News | 05 Nov 2019

Vodafone kicks off world’s first 5G Fan-Assistant Refereeing (FAR) with the smallest football league in the world

  • Vodafone connects the Isles of Scilly to 5G network
  • Isles of Scilly Football League, the world’s smallest league, uses new tech to put fans at the heart of the game
  • 5G opens up a whole new range of possibilities for fans to experience and enjoy their favourite sports

The world’s smallest football league kicked off the season in style recently with a new piece of tech, and help from Vodafone.

The two-team football league on the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall, used a well-known Video-Assistant Referee (VAR) system – with a twist.  Thanks to Vodafone’s 5G network, the first game of the season was introduced to FAR: Fan-Assistant Refereeing, a world first.

The huge capacity, faster speeds, and quick response times of Vodafone’s 5G service are a great way to bring supporters unable to attend a match closer to the action. Not only does 5G offer a richer viewing experience, but higher levels of connectivity allow customers to communicate simultaneously when network demand is at its peak.  This opens up a new range of possibilities for fans to experience and enjoy their favourite sports online.

While many football fans across the globe enjoy being armchair referees, it’s supporters of the Garrison Gunners and Woolpack Wanderers on the Isles of Scilly who can now officially claim that title as their own.

Showcasing the benefits of Vodafone 5G, the FAR system put supporters across the island at the heart of the game. Equipped with Samsung S10 5G handsets, fans were able to review incidents just after they happened. And instead of catching up on the ref’s decisions after the game, supporters on the main island of St Mary’s were able to have their own say on several fouls, a disputed goal, and two contested penalties as the game was being played.

Following a quick online vote, fans’ decisions were relayed to Paul Charnock, the match official and former first division linesman, at pitchside. The Woolpack Wanderers won the match 4 – 3, with only minutes to spare.

Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Football League Anthony ‘Gibbo’ Gibbons said: “I have never seen the referee so happy after a game. He was empowered by the other islanders to make bold decisions – and not always in my team’s favour! Vodafone’s involvement with the league has got everyone excited.”

Vodafone UK’s Chief Executive Officer Nick Jeffery said: “This was great fun for the fans, and we’re very happy to have been the first network operator to take 5G to the Isles of Scilly. Vodafone has 5G in more places than any other network, with 77 towns and cities across the UK and Europe now live. Our commitment to rolling out our network to non-urban locations is very strong, as our recent Shared Rural Network agreement with the Government and other network operators proves. I’m very proud Vodafone is travelling those extra miles to connect rural and isolated communities.”

Following the success of the world’s first 5G-enabled Fan-Assistant Referee test on the Isles of Scilly, Vodafone will now work alongside local businesses looking to boost tourism on the islands. 5G connectivity will enable them to show high-definition videos and 3D-images of the islands’ attractions to a worldwide, online audience.


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Vodafone signed a two-year 5G sponsorship agreement with St Mary’s Association Football Club in June this year. The club manages the Isles of Scilly football league – the smallest in the world – and is a prominent focus for the local community. The league comprises just two teams, Garrison Gunners and Woolpack Wanderers, who play each other around 20 times over a season as well as in a number of cup competitions.

Vodafone already has a close association with the Isles of Scilly having launched 4G on St Mary’s in 2016 as part of its rural rollout of the technology. Earlier this year, Vodafone tested 5G working at high speeds in Hugh Town, the island’s administrative centre, and across the football pitch two kilometres away from the only mast on the island.

Under this new partnership, Vodafone helped to redesign St Mary’s Association Football Club’s team shirts and is helping the league to develop a new identity to appeal to a wider audience. This includes a revamped social media presence and improvements to the clubhouse facilities which are also used by other members of the community.

A selection of images and video are available for download from the Vodafone UK media centre:

For further information:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone:  01635 693 693


About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

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Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews


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