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The Tech Race Among European Football Leagues

Throughout Europe, local football clubs have embraced unconventional methods in their efforts to rise from second-tier status and near-insolvency to an extended stay in the English Premier League. American sports fans have seen this movie before – maybe even literally. “Moneyball” tracks the unorthodox construction and management of the 2002 Oakland Athletics via an outsider-driven, statistically based model, one that may never have gotten the chance to gatecrash Major League Baseball if not for a Trojan horse named Billy Beane. Beane, the A’s then-general manager and a lifelong baseball man, broke with decades of baseball tradition to give his cash-strapped club the edge it needed to compete with MLB’s gilded franchises.

EPL glory may be too ambitious an immediate goal for some of these clubs, but their recognition of technology’s value and investment in tech-based initiatives in the near term holds promise for the years to come.

How Regulation Is Driving Tech Innovation

Outside investment in European football – not just from America, and not only in the EPL – has recently helped increase the value of many next-tier clubs and leagues, as well as inadvertently raise the stakes in the sport’s tech race.

Due to various league’s financial fair play regulations – which restrict clubs from spending beyond their means on expenses such as wages, transfers and agent fees – the new money being pumped into European football comes with certain limitations. What those restrictions don’t cover, however, are investments in infrastructure. Technology is an area where clubs are still in a position to outspend one another.

And while FFP rules were instituted in an effort to save lavish spenders from themselves, investments in tech initiatives across the global football front demonstrate a strong track record of success. According to one recent study, “understanding how technology is related to players’ performance and how it is used leads to an improvement in the monitoring process and performance outcomes of the players.” Channeling that understanding into the development of tech-based solutions is an achievable and value-yielding step for ambitious football entities.

Tech Influence of New Faces in European Football

At a time when leagues and clubs across Europe are considering their investments and learning where broad improvements can be made around the margins, a wave of fresh, free-thinking executives, managers and trainers are entering the picture. Even if these newcomers aren’t themselves tech-savvy, most recognize the critical connection between investment in technology and club success.

The value of technological progress in the Premier League serves as a compelling example for other leagues, which are motivated to emulate the EPL. Additionally, many next-tier clubs can appreciate not only the practical benefits of innovation but also the optics and attention drawn by investment in edgy, innovative tech solutions. From advanced player tracking, AI-based data analysis and even fan-friendly enhancements, technology is a differentiating factor and competitive advantage that remains within reach for progressive European football clubs.

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