Google has added a new feature to its Calendar product that allows registered users to subscribe to a free list of upcoming fixtures for any of the 20 Premier League clubs. That’s great news for football supporters, but it may be a thorn in the side for the Premier League and another issue that will add considerable strain to the relationship between the league and the technology company (the Premier League sued YouTube, now owned by Google, in May 2007).
That’s because football fixtures are licensed to third-parties by a company called Football DataCo who is owned by the Premier League and Football League. Third-party companies such as newspapers and websites have to pay Football DataCo to publish fixtures. For example, newspapers printing the fixtures of all clubs are charged around £3,931 plus VAT by DataCo for a date ordered listing.
The new setting in Google Calendar, which is a free product, allows football supporters to add upcoming fixtures for any or all of the 20 Premier League clubs. But what may generate additional concern among the Premier League is that Google also allows Calendar users to embed their calendars on their own websites. So, for example, a football supporter could create a site with all of the 2009-2010 Premier League fixtures for Manchester United. I tried to create one myself to illustrate how easy it was, and it literally took two minutes (view the example here).
That one feature alone could create a whole lot of headaches for the Premier League as unsuspecting blog owners are now able to add the calendar as a widget either to their homepage or their desktop.
Similarly, Google raised eyebrows when it added a new feature to its search engine that displays football fixtures for Premier League teams.
By the way, to add the fixtures to your Google Calendar, log in or sign up for Google Calendar, then click the “New: Sports Calendars” link at the top right of the page, then select the middle tab labeled “Sports,” drill down to soccer and you’ll see that the Premier League is listed first. Major League Soccer is also included as well as 20-30 other leagues and cup tournaments.