The Great Spordle Debarcle

For those who don’t know, Spordle is a Montreal-based company that basically provides software and technology to run events such as sporting leagues (noting both results and stats), registration and timing for running events. Basically helping to keep the administration of such events running smoothly. 

It is used by minor league sports organisations all over the world. Particularly in its native country Canada, with Hockey Canada using the system, the Laval Rocket Ice Hockey team in the AHL and even Dragon Boat Canada using it. The system itself seems to function very well with a wide range of uses in various sports. 

In November 2021, the league’s Fixtures Live system would be decommissioned at the end of the 2021/22 season. From what I can gather, I may be wrong. The system was decommissioned because it was really expensive, but also shit. And only the EIHA was using it. Nobody else was. 

Once this direction was chosen, the EIHA basically assembled the Avengers in order to find an alternative. Honestly, the statement meanders on, saying a whole load of nothing. Rambling on about safeguarding etc. Until it mentions that a painstaking search has led the board to choose Spordle. In the statement, the board make it clear that they weren’t completely happy with Spordle claiming that it wasn’t as simple as an “off the shelf” product to implement. Naturally, they are probably right, but as far as I am concerned, the EHIA basically oversees (PAUSE) leagues, and ice hockey leagues, and Spordle makes a product that allows organisations to manage leagues…. So why wouldn’t an “off the shelf” product from Spordle be suitable? I mean, surely they design products for exactly what the EIHA is trying to manage? If I am wrong on that point please let me know in the comments. And if I am wrong, why would the EIHA choose a product that wasn’t ready to go immediately after they had less than a season after the announcement that the Fixtures Live system would be decommissioned, surely you would need something that would hit the ground running?   

The reason why I raise doubt that my opinion is probably incorrect. Is because of this chap. Mohammed Ashraff is the Chairman of the EIHA, now one of the things that makes Mr Ashraff suitable for this role is not his experience as a netminder for the Lee Valley Whalers, but his experience outside of the sport. As per his profile on the EIHA website, Mr Ashraff states, I quote. “Mohammed Ashraff is a channel sales manager with demonstrable proficiency in driving and delivering complex business IT change and transformation programmes.” Now, I say this every week, I truly don’t have a clue. But that quote makes me think that Mr Ashraff may be the perfect person to implement a system that isn’t “off the shelf”, even though the product in question appears to be very much “off the shelf.” Again, I am probably wrong, and I would love to invite any member of the board who wishes to take responsibility for this matter to come on and explain why I am wrong, I would even read out a statement if they would prefer I know these podcasts are very public and aren’t necessary for everyone…. 

Spordle at the rinks appears to be a disaster, with paper-based score systems, and issues with teamsheets, I mean look at the Moralee Cup Final that issues have been brushed over, these problems shouldn’t be happening at any level of the pyramid. 

I believe the training was given in December 2022 (again I am probably wrong), but if that is correct. Training mid-season for a system that underpins the whole organisation is frankly comical, coupled with the fact it wasn’t ready at the point the officials received the training and the situation becomes embarrassing. Who was responsible for that issue? A quick check of the EIHA’s Boards responsibility matrix(link of puckingmad.com) reveals a blisteringly confusing blare of initials indicating various individuals’ responsibilities for various tasks, and to be fair when it comes to assigning responsibility for various complex tasks, this matrix is done as well as it possibly can be.

But for the implementation of Spordle, there is no one person who is identified as responsible. Nobody we can look to for queries or send recommendations. Of course, I am just a fan, and there’s no way the EIHA will open up that level of communication for people of my level, perhaps for teams it is a different story. Perhaps that is the problem, the EIHA has failed to highlight a single responsible person. When it comes to implementing the system? If one person had been made responsible, maybe this issue would have been solved. 

There is a bigger issue in all this. And this is probably the most contentious issue. As a fan, I rely heavily on the amazing work done by NIHL Stats. I will link them in the description. I won’t go into detail too much but this website is run by volunteers, who report results and league standings. Currently, this is the only way to get information about results around the country on a consistent basis. As a developing sport, easy access to results and league positions is one of the only ways that new fans will come to the game. If newcomers struggle to get access to live info, guess what, they will head back to football, back to rugby and god help us, back to Cricket. I would like to stress, the people who keep the NIHL Stats running, are volunteers. They do it for the love of the sport, They do it to share this amazing sport with people around the country and beyond. I am guessing that maybe a couple of the board of directors probably contribute to the NIHL Stats as they may feel bad about the situation. Maybe they don’t, I don’t know.

Anyway, that is a very brief ramble about the great Spordle debacle. I am certain this is an extremely sensitive topic and that I certainly got things wrong. If you think I got anything wrong, please tell me. If there is anything blatantly wrong, I will add a second pod on this topic. 

Also, it is important to say to the EIHA board, if you feel aggrieved or disagree with anything said here. I am completely content to accept I am wrong. I am only a fan giving a fan’s perspective, so I only have a very narrow window into this situation. If you would like to answer this, you are more than welcome to come on the podcast or provide a statement which I will gladly give the time of day.

NOTES:

1 – https://www.spordle.com/news-blogs-career/eiha_selects_spordle_as_their_national_governing_body_technology_partner/

2 –

https://eiha.co.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/20221025_EIHABoard_ResponsibilityMatrix.pdf

3 – 

https://eiha.co.uk/news-update-on-spordle-our-replacement-for-fixtures-live/

4 –

https://nihlstats.wordpress.com/

5 – 

https://www.spordle.com/news-blogs-career/eiha_selects_spordle_as_their_national_governing_body_technology_partner/

6 – 

https://eiha.co.uk/the-board/



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