MatchDay Digital – the alternative for NPL clubs

In a time where fans are not guaranteed to be able to attend games due to COVID-19, MatchDay Digital presents as a beneficial way to make programmes accessible to everyone.

MatchDay Digital is the world’s first, football-focussed digital magazine platform that sees premium content made available for everyone no matter where they are, including matchday programmes, popular football magazines, newspapers and high-quality fanzines. Fans will then have access to digital versions of content that may have otherwise been print-only.

Available on Apple iOS with Android and Desktop to follow soon, MatchDay Digital brings all quality football content to the app and sees the development of programmes for football clubs.

By having all football content in the one place, it reaches a bigger audience where fans may find a hidden gem they might not have seen before. MatchDay Digital uses the Intelligent Content Engine (IP) to match material uploaded by clubs, leagues and countries that fans follow on the app, which significantly increases the visibility and reach of each publication that in turn enhances the fan experience.

MatchDay Digital is a free-to-use platform given they work on a revenue share based on the volume sold and a further reinvestment into marketing with each partner. Their strong technology roadmap will allow for more interactivity, dynamic content and translations as they look to extend their reach globally.

English League One side AFC Wimbledon are part of MatchDay Digital’s clients, featuring English Premier League teams Burnley and Crystal Palace, as well as Championship clubs Brentford FC, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest and Watford where digital content is provided.

AFC Wimbledon’s partnership began from the opening day of this season where fans could download the matchday programme for the game against Plymouth Argyle, even without being allowed to attend.

AFC WImbledon CEO Joe Palmer sees this as a step ahead of the curve when factoring in the potential of further reach within the app.

“AFC Wimbledon is a forward-thinking club. We are embracing the future and our new stadium shows that. We’ve not skimped on technology in any way,” Palmer said to FC Business.

“We have to future proof and think ahead as to how fans’ behaviour will change, and digital content is just part of that. We’re not the biggest club, but that doesn’t mean we can’t think like one.

“Digital magazines have been teetering on the edge of full existence for a while now. A lot of people have been talking about them, but it made sense for us to take this step now.

“There’s plenty of research that now shows mobile phone use in stadiums is massive. Practically, people don’t want to hold a physical magazine.

“Digital is a much more cost-effective and time-effective way of operating and clubs need to challenge more fans to move to digital we move into the future, because it’s better for us as businesses, and it’s better for fans as consumers.

“Modern-day football clubs can encourage that change for the good of the fans, and the good of the club.”

In today’s current climate, where the production of printed magazines and distribution would be tricky amid the challenges of COVID-19, the idea of going digital has an even stronger case and big appeal to any football clubs yet to make the switch.

“We knew that fans would only occasionally buy matchday programmes when physically attending football games,” MatchDay Digital founder & CEO Damian Woodward explains.

“Through our research we found out that if it was more convenient, easy to access and offered better value, more fans would purchase programmes. Over 50% of match-goers and 25% of fans watching on TV or through subscription services would be interested in buying a digital programme if it were available to them.

“For clubs, we could see that they were spending time and money on producing, printing and distributing a high-quality publication for each home game, but that the audience for this was so limited.

“You’re only speaking to the people who are attending the game, but if you speak to every club in the country, they’d tell you that their fanbase is much, much bigger than just the people who are able to get to the ground on Saturdays.

“MatchDay Digital allows clubs to access their audience wherever they are. That means greater revenue from increased sales, a better connection to the fanbase and unlimited exposure that can be sold on to sponsors. It’s a no-brainer, for no extra cost.”

You can find more on MatchDay Digital here, where you can get in touch by filling in a contact form.

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Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

How the NPL can learn off the USL’s content deal with Footballco

The United Soccer League (USL) has launched a strategic content partnership with Footballco, a football media company, being designated as an “Official Content Partner of the USL.”

The company will showcase the league, which is the football pyramid separate to the franchised MLS in the US, through existing fan and player-led video content formats, original creatives, features and news.

Goal and Mundial will focus on the men’s divisions, while Indivisa will work on the soon-to-be-launched USL Super League and USL W League with a more lifestyle and community-led approach to its content.

Footballco is strategically aiming to expand in the US, with the next Men’s World Cup and Olympics taking place there, and a bid for the next Women’s World Cup possibly adding that to the mix.

USL Chief Marketing Officer Greg Lalas discussed the importance of fast-tracking the USL’s growth with the sport becoming more popular.

“The USL is the heartbeat of American soccer, and we are thrilled to partner with Footballco to help bring the story of our leagues and our clubs to new fans around the world,” Lalas explained in a USL released statement.

“Brands like Goal, Mundial, and Indivisa are massively influential in the global soccer community, and as we look to extend our reach both domestically and internationally, we were excited about the opportunity Footballco presents.

“Likewise, we look forward to supporting Footballco’s strategic expansion in the U.S. This really is a match made in soccer heaven.”

Jason Wagenheim, Footballco’s CEO, North America discussed the potential this deal has for both companies.

“The USL is among the most exciting soccer leagues in the United States. As we expand our U.S. footprint, we look forward to connecting at an entirely new level with the clubs, players and fans at the heart of the USL,” Wagenheim added in a statement.

“Our reporting goes beyond just news and scores to cover the intersection of soccer and lifestyle, and there’s a huge opportunity to put the USL at the centre of that storytelling – something we know our audience craves.”

There are a lot of similarities between the NPL and USL in terms of its place in the football pyramid of its respective country and attendance numbers, and whilst the funding is different, it begs the question, should the standard of NPL content be higher from the state federations and clubs?

NPL1 matches are currently being streamed on YouTube under the NPL.TV channel, with every game live and with commentary. There have been known issues in recent years with NPL.TV streaming on the now administrated Cluch TV and the absence of live games since had affected the pyramid.

After a return to YouTube in 2024, it’s good to see a healthy audience watching games live on a big platform but fan and club driven content is still so scarce.

Akin to the partnership between USL and Footballco, Australia’s state federations need to do more with website and social media content. Among all of the divisions in each state, there is plenty of opportunity for behind-the-scenes access, stadium news and promotion of big matches including derbies to draw interest to YouTube live streams.

The forward-thinking approach of the USL has provided the NPL with a good blueprint to expand the lower leagues and Australian Football pyramid.

It’s simple, providing the vast array of NPL fans with league-focused social media content on a popular social media channel like the state federation accounts and actively promote any signings, big club news or upcoming matches that fans could attend or watch on NPL.TV.

A lot of these suggestions aren’t particularly out of budget for the NPL, but rather are more of an effort-driven focus that can have a big impact on attendance, viewership and publicity.

Sydney FC to utilise AI technologies with Bigtincan

Sydney FC has confirmed a ground-breaking partnership with AI-powered sales platform Bigtincan to improve fan engagement, plus player and coach development using the technology’s capabilities.

As a result of this partnership, Bigtincan will deliver a branded platform to enhance the performance of individuals and teams throughout the Sydney FC organisation.

Using AI, the company will leverage things like a player app for personalized skill development and coaching messages translated into multiple languages. Bigtincan will also help the club organise documents and information in a unified place for seamless access.

Bigtincan will utilise virtual showrooms powered by AI to showcase Sydney FC to its membership and fanbase, enabling interactive, self-guided tours and Digital Sales Rooms (DSRs).

The AI sales platform mission revolves around reshaping the future buying experience, leveraging AI and Augmented Reality to tailor experiences to the brand they partner with, and offering personalized engagements that guide customers toward confident decisions.

Bigtincan’s portfolio is wide and incredible with expertise that the biggest brand sand sporting organisations have adopted. These include Major League Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Sacramento Kings, and the Los Angeles Chargers, and other leading global leaders like Nike, Clorox, and Citibank.

The shared values of Sydney FC and Bigtincan converge on delivering engaging, empowering training experiences that enhance performance both on and off the field.

Mark Aubrey, Sydney FC CEO, discussed the club’s future vision with Bigtincan.

“Success stems from nurturing and training those entrusted with performance. Our coaches empower our players, much like Bigtincan does for major brands and global sports franchises with their AI-powered technology,” Aubrey mentioned in a press release.

“Our shared values in training and coaching create a natural alignment, and I am eager to see where this partnership takes us.”

David Keane, Co-Founder and CEO of Bigtincan, expressed enthusiasm about the digital partnership with Sydney FC.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Sydney FC, leveraging our innovative AI-driven technology to support the team on and off the pitch while expanding the reach of our sales enablement automation platform,” he added in a statement.

This partnership is a major step forward in innovation for Sydney FC who are committed to providing specialised coaching and training, mirroring the club’s investment in the development of its staff and players both on and off the pitch.

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