Social Media Challenges – What can the A-League learn from FC Barcelona and PSG?

FC Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) are two of the biggest clubs in world football, with over 400 million connections on various social media platforms.

Both of these clubs are pioneers when it comes to its use of social media.

They continue to effectively deal with different challenges such as the growing number of audiences, social media channels and production of appropriate content for different locations and languages.

For example, PSG have four separate social media channels in China that are only relevant for that market.

China, alongside Thailand, is now among the club’s biggest markets.

However, controlling all of these factors is a difficult task. PSG chief digital officer, Russell Stopford, explained to fcbusiness: “For us, the challenge is the slicing and dicing – creating the right content experiences for the different demographics on the right channels.

“In order to do that, you need an incredibly sophisticated content production model and to be really fresh with ideas, as the new channels are constantly finding new user behaviours.

“It is about being creative and trying to be brilliant in terms of what we are trying to create.”

Spanish champions FC Barcelona focus heavily on engagement, but also recognise the complexities of expanding their scope of operations. Digital director Enric Llopart, added: “It is getting more and more complex.”

“Take Instagram for example. A few years ago, you just posted images. Today you have stories and Instagram TV. Multiply that for all the different platforms and formats, plus different languages, it brings complexity.

“We believe in engagement and making sure that every piece of content we do is well thought through for that platform and audience – and that it works properly.

“We obsessively measure everything we do in terms of engagement parameters, because we believe it is important to grow the audience quantitatively, but also qualitatively.

“We make sure we bring fans into the mix. We have core fans more engaged, casual fans that we hope become more engaged and new fans getting on board.”

Accountancy firm PwC announced last year that engagement with younger audiences is the biggest challenge for a sporting business. According to the firm, the next generation of fans have multiple consumption methods but also different expectations.

This will be something Australian football needs to focus on, with the current Fox Sports broadcast deal expiring in 2023. It is imperative that those in charge strike the right balance in the next arrangement, giving younger fans more choices and easier accessibility to their product.

Llopart adds: “We are absolutely aware there is a big shift in content consumption and behaviour in younger audiences that will affect football. We need a certain paranoia and to be obsessed with what happens with the younger audiences and how we can connect with them.

“It’s a matter of being where they are in the content and the formats that they love to consume. This means launching on the likes of TikTok. It also means developing an esports division as a way to connect with young global audiences that may not consume a 90-minute game, but may consume an esports competition.”

Esports is critical for connection with younger audiences. The E-League in Australia kicked off last weekend, with a new format for the players on the Xbox and PlayStation systems.

This is the third season of the Australian competition, as those running the game look for further revenue streams and hopefully converting the younger audience into permanent fans of the A-League.

That is not an easy task, with children of a younger age playing games such as FIFA as much as, if not more than watching and playing the sport of Football.

The audience of these esports matches also gives clubs insight into how the younger generation is interacting with their devices.

Stopford adds: “The challenges are also at the product level, some of the features and functionality we have got used to on social media over the last 10 years or so, are not chiming with younger audiences. How do we respond to that?”

In 2019, PSG became the first major European club to sign a deal with a Dota 2 team – Chinese organisation LGD Gaming. The team now uses PSG as its name.

“There are esports opportunities particularly in the Far East with the stuff that we do. Through the partnership with LDG in China, we have multiple different teams, playing different games over there,” Stopford explains.

“The reason we do that is for brand diversification and to find new audiences and to connect with those new audiences. We don’t want to create content which is not addressing the core PSG fan, but it is important to be looking at the younger audiences – and those that are not necessarily watching football.”

The use of social media has become increasingly important for significant club launches.

Last year, PSG conducted an enormous partnership launch with leisure wear brand, Jordan.

Stopford explained: “We created a whole story telling universe, it went from a 26-minute documentary, to massive amounts short form videos on social stories and a live content launch on the day. There were lots of celebrities and influencers, a dance and fashion show.

“This year we had a pre-season tour in China. We had a fashion show with most the players for the Jordan away kit launch this year – our second kit. It was an iconic experience around a story, rather than a commercial angle.

“That said, the latest kit launch, the third kit, which is a Nike kit, rather than Jordan, reflected the original Nike PSG kit from 30 years ago. The focus of the social media launch, followed the 60-fold increase to the e-commerce store, compared with an average day. That was an example of how can show how our social content affects the commercial result.”

Launches like this may not necessarily be realistic for an A-League club, but more can definitely be done.

The arrival of Keisuke Honda last season for Melbourne Victory, one of Asia’s best ever players, was undersold by the club.

A player of that calibre competing in the Asian Champions League, should have been appropriately promoted to the world across social media.

The Honda signing was a missed opportunity, if we compare it to the way he was launched at Botafogo recently.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

The 2023-24 Local Sports Infrastructure Fund to cater for participation boom

2023-24 Local Sports Infrastructure Fund

The Victorian Government’s 2023-24 Local Sports Infrastructure Fund is a state-wide investment, open until December 13, 2023.

This fund was created to adapt to the increasing need for infrastructure that is required for regular active sport and recreation.

Utilising three streams, sports clubs, facility managers and community organisations will all benefit from the following grants:

  • Community Facilities – up to $300,000
  • Community Sports Lighting – up to $250,000
  • Planning – up to $40,000

Led by Minister for Community Sport, Ros Spence, the creation of infrastructure will be made possible by planners, architects, engineers, project managers,
builders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, facility managers and operational staff as part on the construction process. In turn, this has a direct link back to the local economy and offers hundreds of jobs.

For sporting & recreation clubs, sporting associations & leagues, educational institutions, not-for-profit community organisations, businesses and individuals looking to apply for the Local Sports Infrastructure Fund, an important note is that they cannot do so directly. Instead, they will coordinate this with Local Government Authorities and the Alpine Resorts Victoria who will apply on their behalf.

Applications close at 5pm on Wednesday December 13 2023 – with successful candidates of the 2023-24 Local Sports Infrastructure Fund announced from April 2024.

For full information and resources, you can view those here.

Football Queensland remain with Kappa for five more seasons until 2028

Football Queensland & Kappa partnership extension

Football Queensland have announced a five-year partnership extension with iconic international sports brand Kappa as its official apparel partner from 2024.

This relationship between the two parties has been very strong since they first partnered all the way back in 2017 and reinforces the support for football in Queensland that the brand has had.

Kappa has provided quality garments for some of Europe’s biggest clubs including Manchester City, Juventus, AC Milan and the Italian National team.

It’s a brand that was established in 1916 in Turin and eventually in 1978 they rebranded themselves to branch out as a sportwear brand where they focused purely on football-related products and designs.

For Football Queensland, they currently produce and provide quality on and off-field apparel for all Queensland State Representative teams including the state’s futsal representative squads. Kappa also provide on-field apparel for the game’s referees on the FQ website.

They also helped sponsor and start up the Kappa Women’s Super Cup and Kappa Pro Series tournaments that debuted in late 2021 and 2022 respectively for clubs to participate in across the state.

FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci was extremely pleased to announce this partnership extension following Kappa’s amazing support.

“Football Queensland is incredibly excited to announce Kappa as our official apparel partner for the next five years following a competitive tender process which saw us receive 20 expressions of interest and 15 submissions of an extremely high quality,” Cavallucci said via Football Queensland press release.

“In their seven years as a Football Queensland partner, Kappa has provided fantastic support to Football Queensland, our clubs and the wider football community thanks to their quality of apparel, ability to deliver on their promises and the team’s unwavering commitment to customer service.

“We’ve built a wonderful working relationship with the team at Kappa thanks to their willingness to go above and beyond to deliver outcomes for our organisation and our game, and we’re delighted to continue working in partnership with them from next year.”

Kappa Australia Director Ze’ev Bogaty shared the same sentiment for the great relationship the two parties have created.

“Kappa is a strong supporter of football in Queensland and has been proud to invest in the game since the partnership with Football Queensland began in 2017,” Bogaty mentioned in the FQ press release.

“Some highlights of the partnership have included the development of the teal shirt for first year referees, witnessing Queensland state sides dominate on the national stage in Kappa kit, and the launch of the Kappa Women’s Super Cup and Kappa Pro Series tournaments.

“As we embark on another five years as the state’s official apparel partner and continue our close working relationship with Football Queensland, we look forward to contributing even more to the growth and success of football across the state.”

There is a shared goal of improving the grassroots game in Queensland from both parties and the track record of Kappa’s immense investment over the past seven years has shown that this extension will do wonders for Queensland football.

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