Updated: Thursday, 23rd January 2020 @ 1:00pm

Kick fax out of football: IT firm behind deadline-day Man Utd banner claim old tech is 'strangling sport'

Kick fax out of football: IT firm behind deadline-day Man Utd banner claim old tech is 'strangling sport'

| By Matthew Pickup

Manchester United may have thought they had clinched air superiority by adding Radamel Falcao – but one company looked to reclaim the skies above Old Trafford with a banner on transfer deadline day.

DocuSign, a company that provides electronic signature technology chartered a plane and flew a banner from Manchester to the stadium urging football’s money men to ‘kick the fax out of football’.

GETTING FAX STRAIGHT: The stunt took place over Old Trafford

It’s the second time the sky above the Stretford End has been targeted after another plane called for ex-boss David Moyes’ head back in March.

Sports Technology Expert at DocuSign, Mark Law said:  “Behind the scenes the football industry is struggling to keep its head above water. Inefficient processes and outdated equipment are strangling the sport.

“Believe it or not, multi-million pound player contracts are still printed and faxed to the Premier League's office.

“Not only is it a ridiculous amount of money riding on a piece of history but there are other issues.”

As clubs up and down the country closed deals for their next big star on transfer deadline day last night, the technology to process the deals is severely lagging behind the times with email ditched in favour of fax.

“Faxing is tedious, insecure and delays the transaction for such a fast paced sport. There's also no digital audit trail to help make it legally binding, identifying where a contract has come from, how many hands it has passed through, and more,” said Mr Law.

Football is notorious for blocking any form of technology to creep into the game – after many years of campaigning goal-line technology was only introduced into the Premier League last season.

At the summer’s World Cup in Brazil, a vanishing spray that allows referees to see if players have inched forward during set-plays was introduced to great success, paving the way for its introduction into the English game.

“The introduction of vanishing spray is undoubtedly great news for football. But there's more to be done,” he said

“We must unite as fans to encourage the football industry to embrace innovation.

“Technology that removes time and cost from the sport will help make the game more accessible to more fans.

“Without future-proofing the football industry now, we will run into real problems in the future."

Despite the introduction of new modern technology, the Premier League is still built on outdated technology.

More than £700 million has been spent across the league, with Manchester United in particular splashing out as they attempt to rebuild their beleaguered squad.

However, deadline day can also result in heartbreak for fans, managers and directors.

Premier League football agent Hayden Evans said: “The football industry is a huge business. The last summer transfer window saw a record £630 million spent by clubs.

“This summer has already exceeded that. Big name signings can make or break a club and have huge consequences for the football teams and their performance in the upcoming season.

“As an agent working in the industry, I know first-hand how much work goes into making a signing or trade happen.

“Like any business transaction, time is spent making sure all the paperwork is in order and ensuring all parties involved are satisfied with the outcome.”

It remains to be seen if yesterday’s banner can fly in a new era of innovation into a Premier League that may be the pinnacle of the game on the pitch, but is relegation fodder off it.

“The fact that final sign-offs are still being processed through outdated technologies such as the fax machine, is astonishing.

“I can’t imagine many industries relying on such outdated processes when there are better, faster, more convenient and secure methods. 

“When it comes to handling a player signing, I need all the different pieces of the puzzle to come together as smoothly as possible. The speed that signings sometimes have to be carried out is extremely challenging." 

MESSAGE IN A BANNER: The IT firm's plane prepares for lift-off

Over the years many transfers have fell through because of slow paperwork and have stopped clubs signing players.

Tottenham Hotspur missed out on Porto’s Joao Moutinho in 2012, Manchester United failed to grab Fabio Coentrao in 2013 and Arsenal’s signing of Andrei Arshavin in 2009 only went through after the deadline went to extra time.

Image courtesy of Karl Baron with thanks