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The benefits of partnerships in football

A common thread between Dortmund, Villarreal C.F and Celtic F.C is that they all have partnerships with clubs in Australia – which provide benefits to both the local and international organisations.

A common thread between Dortmund, Villarreal C.F and Celtic F.C is that they all have partnerships with football clubs in Australia – which provide benefits to both the local and international organisations.

There are different types of partnerships in football, such as the sponsorship type partnerships which see sportswear companies become the official apparel partner of a club.

Then there are the academy and football development partnerships, something that many Australian organisations have been taking advantage of. Partnerships with well-known leagues and clubs from overseas are becoming increasingly common.

The University of Canberra and La Liga’s education department, the La Liga Business School announced a collaboration agreement last week – with the intention to professionalise the local sports industry.

The ‘Beyond 2020: Professional Football Strategy – A discussion with La Liga’ webinar was the first event help through the partnership and was attended by many industry professionals including Capital Football CEO Phil Brown and Villarreal C.F. Business Development Manager, Mar Llaneza.

During the event LaLiga’s delegate in Australia and New Zealand, Glen Rolls spoke about La Liga’s international strategy and how the league is also looking to share its knowledge whilst also learning from the Australian football industry.

“We certainly look forward to developing more programs to help … professionalise the industry moving forward,” he said.

Professionalisation of the sports industry is clearly a focus for La Liga, the Director of LaLiga Business School, Jose Moya also referred to it in his statement upon the announcement of the partnership with the University of Canberra.

“This agreement reaffirms the commitment of our organization to professionalise the sports sector and, in line with our slogan, it’s not football, it’s LaLiga, this positions us at the forefront of the industry, not only in terms of sports but also in educational standards,” he said.

La Liga is not the only Spanish football organisation that is bringing its knowledge and expertise to Australian football. In November, La Liga club Villareal C.F expanded its presence in Australia with a Sydney academy.

The new academy sits alongside its Melbourne academy Monash Villarreal, formerly Monash City FC.

Another example of the advantages provided by a partnership is Sydney FC’s partnership with Dutch club, AFC Ajax.

Ajax are known for their expertise in youth development and have been sharing their knowledge with Sydney FC.

Sydney FC’s Technical Director – Youth, Kelly Cross said that the club wanted to learn all it can from arguably the best club in the world.

“As we continue to strive for excellence, it is fantastic to be able to learn from Ajax; we are looking to pick up all we can from a club who are arguably the best club on the planet in terms of bringing young players to an international level,” he said.

“We aim to continue to share knowledge and experience, as well as building the relationship in terms of exposing our players to the Ajax coaches.”

Even the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspurs launched a Player Development Programme in New Zealand late last month. The Hotspurs are partnering with Scots College in Wellington.

Tottenham has two football development partnerships in Australia with the University of Wollongong in New South Wales and Nudgee College in Queensland.

Head of Global Coaching at Tottenham Hotspur, Andy Rogers said that Tottenham Hotspurs coaching has assisted player development at partner organisations.

“We are delighted to deliver our first ever player development programme in New Zealand, working in partnership with Scots College,” he said.

“Our international model has proven successful in the US, Asia and Australia in developing young players through authentic Tottenham Hotspur coaching.”

“We look forward to working closely with young players from the College and local coaches, helping to drive standards of player development in the region.”

These arrangements can also benefit teams off the field. The main focus of Dortmund’s partnership with Indian Super League team Hyderabad FC is coaching and youth development, however Dortmund is also providing assistance with fan-engagement and technology.

“We therefore look forward towards achieving shared successes, both on and off the pitch, as we continue to build nice stories and special experiences for our fans in India and around the region,” BVB APAC Managing Director, Suresh Letchmanan said in a statement regarding the partnership.

Dortmund also has an Australian partnership with NPL club Marconi FC, although this agreement focuses on coach and player development.

The Australian football industry is a lot smaller in comparison to the scale of the industry in some other countries – partnerships in football with major clubs and league can help Australian football grow.

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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