Real Sociedad enhances fan experience for match days

La Liga Santander football club Real Sociedad have changed the game for technology use, finding ways to continually evolve in the area of fan experience.

Having recently renovated their home ground Anoeta Stadium, Real Sociedad have made sure that fans will get an even better experience alongside an increased seating capacity and improved facilities.

Coupled with their strong top-four status in the Spanish top flight, the club is looking to provide the ideal fan experience, driven by Juan Iraola, Director of Real Sociedad’s Digital Department.

“The project of transformation started in January of 2016 and has swept over the entire club by focusing on four areas: fan engagement; sporting excellence; the stadium and physical spaces; and business processes,” he said.

With the reopening of their stadium, Real Sociedad have utilised technology to ensure they’re consistently able to fill the stands.

The club can use analytics data to look at average attendances and monitor fan behaviours over time, with new offers and initiatives coming into place if needed.

“You need to attract people to the stadium and to do that the fan experience has to be unique, so we’re working on that as a club with many activities,” Iraola said.

“In our province, with 700,000 inhabitants, we’re attracting numbers that are very difficult to achieve, this is something everyone is happy with.”

Another key pillar for Real Sociedad’s technology use is the mobile app, with new developments to boost the fan experience further – wearable technology boosts fan interaction through the use of a smart scarf and smart shirt.

Fans can scan a QR code that directs them to speak offers, discounts and experiences, while the ‘One Club Man’ scarf connects with the club app, launched in 2018 and called Realzale.

The Realzale Programme has had almost 17,000 supporters signed up, including 13,210 season ticket holders.

The club app also features a digital members card, allowing fans to access the stadium through their phone and has the ability to share a season ticket if a fan cannot make a particular match.

“Before, if you couldn’t go and wanted to give your season ticket to a friend then you had to meet them to hand it over, but now we’ve eliminated that process and made virtual sharing of the season ticket easy,” Iraola said.

With all the technology advancements mentioned, they all lead back to the club’s official website.

Real Sociedad can identify areas to concentrate on based on the needs of their fans and what they’re interested in. By adapting to constant change, the club can thrive in analysis of their data.

“The first thing we had to do was adapt the website for the new generation of users,” Iraola said.

“Recent data shows that 70% of visits to the website in the past week have been through mobile.

“We have to look after everyone, but we’re in a period of analysing things. Digital needs to be approached as a marathon and we will go little by little.

“There’s a sense of doing things differently in order to move towards a future that nobody can truly anticipate. We question everything.”

Liam Watson is a Senior Journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on international football policy, industry matters and industry 4.0

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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