Whether you’re just getting started with groundhopping, or you’re a seasoned enthusiast with thousands of stadiums under your belt, it’s likely that you will have heard of the Futbology app.
Built by Norwegian duo Geir Florhaug and Lars Erik Bolstad, it is simultaneously a record-keeping tool, an opportunity to communicate with other groundhoppers, and – as we’ll discuss later – an invaluable way to discover new grounds and matches that are going on in any given location.
For new users, though, it can take a little time to appreciate and understand what the app is fully capable of. Given that it’s maintained by Florhaug and Bolstad as a part-time project, it can also lack the intuitive UX you might associate with a professionally developed app. Therefore, it’s worth taking the time to understand how to perform some of Futbology’s basic tasks, so that it can become a useful and effective part of your groundhopping adventures.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is the Futbology App?
Often name-checked on podcasts, videos, and forums, Futbology is a popular groundhopping app that has both free and paid versions. Originally released in 2011 as the Groundhopping App, it allows users to:
- log their visited grounds (and the matches they have seen at those grounds);
- see results and upcoming fixtures for clubs; and
- view a detailed analysis of their own groundhopping history.
You can also view photo feeds, add “friends”, and join supporters’ groups, as well as collect “badges” based on competitions, countries, or even derbies that you have seen. Perhaps the most valuable feature, though, is the “Nearby Fixtures” tool, which is available only in the paid version and allows you to see what games are being played in a certain location on a certain day.
Where can I get Futbology?
Futbology is available for free on both Android and iOS.
Should I Get the Free or Paid Version?
Futbology’s free features are good fun, of course, but the unique selling point of the app is undoubtedly the premium-only “Nearby Fixtures” tool. Therefore, to get the most out of it, it’s highly recommended to subscribe for the paid version.
If logging your matches is important to you, the premium version also allows you to access 50 years’ worth of matches in the database, as well as the option to add new grounds, or change key information (such as grounds, fixture dates, and kick off times).
The good news is that a Futbology subscription won’t break the bank, too. For reference, I currently pay the grand total of 89 cents per month in Cyprus, which works out at just over €10 per year. That’s the price of a beer, a ticket, and a programme at most self-respecting lower-level clubs, and it’s well worth the convenience of what you get in return. As a result, the rest of this article will assume that you are using the paid version of Futbology.
Note: At this point, I should clarify that I am not affiliated in any way with Futbology or the makers of the app. I don’t receive any commissions or any other form of incentive to recommend the paid subscription option; I just genuinely believe that it’s a fair price for what is a highly useful feature, especially if you are a regular groundhopper.
How to Use the Futbology App
So, with all of that cleared up, how do you get started with the app?
Step #1: Set Up Your Profile
The first thing you will be prompted to do is set up your profile, which means providing your email, password, and location, as well as answering a basic security question. You can also add a profile photo, although this is entirely optional.
Adding Your Clubs
If you watch certain teams on a regular basis, then it’s a good idea to add them to your “My Clubs” list (which also includes national teams). To do this, select “My Clubs” from the main menu, and type your team into the search bar. You will see an information page for this team, including their:
- Home ground
- Recent form (last 5 matches)
- Next fixture
- League table
- Social media and Wikipedia links
You can also a see full list of that team’s fixtures and results, and a full list of other Futbology users that have visited the ground (ranked by the highest number of visits).
To add them as a club, simply click the “My Clubs” icon on the information page.
When you add teams to your “My Clubs” list, it also triggers an additional functionality. On the homepage, you can access the “My Fixtures” feature in the bottom left corner of the screen, which gives you a full list of upcoming fixtures for all your selected teams.
Step #2: Add Your Grounds
One of the core purposes of the Futbology app is, of course, logging your grounds, both for your own records and so that others can see where you’ve been. Within the app, you don’t actually do this by adding the ground; you do it by adding the match that you saw at that ground.
In reality, your use of this feature depends on how willing you are to go back and input every match you’ve attended. For example, I’ve been to around 300-350 matches over nearly 25 years, so I decided to input the whole lot, which took me around an hour. However, if you’ve been to, say, 2,000+ games over a longer period, you could be looking at some serious data entry. If you’d prefer to just log one game to ensure a ground is “ticked”, then you can do this. It’s entirely up to you.
Luckily, if you do decide to input your entire match history, the Premium version of the app has an extensive number of matches already recorded. This means that you don’t have to input every game manually, with the exception of those games that are not on Futbology’s database (in my case, for instance, this meant several friendles and FAW Premier Cup games from the late 90s at Ninian Park).
Here’s how to add a ground to your list:
- Select “Leagues and Grounds” in the main menu.
- Enter the name of the ground that you visited.
- Select the relevant stadium from the resulting list. You will be taken to the information page for that stadium (use this an opportunity to ensure you’ve selected the right one, as some grounds share the same name).
- In the top right corner, you will see a menu icon. Select this, and then choose the first option, “Add match visit”. You will be prompted to either select the match from a list, or enter it manually (note: in some versions, selecting “Add match visit” may take you back to the home page. This is a small bug. It should work again on the second attempt).
- Select “Yes”. This gives you the opportunity to find your match based on the date it took place, and is especially useful if you are entering multiple matches at the same stadium. Once you find it, simply click on the game, and confirm that you want to add it to your list.
As mentioned, these lists go back 50 years, so you should be able to find the match you attended. If, however, you can’t, then you will need to add it manually. To do this:
- Repeat steps 1 to 4 above.
- On step 4, instead of selecting “Yes”, select “No, enter manually”. You will need to enter the names of the teams from pre-existing lists, as well as the score and the attendance (if known). There is also a notes section where you can enter the name of the competition (i.e. “Friendly” or “FAW Premier Cup”). The most important thing to remember here is that you need to change the date, as the app will otherwise default to today’s date.
- Press “Save” in the top right corner.
As you enter your matches, the rest of your profile will automatically update, giving you a full list of the games you’ve attended, the grounds you’ve visited, and a whole host of other amusing statistics that we’ll discuss later.
Checking In to Games
The above steps allow you to retrospectively add grounds that you’ve visited in the past, but there is also the option to “check in” on the app when you attend new games. As long as you have your location enabled, you will be automatically prompted to do this when you open the app.
What if a Ground Isn’t on the App?
Futbology keeps a very broad database of football grounds from all over Europe, including those found at the deeper levels of each country’s pyramid (the app’s developers put this number at around 50,000). Therefore, odds are that your ground will be on the app.
If it isn’t, though, you will receive the following message: “Ground not found. Would you like to add it?”
If you want to do this, select the “Plus” icon, and then follow the instructions. You will need to select the country and pinpoint the exact location of the ground on Google Maps (it’s a good idea to use the “Satellite” viewing option to ratify that there is indeed a football ground on those exact coordinates). You will also need to provide the stadium’s official name and capacity.
It’s important to note that this isn’t a guarantee that the ground will be added; your submission may be rejected by Futbology for a number of reasons, the most common of which seems to be that the ground is “not significant enough”. The developers don’t really give much reasoning beyond this, so bear in mind that this can be a fairly subjective submission process.
Other Ground Features
It’s also worth noting that, when you select the menu icon on your chosen ground’s information page, you get additional access to some other neat features, including:
- A list of upcoming fixtures at that ground
- A map showing the ground’s exact location
- A link to the ground’s Wikipedia page (if one exists)
- Directions to the ground from your current location (using Google Maps)
If you have previously visited the ground, you can also see a full list of all the previous matches you have attended there (simply select “My Matches”).
Step #3: Add Your Badges
Badges are, essentially, an additional bit of fun that the developers have included, but given that the entire concept of groundhopping is built on ticking things off, it’s a welcome addition to the app.
You can obtain badges for a whole host of reasons, such as:
- Achievements (such as completed leagues)
- Milestones (such as your 100th match, or the 50th match in a specific stadium)
- Special occasions (such as the opening or final match at a specific stadium)
You can also add badges for any matches you have seen in prominent competitions (such as the Champions League or the World Cup), as well as important games within certain countries (such as the Old Firm derby or El Clasico).
To add badges in Futbology, simply:
- Select “Badges” from the main menu, and then select the “Plus” icon in the top right corner.
- Select the badge you want to acquire. For instance, let’s say that you saw a match in the Europa League, and want to acquire the Europa League badge.
- You will be asked if you want to create a new badge. Select “Yes”.
- The app will automatically scan through your list of matches to see if you have previously attended a Europa League match. If you have, then your badge will be activated.
- Press “Done” in the top right corner.
You will then be able to see your badges, as well as any other upcoming fixtures in that particular competition or derby.
Note: Some badges can only be acquired if you check in during or just after the match in question; that is, they cannot be acquired retrospectively.
Step #4: Add Friends and Join Supporters’ Clubs
There is also a social element to Futbology; you can add friends and stay up to date with where other users are going, or where they have been.
You can see other users in a variety of places on the app, including:
- The “Who else was here?” feature for specific matches.
- The “Most Matches” list for each stadium.
- The “#1 Supporter” lists for each club.
Alternatively, you can search for specific users directly by going to “Friends” in the main menu.
Once on the user’s profile, simply click the “Add Friend” icon.
Futbology also has a Supporters’ Club feature, which is useful for organised groundhops to specific locations, groundhopper communities within a particular area, or for fans of a particular team. Anyone can register a new supporters’ club on the app, and then send out an invitation code to other Futbology users for them to join.
Note that you cannot search for and join an existing supporters’ club without an invitation code.
Step #5: Add Your Best Match
When you look at a user’s profile, you will be able to see some interesting information about them, such as their first ever match and the last match they attended. These are calculated automatically by the app, but one piece of information that you need to input manually is the best match you have attended.
To do this, simply find the relevant match that you attended in the “My Matches” list. When you click on it, there will be a “Best match ever?” option at the bottom of the page. Simply select this, and your profile will automatically update.
Using the Futbology App
Once you have fully set up your profile and added all your previous grounds and matches, you can start to use the app a little more practically.
Here are some of the main features you can take advantage of:
Personally, this is one of my favourite components of the Futbology app, as it takes your data and generates some interesting surface insights. You get all the high-level overview stuff, such as the total number of grounds, matches, and countries visited, as well as your most visited ground and most seen team.
You also get access to season (or, if you prefer, calendar year) reviews, which provides some interesting data including number of matches and goals seen, which club you saw the most, and how many new grounds you visited.
You can also see wider statistics for all users on the Futbology app, including who has been to the most grounds, which clubs are the most visited, and other intriguing metrics.
On This Day…
Similar to Facebook’s “Memories” feature, Futbology allows you to see at which games you were on that day in the past.
There is also an option on the home feed to see the latest pictures posted to the app by all users, with some great shots posted every day from grounds all over Europe.
You can upload your own photos when you check in to a game, although it should be noted that, while you will get photo credit, it’s unclear who then holds the rights to that photo.
Finding Matches to Attend
These are all handy things to have, of course, but by far and away the most valuable tool on the app – and, as mentioned, the one worth upgrading to premium for – is “Nearby Fixtures”.
This feature enables you to see what games are being played in a certain location on a certain set of dates, and even allows you to filter by the levels of football you’re willing to watch (as well as the amount of distance you’re willing to travel).
So, how does it work?
How to Use Nearby Fixtures
To see what games are on, click “Nearby fixtures” at the bottom of the home page. The default location will be set to your current location and will list nearby games that are being played today, tomorrow, and the day after.
There is also the option to toggle how far you’re willing to travel, with the list of matches available changing accordingly. You have three options in this regard: 50km, 150km, and 300km.
Best of all, though, you can use it to plan in advance. For instance, let’s say that you’ve booked a short trip to Vienna in a month’s time, and you want to watch some football while you’re in the Austrian capital.
You would need to:
- Select the small map and calendar icon in the top right corner.
- Set the date that you’re looking for. As mentioned, Nearby Fixtures shows fixture information for up to three days at a time, so if you are arriving on Friday and leaving Sunday, set the date to that Friday. If you’re staying until Monday and want to see more, you’ll have to reset the date.
- Locate your destination (in the app this is referred to as the “Position”). This is arguably the most finicky part of the entire app; you will be taken to an embed of Google Maps, and told to put a red pin in a specific location (in this case, Vienna). Unfortunately, this can be a bit of a ball ache to get right; not only do you have to zoom out and scroll across the map to find your location, but when you place the pin, it can often automatically reset to a different location. For example, it took me 4 or 5 attempts to put a pin in the centre of Munich, as the “Position” kept setting itself as Augsburg. This is the one element of this feature that could be ironed out, but bear with it.
- Choose the lowest level of football that you’re willing to watch. If any ground is fair game to you, then select 5+, but if you’re only interested in high-level football, you can select, say, 1 or 2 as the lowest tier.
- Choose whether you want the tool to show you matches in grounds that you have already visited.
There is no “OK” or “Submit” button here; you will simply need to hit the “Back” button in your browser, where you will then see a list of fixtures based on the criteria you have provided.
This tool is extremely useful in a number of other scenarios, too. Say, for instance, that you’re asked last minute to travel somewhere for work; why not see what games are on near you? Thinking of planning a football weekend, but don’t know when to go? Check and see which would be the most beneficial weekend in terms of fixtures. You can even use it while sat at home to see if there any games nearby you’re unaware of. All of this saves you from trawling through multiple websites to get the information you need, and it’s accurate, too.
So, there you have it. Hopefully this guide has been helpful, both for people who are new to Futbology, and maybe even to those who were unaware of everything that could be done with the app.
If I’ve missed anything that you think should be included in this guide, or you think I’ve got something wrong, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below. And, of course, as the app gets updated and new features are added, I’ll incorporate them into this article, too.
In the meantime, happy groundhopping. See you on the app!
Very good. I recently attended an U21 international game, but I can’t find a way of recording it. It was Italy U21 v Rep. of Ireland U21 in Ascoli last week. Any suggestions?