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Why the Premier League is stuck in the Stone Age

The use of technology within the sporting world is extensive. Players on the pitch or court, or in the pool, make the most of sports science in their diets and training. Strength and conditioning equipment is state-of-the-art, with some of the biggest names in professional sport investing huge sums of money in training facilities.

Even the kit (opens in new tab) worn by athletes uses technological innovations to provide every advantage possible. For teams, an inch or a split second can prove vital and kit needs to reflect this.

Read more: How technology on the football pitch has changed over the years (opens in new tab)

Then there are the bigger technology trends within sport: goal-line technology, video referrals, vanishing spray and more. Officials need the capability to get decisions right. The human nature of sport is what makes it great, but when serious money, reputations and jobs are on the line, there have to be ways to measure, map and analyse events accurately.

Football has finally taken great steps in making sure technology is used appropriately for the benefit of the players, managers and fans the world over. However, all this investment in technology on the pitch is still not being reflected in the back-offices of sporting organisations, such as the Premier League.

Back office business

The European football transfer window is a perfect example of this. Multi-million pound player trades are still processed using outdated pieces of technology, like fax machines. Ask any fan and they'll be able to give you an example of a missed signing which affected their team's performance for a season.

The very nature of deadline day means that trades go right down to the wire. Just like any other legal or business transaction, high-value transfers can only be approved if the correct forms are signed. These include medical documents, transfer agreements between clubs, player wages, international clearance and visa issues. On deadline day, club secretaries face a mountain of paperwork but there is no extra time in business: deals need to be concluded promptly.

Sign on the digital dotted line

It's baffling that football, an industry leader in performance management, sports science and sponsorship, is so behind the times when it comes to something as simple as paperwork. In our digital-driven world, taking any business transaction offline, processing it and then bringing back online is colossal waste of time and money. There's also greater security risks involved.

We work with organisations across every industry to help them become truly digital. They recognise that digital is the future of business.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds can be saved in material costs alone by using eSignatures to remove the need to print, scan or fax a document. Time savings follow. After all, why wait three days to deliver a letter when you can just send it digitally? Digital Transaction Management (DTM) technology needs to be adopted by football bodies for the business and human benefits it brings.

Beautiful game to beautiful business?

Pundits, players and football fans alike have praised technological innovation on the pitch. They'll be singing its praises when signings follow suit. The back offices of the Premier League don't need to turn into furnaces during every transfer signing window. Football needs to go digital. With on-pitch technology already seeing adoption, it's only a matter of time until club secretaries make the most of digital business technology.

Mark Law is the head of business development and a sports technology expert at DocuSign (opens in new tab)