Wednesday, June 17, 2009

“Perform” is hardly the right word!!

It isn’t often that a club’s official website becomes a talking point but today did. How? They didn’t manage to get the new fixtures up when they were officially released at 10 am.


Many disgruntled supporters obviously grumbled to many clubs and it transpires that this was an issue between the website provider (Perform) and the 70 or so clubs it supplies a frankly sub-standard service to.


PAFC has copped loads of stick for the useless website over the years and today the worm turned and issued this statement:


Posted on: Wed 17 Jun 2009

WE apologise unreservedly for the farcical situation that struck our official website on Wednesday morning.
Fixture-list release day - Wednesday, June 17, this year - is without doubt the biggest day in the calendar for all Football League websites, not to mention you, our loyal supporters.

For days in advance, we bombard you with promotional messages promising that our official website will be the first place for the fixture news on the day of is a strict 10am embargo on the fixture-list placed on clubs by the Football League, forbidding them from revealing details before this time.

However, we were issued with a copy of the fixture-list at 7.57 on Wednesday morning, allowing us two hours to prepare stories and pinpoint the big fixtures for the Green Army. Although the vast majority of the content of the website - news, features, videos - is generated at Home Park by the Argyle Communications team, we are reliant on a company called Perform Group to provide the technical expertise to publish the content.
The articles are entered by us into an editorial toolkit; we set a time for launch and press 'save'. The articles are then picked up by the Perform server in London and pinged out to the electronic world.

On fixture-list release day, we kept our end of the bargain. Our ducks were all in a row at 10am.
Perform Group, formerly known as Premium TV, did not allow us to deliver on our promise. Five stories were prepared by us and ready to go live at 10am. Perform published them at 10.28am.

Whether it was server-error, human-error or any other sort of error, the procedure failed miserably, leaving fans disappointed and Football League webmasters nationwide seething.

The mechanics of the working relationship between clubs and Perform are complicated, but we shall attempt to give a brief outline of Wednesday's events. Three text alerts were timed to be sent at 10am, 10.02am and 10.04am. Thankfully, these were delivered at the correct times. Moving on to the official website: the lead story on the fixtures was timed to launch at 10am, with four subsidiary articles scheduled for 10.05am. Although these stories were all scheduled to launch from an editorial toolkit, powered by Perform, we monitored the website to ensure the articles filtered through successfully.
At 10.28am, all five stories finally appeared on our website, long after supporters had understandably explored other avenues to learn the fixture-list for the new season.

The contract between Perform and the vast majority of Football League clubs has now been running for eight years, and fixture-list release day has always been the key date in terms of proving ourselves as the first place to visit for official Argyle news.

Tuesday's Carling Cup draw might have provided Perform with a warning of the problems they potentially faced.
It took just under an hour for our background story on our away tie at Gillingham, along with the complete first-round draw to fully filter through. The time between 10-10.28am on Wednesday was spent refreshing the Argyle website, while scouring other clubs under the Perform umbrella to see if the problem was nationwide.
We soon discovered that a host of other clubs were experiencing the same problem. Official websites were either crashing completely or simply replicating the Argyle pattern of failing to publish scheduled stories. We received a group e-mail from Coventry City at 10.22am expressing their disappointment at Perform's failure to live up to their name. Subsequent replies from us and other clubs were considerably more damning.

At this point, the following 26 clubs have contributed to this electronic circular:

Bradford City
Southend United
Queens Park Rangers
Stoke City
Crystal Palace
Carlisle United
Bolton Wanderers
Cardiff City
Doncaster Rovers
Nottingham Forest
Derby County
Wigan Athletic
Milton Keynes Dons
Notts County
Shrewsbury Town
Hull City
Rotherham United
Cheltenham Town

This is around a third of the clubs served by Perform - and these are just the ones we know about. The fixture page on the official website should also have been automatically updated by Perform. This was finally completed at 11.22am - 82 minutes after the time promised to fans. Mistakes happen on websites. Sometimes it is our fault, sometimes it is down to failures at Perform.

Normally, we will grudgingly take the criticism for Perform errors.

Sorry, not today.

The club then found itself in hot water with the Football league who forced them to remove the above statement. Things are set to improve imminently ~ we only have another 20 years of the contract with Perform to run!!


I wonder how long before I get told to remove this?


At 12:59 pm, Blogger Ben said...

They run the official Newcastle site, which is rubbish (though I'm guessing if the set-up's the same, the content is provided by the club rather than Perform/Premium). Can't believe the length of the contract that was signed - why couldn't the clubs manage their own websites? And hats off to the Stalin-esque Football League for not allowing any kind of dissent.


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