The summer of 2023 was a turbulent one for Chelsea FC, on-and-off the pitch. Whilst it was spending hundreds of millions of pounds on player transfers, the club was also looking to sign a new front-of-shirt sponsor, which prolonged into the start of the Premier League campaign.
Eventually, the club announced Infinite Athlete – an AI-powered sports tech and data company – as its shirt sponsor, a company that Premier League fans may not have been very familiar with.
Charlie Ebersol, CEO of Infinite Athlete, spoke to Insider Sport on how the Chelsea deal came together, as well as the vast potential AI-powered sports data can play in football and other potential sports ventures in the future.
Insider Sport: Firstly Charlie, how did the Chelsea sponsorship deal come about after the club spent the entirety of the summer searching for a shirt sponsor?
Charlie Ebersol: We started working together in spring 2023 to create an interactive product that we integrated within the Chelsea app. We launched Match View X at the Wrexham vs Chelsea match during the summer tour and it was clear that Chelsea fans were thirsty for more engagement and a deeper connection with the club.
We had just completed the acquisition of Biocore LLC., the largest player health and safety performance company in the world, and were in the process of rebranding as Infinite Athlete.
I have always believed success in business is as much about timing as anything else. If you are prepared, and an opportunity presents itself, that is how great things happen and so it made absolute sense for us to expand our technology partnership with Chelsea to become their front of shirt sponsor for this season, introducing the brand to the world.
Chelsea’s ownership, as well as its executive team, share our excitement for innovative technology and have the same goal to improve the overall experience for fans, players and the game itself.
Insider Sport: What makes Chelsea the right football club and partner to showcase the Infinite Athlete brand across the UK?
Ebersol: We had a great working relationship with Chelsea for a number of months through our technology deal, so extending our partnership felt very organic.
They were willing to take the leap with us and launch MVX, a first-of-its-kind product, to their global fanbase. Plus, they are one of the biggest football clubs in the world.
In addition to MVX, we’re providing a full data spectrum for both the men’s and women’s teams, which provides automated highlights production, performance, injury and data analytics which we believe will support clubs and leagues around the world.
Insider Sport: With brand exposure out there via Chelsea, what has the company done to inform football fans across the UK on who the company is and how you are using AI to shape the game’s analytics?
Ebersol: We are still at the beginning of our journey. Right now, our technology is being used by Chelsea and its fans specifically, but as other leagues and clubs adopt our platform, we will naturally engage with the wider football fanbase.
Our goal is to be the universal operating system for sports – including football, so our intention is to work with all clubs at some point in the near future.
Insider Sport: What are some of the possibilities and opportunities AI presents itself to not just the players, but also the fans?
Ebersol: Infinite Athlete combines Tempus Ex Machina’s sports video and data technology with injury and performance analytics from partner company Biocore, run by world-leading injury biomechanics engineers and scientists.
We give coaches, physios and players access to a wide range of data in one place that can be used to assess injury risk and player wellness, amongst other things.
From a fan perspective, we launched MVX on the Chelsea summer tour, for instance, available inside the Chelsea app. It’s an AI platform on top of the broadcast which breaks down every single event in-game and allows fans to watch the highlights and see every piece of data that is being generated about the game and the specific players involved in each action.
Last but not least, in Q4 we launched the Infinite Athlete Partner Network, which opens up our API to a wide range of sports development companies, big and small, across different categories.
A big part of our vision has always been that if we open up access to synchronised sports data and video, people will build products that previously weren’t possible and exceed our imaginations.
Insider Sport: Are there any other football clubs in the UK and across Europe the company is interested in entering into?
Ebersol: Our vision is to become the operating system for all sports, providing the foundational platform that is largely ‘input agnostic’ in much the same way as Google Maps has become for so many reciprocal businesses, such as Uber and AirBnB.
While we are honoured to partner with Chelsea FC, this is just the first step in our plan to become an integral element in football and other sports around the world. We are continuously in conversation with other clubs and leagues both in England and across the globe.
Our focus is to position Infinite Athlete to serve as a single solution from which global leagues can improve all aspects of broadcast viewing, athlete performance, fan experience, coaching and operations to empower a better experience, with greater opportunities across the landscape of sports.
Insider Sport: Can you speak on the deal Infinite Athlete has in place with the NFL Players Association and how that is benefitting football players in the US?
Ebersol: Our partnership with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) aims to unlock commercial opportunities for its members and will give us access to the NFLPA’s group licensing rights and access to athletes, both of which will aid technological and commercial development.
We use our FusionFeed technology, which can synchronise and deliver every available piece of data generated by every data and video vendor at a live sporting event – including every camera angle, stats platform, and player tracker covering every play.
This technology will unlock fan engagement and monetisation opportunities for NFLPA’s athletes, allowing them more ownership, visibility, and creativity with their data. We’ll develop new products over the course of time as well.
Insider Sport: Are there any other sports Infinite Athlete is looking to embed its technology into?
Ebersol: Infinite Athlete technology will be used by a wide range of sports in future, of that I have no doubt. Beyond football and American Football, we have partnered with TGL, the tech-focused golf series founded by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s TMRW Sports’ venture.