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Football clubs looking for new fans

October 30th, 2007 by Christian H. Pedersen · 17 Comments

European football clubs have billions to earn on the new commercial markets in Asia, and the Asian football fans loves European football. But what do the local fans think of their clubs courting the Asian market?

The average Manchester United fan is Asian, most likely Chinese. Out of 75 million fans in total, 40.6 millions are living in Asia, and about 25 million are Chinese. But these fans are more consumers, than they are “cradle to the grave”-fans, for whom the club plays a significant role in their lives and in their social community. So said Simon Chadwick, Professor of Sport Business Strategy and Marketing, Coventry Business School, Coventry University and Director of Birkbeck Sport Business Centre, University of London. He presented results from questionnaires made among football fans in South Korea, China and Japan.

“In China, European football is a luxury item in competition with all the big name western brands, “ he stated at Play the Game.
His results also showed that most fans located in the South Korea have not even seen a game live or on television, but live out their interest through the internet, on blogs and chatrooms.
“It is very much a part of pop-culture in South Korea, and pop-culture is very important in South Korea” he said.
In Japan, European football is consumed as a product of superior quality compared to other products of the same nature, and here people do not really care about whether the clubs signs Japanese players or not. But that is a factor among fans from South Korea and China according to Simon Chadwicks research. That is illustrated by PSV Eindhoven being the second most popular club in South Korea, supposedly because they had the former South Korean national coach Guus Hiddink and South Korean player Park in their team a couple of years ago.

But how do the “cradle to the grave”-fans like it, when their clubs use time and money on courting fans at distant locations? Simon Chadwick cannot say for sure, but has an idea.

“My own perception is that fans don’t necessarily object to it, as long as their team is home during the season, wining games, playing well and having money to spend on players,” he said.
“Where this starts becoming an issue is when you have games being played overseas during the season and prior to the season, so that players don’t build up their fitness in the correct way, players possibly sustain injuries overseas or are out on commercial activities,” Simon Chadwick stated.

However, he does not see it as such a big issue at the very moment, though he points out that clubs should be careful.
“If it becomes apparent that the players and club are distracted by their overseas activities and commercial activities, fans would tend to become more critical and cynical about the whole thing,” he said.

Links: There are three major incidents, where dissatisfied fans have formed their own clubs.

In 2005 a group of Manchester United fans decided to form their own local team. The reason was an outspread dissatisfaction with the takeover of Manchester United by the American businessman Malcom Glazer, owner of First Allied Corporation, a U.S. holding company. Today their team, Football Club of United Manchester, has the highest average attendance of a non-league club in England with approximately 3000 fans attending every home game. Read about F.C. United of Manchester

A similar thing happened, when the former Premier League club Wimbledon F. C. was allowed move to another town in 2002. Read about AFC Wimbledon

It is not strictly an isolated English thing. SV Austria Salzburg was founded in 2005, after the former SV Austria Salzburg was taken over by the Red Bull Concern. Read about SV Austria Salzburg


Please share your personal view on this: Are European football clubs drifting away from their base fans in the hunt for more consumers and more money?

Tags: Theme: Autonomy of sport

17 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Samson Sekyi // Nov 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Dear Sir / Madam,

    How are you doing there? I really hope everything is okay by his grace..The reason why I’m writing you this letter is that.In Ghana, soccer is almost a religion where I was born. I started playing soccer on the streets of Accra, My home town and rose up the ranks to now play in one of soccer’s most prestigious stadiums, Accra sports stadium. Took me 5 minutes of my time to write up on my biography, to find out how the players managed such a quick and steep rise.I’m a soccer midfielder and good defensive minded player of all standard and will like to join and be helped come out of my shell to be with a good club …my name is Samson Sekyi,21 years of age and tall of about 5.3 feet .
    I really hope my humbly request will be granted and also to hear from you soon .I also have some picture of me on Facebook..if you don’t mind..
    Yours faithful,
    Sampson Sekyi.

  • 2 john max // Dec 4, 2012 at 1:40 am


    Manchester United football club of England is using this media to invite interested footballers that is physically fit to apply to us,

    Footballers from Asia and Africa continent should apply to our Coordinator in Ghana via contact information below

    Tel; +233246630739

    Footballers from Europe and America continent should apply to our European Coordinator in United Kingdom via contact information below

    Tel; +447031891780

  • 3 Eric Denteh // Dec 27, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    I am a very good footballer from Ghana but currently living in Greece without a club.I am 21 years of age with a very good skills. I am very strong in the midfield, my weight is 75 and my height is 170.Please i want you to help to bring my talent out to show the world what i can do and i promise if you help me i will never disappoint you.Thank you for your help.

  • 4 magala wilson // Jan 14, 2013 at 11:47 am

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