On Wednesday 13 May over 900 movers and shakers from the football world will converge at Wembley Stadium to discuss a wide range of commercial challenges within the sport at Soccerex. And I will be chairing one of the biggest sessions – Football sponsorship in the Recession.
The results of a new Soccerex/NSP Sport poll will be released on Wednesday and it makes interesting reading!
What is striking is the high degree of consensus amongst football clubs and those who are part of the football industry on the way in which fans should be treated.
A key poll finding is that fans’ loyalty comes at a price and that football clubs need to treat fans more like paying consumers and not take their continued loyalty for granted.
In other words, in these credit crunch times where household disposable income is stretched to max clubs won’t be able to get away with hikes in the price of annual season tickets or replica kits in the way they have done so in the past.
Today, fans behave more like traditional consumers than supporters and will turn their back on clubs if the price isn’t right or the product isn’t good enough. The potential loss of revenues for football clubs will be the price paid for having destroyed the loyalty of their supporters that may have been built over years or even generations within the same households.
This level of introspection within the football industry should have happened a long time ago of course. Warning bells are clearly now being heard in club boardrooms up and down the country as the long term sustainability of football clubs has been questioned most recently by an All Party Parliamentary Football Group report that urged them to break free from the legacy of debt-leveraging in order to create a more secure and financially stable future.
Many commentators think that the recession will claim the scalps of football clubs as they fail to retain commercial sponsors over the next five years and revenues from broadcasters start to dry up as a result of a downturn in TV advertising.
And as the rest of the UK struggles to tighten its belt in terms of salaries, perhaps football clubs will have to follow suit, which could usher in a new era in player salaries as well as more realistic approach in managing their finances in the future.
Read more on New Opinion poll puts a price on the loyalty of football fans…