EURO 2020: tech takeaways for Real Estate

5 minute read – 30 June 2021

The Beautiful Game’s tech revolution

“Stirling quietly checked the VAR…” and knew he could celebrate. In split seconds, the historic goal at Wembley triggered almighty human eruptions. Everyone knew he was on side. This quiet confidence alongside tech avoided unnecessary time-wasting, protestations -or worse – an instance of unaccountable human error.

We only need recall England’s disallowed goal against Germany in the 2010 World Cup. One of the most embarrassing judgements in footballing history could have been surpassed last night … if it had been in the hands of riskier, old-fashioned refereeing without the benefit of new tech.

Lampard’s infamous disallowed goal against Germany not only broke English hearts 10+ years ago… but sparked the beautiful game’s tech revolution

Credit: Daily Mail.

EURO 2020’s continued adoption of VAR (Video Assistant Refereeing) has been a success. TV commentators can’t help mention the game-changing efficiency brought into the beautiful game.

The VAR story provides vivid lessons for business journeys to adopt tech. Thankfully FIFA has delivered. Like much else in business life: tech adoption requires organisational effort, discipline and strong leadership. Especially to protect your “organisation’s DNA” while adapting for increasingly tech-savvy audiences.

Tech innovators also benefit from a timely context: Lukas Brud from the International Football Association told the New Scientist in 2016 “it’s time for footballers to use wearable tech”. Prescient comments indeed-… especially after the tragic cardiac arrest the world witnessed a few days ago. Most now appreciate the obvious benefits from wearable devices to diagnose in vital split seconds and save lives.

“It’s time for footballers to use wearable tech on the pitch”, New Scientist – June 2016

Lukas Brud from the International Football Association

VAR tech takeaways for Real Estate teams

Let’s take a look at some VAR takeaways for real estate institutions & advisors:

  • VAR was conceived as an ambitious tech project conducted by The Royal Netherlands Football Association called “Refereeing 2.0”. There are similar movements kicking off in recent times to drive change and awareness in Proptech – like Andy Baum’s Oxford Business Report “Proptech 3.0” which real estate managers increasingly track.
  • VAR success was not an overnight success. It took 6+ years of tech trials. In real estate, the largest real estate fund managers can similarly take months or longer to engage with game-changing or ‘no-brainer’ solutions. It takes time to evaluate the real opportunities to improve their bottom line.  
  • All change involves a degree of friction. No pain, no gain. While there have been VAR teething issues along the way – the philosophy is a winning one: the design operates under the mantra “minimal interference, maximum benefit”. It happens to mirror our mission in Proptech: to simplify complexity. To simplify the efforts to understand, share and digest real estate investment returns for everyday deals.
  • Features were introduced in stages as is done in Proptech. E.g. something akin to a focused MVP (‘Minimum Viable Product’) was tested by FIFA for only goal-line monitoring in 2014. In a similar vain, real estate investors get instant MVP value from visualising IRRs immediately for example – and clients will wait for features in forthcoming product versions.

“Nobody cares if someone had a happy day… but as soon as it doesn’t work, [noises] start”…

Lukas Brud, International Football Association

  • Brud also says “No one cares if someone had a happy day. This is why this will always be a problem of VAR’s. People just ignore how well [the tech] can work. Normally it works well, but as soon as it doesn’t….[noises] start again.”. Similarly, real estate tech objectors can be noisy.  Therefore it is important for Boards to support their internal tech champions, innovation committees and encourage fair trials to evaluate the quiet pros and noisy cons.
  • With all the 4G and Wi-Fi in stadia today, the referee is the only person who can’t see exactly what is happening” says Brud. The game’s reputation can also suffer like when FIFA was embarrassed by Frank Lampard’s England “non-goal”.  Similarly, property professionals are too slow if client funds are the last to understand investment ideas – it only hinders the efficient tackling of market opportunities and ‘goals’.

Tech wave: the referee without technology was becoming the last person to know what was happening on the pitch

  • “Soccer has always been very conservative when it came to the introduction of technology” says Brud. Commentators have similarly called out real estate professionals as laggards. But this is unfair. It is common for everyone to share a degree of conservatism when it comes to tech. It’s a natural response for professionals across all industries to be cautious about encouraging a change in habits. After all, habits are usually well understood and keep the monthly pay cheques ticking over in the short term.
  • FIFA’s disgraced boss Sepp Blatter was notoriously adverse to football’s technological enhancement and when he departed VAR received proper consideration from senior leadership.  In real estate we see post-merged teams also jumping at an opportunity to make tech life easier when more open-minded leaders are put in place and promoted.
  • The game has become quicker and it’s increasingly difficult for referees to keep up with everything and make good decisions. In commercial real estate high levels of responsiveness are a must-have for best-in-class client service. Gone are the days of posted bid letters, typewriter delays, and dealmakers who can openly believe business plan cash flows can be avoided.
  • VAR trials showed increased accuracy. Various unnecessary debates, conflicts and embarrassments were resolved in seconds. Nearly 57 per cent of VAR checks were for penalties and goals. VAR was used less than five times per match, and the average time lost due to the usage of VAR was less than 90 seconds in a game.
  • FIFA’s ruling council chaired by President Gianni Infantino declared “We are extremely happy with [our] decision” adding it would lead to “a more transparent and fairer sport. We need to live with our times.


Michael Molloy – Dashflow for CRE

“Best-in-class tech supports human decision-making and makes work life more enjoyable. If you feel there must be a safer, better & faster way to produce ‘the numbers’ for client funds, you’re probably right.”

Stay on top of your tech game to make your Capital Markets and/or CRE appraisal lives easier. It’s never been simpler to jump online in your own time to check-out some of the latest real estate technology in minutes.

Is Existing real estate technology fit for purpose?

A recent Bohill Partners’ CFO/COO Roundtable calls outdated “culprits” such as ARGUS Enterprise and Yardi, which have not kept up with the evolving needs of the commercial real estate industry. Outdated tech produces cumbersome office desktop experiences, while firms spend vast sums ensuring teams can operate arcane software.

Imagine being a writer and being forced to use a typewriter when access to a computer is possible and easy. 99% of writers want to use technology that makes their lives easier.

Similarly, VAR is a tool that makes referees’ jobs easier.  And it’s never been easier to test technology for yourself, thanks to the power of mobile-first devices like your iPhone or iPad. If you believe your team ‘turns around numbers’ too slowly for client funds, you are probably right – especially if the process involves technology from the 1990s.