BEST INNOVATION BY A CLUB
o Arsenal Football Club
To offset the emissions generated in the matchday programme production process over the course of a season, Arsenal FC are planting ‘The Arsenal Forest in Africa’.
Partnering with not-for-profit organisation CarbonLink, it has been calculated that the club need to plant 12,500 trees – which will each absorb 20kg of CO2 over the next 10 years – to offset the production.
In addition the Arsenal Forest is being supplemented by Gunners fans at £1 per tree – a quirky gift for the fan who has everything – and the Forest now has over 15,000 trees.
The Forest creates work for 60 people in Bore, Kenya, predominantly women, propagating, potting, preparing, planting and nurturing the trees, the wages provide them with the chance to send their children to school and create other business opportunities.
The Forest will create a new ecosystem where flora and fauna can flourish on land suffering from deforestation. Arsenal have also supplied the workers and local Bore Lions football team with kit, nurturing a strong Arsenal identity in the region.
The Arsenal Forest has been on national news channels in Kenya and a Visitors Centre has been built to cater for the burgeoning interest across the country.
o Brentford Football Club
It has been the norm for over a decade for a football club to roll-out a new set of home, away and even third kits each season. In 2021, Brentford FC challenged this status quo and decided to keep its home shirt for two seasons.
The move has benefitted both the Club’s fans and the environment. It has enabled Brentford and Umbro to create supply-chain efficiencies for the Club’s most popular retail item and has saved fans money, especially those with young children, after what has been a tough financial period for many during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reaction to the decision has been near universally popular, with Brentford fans, the media and other Club’s fans reacting positively, and it has reignited a much-needed debate about the sustainability of football for future generations.
o Everton Football Club
Everton Football Club and Technical Partner, hummel, collaborated to raise awareness of inclusivity in sport, promote and celebrate the goals of Copenhagen 2021 World Pride and the EuroGames, and generate the funds to leave a difference-making legacy on Merseyside through delivery of LGBTI+ awareness sessions.
This initiative was part of the Club’s ‘All Together Now’ equality and diversity campaign and hummel’s own ‘Change The World Through Sport’ pledge.
Specially designed ‘Rainbow’ warm-up shirts were worn by Everton’s Men’s First Team for their opening Premier League fixture of the 2021/22 season against Southampton at Goodison Park and by Everton Women for a pre-season friendly against Brighton & Hove Albion on the same weekend.
The shirts were later auctioned and retailed, raising more than £12,000 to allow Everton in the Community to broaden its delivery of LGBTI+ awareness and celebration across its youth engagement programmes and in local schools.
The collaboration also led to the creation of inclusive football training sessions, an awareness-raising football tournament, and a competition for youngsters that will see a winning poster design recreated as a mural in Liverpool to celebrate inclusivity. Other entries will also feature in a city-wide poster campaign.
o Leicester City Football Club
The UK sports turf industry is growing in stature, with UK operatives widely considered as the best in the world. Research, however, has reported a lack of new talent joining the industry and under-30s making it their career choice. It is widely recognised that these challenges are a future risk and may impact on the quality of grass-related sports surfaces and subsequent participation.
For many years, the industry has needed a central hub to harness talent and produce the next generation of sports turf operatives, mechanics, horticulturists and greenkeepers – this is where LCFC’s Sports Turf Academy fulfils that requirement.
The STA was a vision driven by the industry’s needs and brought forward by Head of Sports Turf & Grounds, John Ledwidge. The business model is a worldwide first and demonstrates the Club’s commitment to investing in innovation.
o Liverpool Football Club
Summary of headline achievements, to date, related to the environmental targets associated with The Red Way:
• Built the associated Sustainability Management System (SEMS) and operational framework to deliver The Red Way strategy and obtained external certification from the British Standards Institution (BSI) to ISO 20121
• Increased our position on the Sport Positive Premier League Environmental Sustainability League Table position – moving from joint 5th in 2021 to joint 1st in 2021
The highest increase from any club in 2021 An achievement, LFC believe is based on our holistic approach to addressing environmental impacts
• Certification of LFC’s Energy Management System (EnMS) to ISO50001 has also achieved
• Signatory to the UN Sport for Climate Action Framework (higher ambition), but LFC are committed to exceeding this framework’s targets, having devised a robust carbon reduction plan to ensure action contributing to LFC’s Net Zero ambitions is accelerated
• For several years, 100% renewable energy, electricity & gas, has been sourced for use across all LFC UK operated sites
• The transition to sustainable aviation fuels for charter flights and biofuels in team coaches has already commenced
o Manchester City Football Club
In August 2021, Manchester City Football Club announced the signing of England international Jack Grealish on a six-year deal. The players first ever move and a record-breaking signing for the Club and in British football, the transfer was the signature moment in the Clubs summer business.
Producing the announcement of the most expensive signing in British football history whilst under strict COVID-19 restrictions wasn’t easy but the Club managed to capture the imagination of the player and our fans. From capturing the moment the player found out he got the number 10 shirt, worn the previous season by club legend Sergio Aguero to producing an in-depth behind the scenes look at Jack’s every move and revealing Jack in-person to fans outside of the Etihad Stadium, we wanted to give our fans the ultimate inside view and fully involve them in one of the most exciting signing’s for the club.
o Norwich City Football Club
Here at Norwich City Football Club, we developed an innovative solution to the challenge we faced of engaging with a younger audience.
Looking into club trends and data, we identified that the most challenging demographic for us to reach was that of 16–25-year-olds. Following extensive research, the clear activity that the majority of people within that age group engaged with was gaming, esports and video content.
Following that research, we launched an official esports team in October 2021, creating a 3-year strategy, starting off by entering the FIFA esports scene with plans currently underway to diversify into a second gaming title.
We decided to differentiate our team branding and move away from Norwich City Football Club by naming the team 1J Esports and creating a new brand identity. The idea behind 1J Esports came as a subtle nod to our club heritage and location given the postcode here at Carrow Road is NR1 1JE.
Since then we have launched bespoke social media channels for 1J Esports (Twitter & Twitch), signed 2 professional FIFA players and a content creator to our roster, and hosted regular streams, tournament, and content on our channels.
o Southampton Football Club
Proud of our 136-year heritage, but constantly moving forward, Southampton Football Club is renowned for doing things differently and using its strong set of guiding principles to turn potential into excellence, both on and off the pitch. This idea runs through everything we do, and one of our five core values is innovation.
2021 marked twenty years of the club at St Mary’s Stadium and Hummel were announced as our kit partner from the 21/22 season for the next five years.
Although it was new partnership, this is not a new relationship. Hummel first partnered with us in 1987 and were with the club for four seasons. To celebrate, we wanted to launch a home kit with a difference – something that celebrated our core values of innovation and aspiration whilst also being steeped in our history, giving a nod to our relationship with hummel. A look to the future whilst paying tribute to the past.
Working in partnership with our creative agency Formidable, we set out to give the new kit a digital makeover by creating the world’s first AR-integrated football shirt, with exclusive content activated by scanning special markers on the physical shirt with a smartphone.