The University of Salford Business School is partnering with professional sports clubs to help drive fitness among fans using an app designed by its academics.

The University of Salford has developed a smartphone app that helps sports clubs and fans to communicate and think more about active, healthy lifestyles. Designed by digital business experts from Salford Business School through a collaboration between staff and students, Fan Fit is designed to increase fitness awareness and empower fans and players with just a basic smartphone.

Rugby league club Salford Red Devils were the first club to sign up as partners for the app in October 2018. Since then, over 600 fans have downloaded Fan Fit and fans have been competing with each other leading to some very encouraging results. A total of 200 million steps have been done by fans in total and one fan, Russell Chesters, won himself a season ticket after achieving nearly one million steps in a month and losing half a stone in weight.

The North West as a whole recently came near the bottom of league tables for health and fitness, with rates of heart disease and stroke among the highest in the country. Sports clubs in the region believe they could be doing more to combat this, as a duty of care to their fans and Fan Fit could play a huge part of that by combining club information, social media feeds and recording walking and running data to allow fans to create a friendly competition.

Ian Blease, Director of Rugby and Operations, Salford Red Devils, said: “It is great that so many fans have signed up to this app and are doing such a huge amount of exercise. A lot of fans from all clubs and sports just come to matches, maybe after being in the pub, and watch athletes run around the pitch, without doing any exercise themselves.

“At Salford Red Devils we want to try to change that and this could be one great way of doing it. If we can get more fans to become more active thanks to this app then it will be worthwhile and working with the University on this project has proved a great benefit.”

Since launching with Salford Red Devils, Fan Fit has been backed by the Scottish Government, through the Nesta Innovation Fund, with £30,000 provided for continued development. This funding is part of their Healthier Lives Data Fund, which offers grants for organisations delivering benefit to communities within Scotland.

The University of Salford is now working in collaboration with the Scottish Professional Football League Trust to explore rolling our Fan Fit to Scottish Premier League Clubs, with initial talks around creating a version of Fan Fit for a major Scottish football club having taken place.