Barnsley FC digiBOARD FC Business

Everyone On Board: FC Business Focus on ADI Stadium Technology

ADI's Mission to make digiBOARD digital perimeter systems accessible to all Football clubs is featured in the latest issue of FC Business Magazine

Once the preserve of the Premier League, digital perimeter is becoming more accessible to clubs further down the leagues, thanks in no small part to the efforts of digital stadium specialists ADI.

For almost all of the 15 years since digital perimeter appeared in UK stadia, the domestic market has been dominated by one name. With nearly 30 digiBOARD systems in current use, ADI operate more systems than the rest of their competitors combined.

The market continues to grow; last year ADI installed 10 digiBOARD digital perimeter systems in football stadiums. It was their busiest year of sports installations to date, but what was most interesting was the clubs they were installed at. Last year’s installations included not just a host of Premier League and Championship clubs, but also a couple in League One club and one in League Two. In total a spread of 62 league places separated the spread of 10 installations.

But this is just the beginning; ADI are on a mission to make digiBOARD accessible to as many clubs as possible, says ADI Head of Client Engagement Claire Fitzgerald-Firth.

“The key is to make a range of solutions to fit the different needs and budgets of clubs at different levels. Premier League and Championship digiBOARDs are driven by advertising revenues targeting huge global television audiences. For lower league clubs it’s more about providing more value for local partners. So there’s still commercial value but the costs of ownership and operation need to scale accordingly.

“It’s important to us that we can do that while still offering the levels of quality that we are renowned for. We operate over half of the digiBOARD systems throughout UK football stadia; we have a reputation to protect. So we’ve concentrated on looking at where we can add value throughout the whole lifetime of the solution, not just the initial purchase.”

Burnley FC DigiBOARD

Multi-level approach

Whilst many of their competitors offer only a single type of product, ADI offer choices at different levels – for instance Bayern Munich and Arsenal have both recently taken delivery of UEFA-compliant 6mm systems, whilst Villa Park is now home to an imposing 1200mm high system.

ADI CEO Geraint Williams explains the value that ADI are able to add: “As a manufacturer, we have the advantage of being able to design products specifically to suit the needs of our customers and the sightlines of their stadium.

Alongside a new open-framed UEFA product, 2021 saw the launch of our brand new MTD digiBOARD range, built around our revolutionary new MT module. It’s thinner, lighter and more robust than anything we’ve built before – significantly the modules are fully sealed units with just a single cable in and out. As well as maximising reliability, it simplifies maintenance. For lower league clubs this means they can operate and maintain the system themselves without the need for a dedicated matchday technician. If any module needs to be replaced, they simply switch it with a spare one and send it back to our service bench to be repaired – it’s really simple.

“Our solutions come with ADI’s own proprietary digiSOFT playback software. It’s a really powerful piece of bespoke software that we’ve continually developed over the last decade to operate stadium signage platforms. And because we operate all our systems with it, our customers know that they have full backup and support from ADI’s extensive tech team not just throughout the week but on a matchday should they need it.

MT Series digiBOARD digital perimeter LED from ADI

"So we have two very clear levels of offering now, which really suit the value of the content on the boards. At the top level where income is driven by large tv audiences, we have a fully-supported model where we provide matchday technicians, content managers and operators. And in lower leagues where income is driven by activating local partnership we have a model where the club operates and maintain their own systems with full support from ADI.”

ADI CEO Geraint Williams
Forest Green Rovers Cardiff City

Sustainability

Sustainability has played a big part in the design of ADI’s new MT range and indeed many of the features that lower the cost of ownership also make the product far more sustainable not just in year one but throughout the operating lifetime.

Being slimmer and lighter there’s obviously fewer materials used in manufacture, but that also translates into less energy used in shipping and lighter and slimmer structures.  A new chipset design brings lower consumption when the boards are turned on, whilst the fact that each module is a fully sealed IP-rated unit means that they can be fully powered down between matches, saving huge amounts of energy and cost over the product lifespan.

Nowhere are ADI’s green credentials demonstrated more clearly than at last year’s digiBOARD and scoreboard installation at Forest Green Rovers – the world’s greenest football club.  In a partnership with home electricity storage specialists Powervault, the system isn’t connected to the national grid, but instead to a large battery which is charged between matches by solar and wind power at the club, making it the world’s greenest digital stadium platform!

“This is a great example of how we’re seeking to continually innovate” concludes Williams, “it’s a model we’re currently looking to expand to other clubs across all leagues and a way that we think enables them to take very real steps to carbon neutrality, lower long term costs and demonstrate their sustainable ambitions in a very visible way.”

PowerVault Battery
This article was recently published in the February issue of FC Business magazine – you can see the digital version embedded below:
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