The club’s Future of Football programme, powered by Sport Republic and Yolo Group, chose teams focused on sport performance and fan engagement for future collaboration.
Southampton FC moves forward with Turfcoach and Atom Stars who took the top prize in the club’s Future of Football programme. The 4-week virtual sprint programme, powered by Sport Republic and Yolo Group, offered direct access to Southampton’s business and commercial decision-makers. In a collaborative environment, teams prototyped solutions to build future value for the club, on and off the pitch.
Of the 260 original applications to the programme — from 45 countries — six teams pitched in the finals for a potential commercial relationship with SFC and for the opportunity to win £100K discretionary prize pool provided by Yolo and Sport Republic. The St. Mary’s finale was judged by a panel of representatives from the club, Sport Republic, and Yolo Group.
The winners, Turfcoach and Atom Stars, will go on to further develop their proposal with the club.
“We believe we can change the landscape of fan engagement, by empowering Southampton FC, Sport Republic, and Yolo Group with our technologies. Together, we revolutionise the way sport organisations and brands engage, especially with Gen Z fans, by providing off-the-shelf gamified tailored experiences in virtual environments, allowing brands to experiment at speed and embrace this fantastic new channel,” said Jérôme Dewavrin, CEO of Atom Stars.
“Throughout the program, we were able to interact with a variety of stakeholders at SFC, including groundskeepers, estate managers, and the performance team. This collaborative approach enabled us to craft a tailored business proposal that was fortunately well-received,” said Christian Theil, CEO of Turfcoach.
With direct and hands-on processes, the programme ensured that solutions would be customised for the club, while decision-makers had insights into the teams’ progress and capabilities. The final decision is intended to deliver a win for club fans, management, and partners.
“It’s been fantastic to work with all the teams involved and to have such a diverse range of organisations. Both Atom Stars and Turfcoach really push the boundaries and are at the forefront of technology in different ways. We would like to congratulate them as the winners and we look forward to working more closely with them in the future,” said Sarah Batters, Director of Partnerships and Marketing for Southampton FC
“Going into the final we knew that the playing field was tight from the progress the teams showcased in week three. Today, we really looked for the potential in these solutions for the club not just now, but down the line. We’re excited to move forward with the winning teams to develop that potential into innovative results,” said Henrik Kraft, Sport Republic, and Southampton FC Chairman.
“We were thrilled to see this programme guide teams from their novel ideas into actionable and innovative solutions for our partner. Having shared values for innovation and technology means that together with Southampton FC, we can create new opportunities for the club and boundary-pushing businesses,” said Tim Heath, GP at Yolo Investments, and the founder of Yolo Group.
The six finalists pitched collaboration solutions ranging from player health and pitch management to virtual environment experiences for fans.
The winning teams – Atom Stars and Turfcoach:
Atom Stars revolutionises the way football clubs engage with Gen Z fans by providing an off-the-shelf gamified experience in virtual environments. It allows clubs to experiment at speed and connect with fans in a unique way that will give them a sense of belonging and drive new revenue streams.
Turfcoach is pioneering AI for turf management with a smart digital platform and custom sensor. With it, SFC protects players from injuries, reduces turf maintenance costs, increases potential pitch usage time, and benefits coaches by providing a unique data source for optimising player performance.
The other four finalists:
MLA is offering a scientifically valid methodology focused on identifying and reducing the risk of athletes’ injuries. That will allow SFC to maximise athletes' availability during the season, preserve their market value, and increase the team’s overall competitiveness. MLA’s approach will also help identify academy talents with the lowest propensity to injury and therefore best potential in terms of competitiveness and market value.
collectID creates a direct-to-fan connection for Southampton FC through phygital merchandise. Tapping the jersey with the smartphone allows fans of the Saints to unlock new engaging digital experiences. This enables SFC to create sophisticated fan profiles and build long-lasting relationships, resulting in significant engagement and revenue growth.
Fanprime is offering SFC an opportunity to launch a UK-first support-to-earn loyalty program where the club can now reward fans for their attention and fandom as well as their transactions. With a fully gamified UX and integrated web3 features, we are looking to create a truly unique fan experience to improve fan sentiment and drive revenue.
X-Plora is a Multimedia Guide that bets in AR/VR, AI, Gamification, and Blockchain to revolutionise the visitor experience and engagement with fans, in the Stadium and at home. Their main goal is to improve the fans’ experience (in-stadium and at home) while engaging, promoting sales, collecting more data, and generating better results.