A conversation back in May between a Hollywood Producer working in Los Angeles and Stenhousemuir’s chairman has led to what has been described as a “revolution” for Scottish football clubs.
AI technology is being installed across numerous clubs in the three divisions below the Premiership with technology that will see robot cameras powered by artificial intelligence, and referees possibly wearing smart devices at Scottish football matches this season.
This evolutionary leap, making Scotland a GLOBAL LEADER in the field, started with a conversation between our own Chairman Iain McMenemy, and Mark Millar, the Coatbridge born President of Netflix’s Millarworld Division and the man behind movies such as Kick-Ass, Kingsman and Marvel’s The Avengers.
The first exciting product being introduced is the Pixellot camera system that uses cutting edge AI technology to film matches without the need for large, expensive outdoor broadcast teams. The matches can then be either offered live to fans, on-demand, or packaged up into highlights packages.
The second pioneering advance is we.soccer. A replacement for the traditional referees book, this new match-day app allows officials at games to generate live match reports for fans – giving them easily accessible information about line ups, goals, bookings and substitutions all in a Covid safe environment.
Speaking today at Albion Rovers ground, Mark Millar said:
“This is a game-changer for football in general and as exciting to me as any Hollywood premiere. I love Albion Rovers and I love that two modest Scottish clubs are where this whole idea began. My worry when I saw the locked-up stadium in Coatbridge was how all the clubs outside the Premiership were going to survive the lockdown a few months back so I picked up my pad and pen and started scribbling possible solutions. The solution we came up with after deep conversations with Iain from Stenhousemuir and my good friend Liam, the digital platforms guru, is transformative. Now fans in Coatbridge or my ex-pat cousins in New Zealand, Canada and Australia can tune in one Saturdays and watch the Rovers hump the competition. I couldn’t be more delighted. What we’d considered at first to be a rescue package is hopefully going to create a new generation of fans and a new golden age for Scottish football.”
Iain McMenemy, Chairman of Stenhousemuir said:
When Mark and I first chatted about the impact of the Coronavirus on lower league football, we tossed around some ideas about how we could increase exposure for clubs once football was finally able to return.
From there we formed a small group of like-minded people that eventually hit upon these two new innovations. From position a few months ago that was very bleak, we’re hugely positive about the future as this is a huge technological leap forward for Scottish football, and just the start of increasing access and exposure to football outside of the Premiership.
I took the idea to the league and fellow club officials, and many saw the benefits straight away.
Clubs in the Championship are getting the technology installed as part of a new deal with IMG for watch and bet rights, whilst a number of clubs across Leagues 1 and 2 used a combination of self-funding and sponsorship to get their systems in place.
The past six months have been difficult for Scottish football, hopefully this new innovation is at least one positive thing we can take away and build upon to help our clubs recover.
Liam Nugent, CEO of we.Soccer, said,
“When Mark told me about this idea, I was bursting to get involved. I love football and I love tech-nology. Putting the two together is my day job at we.Soccer so broadening that out to see how we could help support the game at this critical time was an easy step to take.
“Scottish football is absolutely brilliant, but it has often been accused of being slow to change and lacking in new ideas. Today blows that notion completely out of the water. This is global thinking. It is a sure sign that everyone, at all levels of the game, is ready to embrace new ideas when new ideas are required.
“And, even although we are introducing technology to the game – and taking away the referee’s pencil and paper – if you commit a bad foul, you are still going in the book!”
Iain McMenemy added,
“It was great working with Mark, Liam and colleagues at Albion Rovers on this. We now have the technology installed at Ochilview and it will be a great way to provide new content direct to supporters locally, or anywhere in the world. There’s lots of additional applications with regards to how we use this tech, so we are looking at this as just the start of improving the coverage of Scottish football at all levels.”