Arsenal FC has become the first football club to launch an Internet access service, and at the same time announced its official Web site. The club is offering fans personalised email addresses, for example, ([email protected]) and full access to the Internet for a #10 one-off set-up fee and subscription fee of #13 a month.
AFCi Connect, as the service is known, has its own browser, with an Arsenal crest replacing the standard Internet Explorer icon in the top corner of the screen. There are also buttons that lead directly to chat areas or match reports.
"We wanted to become a service provider because we think people are put off by scary sounding providers like Demon or Pipex," said Sam Hill-Wood, head of marketing at Arsenal. However, when asked if an Arsenal email address would alienate millions of potential customers supporting other clubs, he commented: "We don't think that matters. Arsenal has a fan-base of over a million worldwide."
Designed and managed by DesignerCity, the official Web site is a goldmine of Gunners information, with up-to-date news, results, fixtures, league tables and team profiles available round the clock. The latest "button" allows fans to pick up official news from the Arsenal press office as soon as it breaks. Matchday and travel information, a youth team section and a database of Arsenal statistics going back to 1893 are also available.
For fans with sound cards and RealAudio, live match commentary and interviews are available via Capital Gold.
Hill said another benefit of the site was that it would give the club a direct route to fans: "They'll be first to hear. We'll also use it to deny speculation and give credence to articles in the press." (www.arsenal.co.uk)
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