Connecting fans with their clubs wherever they are

The challenge

How do Clubs remain engaged with the fans during stadium lockouts?

The solution

With football clubs being instructed to shut their doors to fans for the foreseeable future, we realised there would be void that TV could not fill. We wanted to develop a solution that gives fans the match day buzz, but also helps them keep the relationship with their club.

We held internal workshops and drilled down to what we felt were the touch points where club and fans could engage best. What we came up with is the VirtualMatchDay experience.

Pre-Match – Wake Up It’s Matchday! 8 – 11am – That feeling of anticipation when you get out of bed, this is Match Day and the feeling of what could be.

Pre-Match – Meet up with mates (in pub?) 11am – 1pm – Where the conversations start and the banter begins.

Pre-Match – Go to the ground 1pm – 3pm – The buzz of getting to the ground and being at the stadium.

Match Time – 3pm – 5pm – The chats and the emotions that ebb and flow.

Post Match Time – 5pm – Onwards – The analysis and debate with friends.

The result

The VirtualMatchDay app will bring club and fans together at all of the above milestones on match day, the excitement they go through at each stage, whilst staying connected to each other. The app allows the club to play content focused on the fans through its video function, run promotions driving sales via club sites and give club sponsors direct contact with fans.

Working with London based Premiership club, Crystal Palace, we have been able to flesh out the ideas and customise to the clubs input and requirements culminating in a beta launching on June 20th. This beta will initially be stripped back to running a 1 hour club pregame show before the match and 1 hour after final whistle for their remaining games.

Fans will be given the opportunity to use the VirtualMatchDay app to arrange and take part in club branded private video calls with friends and family, whilst being able to watch special hour long pre-match shows from the Palace TV team. The match commentary will be an audio feed into the VirtualMatchDay app, as live AV would not be possible to feed in, due to IP rights. We will be starting off with smaller groups in the first two away games at end of June, then expanding out to larger groups of fans for their first home game.

James Woodroof, Head of Content & Production at CPFC, said: Once we knew that behind closed doors games were a probability, we wanted to create a solution for supporters that replicated the matchday experience as close as possible. For many, the beauty of matchday revolves around the social aspects of going to the game - particularly meeting up with mates beforehand. Video calls have become the norm in all of our working lives, and we hope that the mix of functionality we are trialling will enrich our supporters’ experience of the Palace matchday when they can’t be with us in the stadium.