It is the aim of every brand to create the ultimate partnership, that is to turn consumers into purchasers, purchasers into brand advocates, and advocates into fans. Football clubs have the holy grail of brand relationships – fans but they simply do not seem to understand the value of that partnership and have managed to turn those very same fans against the clubs with their inept response to the coronavirus epidemic.
The announcement that some of the UK clubs were going to use tax-payers money to pay their staff was roundly decried by supporters’ clubs and fans alike. This was against the context Barcelona FC had already announced their players would take a 70% cut to support non – playing staff and Manchester United had led the charge for all professional footballers to take a 30% pay cut. Liverpool FC were quick to make a U turn but only once their powerful supporters club had objected strongly. However, at the time of writing, Tottenham are yet to change their decision to furlough some non-playing staff. Newcastle have also made use of the furlough scheme.
Football brands are global entities. Indeed, they make a significant amount of their income from international broadcasts, international merchandise sales and international touring and in this connected world brands behaving badly could, and should have an impact on their international income.
This is a time where brands who really understand what a partnership with their consumers means can flourish. They can build stronger relationships, create more brand equity but only if they are in tune with what their customers are thinking and feeling. The football community as a whole has shown it doesn’t understand the value of their own brands and even more worryingly seems to have ignored the most important lesson of all.
Think of your fans first.