Roboticket: A ticketing solution helping football fans return to stadiums safely

COVID-19 has presented the world with many challenges and football is no different.

One of the issues the game faces is bringing spectators back into the stadium, in a safe, coordinated manner.

Ticketing software development company Roboticket faced this challenge head on, creating a ticketing solution that would help its partners welcome back fans to arenas across the world.

The technology provider has clients in Germany, Brazil, UK and Germany; however, clubs in Poland were the first to use the solution.

The FA in Poland, as well as the government, outlined plans allowing only 25% of the stadium’s capacity to be sold, with a two-metre social distance buffer incorporated between different sets of fans.

Michal Pyda, Business Development Executive at Roboticket, explained the company’s thought process of how to best implement a solution around these restrictions, in fc business.

“We started to think, together with our partners, about how to do it wisely, efficiently and most important, safely,” he said.

“However, we didn’t want to implement the standard chessboard set up in the stands. We wanted to do it more cleverly, to really show that things can be done better and that technology is no limitation.

“Lockdown had been lifted in Poland…people could go to restaurants and pubs and socialise together in small groups so it made no sense to separate everyone in the stands with a two-metre distance if they were travelling to games together.”

One of the issues the company addressed with the Polish FA and its partner clubs was the necessity of allowing those people who were travelling together, who lived in the same household, to be able to sit with one another.

“Based on this assumption we would shape our algorithms to allocate people in the stands that maximised the capacity of the stadium whilst creating safe social distances between every fan or family group,” Pyda said.

“So the ultimate challenge was to develop an algorithm that allowed the creation of automatic buffers around seats according to the rules set.”

Considering the challenges of creating a safe distance between supporters and allowing household groups to sit together, Pyda and his team used viable, flexible methods to find the appropriate solution.

“Pre-COVID, the normal situation is to maximise attendance whilst minimising the gaps between fans sitting together, so we already had the mechanisms to keep people sitting tight on the stands. In order to create an automatic buffer between each transaction we implemented a reverse version of the algorithm covering complex geometrical models allowing us to shape any buffer around each transaction.

“Crucially, this mechanism is flexible so it can be adapted to work around any changes to social distancing rules that are created by law or the FA. This customisation is also required to be adaptable to the individual requirements across different territories. Today we may have a two-metre separation rule but tomorrow it might be one metre so the mechanism needs to be flexible.”

Alongside this adaptability, Pyda explained tickets needed to be personalised, especially in these current COVID circumstances, to create a safe environment for all.

“This means every ticket needs to be prescribed to an individual by name, surname and in some countries, by their social security number,” he said.

In practice, Lech Poznan was the first club to use the newly created solution by Roboticket, when fans returned to football stadiums in Poland in mid-June.

Poznan’s stadium (pre COVID) usually holds 41,000 people when full, but Pyda was unsure about the enthusiasm of fans to attend matches during these times.

“Every seat sold is precious to clubs in the current situation but we didn’t know how people would react to being able to go back to the stadium,” he stated.

“Would they really want to buy those tickets and attend the stadium or would they still be afraid? We hoped that one of the main draws would be the ability to attend games with their families.”

“The solution we created was available in Roboticket one week before the league’s resumption allowing fans that shared a household to purchase tickets together and to keep in line with the law on social distancing. Automatically creating a buffer around multi- seated transactions was key to selling more tickets in a safe environment.”

During this period overall, ticket sales increased for Roboticket’s clients by 18% when compared to those with a standard set up at other venues.

Alongside this, more revenue was derived across other matchday operations, partially due to the safe maximisation of its reduced capacity.

This is considered a financial win for football clubs, in not so normal times.

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.

Deltatre: The all-rounder for leading innovations

Boasting a wide range of technologies, Deltatre has proven itself to be a reliable technology provider to football federations, leagues and clubs around the world.

Boasting a wide range of technologies, Deltatre has proven itself to be a reliable technology provider to football federations, leagues and clubs around the world.

Deltatre is changing the way fans consume and engage with their favourite sports, with specialist innovations ranging across over-the-top (OTT) streaming, websites and apps, graphics, data, officiating systems, user experience, and product design.

Speaking to Soccerscene, Craig Harvey, Deltatre’s Vice President of Asia-Pacific explains: “We guide sports organisations through change. Using data and insights, combined with over 30 years of experience in sport, we analyse, design and deliver the next level of growth through technology and services.”

With an extensive client list in football – featuring FIFA, AFC, J League and all MLS clubs, to name a few – Deltatre brings an unrivalled experience to any football organisation that is seeking to build its brand by engaging, understanding, growing and monetising its fans.

Deltatre growth in Asia-Pacific

Deltatre has experienced significant growth in recent years, and has expanded its presence around the world, with over 1000 staff across 11 countries. In 2015, Deltatre made a strategic decision to build a presence in Asia-Pacific and localise its service to adapt to the needs of the clients in the region.

Now with nearly 100 staff distributed across Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and India, Deltatre is better placed than ever to deliver; and clients such as Asian Football Confederation (AFC), J League and India Super League (ISL) are already benefitting from this strategic initiative.

Indeed, the ISL appointment of Deltatre reflected the mission to redevelop its on-screen storytelling of the fastest growing sports property in India. Deltatre developed, designed, and deployed a best-in-class graphics solution for the full season, and implemented sophisticated remote production that ensured adaptability. Such implementation came to the fore this year, considering the significant restrictions imposed by COVID-19 in India, with operations limited to strict bio-secure bubbles in Goa and Mumbai, as outlined in this case study.

Harvey touches on the success on this project: “Delivering live sport can be challenging at the best of times. In today’s world, it takes a new level of commitment, adaptability and innovation to ensure a safe and successful delivery. Delivering this seasons ISL was arguably one of our hardest deliveries, ever, but the toughest times often lead to our greatest moments.”

Leading Innovation

Beyond the world of broadcast, Deltatre is renowned for its work across data, owned & operated digital platforms and OTT streaming services; be it collecting the official data for the Bundesliga, or powering MLSSoccer.com and NFL Game Pass, as a few examples from a distinguished list of projects around the world. In addition, Deltatre provides the technology backbone to managing competitions and events for several organisations, streamlining both internal and external processes and tasks.

Harvey adds, “At our core, we are a team of technology experts with a passion to bring sport to life. Over the past 30 years we have built and refined our products and services to connect the media value chain to maximise performance and operational effectiveness for all stakeholders.”

An area where Deltatre has seen great traction in the past few years is the centralisation of digital platforms for leagues to better support the future of their clubs and members. The multi-tenant approach – using FORGE Multiply – brings unity to every member, large or small, and offers an ecosystem designed to support them engage, understand and connect with their community and fans, and ultimately grow their sport.

“A powerful example of work is highlighted in our recent announcement on becoming the web technology partner for Major League Soccer (MLS), supporting the league and its clubs transform the fan experience.” Harvey said.

Beyond Football

Deltatre’s capabilities and experience extend far beyond football, and sport. In 2018, Deltatre acquired Massive Interactive – which was founded in Australia in 1996 and now uses its office in Redfern as its Australian HQ – bolstering Deltatre’s OTT capabilities with products capable of delivering entertainment platforms for media organisations around the world.

Harvey added: “We predicted that media organisations would consolidate OTT viewing experiences across sport and entertainment, and so the acquisition of Massive Interactive has uniquely positioned Deltatre as leaders in both live and VOD content management, paired with world-class products that deliver engaging experiences at scale.”

Soccerscene takes a closer look at the variety of products and services Deltatre brings to market – all of which could well be applicable to organisations throughout Australia that are looking to augment their capabilities.

DIVA – Bring fans closer to the action.

An advanced OTT player, DIVA offers fans more than simply watching the game. If you’re watching from home, you want to experience every moment in fine detail. You get all the data you could ever want, with the ability to view from multiple angles – available on mobile, web, and Android TV.

AXIS – Drive user engagement.

User experience (UX) is at the heart of AXIS, giving editorial teams the chance to tailor their content to suit each sports fan. AXIS uses an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface that can control all aspects of an organisation’s OTT service to deliver increased engagement, such as design, navigation, promotions, page layout, and content.

Mtribes – Give your users a more personalized experience.

This software as a service (SaaS) platform has been created for real-time insights on user experience. To be successful in digital, data is the key indicator. To understand users, there needs to be the right tools in place to see how the audience is interacting with a service. Mtribes plugs into an existing sports technology stack to be assessed by operators. With the power of data, they can make changes to a service’s features, design, and content depending on a user’s behaviour traits.

FORGE – Engage your fans through storytelling.

A sports-oriented audience is hungry for content and wants that content all in one place. FORGE is the world’s first sport-focused publishing platform that meets the needs of all audiences on a global scale. It offers flexibility for sports operators to tell their unforgettable stories through this modern-day solution. FORGE has been built from the ground up to create a content platform that’s simple to use and lets editorial teams produce content as they like. It also lets teams get a better idea on how much time they engage with their fans and to decide on the appropriate channels.

To see all that Deltatre has to offer, you can find it here.

Football NSW cancels all competitions for 2021

In response to ongoing lockdowns and restrictions, Football NSW has announced that all competitions within their state will be cancelled for the rest of 2021.

The state federation released a statement today detailing the competition structure going forward based on this decision, which was made on public health advice from the government, amid continuing lockdowns.

Promotion and relegation between leagues will be deferred until the end of the 2022/23 season, with a statement by Football NSW saying that with only 17 of the 22 regular season men’s NPL games completed it would be impossible to fairly promote and relegate clubs.

“Clearly, the Premiership season has not been completed and as such, the sporting integrity associated with our various principles surrounding promotion/relegation have been severely compromised,” Football NSW said.

“The promotion and relegation structure as set out in Section 2, Article 12 of the 2021 Competition Regulations is to be deferred to apply for promotion and relegation from the 2022 to 2023 season rather than from the 2021 to 2022 season.”

No Premiers or Champions titles, trophies, medals, or prize money for the 2021 season will be awarded to clubs.

For women’s and girl’s competitions, only 12 of the 22 games were completed. The structure for the 2022 season will be as follows:

“For the 2022 season, the women’s competition will comprise two competitions (NPLW 1 and NPLW 2) with no more than 12 clubs participating in NPLW 1 and no more than 16 clubs participating in NPLW 2,” Football NSW said.

“The clubs competing in the 2022 NPLW 1 Competition will be each of the 12 clubs that participated in the NPLW1 competition for the 2021 season.”

“At the conclusion of the 2022 season, the top two clubs from the NPLW 2 competition (based on Club Championship standings at the end of the 2022 season) will be eligible for promotion to the NPLW 1 Competition for the 2023 season, subject to any applicable competition regulations as well as any other criteria deemed appropriate by the Board.”

A 2022 NPL NSW girl’s and women’s Operational Structure Document to reflect the above will be communicated shortly.

For junior teams, Football NSW will allocate their positions in next season’s ‘three-tiered’ structure based on their performance in the already completed “Phase one” of competition.

“Football NSW confirms that it will still proceed with moving to the three-tiered structure for 2022 and with expanding the number rounds 30,” they said.

“While Phase Two of the 2021 season could not be completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant cancellation of the season, Phase One was successfully completed and the Board, therefore, resolved to allocate clubs across the three tiers of the Competition based on their standings at the conclusion of Phase One.

“Football NSW recognises some clubs may feel disappointed and aggrieved that they did not have the opportunity to complete the season and improve their standings ahead of the 2022 season. However, Football NSW believes that allocating clubs based on standings at the conclusion of Phase One is the fairer option rather than allocating clubs based on standings at the time that football was suspended (i.e. as at 26 June 2021).”

Skill Acquisition Programs will continue with the same principles and no changes to age grades once they are restarted in 2022.

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