Football Marketing Fundamentals

Who is Competing with your Football Club for Fans

Your football team is playing before empty stadiums most of the time. Who is your real competition for fans?

The real competition for your fans is not the team across town. It is not the team in the next province. It is the other goods and services on offer. It is the mobile phone companies, the banks, supermarkets and all those activities being offered to the fans which are wants and not needs. People offering these goods and services go all out, capturing almost the whole purse of the fan and leave nothing for your club that is hardly doing anything in terms of football marketing.

An anticipated derby day comes, your marketing and public relations people where busy during the week reaching out to fans across the branches appealing to them to make sure they attend the match. Radio and tabloids have also given the game ample coverage. On match day you look up to the terraces, they are as empty as ever! What went wrong? Did the message filter down to the branches and supporters? One thing for sure they knew about the game, but what is the problem?

Why did the fans not show up? It is possible that your team is competing for fans with activities that are not directly obvious. That is what we have to unravel by peering into a life for a typical football fan. We shall do this by following this football fan for a several days during his typical month.

Thabiso is broke on match day because of other expenses

We shall call this fan Thabiso. Thabiso is a not a card carrying member for his beloved Gold Stars Football Club, for reasons we are not privy to. What we know is that he can kill for his team. He knows every player and he keeps a tab on the goings in the club by reading a weekly football magazine called “Laduuma”. No, “Laduuma” is not a club magazine. It is a weekly football magazine. It covers all teams in the premier league and everything football in the country.

Thabiso received his salary on the 30th of September. He works as a shop assistant for one of the biggest chain stores in the country. By the time his salary comes he has already spent twenty percent of it. He received a call from one of the mobile phone companies out here. It was so sweet he could not resist their offer of a new modern mobile phone with bells and whistles. The clincher is that they offered it for free. All he has to do is to sign a contract that binds him to using a R350 worth of airtime every month. Thabiso also, recently bought his fourth insurance policy from a sweet talking sales man who promised him heaven on earth. The sales man was so sweet that he convinced him that he truly needed it. The catch was when, the salesman asked: “If you died today how long do you think you will remain dead? What will your people be eating before you resurrect to work for them?” What the sales man did not tell Thabiso is that the payout after ten years will be less than his total contribution and also what is in it for him as a salesman.

Thabiso is a very smart dresser. He hardly ever passes a shop with those beautiful canvasses and T shirts. He no longer has space for them at home, but that does not stop him from buying more. Does he buy them cash? No, “lay buys” them. This is a process of buying goods here in South Africa and paying for them gradually. You only take possession of the items when fully paid for. Thabiso does this for a couple of goods. This brings his pre earning expenditure to twenty percent.

Today is the big day. The town is buzzing with hundreds of people laden with bags. It is pay day. Thabiso is part of the buzz. He leaves work and joins the buzz. He has been longing for fast food. That is his first point of call. From there he hits the shops and supermarkets. He leaves part of his income there. For the next few days Thabiso remains part of the fast food circuit, drinking holes and also takes his girl friends out. What he does not forget to do is to buy his monthly train ticket. This ensures that his monthly transport to work is covered.

Thabiso’s income does not last long. Within the next ten or so days after month end he is flat on his back, broke. He longs for another month end.

Gold Stars Football Club in the mean time has played three games since month end. Thabiso followed their performance as usual. He did not attend the matches for reasons he also does not know. But he debated their performance vigorously with fans of other teams.

Thabiso like thousands of other football fans is an arm chair fan. Because of the vigorous marketing out there, he has not been able allocate anything for his team. The niceties from beer, to fast food, to supermarket, to mobile phone companies wipe out his wallet every month end.

His football team on their hand believes that football is the most popular game. They have not put together a comprehensive plan to be part of his priorities. They have not put in place a strategy to get the likes of Thabiso into the stadium consistently. They are never part of his budget. The game as a whole is losing.

As a club you are competing with other expenses and know what to do

Your competition as a football team for fans is not the team across the street. It is all those other businesses out there that are doing a vigorous marketing job. There are many distractions, problems, and goodies competing for your limited fan’s purse. Love for the game alone will not pull the fans to the stadiums.

Change the way your football team markets and fill the stadium.


This website is built for the benefit of football. The thinking behind it is that if football understands that the currency that runs football is fans then the game will be able to lure untold success. Players will be able to succeed economically right in their home countries.

If you know a club, organisation or any person who would find this work useful please past it on.

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