Time to re-think ticketing for better fan engagement
This weekend saw the kick-off of the new Premier League season. Following the excitement and of last season’s meteoric rise of Leicester City and the early results from this weekend, can the passion that was reignited with fans across the globe be sustained?
Things are already heating up with the continued focus of ensuring fans attend games rather than sitting watching on a TV or device at home.
So we’ve been delighted to see some clubs already jumping on the opportunity to re-imagine the best way to make this happen. One of the most creative examples which has caught our attention is Virgin Media’s partnership with the Football Supporters Federation (FSF).
The media business, and new Southampton FC shirt sponsor, has agreed to subsidise £10 for all away tickets to games at St Mary’s Stadium this season – you can read more here. You might think it would be more beneficial for Virgin Media to have fans at home watching on their service – but in fact, they’ve seen the bigger picture and recognise the critical role that fans play in the live experience at the stadium – no fans mean an eerie and silent stadium; can anyone really imagine a game without the excitement of fans cheering the team on?
The price of tickets also remains a barrier for some waiting to attend these premium games and we were interested to read the latest report from the Adam Institute today in The Times talking about the call to introduce safe standing, following the ban still in place from the Hillsborough Inquest.
Safe standing would allow more fans into stadiums and, according to the report, not only improve the atmosphere but also allow some Premier League clubs to cut the cost of tickets by half – read more here.
Following the outcome of the inquest in April, we felt compelled to write about the transformation that has taken place in football over the last two decades, where safety and order are two of the most critical ingredients in ensuring everyone has a rewarding experience when at live events.
Technology has played an important part in these changes, allowing event operators to have eyes and ears everywhere and in turn letting them control things like crowd movement and bottlenecks to ensure everyone has a good experience. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but as the report claims 90% of fans support safe standing, as well as 19 of the 20 Premier League clubs, the facts appear to support the call.
From our perspective, we know that having sell-out games both at home and away is a win-win for everyone – the atmosphere is fantastic around the stadium, fans have a great time and clubs can ensure they are maximising the commercial opportunity, whether to re-invest in their stadiums or for smaller clubs, to ensure they can return a healthy profit.
So whether it’s down to new and creative sponsorship ideas or safe standing helping to lower ticket prices and make attending the live game an affordable option for all, we’re certainly supporters. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to a lively and entertaining new season and hope our clubs turn out a great result.
Mark Dewell, Managing Director
Advanced - Specialist Solutions
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