Accessibility to live football – what should clubs be doing?

Compared with 20 years ago live top flight (premier league) football at stadiums has become far less accessible for the average football supporter.  Since regulations came in at top flight premier league teams requiring all seater stadiums less capacities have been possible, and a few things have influenced the rise in prices for these tickets:

– Clubs needing to recoup monies paid for the development of stadiums

– The requirement to drive revenue through smaller crowds

– Premier league players massive wages

– The quality of seating (i.e. a guaranteed spacious view of the action) demands a premium price

These price increases have created a few issues:  there are now less working and middle class people attending games;  less families due to the extortionate cost for a family to attend;  a rising average age of supporters due to general life-cycle of individuals earning pattern; younger people are now watching the games on TV at home or in the pub.

I think the main concern out of all of this is that live football at the stadium has become  inaccesible for the younger generation, and this is a negative thing for the future of football as these people will be accustomed to not attending live.  Could this have a massive impact on the future of how top flight football clubs treat the fans and the pricing structure?  I think so.

I have a few recommendations on how this can be tackled:

– Football clubs need to start treating the supporter as a customer and providing exceptional service

– Provide better value packages to supporters based on the challenges particularly with younger families attending

– Look at the younger generation and kids, and consider that these are the future paying customers to the club.  Therefore clubs need to engage with these people and get them attending live games.  This could come in the form of an exclusive club or through grass routes schemes in the community

– Offer extremely cheap prices for kids to attend games – similar to prices for a film at the cinema, after all this is an alternative thing for kids to do.  Prices / packages should be considered for a season tickets, batch of tickets (say 10 matches), and individual match basis.

– Look at social networking opportunities online to engage with younger supporters – i.e. facebook.

– Turn your football club into a brand that has values that the support can relate to.

One club that I am aware of doing this very well are Birmingham City FC through their innovative CEO Karren Brady.

Football is a big business but the clubs really need to start realising that the players are not the main focus… the fans are, and the fans need to start being considered as the priority.

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