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Second Spectrum: The technology behind MLS and Premier League

Second Spectrum are the world leading manufacturer of machines which understand sports and the experts at creating value from tracking data.

Founded in 2013, the industry innovators create tools designed to help teams gain an added advantage over their opponents. Their range of cutting-edge technology in computer vision, machine learning, big data, augmented reality and product design ensure that teams & leagues are assured a substantial return on their investment.

Considered the most advanced player tracking system in the world, Second Spectrum allows for teams and leagues to understand, evaluate, improve and create content about their game by producing fast and accurate location data.

Second Spectrum boast an impressive roster of partnerships, having been the Official Optical Tracking Provider for the English Premier League since 2019, the National Basketball Association (NBA) since 2017 and for Major League Soccer (MLS) since 2020.

Logo Second Spectrum

In addition, Second Spectrum work across several other leagues and with many other clubs across Europe and the US, with over 100 employees stationed across 5 countries in addition to their headquarters in Los Angeles.

In terms of functionality, the platform combines powerful video querying, intuitive visualisations, advanced statistics and customised reports in one simple interface. These come in the form of automated pre-game, post-game, team and player reports, all of which are delivered to users via automated PDF reports sent directly to one’s inbox that can be amended in keeping with the metrics critical to the organisation utilising the platform.

The platform’s video component can ingest an organisation’s existing video sources or can record games using Second Spectrum’s state-of-the-art camera system. Using the system’s unique and unmatched data set of machine-learned video indexing allows the user to search every game and to find any desired action within seconds.

Second Spectrum struck a partnership with Major League Soccer in February, 2020, marking a significant moment for the league going forward.

Prior to the delayed start of the 2020 season, Second Spectrum installed its state-of-the-art optical tracking system in every MLS stadium. By leveraging their cameras and their cloud-based analytics engine, Second Spectrum were able to provide clubs with data on the location of every player, the referees, and the ball twenty-five times per second throughout the season.

In addition, the software can calculate a player’s speed, acceleration, deceleration and shot velocity, as well as advanced statistics like passing probability and expected goals, in almost real time.

“We’re incredibly excited to partner with MLS and its teams. The combination of our new technologies and capabilities with a forward-thinking organization like MLS creates an exciting future of continued growth and innovation together,” Second Spectrum CEO Rajiv Maheswaran said.

The partnership was seen by MLS as a major stride in their progression and evolution as a league, with Senior Vice President of MLS, Chris Schlosser, acknowledging the opportunities afforded by Second Spectrum coming on board.

“MLS’ partnership with Second Spectrum sets a new standard for innovation in player-tracking in soccer,” he said.

“Along with Second Spectrum, MLS will deliver an enhanced new fan experience, bringing innovation to MLS content while providing MLS clubs and technical staff with new tools to enhance player performance.”

All MLS matches, including MLS Cup Playoffs, the MLS Cup, the MLS All-Star Game and the Leagues Cup & Campeones will be covered as a part of the wide-ranging partnership.

In spite of the impact of COVID-19 on industries across the world, Second Spectrum announced an expanded partnership with the English Premier League and sports tech leader in data & AI technology, Stats Perform, in September, 2020.

The renewed association saw Second Spectrum synchronising its tracking data and Stats Perform’s feeds to add new context and tactical information previously not available. Entitled the ‘Insight Feed’, the collaborative effort is considered to be the most comprehensive and robust set of football data available.

The Premier League were delighted to have developed the feed with Second Spectrum & Stats Perform.

“As the world’s most watched sport league we are delighted to partner with two innovative partners in Stats Perform and Second Spectrum, who have combined to produce a new Insights feed that will enhance storytelling and provide a new perspective of the Premier League to all our fans,” they said.

Second Spectrum added to the Premier League’s enthusiasm.

“We are delighted to partner with organizations like Stats Perform and the Premier League to bring state-of-the-art technology to the highest levels of football,” they said.

“We are excited to show how together we can both improve our understanding of the intricacies of the game and simultaneously move the game forward with the best data and insights that the sport deserves.”

You can find more about Second Spectrum via the link here.

Chelsea FC appoint new President of Business

Tom Glick

Chelsea Football Club has appointed Tom Glick as the Club’s new President of Business.

Glick, a 30-year sports marketing and operations executive, will assume responsibility for day-to-day operations at Chelsea FC – including managing its global commercial strategy, driving revenue growth, enhancing fan engagement, and creating exceptional experiences for the Club’s fans.

Most recently, Glick was President of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers franchise, where he managed extensive improvements to Bank of America Stadium. He also oversaw the creation of Major League Soccer’s Charlotte Football Club, which Chelsea FC will face on 21 July as part of the Club’s US tour of friendly fixtures.

Glick commented the following in a statement released by the club:

“Chelsea FC is an iconic sports institution, known and admired all over the world. I have been very impressed with the vision and mission of Todd Boehly and Clearlake. They have the Chelsea community at the heart of everything they do. We have a huge opportunity here to enhance performance across the board, on behalf of everyone we serve.”

Todd Boehly, chairman and co-controlling owner, via Chelsea FC:

“Tom’s successful track record as a leader and innovator at several respected and winning sport organisations made him the obvious choice for this position. His skills and experience will be vital as we improve Chelsea FC’s key infrastructure, expand the Club’s products and reputation, and find exciting new ways for our loyal supporters to engage with their favourite players.”

Behdad Eghbali and José E. Feliciano, co-controlling owners, via Chelsea FC:

“Tom is a terrific addition to Chelsea FC and will advance our long-term plans for the Club. He has the experience and credentials to elevate our significant global standing and help lead our commitment to strengthen the Club through investments in squad additions, infrastructure, technology, the youth academy, and the Women’s Team.”

Glick has also held positions as Chief Commercial Officer of City Football Group, where he was responsible for global business operations across the world, CEO of Derby County, and senior marketing positions with the New Jersey Nets and the NBA. In English football, he served on the Football League Board, the FA Council, and the Professional Game Board.

How Raven Controls are evolving event safety management standards

Raven Controls

Developed by resilience experts, Raven Controls is a digital management system which provides powerful real-time situational awareness that aims to ensure reassurance for all stakeholders and venue management involved in an event.

Event safety management standards have undoubtedly shifted overtime due in no small part to the changing nature of how live events are attended and consumed. Football has no doubt seen a major change in the behaviour of fans over the past few decades with specific standards of compliance needing to be adhered to, especially at multinational tournaments such as the World Cup and EUROS.

The reality of event safety management standards is that often improvements are driven in response to major disasters such as the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985 and the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. Both of these were massive catalysts for changing safety management standards and influenced global recognition of the need to make improvements.

The approach from then on was dominated by a European approach which aimed at preventing and managing violence – as was dictated by the European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events. 2016 saw The Council of Europe Convention on Integral Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football introduced to add to the work that has been done since the adoption of the European Convention on Spectator Violence in 1985. The new convention advocated for cooperation between all public and private stakeholders involved in making events welcoming, safe and secure.

In a contemporary sporting landscape, Raven Controls is well positioned to suit the modern demands of event safety and security management and also meet the challenges created by the integrated approach being demanded by the new European Convention.

Raven Controls’ method of digital information logging (which is based on integrated emergency management principles) precisely highlights information flow and supports real-time notification alerts and subsequent escalation processes. Moreover, in terms of accountable decision-making, Raven Controls assures that policy decisions are recorded in real-time highlighting the justification and rationale for critical decisions.

Customers who utilise Raven Controls are assured not just a safe and successful event, but a comprehensive variety of accessible tools designed to assist in the smooth running of live events. It includes features such as the in-control dashboard which provides real-time critical information that is readily usable and can identify what is happening in an instant; Digital Logging to intuitively capture essential information; Checklists to provide staff with clarity; and instant notification alerts.

In addition, the Inter-Account Working component allows agencies and event stakeholders to maximise interoperability through Raven’s multi-agency situational awareness, whilst Raven Eye allows fans seeking to report issues happening during the event to get into contact with Raven through instant SMS messaging. Finally, Raven Mobile provides a guide to an event’s operations team through a remote setup aimed to provide consistency and staff reassurance.

The UEFA EURO 2020 tournament saw Raven Controls playing a central part in the coordination and communication aspects of the month-long event. Raven successfully coordinated real-time shared situational awareness across the 51 matches and 11 host cities and stadiums at EURO 2020, all the while streaming directly to the UEFA command centre in Switzerland.

Raven Controls consistently displayed a capability for capturing integral information and providing a direct link from the stadium and host city to UEFA HQ. The software available to Raven Controls at the time ensured that many policies, protocols and procedures in place were able to be effectively met and complied with.

Major tournaments such as EURO 2020 often offer a challenging adjustment period for newly-implemented technologies, however Raven’s intuitive and user-friendly system benefitted the intricacies and complexities of the tournament. Considering the tournament unfolded over 11 different countries – which subsequently included a variety of cultures, languages and customs – Raven Controls were able to consistently ensure that UEFA’s digitally embedded checklists were adhered to and that information was accurately reported and communicated.

In a live footballing event setting, Raven Controls no doubt provides a guarantee of maintaining consistent safety standards and assurance for venue management and workers. It will be fascinating to see if the technology is included as part of the organisation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year.

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