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Premier League clubs assist with COVID-19 vaccine rollout

A number of Premier League clubs are assisting the UK’s National Health Service with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

A number of Premier League clubs are assisting the UK’s National Health Service with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Crystal Palace and Leeds United are among the clubs who will be allowing the NHS to use their facilities to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. It comes as several sporing venues in the UK are being turned into mass vaccination centres.

Leeds United is set to host a vaccination centre at Centenary Pavilion – a conference centre across the road from its Elland Road stadium.

Meanwhile Crystal Palace has donated its Selhurst Park home ground to the NHS. The stadium will open for vaccinations later in January and will be one of London’s biggest vaccination venues.

“We are proud to be playing our part in helping the NHS deliver the vaccine to as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” Crystal Palace Chairman Steve Parish said.

“Selhurst Park sits at the heart of our community so we were delighted to put our stadium at the disposal of the NHS.

“Nothing could be more important than the rapid roll-out of the vaccine program to allow us all to return to something approaching normality.”

Liverpool and Tottenham have also offered for Anfield and Spurs’ Stadium to be used as vaccination centres.

During the pandemic both Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Anfield have been used as testing centres.

A UK Government spokesperson told the BBC of the government’s thankfulness in response to Tottenham’s offer.

“We are very grateful for all offers of support as we continue to expand our vaccination programme,” they said.

“The NHS has decades of experience in delivering large scale vaccination programmes and has already vaccinated over a million patients with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It will now begin putting its extensive preparations into action to roll out the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the weeks and months ahead.”

Alongside the Premier League clubs, English Football League Championship side Bristol City’s Ashton Gate will open as a vaccination centre, while fellow Championship side Wycombe Wanderers have also offered up function rooms at its Adams Park stadium.

Daniel Foley is a sports junior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and micro industry matters.

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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