How we take our football

BRAND FINANCE recently published its latest Football 50, revealing that Real Madrid is the most valuable football club brand in the world. Football clubs at the highest level are becoming increasingly wealthy in an industry that is rapidly changing.

As part of the editorial of the report, which Game of the People was delighted to be involved with, an article outlined how people are now watching their football. To see the full story, On the Move: The Changing Face of Football Consumption, go to the Brand Finance site.

The article suggests that the concept of watching a match in person is now only part of the contemporary football experience. A football stadium, in most cases, can only host around 40,000 people, so there is a limit to how many people can gain access to the live event in person. Effectively, only a small percentage of a major clubs fans can ever watch every game. The importance of “being there” has undoubtedly declined as football clubs are no longer brands that identify solely with their country of domicile, in many cases, they are global brands with fans from all corners of the world.

It is feasible that, at this precise moment, a small child in the streets of Marrakech or Mumbai is walking around with a Manchester United, Real Madrid or Juventus replica shirt on their back. Football, because of its simplicity, is a universal currency that breaks down barriers, brings common interest to the table and, above all, provides stimulation.

Football’s natural audience has changed and has long since moved from the old working class stereotype dominated by men. The crowd of tomorrow is younger, far more tech-savvy and extremely mobile. The idea of watching a football match live on a mobile telephone, for example, is not something that football’s traditional clientbase would necessarily warm to. While TV has been the logical partner for football fans to use in order to watch their team, it is no longer the sole channel of access, particular for emerging football nations and the younger age groups.

Because clubs, out of necessity, have to look beyond their historic catchment areas to broaden their global footprint, they have to adapt their outputs to meet the demands and behaviours of new fanbases in other parts of the world. In China, for instance, there are one billion mobile phone users, representing 74% of the population. China’s middle class has been growing exponentially, from 4% of the population in 2002 to 31% in 2017. Moreover, 58% of Chinese people now live in urban areas, where football can flourish and technology is more prelavent. Hence, European football clubs need to be aware that upwardly mobile Chinese young people rely on their handsets for many aspects of daily life, perhaps more so than their western counterparts.

Western clubs have started to use online channels to deliver information rich content that helps cement the relationship between fans around the world and the club – for example, Juventus used Netflix to publish a documentary series. The rise of OTT (Over-the-Top) digital players is set to change the broadcasting landscape, creating partnerships and greater exposure for TV rights owners.

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Photo: PA


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