Why Manchester City were named the most innovative sports team in the world

According to a report by Sports Innovation Lab, Manchester City have been named the most innovative sports team in the world.

The research and market intelligence firm assessed worldwide sporting clubs across three different categories: technology alignment, organisational agility and revenue diversification.

Over 8,000 data sources were analysed by the firm over multiple years, as well as more than 150,000 market signals to eventually determine the final rankings.

“Our team of analysts masterfully identified patterns of success among the world’s most nimble and well-prepared sports organisations,” said Josh Walker, Sports Innovation Lab co-founder and president.

“Our ongoing daily research and guidance will help the industry in charting the journey ahead.”

Manchester City were listed above an array of sporting sides, due to various factors.

The report stated “Manchester City has had their challenges recently, but that hasn’t stopped them from taking full advantage of their global brand awareness to diversify revenue opportunities, launch their own OTT service, and expand their products and services.

“City has consistently delivered unique experiences that other teams with fewer resources and smaller audiences would be wise to emulate.”

As an example, the English club recently launched a Facebook campaign that promoted a freestyle football competition to a global audience.

City have also worked with the social media giant and its supporters to generate long-form and short-form content that extended fan participation well beyond game-day, creating a variety of non-rights protected media.

Activations like that and the partnerships they have built with companies like Nissan, take advantage of City’s larger amount of assets they have through the City Football Group (CFG).

Sports Innovation Lab scored City the highest in technology breadth, meaning it is willing to use different services and products well before other sporting sides.

For example, City were the first team to launch a channel on Youtube Kids, a platform for children aged 12 and under, whilst also developing a partnership with Capstone Games to offer fans a digital experience where they act as a football manager and make critical in-game decisions.

The club does continue to be highly praised for its varying revenue sources as well, across its operations.

“In addition to all the brand and tech alignment City uses on social platforms, it gets similarly high marks for its revenue diversification and development of the Etihad campus — a multi-use district around the stadium that gives Manchester a hub of various media and entertainment experiences. As it continues to collect first-party data from its fans globally, it will be in a prime position to deliver Fluid Fans (technologically savvy supporters) a personalised experience,” the report said.

Other notable recent activity includes the Premier League side’s deal with Onefootball to distribute global editorial content on the German based company’s app, and their exclusive content deal with Douyin, a Chinese service owned by ByteDance (the company who owns TikTok). Mumbai City’s new deal with Puma, who outfits Man City, also highlighted the power of a centralised ownership group like CFG.

Sports Innovation Lab doesn’t forecast City will dip from the top of their bracket anytime soon.

“We expect City will be hard to unseat at the top of the rankings. They have a strong tech focus that should keep them ahead of the pack,” the report concluded.

The full Sports Innovation Lab list of the 25 most innovative sporting teams are shown below.

Full list:

  1. Manchester City (Premier League)
  2. Real Madrid (La Liga)
  3. Arsenal (Premier League)
  4. Barcelona (La Liga)
  5. Bayern Munich (Bundesliga)
  6. Manchester United (Premier League)
  7. Golden State Warriors (NBA)
  8. Paris Saint-Germain (Ligue 1)
  9. Juventus (Serie A)
  10. Sacramento Kings (NBA)
  11. Liverpool (Premier League)
  12. Philadelphia 76ers (NBA)
  13. New England Patriots (NFL)
  14. Green Bay Packers (NFL)
  15. AS Roma (Serie A)
  16. Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga)
  17. Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League)
  18. Toronto Raptors (NBA)
  19. Seattle Seahawks (NFL)
  20. Chicago Cubs (MLB)
  21. Los Angeles Clippers (NBA)
  22. San Francisco 49ers (NFL)
  23. Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
  24. Atlético Madrid (La Liga)
  25. Schalke 04 (Bundesliga)





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.

The commercial numbers of the Premier League as season 2021/22 gets underway

The 2021/22 English Premier League season began this past weekend, with capacity crowds returning to stadia for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

Following on from a previous season which included the majority of games being played behind closed doors, it was a welcome commercial boost for clubs across the league.

According to Richard Masters, the CEO of the Premier League, clubs have posted major losses over the past 18 months, but financially those difficulties have been managed well overall.

“Across the Premier League economy in the last 18 months, we’ve lost about UK£1.5 billion plus in revenue and that creates some significant challenges for clubs to manage and they have done that,” he said in an interview with Sky Sports.

“So, it hasn’t been easy but what I can say is with fans back, with some of the broadcast agreements we have put in place, we have got a more secure footing.

“Not just for the Premier League but for the whole of the professional game who as you know we filter a lot of our revenue down to, into the pyramid and into grassroots. So, it’s good news to everybody.”

Some of those financial woes were self-inflicted however, after the embarrassing European Super League proposal led to England’s ‘big six’ clubs (Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal) incurring fines of US $30.4 million each for their role in the breakaway competition.

It is likely to be the end of such attempts after a new owners’ charter was introduced in May, preventing clubs from signing up to similar breakaway projects.

“I think the charter changes we agreed to in June are an end to this”, Masters told Sky Sports.

“I think it’s not an end to perhaps some of the issues that created it. It was a bad idea, poorly executed and it’s been consigned to the past I believe.

“We are in discussions with those clubs involved and we will put in place rule changes to make sure that these things won’t happen again. We had a lot of support from the government and in particular, from fans, everybody showed what they thought of the concept.”

What the Super League idea highlighted was the disparity between the leagues ‘big six’ and the other 14 clubs in the league.

A Sportico report outlined that the six big English clubs had a valuation of US$3.67 billion each on average last season, with the other 14 clubs in the league valued at US$3.7 billion combined.

According to multiple Sponsorpulse engagement reports, Liverpool was the most engaging club in the Premier League between late 2019 to mid 2021, with 45% of people in the UK engaging with the team at least once in the past 18 months. Manchester United were ranked 2nd with 42% engagement, ahead of Manchester City with 40% and Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea all on 39%.

Outside of the UK, the big six clubs continue to engage with a range of overseas markets, some more emphatically than others.

Liverpool’s top 3 overseas markets – by percentage of engagement are: Colombia (54%), South Africa (53%) and Indonesia (52%)

Manchester United’s top 3 overseas markets – by percentage of engagement are: Colombia (59%), Argentina (57%) and South Africa (57%)

Manchester City’s top 3 overseas markets – by percentage of engagement are: Colombia (58%), Argentina (57%) and Mexico (55%)

Arsenal’s top 3 overseas markets – by percentage of engagement are: Colombia (54%), South Africa (53%) and Indonesia (52%)

Tottenham’s top 3 overseas markets – by percentage of engagement are: Indonesia (50%), South Africa (47%) and China (46%)

Chelsea’s top 3 overseas markets – by percentage of engagement are: Colombia (56%), South Africa (54%) and Indonesia (53%)

The power of these six clubs continues to lift engagement in big markets such as China, India and Indonesia and make the Premier League what it is today.

These three markets all have more than a 50% engagement rate with the Premier League competition overall, which dwarfs Australia’s engagement rate which currently sits at 31%.

Dig Inclusion makes digital access available for everyone 

For stadiums around the world, infrastructure has been created to cater for people with disabilities, however access to club websites and apps cannot be overlooked. 

In the past, stadiums had been designed so people with disability can still access the venues. As we know with COVID outbreaks, attention has now shifted towards how we get these people into the grounds by using apps and in particular to scan a QR code for contact tracing. 

As we have seen in 2021, the QR system has become a mandatory tool, while at the same time we have seen the need to go with virtual tickets, rather than the printed out copies we had always been accustomed to. 

For clubs and stadiums, they want to ensure that fan experience is at the optimal level, so that means they have to assess the accessibility for disabled people and ways for them to have entry to venues without an enormous amount of hassle. 

This is where Dig Inclusion can help. They are a digital accessibility service who ensures that football club websites and apps are equally available for everyone. 

For clubs, they should be asking themselves whether disabled fans have the same opportunity to buy tickets online as everybody else, while the other consideration should be if news feeds, match statistics, websites and apps are as user friendly as they need to be. 

For digital accessibility, Dig Inclusion takes into account people who are colour blind, dyslexic or have cognitive impairments (including people living with dementia). Through a club’s website or app design process – from the use of font, to language, to colour contrast – are all highly important so nobody feels overwhelmed when accessing a club’s resource. 

For example, if a disabled fan wants to buy some club merchandise, then they will have the same opportunity to browse and make that purchase just like any other person would, with tailored options available to assist anyone who needs it. 

When teams partner with Dig Inclusion, they are there for every step of the way, from accessible testing, research and strategy, to accessible development and content creation, and finally a check on websites, mobile apps, PDF documents and ebooks among some of the benefits. 

All of Dig Inclusion’s services are designed to help clubs keep pace in a rapidly changing digital age: 

Accessible design review: To highlight visual aspects of a design that need to be checked for accessibility, such as colour contrast and positioning. This looks at common accessibility pitfalls and turns this into what would be the ultimate experience for all customers. 

Accessibility help desk: Advice and support from someone who understands the company and what they do, offering fast response times and specialist knowledge for any stucks in the digital accessibility process. 

Mobile accessibility: Helping to get the most out of tablet and smartphone users, with those devices more often used than desktop or laptop. This is very important for disabled or elderly fans who would like to use mobile technology. 

Web accessibility: Advising organisations about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) in an easy-to-understand manner, as design agencies and web developers may find it difficult to grasp or keep pace with updates as they become available. 

Disabled user testing: It’s not only digital content meeting accessibility guidelines that is important, but also making sure that the experience of a disabled person using a product is a good one. 

PDF accessibility: Accessibility guidelines are not just designed for webpages, but anything that a customer downloads is also included. Dig Inclusion can produce PDF documents that go alongside WCAG with equal access as a typical website. 

Video accessibility: When businesses make advertising material, they can be supported with transcripts, captions, subtitles, or audio descriptions that they probably would have not used before on their own. 

Ebook accessibility: Tablets have been a valuable way for people to virtually read books and other publications. An accessible ebook gives all readers instant access to fit their needs, regardless of print disability. 

Dig Inclusion provides ways for clubs to navigate the challenges associated with building an app or website for equal opportunities. To learn more on Dig Inclusion, you can find it here. 

© 2021 Soccerscene Industry News. All Rights reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks