This report tracks recent changes in the way consumers follow football and the attitudes they hold towards it, and considers these in the context of wider trends in the game and UK society. In so doing, it examines the hypothesis that “England’s continuing failure in international football is as big a barrier to the club game’s prospects of expanding its domestic customer base as are the more obvious obstacles of high ticket prices or restriction of live broadcasting to pay-TV platforms”.
- The value of the English football market is expected to breach the £3 billion barrier within 18 months, having grown revenues by more than 50% since 2005.With attendances effectively static over the same period, income growth has been driven by increased matchday spend per capita, higher levels of commercial activity and – above all – a continuing boom in the value of domestic and overseas television rights.
- Casual fans (interested in football but don’t watch every week) and passive fans (watch an occasional match but not really that interested) are significantly more responsive to the international game than to club competition. These fans are generally from areas comparatively under-served by professional club football, suggesting England-related promotion can be most effective in reaching these types of consumer in these particular areas.
- Those who prefer club football to the international game are far more likely to be male than female, are most commonly aged 16-34, upscale socio-economically, better off financially, non-readers of newspapers and viewers of satellite TV.
- Consumers who prefer international to club football, are as likely to be female as to be male, are younger, less affluent and lower-level viewers of satellite TV than their club-fan counterparts, but are also upscale socio-economically and prefer broadsheet newspapers.
- Football fans’ viewing intentions are largely positive in the short term at least, with almost twice as many fans planning to attend more games this season than expecting to attend fewer.
- Women are almost as likely as men to aim to attend more matches – but are still expected to remain infrequent rather than regular match-goers.