How digital marketing is bringing in more money for football clubs

The use of digital media and marketing by big consumer brands is par for the course in today’s marketing world. The latest trend is in football clubs joining the bandwagon. But while brands look for maximum exposure and impressions, with football clubs advertising money needs to translate into an answer to the million dollar question, “how many of those new seats in the new section in the stadium are being filled?”.

Here are a few insights from a post about where the money is to be made for football clubs from digital.

The importance of data

Digital is more than just an involvement in social media, it is a serious opportunity for clubs to generate revenue from beyond the stands. By getting fans to sign up to digital memberships, newsletters, getting fans to install club mobile apps, or getting them to take part in social media conversations, a club gets to collect valuable data on their fans that can be utilised to generate more revenue over and above their ticket sales.


“The convergence of data and content is the key thing. Digital has been focused on building around content. Now the emphasis is on building where data has value to partners – customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing. Data and digital are combining around CRM and digital execution. It impacts on every single department – ticketing, retail and obviously media and commercial. Everyone has to understand the digital role throughout the club.” –  Michael Leavey, Media, Marketing and CRM director, Arsenal FC.

Quality of content

Everything is connected. Without great content, you won’t get organic growth of fans and subscribers online. Without an increasing subscriber base, collection of data to be analysed is limited.

“You have to be proactive rather than reactive. You need to make digital lead the conversation … With digital now the primary way clubs communicate with their fans, the quality of content is crucial … First you have to look at how we create great content. Second we have to have the analytics and this leads to CRM and data.” – Craig Howe Digital consulting head of digital and social media, San Francisco 49ers & Chicago Bulls.

Arsenal FC are pulling it off, more following suit


Arsenal has changed its policy from charging their fans for digital broadcast content to converting those already paying and new sign-ups into digital club memberships. Currently they have 1.3 million members who receive the digital club memberships free. Albeit in exchange for user data (age, preferences, etc).

“We are now looking at the value of data,” said Leavey. “CRM put at the centre of the business can create value.”

70% of these members are outside the UK and the value to the club is no longer capped at the 60,000 people who can attend matches. The value of the data and how it can be used is greater than a £6 subscription to a digital TV stream.

While Arsenal FC have cracked the scene, other clubs are also doing their best to make the most of an emerging source of revenue and increase the value of their clubs.

“Connecting our stadium to our wider fans we see as a major opportunity. We are still a developing brand so the first thing for us is to create awareness. The second step is for people to like us and the third step is our commercial rights. 80,000 in our stadium is our maximum capacity… We must now transport that intense Borussia Dortmund experience outside the stadium.” – David Gorges, head of new media and CRM at Borussia Dortmund

Money is spent on pre-season tours every season. Digital will now be given equal importance to make the most of the new fan markets clubs are attempting to capture, at home and around the world.

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