Southampton FC has announced it is moving forward with Turfcoach and Atom Stars, which won the top prize in the club’s Future of Football programme, an initiative coordinated with betting partner Yolo Group

Southampton FC, along with Sport Republic and Yolo Group, kicked off The Future of Football challenge with 10 web3 and sport tech startups in March of this year, with an event at St Mary’s Stadium officially launching the initiative.

Jérôme Dewavrin, CEO of Atom Stars, said: “We believe we can change the landscape of fan engagement, by empowering Southampton FC, Sport Republic and Yolo Group with our technologies.”

The company provides an ‘off-the-shelf gamified experience’ in virtual environments and allows clubs to experiment at speed and connect with fans in a unique way that aims to give them a sense of belonging and drive new revenue streams.

Dewavrin added: “Together, we revolutionise the way sports organisations and brands engage, especially with Gen Z fans, by providing off-the-shelf gamified tailored experiences in virtual environments, allowing brands to experiment at speed and embrace this fantastic new channel.”

Estonia-based Yolo Group has been a partner of the Saints since 2021 via its sports betting holding,, which has worked with the club on previous initiatives such as the opening of the Saints Social Club, and other marketing activations.

The four-week virtual sprint programme, powered by Sport Republic and Yolo Group, offered direct access to Southampton’s business and commercial decision-makers. In a collaborative environment, teams prototyped solutions to build future value for the club, on and off the pitch.

In detail, of the 260 original applications to the Future of Football programme – from 45 countries – six teams pitched in the finals for a potential commercial relationship with SFC and for the opportunity to win a £100,000 discretionary prize pool provided by Yolo and Sports Republic. 

The finale was judged by a panel of representatives from the club, Sport Republic, and Yolo Group. The winners will now go on to further develop their proposal with the club.

Christian Theil, CEO of Turfcoach, stated: “Throughout the programme, we were able to interact with a variety of stakeholders at SFC, including groundskeepers, estate managers, and the performance team.”

Turfcoach is pioneering AI for turf management with a digital platform and custom sensor. With it, SFC protects players from injuries, reduces turf maintenance costs, increases potential pitch usage time, and benefits coaches by providing a ‘unique data source’ for optimising player performance.

Theil continued: “This collaborative approach enabled us to craft a tailored business proposal that was fortunately well-received.”  

Other finalists included; MLA, CollectID, Fanprime and X-Plora, each with an independent approach to fan engagement.

Sarah Batters, Director of Partnerships and Marketing for Southampton FC, concluded: “It’s been fantastic to work with all the teams involved and to have such a diverse range of organisations. 

“Both Atom Stars and Turfcoach really push the boundaries and are at the forefront of technology in different ways. We would like to congratulate them as the winners and we look forward to working more closely with them in the future.”

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