Hawk-Eye's inventor eyes football expansion

Hawk-eye camera
Image caption Hawk-eye is due to be installed at 20 Premier League grounds as well as Wembley Stadium

UK-based Hawk-Eye is aiming to expand into other football leagues after agreeing a deal with the Premier League on Thursday.

Speaking to the BBC, Hawk-Eye inventor Dr Paul Hawkins said he had already agreed a deal with another European league, but he did not name it.

The Premier League deal is expected to bring the company millions in extra revenues.

Dr Hawkins, who is a director of the firm, called the deal "a proud moment".

"It's a new sport and it's the biggest sport in the world," he said. "With the Premier League alone we'll be doing 380 matches a year.

"It's certainly been [a deal] we've been working towards for a long time. We started talking to the Premier League over six years ago."

The Hawk-Eye camera system, which Dr Hawkins invented more than ten years ago, will be used to judge whether the ball has crossed the goal line in contentious incidents.

The system is already used extensively in cricket and tennis, both in assisting referee decisions and to enrich television analysis.

Multi-million deal

More recently the BBC has also used Hawk-Eye in its analysis of snooker matches.

Image caption The technology is designed to end goal-line controversies.

Hawk-Eye was bought by electronics giant Sony in 2011, but remains a relatively small company. In 2009 it made profits of £1.1m on the back of sales worth £3.6m.

It would not say how much the Premier League deal is worth, but reports suggest it could bring in as much as £10m over five years.

This would include the cost of installing the camera system at all 20 of next season's Premier League grounds, as well as at Wembley Stadium.

The deal gives Hawk-Eye the opportunity to expand into football, despite missing out on the contract to supply the goal-line technology for this summer's Fifa Confederations Cup.

Its German rival GoalControl was selected instead, making them the favourite for the 2014 World Cup.

Other leagues and organisations have expressed a desire to introduce the technology. The chief executive of Spain's La Liga has said he hopes to bring it in within the next two or three years.

But despite the promise of expansion Dr Hawkins acknowledged that Hawk-Eye's application in football is limited, and that the company would continue to develop its presence in other sports, both as a tool of adjudication and analysis.

Unlike tennis or cricket, Hawk-Eye's use in football is limited to the rare occasions when there is a disputed goal.

There is also less opportunity for using Hawk-Eye for in-game analysis - the original use of the system when it was launched as parts of Channel 4's cricket coverage in 2001.

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