Manchester United reportedly have plans for players to wear cameras during matches so that fans can watch games from the perspective of their favourite player. In a move driven by former CEO Ed Woodward and the Glazers, who own the club, supporters would be able to pay to view the game through the lens of Marcus Rashford or Bruno Fernandes.
The Glazers are said to believe that they would make huge sums of money by asking fans to pay a ‘small fee’ to experience a match through the eyes of one of the players. The plans would see stars don Augmented Reality (AR) cameras.
United chiefs reportedly believe that their vast global fanbase would be keen on the idea.
“The big idea, or maybe the big hope, that the Glazers have – and this was driven by Ed Woodward – is the emergence of Augmented Reality,” a source told ESPN.
“The technology is already out there whereby a player could have an AR wearable on his body and a supporter anywhere in the world could pay a small fee to experience a game through the eyes of his favourite player.
“Just imagine how much United could generate from their huge global fanbase if supporters were able to pay to be Marcus Rashford or Bruno Fernandes for 90 minutes?”
Woodward reportedly confirmed that AR represents a “huge opportunity”.
Bodycams for players have been trialled by broadcaster TNT Sports this season. A player from each team wore one during the warm-ups before Tottenham’s trip to Wolves in November.
That followed Aston Villa’s Youri Tielemans wearing a camera during a pre-season match against Newcastle. The technology involves the players wearing a GPS vest with a minuscule camera stitched on.
Players have a small hole cut on their shirt so that the camera can see through. The camera has a shatter-proof screen and is so lightweight to the point of being marketed as ‘invisible’.
IFAB’s laws prevent players from wearing the technology during competitive games, in bad news for United and the Glazers. However, the Premier League are open to the idea of bringing fans closer to the players.
“Finding new ways to bring our fans closer to the action on the pitch is a key focus for us,” Premier League head of media operations and innovation, Rachael Nightingale, said when the cameras were worn before Wolves vs Spurs.
“After the success of the bodycam trials at the Premier League Summer Series, we are looking forward to seeing what results this test will deliver for TNT and our audiences around the world.”