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Newry-based tech central to Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

The Premier league is scheduled to get back to action today, partially thanks to the input and support of Newry-based firm, STATSports. The firm supplied performance analysis equipment and services to eleven top-flight clubs including Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal.

STATSports technology has strong links with UCD, as it is used by Leinster Rugby at their UCD base to monitor training and performance, as well as assisted many of UCD’s elite athletes in training and performance, notably the plethora of UCD alumni and current students who have worn the Irish rugby shirt in recent years.

The technology has been extensively used by elite GAA players who have passed through Billings Park and represented UCD GAA. Thirteen past or present UCD players were part of the Dublin Gaelic Football panel which completed an historic five-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles this year, with STATSports technology abetting the players desire to reach peak performance.

A landmark white paper on ‘Player Proximity’ is based on data gathered from eleven training sessions involving four clubs from 25 February to 12 March 2020, and has paved the way for the safe return of Premier League football to our television screens.

Paul Pogba
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba wearing the STATSports player tracking technology during a match. Photo: Supplied

STATSport Co-founder, Sean O’Connor said, “we looked at pre-Covid training sessions and imagined a two-metre radius around someone’s feet. The number of times players incur on other players can then be measured.”

To the delight of all stakeholders involved in ‘Project Restart’, the average incursion lasts for just 3.3 seconds, significantly lower than the currently-believed threshold to contract Covid-19. Indeed, the majority of incursions last less than one second. STATSports have been able to assist clubs in preparing for the restart by analysing the number of incursions per training drill and designing sessions accordingly.

O’Connor said, “our data discovered that one club had almost no incursions in their warm-ups, while another club had forty. Therefore, they will have to adapt their warm-ups.” Interestingly, large and medium-sided games as well as small group technical drills produced less than two incursions per minute on average.

The technology has also allowed for a track-and-trace system in football. If a player tests positive for Covid-19, the data can be analysed to identify which players have been within a two-metre radius of the player in question.

STATSports technology has taken on a new significance in recent months during the lockdown as clubs monitored the fitness of their stars from remote locations. The ability to track data in real time allows players to use their smartphones or watches to ensure they have reached the prescribed workload from strength and conditioning specialists.

Sports scientists were able to fuel the competitive juices of their players through mini squad league tables for distance covered, high speed running, top speed and other metrics.

Premier League football is back, with Aston Villa will take on Sheffield United at 6pm tonight, followed by the clash of Manchester City and Arsenal at 8pm.

Ruairi McCormack – Sports reporter

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