I T is the new must-have hi-tech accessory for any self-respecting football club, agent or national association.

Barcelona, Arsenal and Liverpool have got it, as have pretty much every club in Serie A. So have Gordon Strachan, Celtic, Rangers and Hearts. It is called Wyscout, it was founded as a hobby in the Italian town of Chiavari in 2004 by a couple of students, Matteo Campodonico and Simone Falzetti. And, just like the parable of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook in the sphere of social networking, it is revolutionising the world of football.

So what is it? Put in its simplest terms, Wyscout is an online platform which collects video footage of a current database of more than 200,000 players worldwide, and handily splices up the action to the user's preference. This means that, while sitting through an entire 90 minutes in the flesh may provide the fullest picture, at a click of a mouse the viewer can access the valuable shortcut of an edited compilation of every touch a particular player has in a week, month or season.

In the case of the Scottish Football Association, the fact an afternoon in front of a computer screen can allow you to catch up on an entire weekend's worth of action all over the globe undercuts any concerns that some might have had about Strachan continuing to live in England. That is why more than 300 professional clubs, 15 national teams and countless agencies use the service, paying an average of €7000-a-year for the privilege.

Last year, the company – which also arranges an annual Wyscout forum for clubs, agents and associations to network, the next of which is in Barcelona this July – turned over €2.5m, with 80% of the company's sales from outside Italy. It has a staff of 50 people – half in Chiavari and half in Bulgaria – and it is all a far cry from how it started off life nine years ago.

"I graduated in economics and, at that time, I worked for an IT company as a business analyst," says Campodonico. "But football was my passion and I've played it. The fact my coach showed us videos with actions of Serie A players got stuck in my mind. At that time the first programs to make dvds came out, so I called a friend and told him 'Why don't we go and video the matches?' We can create a dvd divided into chapters – all the corners, all the goals, and so on – and sell it to clubs. I thought I had a brilliant unique idea, but then I Googled 'video match analysis' and a slew of companies that did this service came up. So we decided to drop Serie A and focused on the minor leagues."

However, they hit the big-time soon enough courtesy of some investment help, technological tinkering and the arrival of apps on the iPad. "In 2008, we started to develop the product, in mid-2009 we began to assert ourselves in Italy, and at the end of that year we had our first foreign customers," added Campodonico. "At that time we were not yet able to stream videos directly from the website. So we made an agreement with a small Swiss company, called Surf TV, which produced a set-top box device. You could select the name of the player with the remote control and see his matches and his actions. At that point, the product exploded, then after six months we realised that our partners were too small and they couldn't keep up with customer requests.

"Then the iPad came out and changed everything again. We were among the first to develop an app for iPad. It's the ideal tool especially for agents, who travel a lot. You can click on the face of the player and his videos immediately appear. Customers went crazy."

Little wonder football professionals the world over are queuing up to give it their endorsement. "A decade ago we nearly had to strengthen our floors because of all the video tapes we received," Jean-Francois Creachcadec, sporting director of French side Rennes, said. "Five years ago, I got a satellite dish and tried to persuade a friend in Sweden to give me the viewing card so we could watch Scandinavian football. Now it's all on a computer or iPad."

"Nothing will ever replace putting your coat on, getting in your car and going to a freezing cold stadium to watch a player," adds Barry Simmonds, head of scouting and recruitment at Fulham. "But it saves a huge amount of money in travel and hotel costs. We can see more players and decide which ones to watch in the flesh."

While such tactics have allowed Celtic to source the likes of Biram Kayal, Emilio Izaguirre and Efe Ambrose from outlying markets, the Scotland manager is also a wholehearted convert to the cause. "I can't be there personally to watch them all but we have a wonderful thing here called Wyscout," said Strachan. "I can spend an hour-and-a-half in the morning just watching Matt Phillips, every touch that he has. It is a phenomenal tool and that is how I see players."