Manchester City’s owners will work with SAP to change how technology can aid sports organisations, athletes and fans in new partnership
City Football Group (CFG), the parent company of Premier League club Manchester City, will use SAP’s cloud and analytics platforms as part of a partnership the two organisations claim will transform the way technology is used in sport.
Formed in 2013, CFG also owns New York City FC in US Major League Soccer (MLS) and Melbourne City in Australia’s A-League, while it also part-owns Japanese club Yokohama F. Marinos, with the intention of learning and sharing best practices of how to run a football club on and off the pitch.
Ferran Soriano, CFG CEO (pictured left), said that in order to execute its vision of having teams across the world winning and playing good football, the company needed to have the technology in place to manage organisations spread across four continents and multiple time zones.
“We will be working with SAP from boardroom to the pitch in all aspects of operation,” he said. “CFG is something new, something that hasn’t been done before. For the first time, a group has managed four football clubs in four continents. We are the only football organisation that is truly global.
“To manage this we obviously need technology, we needed a technology partner. The list of things we will do together is almost endless.”
From boardroom to pitch
The partnership will see SAP technology used in every day management of the clubs, such as finance, HR and marketing, using analytics to improve processes and communication tools to convey concepts and data across all four territories.
Fan engagement will also be boosted through data analytics and providing football fans with the stats demanded and enjoyed by US sports fans for many years, but most intriguingly, SAP products will be used to improve the on-pitch performance of the four clubs.
Analytics and the new SAP Sports One for Soccer will be used to manage the team, players and create gameplans for opponents.
“Technology will allow us to play better football,” claimed Soriano, noting that resistance from managers and coaches had been eroded when empirical evidence could be provided. “That has been the theory for many years, but now I’m seeing it on the pitch.
The HANA-based Sport One for Soccer is targeted at administrators, coaches, scouts, analysts and medical staff and is based on the Match Insights platform used by the German national football team during its successful World Cup campaign last summer.
The platform can be viewed on any device and includes components for team management, training, player fitness and performance analysis. This information can be used to customise training, create tactics and player development.
Post-match analysis is strengthened by integration with Opta and Prozone data, with the possibility of more databases being supported in the future.
SAP EMEA president Franck Cohen was equally enthusiastic, saying the company was attracted to CFG’s global scale and the partnership would build on the work done with Germany.
He said CFG would use SAP’s “newest” technology across the organisation, and said the two partners would work together to improve how technology is used in the sporting world.
“We still believe there are a lot of things to be done,” Cohen added, citing talent detection and injury prevention as two areas of focus. Soriano agreed, stating the two companies would try new things in their quest for glory.
“To do this you have to take risks, make mistakes and innovate,” he said. “We will not be afraid to try new things. There is no limit to what we can achieve. This is a landmark day for CFG.”
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