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Business & Economy

Former rugby player shows entrepreneurial streak with new digital sports company, Sideline

An entrepreneur who saw his rugby aspirations curtailed by injury is hoping to make it on the global football stage with a new venture.

Former Blaydon full-back, Ben Segni, saw his rugby career come to an end after a training incident damaged the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

However, Ben of Consett County Durham has, through digital sports experience company Sideline, developed an app to provide a host of teams and clubs with a cost-effective, electronic alternative to printed programmes.

Inspired by a radio feature about football clubs’ difficulties with losses on surplus printed match programmes, Ben, and his colleagues at Sideline, hope to pitch the app to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), so it can be used by fans at the 2022 World Cup, in Qatar, for entry to games and to book recommended flights, hotels and restaurants.

With the help of Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham working on behalf of Durham County Council, Ben is working on a prototype of the app with non-league Spennymoor Town Football Club.

The interactive app, which can be downloaded to PCs, tablets and smartphones, allows fans to access a wealth of information on their favourite club, including live-streaming of video and radio commentary.

Currently in its test stage, the app offers up-to-the-minute news of the league and club, pre and post-match reports, alerts to goals and final scores, red and yellow cards, team line-ups and player profiles, match statistics, match official details, fixtures and results, ad space with click-through to sponsors’ sites, the club shop and merchandise.

All features will be available via Google Play and the AppStore.

Ben said: “Playing rugby was a massive part of my life for more than 20 years, and not playing anymore left a hole.

“Oddly, writing code and designing digital products has filled that gap. I’ve always wanted to merge my passion for sport with my love of technology.

“The aim is to develop a solution which, within one app, allows fans to have all aspects of the event at their fingertips – travel, accommodation and access to the games.

“I was originally inspired to develop the app after listening to a slot on Talk Sport’s Drive Section with Adrian Durham and Darren Gough. They were speaking to an EFL Club about the losses they were making on surplus printed programmes. At the time, I was developing a product that could have helped solve that problem.

“After contacting Durham County Council, Business Durham introduced me to the MD of Spennymoor Town FC, Tony Wilson, who agreed to help with field tests.

“The club and the fans have been brilliant – they have already offered some valuable ideas to make the product better, which are now in place.

“Business Durham has played the role of keyholder, opening the door to this incredible opportunity, which I am confident will produce something very special for any sports club wanting to communicate with fans.”

Business Durham managing director, Brian Archer, said: “Sideline is just the sort of venture we are thrilled to help with.

“Ben and his colleagues have hit upon something fresh and innovative, which taps into the region’s love of football. We look forward to seeing him take it worldwide.”

The Sideline website can be found at The app is expected to be launched in the next few weeks.