"If the trucks arrive on time for every match we have across the season and no material is missing, we can consider the job of logistics as well done," says UEFA events logistics supervisor Cédric Girardet.
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To ensure there are no distractions from the action during UEFA club competition games, a huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes to ensure that every team, every match and every broadcaster receives the same high standard of service.
In this piece presented by Engelbert Strauss, we discover how UEFA ensures that all the materials necessary for a UEFA Europa League or UEFA Europa Conference League fixture end up in the right place at the right time.
For UEFA's events team, the group stage campaign is already under way by July, as they gather up all the materials that will be necessary for the coming season and take them to UEFA's 12,000-square-metre central warehouse in Belgium. "From the office in Nyon, we have to coordinate and plan the truck movement," explains UEFA events logistics supervisor Cédric Girardet. "As soon as the draw is known and the calendar released, we have to bring all the trucks to the warehouse in Belgium and load them, ready to go to matches all across Europe."
A fleet of 40 trucks delivers materials for the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League group stages to venues across the continent, and not just items visible to the public like the stadium branding and press conference backboards. "[The trucks] also have sponsor materials, office materials, as well as materials you don't necessarily see on TV – the VAR controller unit or the LED board controller unit."
Once the materials have been delivered on-site, it is the responsibility of UEFA's venue operations and broadcast managers (VOBMs) to ensure it all ends up in the right place. "We arrive on-site typically on matchday minus two, but the reality is that [the work] begins earlier than that," says VOBM Thomas Attal. "We want to ensure that the product we deliver at the venue matches up with the product being delivered at the other venues delivering matches that night, as well as the requirements that UEFA has and that our partners have as well."
Maintaining a uniform quality, look and feel at every game is a massive logistical challenge, and UEFA's experts have established their system with a solid back-up plan in the event that things go wrong on-site. "There is always some uncertainty when you do so many kilometres, which is why we also have two spare emergency trailers that are parked in Belgium ready to hit the road at any time day or night," says Girardet.
"Despite the fact that the warehouse is in Belgium, which is relatively central, the huge challenge is the distances because sometimes we have to go to far countries and there is a lot of challenge around [that], such as the roads themselves as well as everything that is linked to customs," he adds. "If the trucks arrive on time for every match we have across the season and no material is missing, we can consider the job of logistics as well done."