The owner of the Hawk-Eye ball-tracking technology which leaves tennis and cricket fans on the edge of their seats is being put up for sale, it was reported today.
Hawk-Eye Innovations is being sold by owner Mark Getty, the son of US-born philanthropist Sir Paul Getty, who bought Hawk-Eye in 2006, the Financial Times said.
The technology – which has now become a staple feature for nailbiting decisions in leading tennis tournaments and international cricket – generates heated debate among players and fans alike.
The company, whose valuation could range between £15m (€18m) and £20m (€24m), comes to market just as Fifa football’s world governing body, has opened itself to the possibility of introducing goal-line detection technology to the sport.
But Paul Hawkins, founder and managing director of Hawk-Eye, told the FT the sales process will commence before any decision is made in the football world.
Fifa has previously rejected the use of technology – despite the Premier League backing the development of a football version of Hawk-Eye, which involved installing camera-based and software systems at Reading FC.
But controversies such as Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal for England against Germany in this summer’s World Cup have reignited the debate.
Hawk-Eye, used at Wimbledon and most other leading professional tennis events, also has a strong position in top-class cricket, where it is used to help judge leg-before-wicket decisions.
The system, based on visually tracking the path of the ball, and then predicting and displaying its most statistically likely path, has also been used in snooker television coverage.
In the year ending September 2009, Hawk-Eye made a pre-tax profit of £1.1m (€1.3m) on sales of £3.6m (€4.3m).
Hawk-Eye Innovations also provides cricket and tennis coaching technologies, and runs Pulse, an online sports business aimed at attracting internet users discussions regarding sporting events.