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Liverpool FC's digital boss on why VR will change football ‘sooner rather than later’

Before the coronavirus outbreak took hold and English Premier League games were frozen completely, Liverpool was 25 points clear

Drew Crisp, Liverpool FC’s senior vice-president of digital media and marketing, believes that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will become commonplace in the beautiful game, but only as 5G starts to properly mature.

“5G is going to bring the real technical possibility of using VR and AR properly, and as 5G matures and more people sign up, I expect to see real movement in those areas within the next 12 to18 months,” said Crisp during an interview recorded as part of The Drum's Digital Transformation Festival.

“It could mean that for post-match highlights we’re able to show a really immersive replay of a match, which shows [audiences] things through the eyes of one of our players.

“People will always go to stadiums as the live atmosphere is so addictive, but where some people are unable to do this tech like VR can come in and create a good experience," he added. "We would expect it to play a bigger role sooner rather than later; it’s just about being able to scale it properly to the international market, and we’re not quite there yet.”

Before the coronavirus outbreak took hold and English Premier League games were frozen completely, Liverpool was 25 points clear at the top of the table and looked certain to deliver its first title since the 1989/90 season.

When asked how the pandemic has impacted Liverpool’s marketing plans, Crisp responded: “We’re in unprecedented times, but our main priority is protecting our players and staff.

“In the future, there might be an opportunity to catch up with our players remotely and do diary-style content. We’re also looking at launching competitions too. You’re main goal is to ensure you’re creating content that keeps people engaged and happy during a difficult period. You need to give fans escapism, but I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a challenge.”

Crisp was also asked which kind of content works best for football clubs when it comes to engagement and sponsors making a genuine connection with fans. He pointed to a recent Nivea campaign, where Liverpool’s star defender Virgil van Dijk surprised a Scouse supermarket worker with the chance to meet all of his favourite players.

“It got amazing hits as it created an emotional reaction and fans could see it was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he concluded.

“If brands find a way to use our players and conjure up emotions then they will really win; you need to give back to someone in the community to make an impression with our fan base.”

You can watch the full interview here and view more content from The Drum's Digital Transformation Festival here.

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