Fan engagement – football’s ultimate goal

Fan engagement – football’s ultimate goal

The Premier League is currently on course for world domination in the financial football league table. Deloitte has recently reported that in 2014/15 the Premier League generated record revenues of £3.3bn – yes that’s right, BILLION!

So what impact will this have on the other 72 Football League clubs? Well the report also found although Championship combined revenues grew by 12% in 2014/15, there was an increase in wage expenditure. Clubs are now spending almost all of their revenues on wages in attempt to reach the ‘promised land’.

Add to this the fact that this season’s Championship play-off final between Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday was worth an estimated £170m to the winner and record broadcasting deals for 2016, the gap between England’s elite and their Football League brethren is getting even wider.

With mounting pressure on lower league clubs to make every penny off the field count, in order for it to be reinvested on the field, clubs are having to develop ever more innovative ways of attracting new fans and sponsors. A quick search of club websites reveals the opportunity to sponsor everything from the match ball to the community programme. But are they being successful in securing these sponsors?

With no blockbuster TV deal to rely on, the need for a sound marketing and communications plan has never been more important. Competition for fans and sponsorship is intense and clubs are being forced to work hard to maximise engagement to ensure stadiums are full. Fans want regular ‘behind the scenes’ content and sponsors want to maximise their ROI; not always easy when you’re working with limited resources.

The explosion of social networking means it has become an extremely powerful way to communicate with your fan base, before, during and after a match. In our experience, a club’s ultimate goal should be to create content that delivers a high quality match-day experience, which in turn will inspire loyalty and consequently drive revenues.

In addition, the Football League recently announced proposals to restructure the league system from three divisions of 24 teams, to four divisions of 20 teams. The belief is this will lead to a reduction in fixture congestion, a rise in attendances and an increase clubs’ chances of promotion, but will it also lead to another story on a par with Leicester City? I doubt it. Any restructure would mean a reduction in the amount of games played by each club in a season, which would in turn lead to reduced fan revenues and further widen the gap between each of the divisions and the Premier League.

The news has been greeted with mixed reaction, with some believing it to be ‘innovative and far reaching’, whereas others were more concerned by the financial implications. In order to be approved, the plans would need 90% backing from Football League clubs, a figure that currently seems a long way off.

What the future holds no one really knows, but the figures suggest the gulf between leagues will continue to grow and the pressure on lower league clubs to generate content to keep fans coming through the gates will only increase.

Are you maximising your engagement opportunities? Is your communications strategy working or is there simply not enough time in the day? This is where investing a little time in selecting the right agency for you can make a real difference. It may even cost less than you’d anticipate and in our experience, even smaller clubs will soon see a return on their investment.

Patrick Giffney

Firework PR

Posted: 6 June 2016

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