Manchester United publishes Fan Engagement Plan

Manchester United Fan Engagement Plan

Manchester United has published its Fan Engagement Plan for the 2023/24 season.

The document’s publication is a requirement for all teams as part of a league-wide initiative to foster meaningful, long-term interaction with supporters.

United released its strategy ahead of the end-of-month deadline for teams to do so, demonstrating the club’s commitment to fan interaction ahead of the start of the Premier League season.

The club’s engagement with its two fan representation groups – the Fans’ Advisory Board (FAB) and Fans’ Forum – is at the core of the strategy, ensuring that supporters’ ideas assist drive decision-making on matters affecting fans

United manager Erik ten Hag spoke on the fan engagement plan.

“Ever since I came to Manchester United, I have been impressed by the support of our loyal fans. We see and hear them at every game, home and away, wherever in the world we play,” he stated via press release.

“The strong bond we have established between the team and the fans is an advantage to us on the pitch, and something we want to continue to strengthen. Working together with our fans and listening to them is part of that process, so I am pleased the club will continue to make fan relations a priority.

Fan groups of United include, Manchester United Supporters Trust, Manchester United Supporters’ clubs, Rainbow Devils, Manchester United Women Supporters Club, Manchester United Disabled Supporters Association, The red army and Manchester Munich Memorial Foundation. Catering for all different types of fans involved in the club, ensuring all keep engaged.

Richard Arnold, chief executive officer of Manchester United also offered his thought on the strategy.

“Our strategy is a simple one, to put football and fans first,” he said via press release.

“Everything we do, and every decision we take, is viewed through that lens and should contribute to improving our on-field performance and the experience for our fans. I hope this plan has provided you with assurance about the huge amount of work already underway and our plans for the future.

We are working hard to strengthen the role of fans at the heart of the club, and I can promise you that we will continue to invest time and resources in to strengthening our engagement with fans and ensuring you can have your say and be listened to. I am proud of the great progress we have made in the last twelve months but can assure you we have big plans and an unwavering determination to get even better.”

Manchester United’s goals before the end of the season include:

  • Reviewing the first year of operation of its FAB and make any relevant updates to its terms of reference.
  • Publish their first Annual Report and an updated Engagement Plan to cover the 2023-24 season.
  • Consider the contents of the government’s recent White Paper on Reforming Club Football Governance and consequent developments, where they impact directly or indirectly on fan engagement.
  • Undertake a review of the clubs Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) commitments and delivery to ensure fan engagement processes are fully representative.
  • Launch a twice-year communication to fans from the clubs CEO.

These goals are set in place to maximise and improve the level of fan engagement and give back to the community in a matter of different ways.

A-Leagues Unite Round returns for a second season

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have confirmed the return of Unite Round to the A-Leagues for the 2024/25 season with some changes from the first edition.

The A-League’s ‘ultimate away day’ utilises the same idea as the AFL and NRL with ‘Gather Round’ and ‘Magic Round’ respectively, where one round for both men’s and women’s leagues will all be played in one city.

The second instalment of Unite Round will be once again hosted in New South Wales and will now start on 22 November and conclude on 24 November, instead of taking place in January.

The six games from each league will be split into three double headers throughout the weekend. All of the men’s games will be played at Allianz Stadium whereas the women’s games will be played at Leichhardt Oval. However, Commbank Stadium will not be a featured venue, unlike last season.

Due to the inception of Auckland FC into the A-League Men, there will be an uneven number of teams in the league and therefore each club must serve a bye each weekend. The bye will fall onto Melbourne City during Unite Round, but their women’s side will still play that weekend.

The APL seems to be satisfied to give it another shot, but it still raises many questions about what has been done to entice fans to make the journey to New South Wales and what improvements have been implemented to make this round sustainable for future seasons.

Last year’s fixtures showcased many high-scoring games, with four out of the six men’s games during Unite Round having five or more goals scored- with Adelaide United’s Hiroshi Ibuski and Macarthur FC’s Ulises Dávila both scoring hat-tricks during the weekend.

However, crowd numbers were quite low given the stadiums where these games were being played. To provide context, Leichhardt Oval, Commbank Stadium and Allianz Stadium have a venue capacity of 20,000, 30,000 and 42,500 respectively.

A-League Men Unite Round Crowd Numbers:

  • Macarthur FC vs Western United at Commbank Stadium: 3,441
  • Western Sydney Wanderers vs Melbourne City at Commbank Stadium: 7,117
  • Central Coast Mariners vs Melbourne Victory at Allianz Stadium: 8,147
  • Sydney FC vs Adelaide United at Allianz Stadium: 11,918
  • Brisbane Roar vs Newcastle Jets at Allianz Stadium: 3,948
  • Perth Glory vs Wellington Phoenix at Commbank Stadium: 1,632

A-League Women Unite Round Crowd Numbers:

  • Melbourne Victory vs Perth Glory at Leichhardt Oval: 1,130
  • Wellington Phoenix vs Central Coast Mariners at Leichhardt Oval: 1,938
  • Canberra United vs Adelaide United at Leichhardt Oval: 1,183
  • Brisbane Roar vs Newcastle Jets at Leichhardt Oval: 1,417
  • Western United vs Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium: 4,039
  • Western Sydney Wanderers vs Melbourne City at Commbank Stadium: 1,515

For the first time as a way to get more people to travel to New South Wales, full-season members at every club will be given access to complimentary tickets to their club’s fixtures at Unite Round. This could potentially see an increase in crowd numbers, but there are still other factors that may steer fans away from travelling.

According to the Unite Round FAQs on the A-Leagues website, the APL is working with a few providers on travel discounts for fans to travel to New South Wales, but at the moment, flights aren’t the cheapest if you decide to plan ahead.

The cheapest interstate flights in Australia can range from $200 to $600 depending on where you are travelling from. But when you take into account fans of Wellington Phoenix and Auckland FC who may want to travel from New Zealand, the cheapest flights will cost from $400 to $600. Also, fans would need to sort out accommodation and that too is still another expense fans will have to deal with.

The idea to bring Unite Round for a second season enables fans from Australia and New Zealand to come together and celebrate football in one location. The fixtures that have been released should excite all A-League fans as the two New South Wales derbies are being played that weekend.

Taking into consideration the expenses fans have to deal with, it may not be feasible for some fans to enjoy the festivities. However, it’s still early days and the APL could potentially sort out ways for fans to make it easier for them to travel.

Considering the league undergoing some financial troubles, they’ll be hoping to make the most out of Unite Round and continue it for more future seasons to come.

Football Victoria choose INTIX as exclusive ticketing provider

Football Victoria have confirmed a new and exciting partnership with ticketing and membership company INTIX, which will commence in 2024 in time for next season.

INTIX will become the exclusive ticketing provider for all FV-managed events and will be the preferred provider for events at The Home of the Matildas.

This collaboration will also make FV’s event management more efficient and improve communication with fans and sponsors through their CRM systems.

INTIX is an Australian owned and operated company that specialise in event operations, ticketing and marketing specifically for sporting events.

The company was established in 2017 by Alex Grant with an ambitious goal to provide the best ticketing platform available to event organisers, clubs and venues.

INTIX partnered with Melbourne Victory to provide digital ticketing for all its corporate hospitality functions, and they have worked many high-scale football events.

The company also has experience in the NBL with the Tasmanian JackJumpers and in 2021 worked with AFL Victoria to supply ticketing services to metropolitan leagues and clubs.

This partnership for FV scratches the surface for what is the possibility in the future for NPL and A-League matches that have completely different systems. The expensive processing fees of Ticketek and Ticketmaster have left many fans frustrated at the process of purchasing their ticket and success with this collaboration could see INTIX expand inside the sport of football.

FV Executive Manager of Commercial, Chris Speldewinde, spoke about the improvements to matchday operations that will be made through this collaboration.

“We are thrilled to join forces with INTIX. Their state-of-the-art ticketing and CRM solutions will not only optimise our operations but also elevate our engagement with fans and sponsors. This collaboration signifies an exciting new chapter for Football Victoria,” he said in a statement.

INTIX’s advanced ticketing system will simplify the purchasing of tickets to these events and be readily available to fans online, reducing wait times to provide seamless access into events.

As the Home of the Matildas begins to stage bigger events, this partnership importantly professionalises the experience of getting to the seat and helps FV manage big crowds a lot easier.

It’s a collaboration that allows FV to focus more on strategic growth initiatives and delivering a better experience for fans and stakeholders.

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