Fan Engagement: we’ve disrupted it, but what next?

The intention behind the Fan Engagement Index was always to disrupt, and to do it positively. Disruption can often be seen as negative, but if done right, it can be an effective way of creating change – if you have the right ideas.

There was also a lot written and spoken about it – including an extensive feature from BBC Sport, and this excellent episode from the Sports Marketing podcast, Unofficial Partner.

Fan Engagement in English football has become confused about how to deal with fans and those representing them. Too influenced by the idea of fan as a customer, a unit to market or sell to, and not a person a club has a relationship with. In plenty of cases it’s lost touch with that key element: that fans feel it in the gut, the heart. It’s about a sense of place and a sense of identity, a sense of belonging, and how you deal with and treat fans should reflect that.

Fan Engagement in English football has become confused about how to deal with fans and those representing them.

And it’s not that those leading clubs in this area don’t recognise this. We’ve found that a lot of them do understand that a lot of what gets done in the name of Fan Engagement, isn’t. We’ve also found plenty of cases where those responsible don’t even get what they need to do the job. We’ve also found some limited resistance as well, but that’s understandable. Some people don’t like change. Feeling like you’re being criticised isn’t a nice feeling, but our aim isn’t to criticise for no purpose. We’re holding a mirror up to Fan Engagement in English football, and the next step is working with it to change and improve.

Clubs are positive and engaged with what we’re trying to do. Many believe that Fan Engagement needs to run, in the words of Lincoln City CEO Liam Scully, like a “golden thread” throughout a club. We want to make sure that those who own or run clubs understand what ‘custodian’ actually means – like Norwich City’s COO Ben Kensell.

We think football’s ready for what we’re going to do next.

As his lengthy quotes in The Athletic demonstrated, Andy Ambler, Director of Professional Game Relations and Former Millwall and Fulham CEO, is a fan of the Fan Engagement Index, backing it early on. A number of other clubs were fullsome in their praise, including Portsmouth’s 2017 CEO of the year, Mark Catlin, and Reading FC. This quote from Doncaster Rovers CEO Gavin Baldwin puts it particularly well, describing the Index as “A detailed analysis…looking much deeper than the pink and fluffy PR-driven stuff that is prevalent, and holding us to account.”

We’ve since spent time speaking with senior – though not always – officials at a number of clubs, including Everton, Norwich City, Lincoln City, Bristol Rovers and Tranmere Rovers. It’s clear to us that football was ready for the Fan Engagement Index. We think it’s ready for what we’re going to do next.

We’re working on some exciting plans. The tremendous reception from those not just in football, but experts and professionals outside the game, means we know we’re on the right track. We hope you agree.

In the meantime, get in touch via email, follow us on Twitter swing by on LinkedIn or drop in at Facebook We even post on Instagram and Tumblr if that’s your bag.

Most of all, join the thousands who’ve downloaded the Fan Engagement Index, and keep an eye out here. And remember, Fan Engagement really can Deliver.

Featured pic courtesy of 👉 Ross Findon

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