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Video Assistant Referee Training Portal launched by OZ Sports

OZ Sports have created an Online Training Portal designed to revolutionise the adoption of VAR, despite being in the Covid-19 crisis.

The Portal will serve as a valuable resource for referees and addresses the complexities and costs of existing VAR approaches, as leagues continue to become accustomed with it. OZ Sports are aiming to deliver high-quality referee training and match readiness of existing referees – even though we aren’t in normal circumstances.

The OZ VAR solution has recently been one of the first in the world to be inspected under FIFA’s Quality Programme for VAR Technology. This aims to verify the quality of VAR technologies in areas such as synchronicity, latency and video quality to ensure the highest standards are met.

“By transforming the key challenge of referee training, we are able to simplify the adoption of VAR by leagues around the world,” CEO of OZ Sports, Gudjon Gudjonsson said.

“With our VAR Online Training Portal, referees can train anytime, even from their homes, in a rich interactive environment, making the process simple, efficient and effective, even under the current lockdown.”

The incorporation of OZ’s VAR Online Training Portal does bring new opportunities for off-field practical training to VARs via remote digital training. It reduces the substantial one-off costs and difficulties of certifying VAR officials at specific training areas through resourcing, staffing and time constraints.

The VAR Online Training Portal sits alongside the OZ VAR solution offering which revolutionises the economics of VAR implementation, as VAR has mainly just been used within the top leagues. The OZ Sports VAR solution is a pay-as-you-go service, removing the barriers to adoption at all levels of football by harnessing technology and changing the economics of implementation by reducing costs and requirement of capital outlay.

“The football world has taken crucial steps to modernise its league infrastructures,” Gudjonsson said.

“VAR started as something only for the big leagues, but with the VAR module of the OZ Connected Stadium, a high-quality solution is now a reality for all leagues.

“By harnessing the latest technology including AI and modern network infrastructures, we can remove the need for complex and overly expensive solutions.

“The OZ Connected Stadium is a fundamental change to the way the sector approaches sports infrastructure.”

Liam Watson is the Managing Editor at Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

Sky Sports extends rights to NIFL

The Northern Ireland Football League has announced that Sky Sports will be the exclusive broadcaster of Football in the region once again.

The Northern Ireland Football League has announced that Sky Sports will once again be the exclusive broadcaster of top-flight football in the region for the next three years.

The Irish League has had a long-lasting partnership with Sky over the years and the agreement will see the relationship in place until the end of the 2024/25 season.

The new agreement will see four Danske Bank Premiership fixtures and the BetMcLean League Cup final broadcast live across the UK & Ireland each season.

Northern Ireland Football Chief Executive, Gerard Lawlor:

“We sincerely thank Sky Sports for their continued backing of our game and we look forward to showcasing some of the best NI Football League matches together over the next three seasons,” he said.

“To continue to have the invaluable support of such a high-profile broadcaster shows how far our league has progressed in recent years as we bring our game to an increasing audience of loyal fans.

“The NI Football League brand is continuing to grow outside of the confines of Northern Ireland, and through Sky Sports, many football fans are now becoming more familiar with the rich history of our clubs and as well as some of the household names that have played in the Irish League.”

Sky Sports Director of Football, Gary Hughes:

“As a long-term partner to the Northern Ireland Football League, we’re delighted to extend Sky Sports’ support of the league and ensure that its entertaining action continues to be available to our customers,” he said.

“Sky Sports customers will be able to enjoy the Northern Ireland Football league alongside our ever-expanding football offering in the UK & Ireland which includes over 500 live games in 2022, from the Premier League, EFL, Scottish Premiership and FA Women’s Super League as well as international action in the form of World Cup Qualifiers, and this month’s Africa Cup of Nations – placing Sky Sports as the home of live football.”

Valencia CF presents revised stadium upgrade plans

Valencia CF President Anil Murthy has stated the club will not deliver a “low-cost stadium” after holding talks with Mayor Joan Ribó over reviving the long-running Nuevo Mestella project.

Valencia CF President Anil Murthy has stated the club will not deliver a “low-cost stadium” after holding talks with Mayor Joan Ribó over reviving the long-running Nuevo Mestella project.

Valencia’s stadium, the Nuevo Mestalla, was originally under construction in 2009. However, over the last 12 years, due to financial issues and negotiation breakdowns, construction has never been completed and the situation has become known as one of the world’s most notorious stadium projects.

Murthy presented revised plans to a Council delegation led by Ribó, with the club seeking to recommence work on the stadium in order to ensure it retains the advantages granted to it under an ATE construction license given in 2012.

The plans presented to the council include a stadium capacity between 43,000 to 46,000, expandable to 60,000. The stadium would have a second ring dedicated almost exclusively to leisure and restaurant offerings, while the roof will be fitted with solar panels in an effort to drive sustainability.

Valencia Mayor, Joan Ribo:

“Initially it is proposed for a capacity comparable to that which the (Mestalla) stadium currently has (48,500), but expandable to 62,000 spectators. But I think this is not the fundamental element,” he said.

“The fundamental element is the novelty of this second ring that has seemed to me to be a remarkable element that is not in many football stadia. They propose a roof that is made of photovoltaic panels, which is an example at that level that I want to value.

“They have assured us that they have guarantees with the bank where they have the debt, which is now Caixabank.

“They have presented us with a calendar where in June 2022 the works of the sports centre would begin, in October 2022 the start of the works of the stadium and in August 2024 the inauguration of the new Mestalla. The calendar seems realistic and possible, but if it is not met, they will listen to us.”

In December, Valencia revealed plans to use funds from LaLiga’s strategic venture, with global investment fund CVC Capital Partners to help finance the construction of its new stadium. Valencia is reportedly set to receive approximately $189 million AUD from LaLiga as part of the LaLiga Impulso venture. $125 million of which is set to head to the stadium project.

Valencia CF President, Anil Murthy:

“The meeting has been very positive. After the two meetings with the Generalitat, today we have taken an important step by formally presenting the project we have to the important institution, which is the City Council,” he said.

“We have agreed on recommencing work as soon as possible, after presenting the project to the Generalitat and the City Council.

“Nobody talks about a low-cost stadium. It’s going to be a stadium that’s going to give a lot of people a lot of hope and it’s going to mean a lot of investment in the city. It’s going to be something different and something attractive.”

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