5 guidelines for attracting more fans to soccer stadia
Based on my research ‘What keeps fans away from the soccer stadium – Constraints on soccer attendance in Belgium and Portugal’ I offer 5 guidelines to soccer clubs about how they can attract more fans to their stadia. This blog is a summary of the master thesis I have presented in June 2014 when graduating from college.
Every football club wants its own new stadium nowadays. But how to get maximized attendance rates? Professional soccer clubs can not survive without fans so research about their possible constraints is necessary. Soccer clubs need to know how to organize their venue in order to connect fans. Current society is characterized by a broad offer of entertainment alternatives and soccer is just one of those. Other entertainment sectors are focusing heavily on visitor comfort. Soccer can not stay behind. Teams can find a guiding partner in scientific research.
Five major constraint components, tested on different fan characteristics, were identified: soccer interest, organizational issues & level of play, games being played on TV, sportscape factors and money issues.
This research has revealed that soccer interest is a bigger constraint for lowly identified fans. This result is interesting, because fans with a low soccer interest might be converted into fans with a high interest in the team through specific marketing initiatives. This research also showed that soccer interest is a bigger constraint for women. Women seem to be more affected by the negative overall image of soccer and lost ties with society.
Organizational issues & level of play
Organizational issues & level of play was not a bigger constraint for people being involved in a relationship, contradictory to research expectations. In this research it cannot be proved that bad scheduling, disinterest of family and having no one to attend with are major constraints for people in a relationship. Though, fans living far from the club were more constrained by this component. Bad schedules, and having nobody to go with are keeping fans who live far away from the stadium at home. Therefore, it might be harder for clubs in smaller towns to increase market size.
Games being broadcasted live on television
The single item of games being broadcasted live on television was a bigger constraint for single game-ticket purchasers. Season-ticket holders have already paid at the beginning of the season to watch the match, so they will rather decide to go to the stadium even if a match is broadcasted. This research also showed that older people are more constrained by live broadcasts. Bad stadium conditions and safety considerations keep older people at home when a match is broadcasted live. This research also shows that fans of other clubs (different from the top clubs) were not more constrained by live broadcasts. Even the contradictory result has been found significant. Top clubs might have more fans living far from the stadium. Those fans might prefer to watch the match on television, which might have affected this result.
Sportscape factors were a bigger constraint for fans living far from the club. Clubs with a modern stadium might catch attention of those fans more easily. This research also showed that lowly identified fans are more constrained by sportscape. Those fans do net get convinced to come to the stadium just because of the game itself. Contradictory to research expectations, sportscape factors are not the biggest constraint in Belgium. But this does not mean that Belgian stadia are perceived modern enough. It might be even necessary for Belgian clubs to build new stadia, in order to attract new types of fans.
Money issues are a bigger constraint for fans living far from the club. For those fans it is not only the cost of the ticket price that counts, but also travel costs. All this together might raise total costs, which can be perceived too high to see a soccer match. This research also found money issues to be a bigger constraint for students, as they are usually low on money. Next, this research also showed money issues to be a bigger constraint for women. Women, in general, tend to spend less on other products (e.g. food and beverages) as well when they are on a soccer night out. On top of that, money issues are the biggest constraint in general in Portugal. So, ticket prices in Portugal are perceived too high relative to the wages of Portuguese people. But, money issues may be in general the biggest constraint on attendance, as this constraint was also found to be the biggest in Belgium.
Most important takeaways according to this research
- Clubs can attract more lowly identified fans by good stadium conditions
- Convert lowly identified fans into real soccer fans by targeting specific marketing strategies on them afterwards
- Older fans can be kept in the stadium by providing areas where safety is higher
- Create pricing strategies focusing on women (e.g. family tickets)
- Engage in CSR programs to influence women, as they seem to be more affected by the negative overall image of soccer and lost ties with society
The full research can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking on the link below: