Armchair fans paid to watch football

IT IS the dream job for millions, but now getting paid to watch football has become a reality.

Thanks to researchers at the University of Glasgow, football fans will be able to earn money while staying in the comfort of their own home.

Academics are looking for 15 lucky fans to help develop a new technology that could change match days as we know them.

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Having received 400,000 in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Glasgow University researchers, along with colleagues from the University of California and Microsoft are developing systems where fans can use mobile phones to debate the day's action.

Pictures, blogs, and comments will be sent to each other's mobiles, as groups of fans catalogue their match-day experience and share their opinions on everything from the standard of the pies to the quality of play.

The idea is that fans up and down the country can debate key decisions, such as disputed penalties, goals, free-kicks and sendings-off as they happen, even if they are not there.

Stuart Reeves, a research assistant with the Department of Computer Science at Glasgow, said: "We want to find out what fans talk about and their reactions to events at a game.

"The idea is to give some power back to sports fans, so they can share information and make their own record and analysis of matches and get more out of the experience. We will then use this information to design data-sharing applications which enable photo-sharing and blogging in real time, using wi-fi, GPS and 3G technology.

"Sports fans are very insightful and are skilled at knowing what is going on in a game," he said. "They are often highly critical, but that is part of supporting a team, so we want to design a system that will support their debate and their commitment."

Fans will receive 5 each for being filmed in groups as they watch a game, and 10 for an hour-long interview.

Dr Matthew Chalmers said: "Football has a great social atmosphere, and this experiment is about creating a framework where people going to a game and those staying at home can share their experiences."

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The researchers experimented earlier this year at T in the Park where festival-goers sent back pictures and messages throughout their weekend. "We really just got pictures of alcohol and mud," Dr Chalmers said.

"But, because football creates such a social environment, we hope this will be a great success bringing fans together."


STEVE Morris is just the kind of football enthusiast the job advert is aimed at, but he prefers the real thing. Steve, 47, from Mid Calder is a member of the Tartan Army Tap Shop and has spent his life following Scotland all over Europe.

He said: "Earlier this year a group of friends and I wanted to go and see Scotland play Macedonia and Iceland as a double header. The only way we could do this was go to was to fly to Pula in Croatia where we stayed for six days before travelling via trains, busses and more planes through Slovenia, Romania, and then into Macedonia. We saw Scotland lose 0-1, then flew to Copenhagen, and then on to Iceland to see Scotland win 2-1.

Mr Morris welcomed the idea of using mobiles to keep fans at home involved.

He said: "It is a good idea but there is no substitute for the real thing. "This scheme could work for a lot of people who can't make it to matches or simply prefer to watch football at home. But you can't reproduce the atmosphere of a match on a mobile phone."

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