How football clubs can connect with fans at home

With fans unable to cheer on their teams in large numbers during the pandemic, football leagues and clubs have needed to find other ways to connect with them.

Sport is integral to many people’s lives and the experience of attending matches is incredibly popular. The 2019/20 A-League season had a total attendance of more than a million people. Until full crowds can return clubs need to find digital and virtual ways to engage with supporters.

Social media campaigns have been one opportunity for football organisations to connect with fans. Earlier this year FIFA created the #WorldCupAtHome campaign in response to the pandemic.

“When the scale of what was happening became clear, we had to quickly ask ourselves ‘what does the world need from FIFA right now?’,” FIFA’s Chief Commercial Officer, Simon Thomas said about the #WorldCupAtHome campaign.

“We have an incredibly rich archive, full of treasured football moments, and this campaign gave us a platform to experiment and innovate, as well as to support critical health messages and entertain our fans in this time of uncertainty.”

The campaign featured digital content over a range of social media platforms. Part of the campaign allowed fans to vote for which world cup matches they wanted to be streamed on FIFA’s YouTube channel.

FIFA’s campaign was incredibly successful reaching 300 million fans in 126 countries. FIFA also won the Content Creation Award from the Leaders Sports Awards for the #WorldCupAtHome campaign.

Manchester United now offers digital editions of its matchday programme United Review. The club has introduced the programme at an introductory price of $1.67 (AUD) however this will increase to $4.62 (AUD).

The current edition includes articles about the club and their opponents as well as interactive content such as videos. An interview with Manchester United’s forward Anthony Martial is paired with a video collection of all his 51 goals in the Premier League.

“With fans still not allowed in stadiums in England, the cover for this special edition – and all of our Champions League programmes this season – is dedicated to the part supporters have played in European nights over the years,” Manchester United said on its website.

English League One side AFC Wimbledon have also started using the digital magazine platform MatchDay Digital.

“Digital is a much more cost-effective and time-effective way of operating and clubs need to challenge more fans to move to digital we move into the future, because it’s better for us as businesses, and it’s better for fans as consumers,” AFC Wimbledon CEO Joe Palmer told fc business.

Official club/league websites and apps provide yet another option for organisations to provide content directly to their fans that can be accessed easily.

West Bromwich Albion have decided to move away from the Football League interactive platform and have instead decided to launch their own digital platforms to control their app and website.

West Bromwich Albion’s Head of Marketing, Laura Gabbidon spoke to fc business about the digital experience for supporters.

“Fans expect a good experience with the club whether it’s digital or physical. Fans want to be proud of the club they love, and we hope the launch of the new website and app has made them proud,” she said.

“We were well underway with this project before the pandemic hit. It’s made digital even more of a priority, if that was possible, as the primary way we can engage with fans now.”

English Premier League’s Manchester City has its own streaming service.

Although it was launched before the pandemic City+ allows specialty and exclusive content to be delivered straight to the club’s fans.

The subscription service includes live Manchester City matches and full-match replays (available for 24 hours after the game).

Feature length documentaries created by CityTV are also included on the platform. One documentary on the CITY+ ‘Made in Gran Canaria’ about former City captain David Silva.

Manchester City offers a 30 day free trial and then a $3.67 (AUD) fee per month which can be cancelled at any time.

The subscription is also easy to access and is available across online, app and tv platforms.

“Following the launch of our OTT platform last year, we wanted to continue enhancing the viewing experience for fans and offer greater flexibility to consume our content. We’re now rolling our exclusive content out across our digital estate,” Nuria Tarre, Chief Marketing Officer at City Football Group, said about City+.

“CityTV was given unprecedented access to David’s inner circle who provided a rare insight into the rise of one of the Premier League’s greatest players. Producing original and never seen before content for our fans is at the heart of our strategy and ‘Made in Gran Canaria’ will bring fans even closer to the stories of one of City’s most decorated players.”

There are many options for football clubs to connect with their fans during the pandemic.

Daniel Foley is a sports junior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and micro industry matters.

Tigres secures deal for new 65,000 seat stadium

Mexican soccer giants Tigres UANL have secured a deal to see a brand new 65,000 seat stadium ready by 2025.

Mexican soccer giants Tigres UANL have secured a deal to see a brand new 65,000 seat stadium ready by 2025.

The stadium will be based in the heart of San Nicolás de los Garza, Nuevo León, and will be replacing the old 42,000 seat stadium, known as Estadio Universitario, The previous stadia has been the home of Tigres since 1967.

The new stadium was presented on Thursday, January 13 at a meeting that included Governor of Nuevo León and Samuel García, through a Memorandum of Understanding to commence construction.

Tigres’ future home was designed by architecture firm Populous and envisioned to be entirely privately financed at a cost of $445 million AUD.

The stadium’s features will include a retractable pitch, as well as being able to host concerts and international sporting events like American football games.

As part of the overall plans, the stadium will include separate changing rooms for Tigres’ men’s and women’s teams, while the exterior stadia complex will complement with a hotel, shopping centre and restaurants. The venue is also intended to act as an incubator for local business, and will also have classrooms catering for the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL).

Juego de Pelota principle partner, César Esparza:

“There is going to be another setting for concerts and sport,” he said.

“It is a stadium prepared to host all sports, this stadium will be the postcard of Nuevo León.

“Stadium events will not be expensive for fans, as long as it has that capacity it will allow us to create different price levels for events, becoming inclusive for all people.”

UANL Tigres parent company member, Mauricio Doehner:

“Today Tigres is internationally recognised and we are always striving for more,” he said.

“Of course we deserve a new stadium, it will be the headquarters in this new era. Today, Tigres is not only a benchmark in Mexican soccer, but also on an International stadium. The Estadio Universitario has given greatness to Club Tigres and all the fans, we will honour it forever.”

FuboTV secures English Premier League rights in Canada

American streaming service FuboTV has secured a three-year deal to stream the English Premier League exclusively in Canada, defeating rivals DAZN to the deal.

The coup is Fubo’s highest-profile deal thus far, which will cover all 380 matches of Premier League per season until the end of the 2024/25 season.

The landmark agreement adds to Fubo’s already impressive portfolio, which includes BeIN Sports channels, Mediapro’s OneSoccer, Benfica TV, Fight Network, MLB Network, Paramount Network and its in-house Fubo Sports Network.

BeIN and OneSoccer are also new inclusions to Fubo, meaning customers will also now have access to the Canadian Premier League and the French Ligue 1 from the start of the 2022/23 season.

FuboTV Chief Executive Officer, David Gandler:

“The Premier League is considered to be the best soccer league in the world and has a huge fanbase in Canada,” he said.

“This deal allows us to bring yet another top-notch property to FuboTV, further differentiating our content offering, and giving Canadians another reason to cut the cord for exciting, exclusive sports content.”

FuboTV Vice President of Marketing, Vanessa Morbi:

“As we were analysing the opportunity, this made a lot of sense for Fubo,” she said.

“We’re very confident around the appetite for [the Premier League] in Canada and really excited about the fanbase.”

Fubo is expected to exceed 1.1 million subscribers by the end of its financial year, while revising its total annual revenue forecast from between US$612 million (849 million AUD) and US$617 million (856 million AUD) to as much as US$627 million ($869 million AUD).

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