Reading matches go cash free

Reading matches go cash free

Membership cards can be used to buy food and drink in the stadium

Reading Football Club’s cash-free environment will go live next month as part of a major IT security overhaul.

The technology will be tested in one area of the stadium holding 2,200 fans during the Birmingham City match on 22 March.

Membership cards already have near-field communications links for access to the stadium.

And participating customers will be able to load the cards with up to £50 via the web, text, tills or ticket booths at the stadium.

Contactless payments will speed up service and be more hygienic at food stalls, said Reading FC IT manager Garry Hanson.

“As we have limited space in the concourses, customers may look at the queue during busy times and lose the will to buy anything,” he said.

“We want to make match days work like clockwork and IT will play a significant part of the process.”

Speedy payments also mean that the club will be able to sell as much beer as possible within the legal restrictions on sale of alcohol during intervals.

If the scheme proves successful, the club plans to link it with other companies, such as local bus services.

“The possibilities are limitless and the challenge is to change people’s mentality about the system ­ once they see the benefits, I am sure it will be well received,” said Hanson.

The cashless payments system is the second phase of a major security overhaul following the club’s promotion to the Premier League in 2006.

The first phase was to implement an integrated system with upgraded firewall capacity and virtual private network (VPN) management.

“We have moved from standard firewall and security software to a complete system that will provide a simple and effective blueprint for upcoming IT projects,” said Hanson.

“Managing security-related issues, as well as the VPNs between our sites has become a lot simpler. With the improved system, we are ready to handle the increasing demand.”

The system from supplier Sonicwall consists of units installed at each of the club’s sites, covering areas such as intrusion detection and email security scanning, with VPN tunnels connecting the locations.