Game Changer: How Tech is Changing the Game of Football

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Karam Bhatti - Solicitor

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Game Changer How Tech is changing the game of Football v2

Over recent years, we have witnessed a flurry of technological innovations being introduced in professional football in an attempt to gain advantages both on the pitch (i.e., improve athletic performance) and off the pitch (i.e., improving fan experiences), with the ultimate aim of gaining an advantage over competitors.

This was clearly evidenced in 2020, when the UK was named the most influential country in sports technology, finishing ahead of the USA. In this article, our Technology lawyers consider some key examples of how technology is being used in football and the considerations to bear in mind when implementing and adopting such technologies.

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Using Technology To Heighten Performance

Many football clubs now utilise ‘wearable smart technology’ during both training and games in order to acquire and analyse players’ data, which in turn can be examined by experts to understand the players’ strengths and weaknesses. All of which means the data can be invaluable.

For example, STATSports, which boasts clients such as Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC, offer coaches the ability to monitor players’ data in real-time during training sessions, including numerous metrics such as accelerations and decelerations, average pace and heart rate and maximum speed exposures.

Additionally, staff can set specific requirements for individual players, boosting the efficiency of workouts and increasing the capacity for improvement.

Furthermore, Manchester-based Rezzil, who has worked with the likes of Manchester City FC and Juventus FC, offers tech-based solutions that are aimed at improving performance and player development.

One of Rezzil’s products, the Rezzil Index Test, utilises a combination of hardware (VR headset and VIVE trackers) and software to provide real-time data and stats for clubs to view whilst the player completes a series of virtual drills. The data and stats aim to provide insight into areas such as a player’s decision-making, spatial awareness, concentration, and agility.

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using technology to heighten performance

Using Technology To Help Prevent Injuries

The following are some examples of how technology is also being utilised to help reduce the risk and prevalence of injuries:

  • E-Nano autonomously collects and processes surface data from football pitches to provide data on areas such as the levels of moisture and compaction of the soil, allowing groundskeepers to maintain the highest quality pitches. In turn, this enhances the playability of the pitch by facilitating smoother surfaces, thereby decreasing the risk of injury and 
  • Orreco’s Motion Data Collective solution uses machine learning algorithms to detect players who are reaching their limit and potentially approaching an injury, stating that “it has the ability to identify 85% of hamstring injuries with 86% specificity”.

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using technology to prevent injuries

Boosting The Fan Experience With Technology

It has often been said that football is nothing without the fans, and so it is only to be expected that technological innovation in the sport should not only be directed towards players but also spectators.

Although it would be an understatement to say that the introduction of the video assistant referee (VAR) has proven controversial amongst many supporters, the use of virtual reality (VR) has allowed fans to be immersed in stadium-like experiences from within their own homes.

For example, Sky has introduced Sky Worlds Beta, which enables fans to watch Premier League fixtures in VR. Additionally, Manchester City have partnered with Sony to create a proof of concept (PoC) experience for fans to engage with the Premier League side and each other in a virtual Etihad Stadium in the metaverse.  

As for experiences within stadiums themselves, Wembley Stadium became the first sports stadium in the UK to provide a contactless ticketing system in 2018, enabling spectators to enter the venue via contactless tickets found in Apple Wallets on iPhones and Apple Watches.

Similarly, Liverpool FC utilise Near Field Communication (NFC) technology at Anfield, which sees supporters store their tickets on their smartphones in order to gain entry into the ground. Such innovation has improved efficiency for entering stadiums and thereby reduced queue times. 

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technology boosting fan experience

Things To Consider

Beneath the glamorous surface of such technological innovation in elite football lies interesting yet challenging legal and regulatory considerations that individuals and organisations ought to bear in mind. We have set out some key considerations to bear in mind when deciding whether to adopt such technologies:


Many of the technologies noted above and the emerging technologies being used in football and sports more generally rely almost entirely on the data being attributed to them. Such data is likely to include personal data and, in particular, special categories of the athlete’s health data, which will be subject to data protection law.

Clubs will, therefore, need to ensure that the relevant contractual arrangements are implemented to document the requisite consent from the player for the collection and processing of such data, which party shall own such data (which will undoubtedly have significant value), and confirmation of what appropriate protections shall be applied to such data.

We have already seen what can arise where such principles are not clearly agreed and documented with Project Red Card, under which claims (expected to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds) are being brought by more than 850 current and former professional footballers over the alleged collection and use of their performance data by gaming, betting, and data processing companies.

Whilst the outcome of Project Red Card is awaited, it is likely that a successful claim would represent a huge shift in athletes taking ownership of their performance data and could transform the way athletes exploit and use their data.

Data breaches

What happens if the tech provider is subject to a data breach which results in an athlete’s special category data being leaked or stolen? It is highly likely that such tech providers will be the target of cybercriminals, given the significant value and confidential nature of such data.

It is, therefore, essential that when seeking to implement such technologies, football clubs ensure that they have the benefit of adequate contractual remedies, such as subjecting the tech supplier to uncapped liability or super caps in relation to any breach of confidentiality or data protection obligations and ensuring that the tech supplier has adequate security systems in place to protect against such risks.


As many of the new technologies being utilised in sports are being rolled out by start-ups and SMEs, they will likely be keen to make public announcements about the partnership. The tech provider’s terms and conditions are likely to include a clause permitting them to make such announcements, so clubs should be wary and give adequate consideration to such clauses prior to agreeing to them.


Predominantly, such technologies are continuously learning based on data that has been previously inputted; it is, therefore, possible that a competing club could implement the same technology, thereby benefitting from the data that has already been inserted.

Thus, depending on the party’s bargaining power, a club may wish to include an exclusivity clause within the commercial agreement with the tech supplier to ensure that a competing club cannot gain a competitive edge by utilising the same technology. 

Regulation of AI

It appears likely that the UK Government will implement regulation or legislation to govern the use of AI in the near-distant future, and whilst it remains to be seen how such rules will impact the use of AI, as many of the technology solutions being implemented incorporate AI, it is something which football clubs should remain up to date on. 

Failure of the technology

Football clubs need to carefully consider the possible risks and implications that a failure of the technology could have on the club, including:  

    1. How much reliance should be placed on the technology?
    2. How could a failure of the technology affect the individual player and, more widely, the club?
    3. Who will bear the liability for such failure?
    4. What remedies (if any) are available to the club for such failure?

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Here To Help

As evidenced above, there are numerous points to consider when looking to implement a new tech solution, and whilst such emerging technologies are, in some cases, still in their early stages, the contractual arrangements governing the use of such technologies in the sports sector operate in a very similar manner to traditional software contracts.

The Technology Team at Myerson have extensive experience in advising both suppliers of software solutions and customers who are looking to implement new technology solutions on various legal, contractual and regulatory issues.

If you have any queries or would like to discuss this article in any further detail, please contact our Technology Solicitors, who would be happy to assist.

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here to help

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Karam Bhatti's profile picture

Karam Bhatti


Karam has experience acting as a Commercial solicitor. Karam regularly advises clients on drafting and negotiating commercial arrangement across a range of sectors including Technology, Intellectual Property and Data and Privacy.

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