Manchester City invests in data to support global brand-building charge

Manchester City FC is aiming to coordinate marketing activities and data sharing across its growing ‘family’ of sister clubs around the world by signing a major new technology deal with cloud software provider SAP.

Franck Cohen (SAP), Stefan Wagner (SAP), Brian Marwood (City Football Group), Ferran Soriano (City Football Group)
Franck Cohen (SAP), Stefan Wagner (SAP), Brian Marwood (City Football Group), Ferran Soriano (City Football Group)

At a press conference today (7 July), the club’s parent company City Football Group (CFG) claimed the multi-year marketing and technology deal will transform how the group and its football teams perform “from the boardroom to the pitch”.

In addition to City, CFG has stakes in New York City FC in the USA, Melbourne City FC in Australia and Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan.

The group was set up by City’s Abu Dhabi-based ownership in order to grow the club’s brand reach and revenues globally. The structure also supports City’s efforts to comply with UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations and enables player sharing and scouting between clubs.

Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano said that due to the unique nature of CFG’s business model , it was investing in cloud technology and digital innovation to support three core areas: business operations, football performance and fan engagement.

“We have people running offices in different locations and time zones around the world so we need technology to ensure that we are speaking the same business language across the group,” he said during the announcement at the City Football Academy, a new state-of-the-art training complex that opened in December 2014.

“That includes the management of operations in different continents where we share the marketing side of it. It also means speaking in the same way about data.”

CFG plans to collate data across all its clubs in order to optimise team and player performances and to experiment with new tracking and analytics tools.

Soriano said the group would also use a range of SAP solutions to enhance the fan experience in CFG team stadiums around the world. This includes an interactive ‘digital insights wall’ at the Etihad Stadium that will bring real-time analytics and insights to fans attending matches.

“We will help fans get closer to the action,” he said.