The FINANCIAL -- To celebrate the UEFA Champions League final, official sponsor
MasterCard today reveals a new breed of football fans who, in
Europe, are collectively spending a staggering €35bn each season
supporting clubs from foreign countries, proving that witnessing history
truly is priceless.
The new and growing breed of European football fan ‘Fans Without Borders’ are identified in a report by MasterCard and the European Business School (EBS). Whether it’s funding their overseas match attendance and PayTV subscriptions or buying merchandise, Fans Without Borders notch up a combined spend per season that would fund the construction of 100 Fußball Arenas München, or buy 372 Cristiano Ronaldos or even 562 Fernando Torres’.
The results, released ahead of this year’s UEFA Champions League final which will see FC Bayern München face Chelsea FC at the Fußball Arena München on Saturday May 19th, show one quarter of Europe’s football faithful (41 million) are classed as Fans Without Borders, with FC Barcelona the most popular foreign team (29%), followed by Real Madrid CF (10%) and Manchester United FC (8%).
Commenting on the study, Hany Fam, President Strategic Partnerships and Market Development, MasterCard Europe says, “MasterCard’s study examines the shifts in football fan behaviour and looks at how changes in the way fans are affiliating themselves to clubs impact on their spending. It’s fascinating to see fans using new ways, like adoption of foreign clubs, to get even closer to the game and enjoy more priceless football moments.”
How They Spend It -- Fans Without Borders ring up €35bn worth of spending each season and here’s how:
One fifth of the total spend, or €7.5bn, is on Pay TV.
Merchandising (club-branded goods) earns 13% of our far-away follower’s money.
Actual match attendance consumes 10% of Fans Without Borders’ spending, with an additional €2.5bn allocated to food, drink and other goods purchased when there.
6% of spend is given over to visiting a pub or sports-bar to take in a game on the big screen, and subscription to a club’s own TV channel takes 5%.
One in four fans attends home matches abroad. Accommodation and travel relating to match attendance, or visits to their favourite stadia, cost Fans Without Borders €8.75bn each year – one quarter of the total spend.
The impact on tourism is positive; one third of all Fans Without Borders have booked a trip for the sole purpose of watching a match or visiting a stadium. One fifth intentionally combine match attendance with a short city break, or integrate the game into a regular holiday.
In total, cities hosting Fans Without Borders at live matches, benefit by around €4.5bn per season.
Categories of Fans -- The report suggests that Fans Without Borders have been categorised into three groups:
Highlight Fans, representing almost two thirds (60%) of all Fans Without Borders, are attracted to a club’s playing philosophy (85%) and success (79%).
Regional Affinity Fans account for just 12% of the total number of Fans Without Borders. Many of these faraway followers feel a special connection with the team because of a link to the city, with 55% of these fans regularly visiting the club’s region.
Star Followers represent 11% of Fans Without Borders – their loyalties are firmly set at the feet of great players and coaches and these fans are prepared to switch allegiance in line with wherever their favorite stars go.
Glo-ball-isation -- Report author Professor Sascha Schmidt, Director of the Institute for Sports, Business and Society at EBS University in Germany has pinpointed three mega-trends which have brought about the proliferation of Fans Without Borders.
He explains, “Firstly, increasing mobility, supported by easier and cheaper international travel, means that foreign clubs are no longer out of reach. Secondly, new media channels have enabled fans to gain easy access to club information and other fans abroad, meaning Fans Without Borders do feel more involved in club life. Lastly, the rise of the global star player and coach with celebrity status has transcended language and culture differences and served as a glue to bring fans from different countries together.”