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Northern Ireland ports tech firm STATsports scores hat-trick with national sides

By Rachel Martin

A Newry-based sports analytics firm whose technology is used by some of the world's best known sports teams has scored a hat-trick with major European national teams.

STATsports uses a combination of GPS, accelerometers and magnetometers to allow coaches and athletes to measure the minutiae of their performance.

The firm, which employs 40 people, was founded in Newry just 10 years ago, but already works with several Premier League football teams, national rugby teams and around half of the UK's Championship football teams.

But the latest deals will now see it work alongside the Scottish, Portuguese and Danish national football associations.

The technology developed by entrepreneurs Alan Clarke and Sean O'Connor can be used to measure the speed, distance covered, number of tackles and force used, as well as the force each foot strikes the ground with as the player runs.

It can also be used to measure players' heart rates so that training length and intensity can be adapted to their needs.

So far it has been used across football, American football, basketball, GAA and rugby.

STATsports users include FC Barcelona, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough FC, the Federation Francaise de Rugby and the South African Rugby Union (SARU).

The firm also has bases in Chicago and London as well as sales reps based in China.

Speaking to the Sunday Business Post, Richard Byrne, head of business development, said that a "major funding round" was expected later in the year but would not disclose the amount.

He said: "We're at a stage now where we need a lot of money to grow and it looks like it's probably coming down the line fairly shortly."

STATSports' trackers come in two forms - a Viper pod and an Apex pod. The pods are worn by some of the best athletes in the world and are used for performance monitoring on a daily basis by collecting both training and game-day data.

The Viper pod is capable of streaming live data in real-time as well as logging all data for post-session download.

The technology allows for unobtrusive feedback on individual player and team performance. The device is designed to taper and curve gently to fit the player's back.

The pod is held in a bib which can be wore over or under the player's shirt. Coaches say the equipment becomes part of the kit the same way as boots and shirts.

STATSports' expansion has taken the company into America, where it works with a host of MLS, NFL and NBA teams, and they are also branching into China.

In the US, STATsports customers include LA Galaxy - the US Major League Soccer team which famously signed David Beckham in 2007, NFL teams the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs, NBA teams the Milwaukee Bucks, the New York Knicks and the Washington Wizards as well as Nike USA.

The expansion continues closer to home too where 14 Premier League teams and around half of the clubs in the Championship are now working with STATSports.

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