Fan Engagement at a Fan-Owned Club
- If you’re a fan-owned club, that doesn’t mean you’ve reached the end of your journey. In fact, in many ways you’re just starting!
- Don’t assume structure is everything. It’s not. Fans will expect you to listen, be open to ideas, and to engage in dialogue
- See non-members not just as potential members, but also as fans who need to be listened to
Fan-owned clubs are seen by some as the pinnacle of Fan Engagement.
Whilst it’s true that the model itself is a model based on dialogue, governance and to some extent transparency, we must understand the difference between this structure, and the different issue of actual culture and practice.
What structure does is to provide a way of enabling in some ways, or in others, limiting what you’re permitted to do, and therefore is an important structural part.
However, what structure doesn’t do is to provide readymade ways of engaging with your fans. Although some fan-owned clubs including Newport County and AFC Wimbledon do open their Special General Meetings (SGMs) to the fanbase, there are obvious legal restrictions as to how involved non-members can be.
What you need to do as a fan owned club is to use the opportunity that the inclusive model of ownership that it provides, to institute effective dialogue and transparency in particular, with other groups that may exist, and with individual fans, for example in the area of Fan Experience.
Though fan ownership gives you a ready made group of people (the members) to consult with, don’t forget that there will always be non-members. Not only should you see these people as potential members and owners, you should also be looking for opportunities to engage in dialogue, and listen to them too, as they are just as much fans as anyone else.