While much of the UK struggles to shake off the January blues, abstain from alcohol and hit the gym, football fans have more pressing issues on their minds. Deadline day is looming in one of the most tumultuous Premiership seasons in years. Be it Aston Villa trying to avoid relegation or a new battle for domination at the top of the table, landing that new signing could turn around a team’s chances.

Personally, as a Manchester United fan, I am glued to the sports pages, desperately hoping that we secure Cristiano Ronaldo. However, I am far from alone when it comes to deadline day anxiety. In fact, according to recent research conducted by DocuSign, over a third of football fans would give up Facebook for a month to land their dream signing. Another quarter would happily surrender their mobile phones for a whole week if it would help to get that key player over the line and one in ten would work an extra day a month to secure top talent for their club.

Not surprisingly given their struggle in the relegation zone, our research found that Sunderland fans were one of the most likely groups to make sacrifices to bolster their team. 45 percent would give up Facebook for a month, almost 20 percent would be willing to work for an extra day a week and another 36 percent would sacrifice their phones for a week to land their dream player. We also found that, despite their relegation battle, only five percent of Aston Villa fans would give up beer for a week. In contrast, fans of teams in the top half of the table are more committed to the cause with 10 percent of Arsenal fans and 15 percent of Liverpool fan willing to put down their pints.

The next generation of fans were top of the league when it came to their willingness to make sacrifices to secure their ideal transfer. When surveying under 18s we found that they were more devoted to their teams than adults:

  • Almost 40 percent were willing to give up Facebook for a month
  • Almost a third would work for an extra day a week
  • 40 percent would give up chocolate for a month
  • Almost a third would commit to an hour of extra homework per week for a month

Despite fans’ fervour to bring home the best talent, football clubs are not yet embracing the technology needed to speed up the signing process. Transfers involve huge volumes of paperwork and signatures, however, Premiership clubs still rely on dated technology such as the fax machines to send these time sensitive documents. This can lead to disastrous consequences, especially given that transfers can often come down to the wire. In fact, fax-failures have been blamed for the last minute abandonment of many transfers including the David de Gea saga last summer.

When quizzed about the role of the fax machine in football, only six percent of fans realised that these machines were still used in transfer deals. In fact, more than one in ten football fans did not know what a fax machine was. This figure rose to a quarter of under 18s who have grown up in a digital era where the fax is increasingly irrelevant. Almost two-thirds of respondents admitted to being unable to use a fax machine. However, Chelsea fans scored as the least fax-savvy with five percent claiming that a fax is a type of fish. Given these findings, football fans reacted with shock when we revealed the reliance on fax to secure their dream signings.

The message from fans is clear, the time has come to kick the fax out of football and modernise the back-office of the beautiful game. Luckily, there are methods, such as electronic signatures, that football clubs can employ which are easier, quicker and more reliable for this crucial moment in the calendar. Technology like DocuSign’s eSignature solution could help clubs digitise the transfer process, ensuring that documents can be signed and shared from any device at the touch of a button.

Going digital would help not only help to secure key players but also alleviate the stress for fans who are willing to give up technology, beer and even their partners to secure their perfect signing.