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Fax out of football: Bringing the beautiful game into the 21st Century

Football has come a long way over the past few decades. Whether it is the rise of the women’s game or the use of technology on the pitch, the sport has made a concerted effort towards modernisation.

However, despite the investment football clubs have made in improving the technology they use to train and analyse the performance of their star players, there are still archaic practices that exist beyond the pitch.

Tech on the pitch

The stark difference in the ways teams prepare for matches is a clear indicator of how far technology has come. In training, players are wearing devices that allow their coach to monitor progress and help improve their performance.

The use of goal-line technology has become a common practice on the pitch; allowing the referee to be alerted on his watch as soon as a ball crosses the line. We have even seen the start of wearables being used in friendly matches to give regular health updates to management while the game is in-play.

Beyond the pitch

Despite this positive progress, there is a contrast once you go beyond the pitch. In the offices of major football clubs, fax machines are still widely used as a form of communication. Using this archaic device soon becomes a major concern when these machines are used for signing and transferring players at the top level.

Relying on signing multi-million pound players using an outdated and often ignored piece of technology is a huge threat to a club’s success. The contracts require multiple signatures before they are verified, but when a document does not transmit, clubs risk losing potentially key players, all thanks to a malfunctioning piece of kit.

From a security point of view, fax machines also present unnecessary risk. Unless a witness is present at every stage during the contract signing, it becomes difficult to ensure that a contract is not signed fraudulently. Clubs could then be faced with a situation in which a player could repudiate their contract. A player could simply say, ‘I didn’t sign that’, and using fax can make it difficult to disprove the assertion.

Going fully digital

With modern digital methods of communicating becoming the norm for society, you couldn’t be blamed for assuming that the fax machine has had its day. The most surprising thing is that this message hasn’t permeated the business operations of the game’s elite clubs. There are methods, such as electronic signatures, that football clubs can employ right now that are easier, quicker and above all safer for this important moment in the football calendar.

Getting the transfer window to go fully digital would be a huge leap forward for the football industry. No longer would last-minute deals be scrapped and the most valuable assets that the clubs have, players, would be properly protected.

The various parties that need to sign a contract will be able to complete the action simultaneously, regardless of their location - be it from a mobile, tablet or laptop. They will not need to rely on someone receiving a message in the office before sending it on to other parties. All that can be done with a touch of a button or a click of a mouse.

Not only could going digital help secure those key players, it will also alleviate the stress that comes with the last minutes of the transfer deadline. These nail-biting moments when a club hopes their contract will be received will be a thing of the past and they, along with the fans, can get back to doing what they do best: getting results on the pitch.

Clubs need to kick the fax out of football and bring the beautiful game into the 21st Century.

Jesper Frederiksen, VP and General Manager EMEA at DocuSign

Jesper Frederiksen
Jesper Frederiksen, Okta’s GM for EMEA, spent four years prior to Okta with DocuSign, leading the company’s expansion across EMEA as VP and GM. Before that, Jesper held leadership roles at Parallels, Symantec, Google and NetIQ.