowned for its use of data and analytics in improving on-field performance – StatsBomb is enjoying an increasingly growing reputation within the game.

Also counting AS Roma and the Belgian Football Association amongst their clients, StatsBomb international marketing coordinator Nick Dorrington sees an exciting opportunity for the company to enter a new market in Australia with Victory.

“We have customers in over 25 countries around the world but are still expanding our reach in terms of geography and language. It is exciting to get a foothold in a new territory, particularly in a region like Australasia and Asia where we see good opportunities for growth,” Dorrington told Soccerscene.

“As an organisation, Melbourne Victory are determined to turn things around after finishing bottom of the league last season. They are keen to implement change and want to integrate data into all of their processes.

“They are looking for an objective way to track and measure things like performance and style of play, but they also see an opportunity to leverage the additional detail of StatsBomb data to gain an edge on other teams in player recruitment.

“StatsBomb data includes significant additional contextual information that allows for more effective analysis and scouting. Things like goalkeeper and defender positioning on shots, the height of the ball at the moment at which a shot is taken, pressure data at a team and player level and other variables like pass footedness, pass height and various others.

“That allows teams to get a much clearer idea of player behaviour in certain situations. For instance, if you were scouting an upcoming opponent you could look at what kind of passes their central defenders make when put under pressure and find a way of leveraging that information to your advantage.

“The integration of data will be a long-term process for Melbourne Victory, but one that the club should hopefully begin to see the fruit of relatively soon.”

StatsBomb’s emergence in this market come from rather humble beginnings.

CEO Ted Knutson started the business as a blog about football analytics, before being hired to work within football himself.

Once he returned to the open market, he built a team that delivered consultancy services for clubs, where he discovered a constant issue with the limitations of the available event data from football games.

Whilst the use and analysis of data is nothing new in football, Dorrington explained the StatsBomb model differentiated itself because of its proprietary data set, which provides greater context for the numbers and more actionable insights.

“One of the things that our founders consistently came across when they were using the data of other providers was that it lacked important contextual information that experienced football people were easily able to pick holes in,” Dorrington said.

“They would go to a coach with the results of an expected goals (xG) model and the coach would say: “But you don’t know where the goalkeeper is. This is worthless.” Obvious problems like that make it hard to get buy-in on the football side.

“StatsBomb data was created with that in mind. We collect over 3,400 events per match, more than double the amount of some of our competitors, and as I mentioned before our data set includes key additional contextual information that just isn’t found in the data of other companies in this space.

“Our goal has always been and continues to be to create the most football-applicable data set and associated statistical models. Just this year we have already launched StatsBomb 360, a revolutionary new product that provides a snapshot of player locations on each event we capture, and On-Ball Value (OBV), a model that seeks to measure the impact of each on-ball action in terms of its effect on the probability of a team scoring or conceding.”

One particularly interesting aspect of the StatsBomb model is the measurement of pressure – a metric developed to try and help clubs better understand and quantify the events in a game that create pressure on an opponent.

“We record a pressure when a player moves to within a given range of the ball carrier in an attempt to close down the ball. There can be multiple players applying pressure in the same action,” Dorrington said.

“The lack of pressure data was one of the key flaws in the existing datasets before the launch of StatsBomb data. It gives so much more information to work from when assessing defensive contribution.

“To give a widely understood example, if we wanted to analyse Roberto Firmino’s defensive contribution at Liverpool with the previously available event data, we’d only have around three tackles and interceptions to look at for every 90 minutes he’s on the pitch, around 90-100 per season.

“With pressure data, we have an additional 23 or so defensive actions per match, around 750 per season. That is a huge increase and one that allows us to get a much clearer picture of when and where he is involved defensively.”

According to Dorrington, StatsBomb was continuously assessing its model to try and find new-and-improved insights it can provide clubs.

“While there are many clubs who have successfully integrated data into their decision-making processes and who are deriving real benefit from that, there are still many where there is a disconnect between the data people and those who are making decisions and where there isn’t enough of an understanding of how data can be used effectively,” he said.

“Beyond that, there are many emerging markets in which data is barely being used to any meaningful degree. We are committed to providing models and analysis tools that are just as applicable at the top end of the game as in those lower-budget scenarios.

“The teams with the biggest budgets and most qualified personnel will continue to raise the ceiling of possibility but we hope to help democratise data so that teams with less resources still have an opportunity to compete.”

Victory may well be the first cab off the rank in Australia, but they may not be the last.

“It is interesting that since announcing our partnership with Melbourne Victory, we’ve already had a couple of enquiries from other A-League teams,” Dorrington added.

“We often find that’s how it works. You get an early mover in a given league or territory and then others follow.”

You can find out more on StatsBomb and their features here.

FC Barcelona and Ownix to create historic NFTs

Barcelona

LaLiga’s FC Barcelona and non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace Ownix have joined together to create unique digital assets through photos and videos, depicting iconic moments from the Club’s storied history.

With football clubs entering the world of NFTs at an increasing rate, FC Barcelona are looking to set a benchmark in the creation of these types of digital assets.

As part of this strategy, the Club has signed a new global partnership agreement with Ownix, a premium marketplace for NFTs based on the standards of the Ethereum blockchain – a platform for sharing data that cannot be manipulated or changed.

This alliance between FC Barcelona and Ownix will provide a new way for the Club to reach its followers from around the globe, as fans will now be able to acquire and own digital assets that will reproduce unforgettable moments throughout the Club’s almost 122-year history via various auctions taking place throughout the season.

The agreement between FC Barcelona and Ownix is part of the Club’s global expansion strategy and a further commitment to seek out new channels and formats to connect with new generations, while providing a different form of interaction with their fans around the world.

FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta:

“Barça has a very large fanbase around the world and is leading the way in the digital domain with over 400 million followers in social networks,” he said.

“Given this scenario, the Club is constantly looking for new ways to connect with its fans, and we believe that creating these NFTs is a unique opportunity to continue growing and consolidating the Barça brand by bringing unique moments that have made Barça fans dream and FC Barcelona a well-known club on every level.”

Ownix CEO Guy Elhanani:

“As NFTs surge, we thought it is important to give those collectors who are Barça fans an opportunity to own a piece of their Club’s history,” he said.

“This new and exciting asset class allows collectors to own things that weren’t possible to own before, and we’re thrilled to offer sports fans an opportunity to spearhead the movement. Our Mission is to bring customers to purchase NFTs, not because they are marketable, but for the pleasure and pride of owning them.”

© 2021 Soccerscene Industry News. All Rights reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks