Premiership football club Crystal Palace FC has started using a new cloud-based security app from tiny UK startup Pushfor to securely communicate with its players and avoid the sort embarrassing leak that landed the club with a fine at the beginning of last season.
Fans will cast their minds back to 5 April 2014 and a crucial relegation match with Cardiff City, which ended with a 3-0 away win for the London club.
After the game, Cardiff learned that Crystal Palace had allegedly been informed of the starting line-up ahead of the game - normally highly sensitive information- giving them an unfair advantage when deciding their own formation.
How the information leaked is still a matter of controversy but it is probably not coincidental that Crystal Palace want to avoid the same sort of leak on its side by using Pushfor. In August, the club was fined an undisclosed sum by the Premier League board over the incident.
The new system allows Crystal Palace to send the players performance analysis of the sort it had previously delivered using old-fashioned DVDs, both of their game-play and that of future opponents.
Cloud analytics allow coaching staff to choose what data is seen and by whom and to keep track of what has been viewed. It is also possible to set expiration dates for content, recall videos after sharing, and limit how many times they can be accessed.
Importantly, the club can keep an eye on the whole chain of communication between coaching staff and players and have visibility of what was said. All content is accessed using an Android or iPhone app or via the web.
“Pushfor has become a fail-safe tool for us and a vital part of our working week,” said Liam Sweeting, Senior Performance Analyst at Crystal Palace FC.
“Players are using Pushfor in their own unique way, to suit their individual needs; some are known to watch videos in the comfort of their home, while others use it right before a match.”
In many ways it is remarkable that more clubs don’t secure all player communications which as far as outsiders can tell in the vast majority of occasions still take place in person, via phone or using physical media.
“Football is becoming smarter and data performance analysis has paved the way for a statistics-driven approach to most areas of sports. The way players receive information must match this revolution,” echoed Pushfor co-founder, John Safa.
“Pushfor helps Crystal Palace provide the right content to the right players at the right time, allowing them to focus on their improvements in private,” he said.”
The news is a bit of a coup for UK-based Pushfor, founded in 2013 but still a very small outfit. One of the claimed advantages of the platform is the ability to control almost any kind of content or file type or file size. In 2015, that can still be remarkably difficult to achieve, with or without security.