Football and Big Data are on the verge of setting free, if not already — a trend that will multiply as established clubs increasingly chase tie up with tech firms.

As it stands currently, the abundance of data allows us to know if the distance covered by players like Ronaldo and Messi, to amount of right-foot touches players like Xavi or Toure had, in any given game. Or how the shape of a team interlocks and whether you can unsettle the rhythm by closing down a single link between two players and so on. The permutations surrounding a single data set could be infinite.

And as data becomes increasingly central, the partnerships are going beyond the days where one would see a logo of the brand on a kit or the inside of one, like in the case of Barcelona and Intel.

Apart from promotional intentions, there also exist tangible prospects of modernizing the technology used by the respective clubs. This includes providing an opportunity for the club to reach out to the masses in far of regions, which at one point, seemed distant to exploiting player data to improve player performance.

Football and Big Data

We look at a few of these accomplished partnerships below:

Manchester United and HCL

Manchester United recently revealed a partnership with Indian technology firm HCL. The deal involves digitising all platforms of the club including the stadium in order to bring the MU experience close to its 659 million fans worldwide.

Apart from revamping the club’s high-traffic website, HCL will also work on creating a UnitedXperience Lab – a first of its kind lab in the history of sports, to capitalise on the digitisation of media and fans consume media.

Chelsea and Wipro

While rivals Manchester United closed the deal with HCL, Chelsea was simultaneously working on doing the same with Indian based Wipro, a leading global information technology, consulting and business process services company, who they signed as the official digital and IT partner earlier in September.

The relationship will help Chelsea create experiences for millions of fans that span not only the in-stadium, game-day experience but also their digital experience, “anytime and anywhere.”

The London based club will also look at exploiting the 50MM passionate Chelsea supporters in India while extending their reach within the market.

Barcelona and Intel

In 2013, the deal between FC Barcelona and Intel resulted in the multinational firm becoming the official technological sponsor of one of the greatest clubs in the world. However, the deal included a peculiar twist to it as in, while sponsors seek to have their name on the front of the kit for maximum exposure, Intel’s logo was embroidered on the inside of the jersey. The only time it would be visible to anyone was when a player scored and lifted his shirt, which they are not indebted to do so. In fact, La Liga rules prevent players from displaying personal messages.

And according to Bloomberg, the $25MM 5-year-deal has not garnered much awareness for the club as American kit maker Nike had technical difficulties mass-producing the logo on replicas of the shirts.

Bayern Munich and SAP

German giants Bayern Munich are recognized for their high engagement and interaction level with fans. To maintain the levels, it was only ideal for the club to partner with a tech firm that could understand the necessities of the club. Hence, came about the partnership with German analytics and software giant, SAP.

As impressive as it sounds and realising the German’s aggressiveness towards perfection, the two organisations expect to work on state-of-the-art solutions as Bayern aims at expanding its international presence, boost team performance and enrich fan experience at the Allianz Arena and around the world.

Real Madrid and Microsoft

The goal of this partnership was simple – to bring the best possible solution to connect the club with its ~ 450 MM fans worldwide fans.

As stated on the website, “Through Microsoft Cloud technology and devices, we will change the way Real Madrid fútbol is played, coached, watched and ultimately experienced.”

Apart from the usual jargon that we had emphasized on with the earlier mentioned deals, Microsoft has also created a fully immersive app in order for the fans to connect with Real Madrid using Microsoft’s inspiring cloud technology. Even we were impressed.

Manchester City and SAP

The tech-talk of the day when the deal between Manchester City’s parent company – the City Football Group (CFG) and SAP was announced was ‘Big Data’.

The partnership will help all entities within CFG (New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, Yokohama FC, Manchester City) employ big data with the latest computing technology thereby increasing efficiency surrounding the group’s accounting, projections and estimations, ticketing and its retail.

It will also help individualize fan experience, focusing on consumer data such as their likes and dislikes. Taking SAP’s capabilities to on-pitch solutions, the partnership will improve player performance, reduce player injuries, identify talent and help scouts with needed data.

As clubs are realizing with greater urgency while slowly appreciating data, there will soon come a time when we as fans will be ambushed with helpful and, at times, exasperating data, both of which is bound to change the way we experience the game, if not already. We, for sure, are keeping a close eye on this ever-growing link between football and Big Data.

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