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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)

 

 

 

 

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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.

ADI a driving force in LED production

LED screens featuring team banners or advertising have been common in stadiums for several years, becoming a staple for professional teams and leagues.  

New technology has grown in leaps and bounds – over a decade ago we were introduced to live matches in HD and have seen increased coverage overall. 

The idea of featuring LED technology in stadiums is something we’ve become accustomed to, as a new level of interaction and engagement has been achieved for the audiences of clubs and venues. 

ADI has been a provider of stadium screen and digital displays for clubs across the UK, venturing to the fourth tier of English football, League Two. As innovations become bigger and powerful, more professional clubs will be keen to find out what that could mean for them. 

As a company, ADI want to be flexible in what they can offer clubs and organisations. 

“Club’s mindsets are changing. It’s no longer a question of whether they can afford LED technology – it’s about thinking how it can be used to drive revenue,” ADI CEO Geraint Williams said. 

“We’re in an age where fans and brands demand more. Fans want a better experience and brands want better value. 

“Failure to deliver is a huge risk for future growth. There are others in the market who simply install a screen or perimeter LED display and walk away without helping clubs understand how to maximise its value. 

“We’re not that kind of supplier. We very much see ourselves as an extension to a club’s commercial team. Increasingly, we’re working with clubs of all sizes to create new models that increase partner revenue over a long-term basis.” 

ADI offers innovation in stadium hardware and as a content producer, to provide clubs with a valuable revenue generation pathway. 

“Revenue Based Design is a term borrowed from the architecture industry. It’s about engineering something in such a way that maximises the revenue derived from it,” Williams said. 

“In architecture, the theory is applied to buildings and spaces, but the same principle works in designing commercial stadium platforms.  

“Our technical and creative teams work hand in hand to create high impact digital platforms that add value to the matchday experience, whilst maximising the revenue potential of the investment. 

ADI have worked hard over the years to be the frontier of LED technology and a major player for clubs trying to find some extra revenue. They’ve been ever-present for teams in the English football pyramid, including Middlesbrough who currently play in the EFL Championship. 

“ADI completely changed the way we thought about the commercialisation of LED technology,” Middlesbrough Chief Operating Officer Mark Ellis said. 

“We invested in a new perimeter LED system over three years ago. As a Championship club we had to completely rethink the model in order to make it commercially viable. 

“ADI helped us to do that – designing a model that delivered incredible results – a 47% increase in partnership revenue and a 16% profit rise. 

“It’s been so successful we’ve since extended the digital stadium platform with ADI’s help.” 

ADI have not just limited themselves to the UK, but they’ve notably contributed for Germany’s top-flight Bundesliga with virtual advertising hardware.  

A ‘Virtual Hybrid’ can deliver different brand adverts into relevant viewing territories by virtually changing the LED content on screen. This means that clubs and venues have more control over what they want their audiences to engage with. Lagardere Sports, German football’s biggest media rights holder, have deployed this for a few seasons and are able to revolutise the way communications are run on a global scale. 

A move into Germany is just the start of ADI’s ambition. They’ve been servicing customers in offices from five continents overall, including France, South Africa and Ireland, as well as the aforementioned UK and Germany. 

There are ADI franchises in South Africa, Northern Africa and right here in Australia, boasting a vast network across the globe. The ADI brand is still growing, with the company open to adding further partners around the world. 

With COVID-19 posing issues for some clubs and organisations, using LED technology and interacting with audiences has become essential in broadcasts, both for club marketing communications and brand or advertising exposure that affect the success of revenue stream. 

You can find out more about how ADI can benefit your club or venue here. 

Heidelberg United FC implements interactive training system, SmartGoals

While physical performance has always been gauged using GPS monitoring, time trials and strength testing, technical attributes have traditionally been challenging to tangibly measure.

It was in his search to bridge this gap that Chris Theodorou, Football Program Manager at Heidelberg United FC discovered SmartGoals.

“It is manufactured by a Dutch company. I first came across it online where I saw the Ajax first team using it during training. It was awesome, I was totally blown away and thought we have to try and get this equipment to Australia.” Theodorou said.

The interactive training system uses a set of targets which are imbued with light signals. Once a player physically passes the goal, or kicks a ball through the goal, another SmartGoal lights up, making it the new target.

This makes the system extremely useful for physical training such as sprint tests and agility tests, but also for driving technical improvement through drills that focus on passing, shooting, or dribbling.

“It’s an interactive system that works with light signals. A smart goal lights up and becomes a target. Whether you want to run through them, shoot the ball through them or something else you do that and once that’s complete the next smart goal lights up.”

Having targets that dynamically change forces players to adjust in a split second, replicating the intensity they experience during an in-game situation.

“Basically, it trains awareness, reaction time, team play and technical skills. The target changes instantly every time a successful SmartGoal has been executed,” Theodorou said.

“It’s challenging and fun for players at all levels. Whether you are a beginner or professional you can use it, there are exercises for people of all abilities and even for people playing with disabilities. The accessibility SmartGoals provides is a huge benefit.”

All of the data gathered is recorded for coaches and players, making it enormously beneficial for identifying development opportunities as well as making it more mentally engaging for players.

“Data collection is so important in sport these days. You can keep track of how fast an individual is, how many goals they’ve scored, and determine their accuracy. The beauty of SmartGoals is that you can now measure their technical ability and watch them grow,” Theodorou said.

The App which comes with SmartGoals also includes a database that contains more than 100 filmed exercises. While originally built for football, the goals have expanded to other sports including hockey and athletics.

The database means coaches can keep training fresh by tailoring their training program to their needs. The filmed videos further assist this, by providing an easy guide on how to setup the exercise and how the player should look when executing the drill.

“The database has exercises that allow you to train individuals, or the whole team. There’s technique training, positional training, possession and more,” Theodorou said.

“They were purposely built for football and since we started implementing them at training, the feedback we have received has been absolutely fabulous.”

With SmartGoals proving a success at Heidelberg United FC, Theodorou believes it is important for more Australian football clubs to invest in burgeoning technology.

In additional to SmartGoals, he has implemented SoccerPLAY into Heidelberg FC’s football program and is a strong advocate of keeping up to date with international trends.

“Clubs must view technology like SmartGoals as an investment, not an expense,” he said.

“Australian football has been a little behind on trends and reluctant to invest. The trends are slowly changing though, we have started tapping into the types of things the leading countries have been using over the last three or four years,” he said.

For more information on SmartGoals, visit HERE.

Omnigon’s Corebine software brings fan engagement benefits

Corebine is a fan engagement platform that focuses on capturing and engaging audiences with mobile technology.

Corebine is a fan engagement platform that focuses on capturing and engaging audiences with mobile technology.

Omnigon has used Corebine for content delivery to keep up with the technological advancements we see rapidly. For customers, they are getting increasingly more tech savvy and digital consumption habits are changing with most content available on mobile devices. 

Corebine has been part of Omnigon for a few years now, which as a content management and fan engagement platform, is specifically tailored to meet the demands of sport’s growing mobile-first audience.  

As customer needs lend more to the digital side, Corebine is the direct response to any trends we still see today. 

“The desktop is not being used as much; it’s less than a majority of the time,” vice-president of products at Omnigon, Nick Arcuri said. 

“People are, especially in sport, getting their news, information and following their teams on their mobile devices. 

“We wanted to make sure we were optimising and creating an experience for the way most people are going to engage these days.” 

The development of Corebine centured around addressing the gap that exists in traditional content publishing platforms. They were not originally designed for fan engagement purposes or mobile devices. 

Corebine was built specifically with fan engagement in mind, including several features that help brands and rightholders to engage and reach their fans in a meaningful way. 

Corebine’s three ProSuite products, BracketProPollPro and MVP Vote, looks to deliver unique, compelling and customisable experiences. 

“We try to engage fans and make them interact with the content and make them feel like a part of all the experiences,” Arcuri said. 

Omnigon has worked with the German Football Association on the DFB Pokal app, developing a ‘Man of the Match’ polling product that gave fans the opportunity to vote for their favourite player in real time. 

“We put together the Man of the Match vote for every single match of the DFB Pokal,” Arcuri said. 

“Voting opened in the 60th minute of each of the 63 matches – all sponsored by Volkswagen. 

“As soon as the final whistle went, they had the Man of the Match decided via our engagement platform. The winner was eventually presented with the trophy by Volkswagen on the pitch.” 

It was a highly successful implementation, as 5,000 to 10,000 votes were generated per match in a 30-minute period. It was essential to manage the influx of activity, so Omnigon built a backend voting engine that could withstand the huge voting numbers. 

“We can pull in 100,000 to 500,000 votes in a single 10 second period – Corebine is a 100% scalable solution,” Arcuri said. 

“It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the final of the World Cup where millions around the world are watching, down to a match in the Championship where far fewer, but no less engaged people are watching. 

“We’ve built this system to scale at a very high level, taking into account activity peaks, whether by call to action in a broadcast or during a marquee event.” 

Organisations can then look to take value from these interactions where data capture allows clubs, brands and sponsors to get a better gauge on who is interacting through the platform. 

Omnigon can then bridge that gap on how brands can gain more by knowing who interacts with their content, while there can also be more to learn about fan engagement activity where editorial decisions can be made about types of marketing. 

“You’re figuring out where your fans’ allegiances lie and you can start personalising the experience so they get value as well as the brand, club and sponsors for providing that information,” Arcuri said. 

Clubs and associations are putting considerable investment to data capture technology and analysis capability. Corebine offers a simple Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to both store data and integrate with another CRM platform. 

Corebine is also a point of difference with its speed to market. They are able to launch sites in 2-3 months compared to other projects that may take more than six months. Sports clubs can get a major head start with the shorter timeframes. 

“The longer it takes to develop something, the more costly it is and the less time you have to react to changes in the marketplace,” Arcuri said. 

“If you want to launch a site in two months because the new season is right around the corner and you don’t want to launch mid-season, speed to market is important. 

“The quicker you can develop something, the less it costs and saving money is important from any business perspective.” 

You can find out more about Corebine’s products and fan engagement features here. 

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