Rift between fans and clubs opens opportunity for better stadium design
Football match ticket prices have been in the headlines again, with Liverpool’s proposal to increase their most expensive from £59 to £77, reigniting the debate. And the problem appears to be spreading to Europe with Borussia Dortmund fans staging their own protest at what they feel are increasingly unfair pricing policies (turns out throwing tennis balls on to the pitch is quite disruptive!).
It may be argued that the increasingly lucrative television deals being struck are allowing top football clubs to become less reliant on their fan base for revenue. But the pressure from Liverpool fans has proven successful and the club has backtracked, agreeing to keep their current ticket prices. As has been pointed out by both Deloitte (in their Football Money League report) and the Football Supporter’s Federation, arguably representing opposing interests in the game, television revenue is inherently reliant on a high quality matchday product. After all, who wants to watch a match played in an empty stadium?
Now more than ever, the interests of the fans and of the clubs need to become better aligned. How can the fan experience andvalue for money be balanced with the commercial nature of a modern football club?
We’re aiming to help bridge the gap between fans and clubs and our fan survey, which has been open for a few months, is already providing interesting results. It is open until 26 April so the results we currently have are only interim but already begin to paint a picture of how fans feel about their stadiums. One of the most interesting findings is the influence that the space surrounding a stadium has on the fans’ experience. The space outside is where most fans feel the atmosphere building before a game.
With many clubs looking to expand their stadiums and with out of town sites often the only viable option, how should we approach the design of these external spaces? Are we simply building stadiums in huge car parks? Or can we be more creative about using the external areas to drive the atmosphere, get fans to the stadium early and keep them there enjoying themselves afterwards? Fans also tell us that on matchday, it is the concourses that do the least to build the atmosphere, they’re often overcrowded and uninspiring. Considering this is where the majority of food and beverage offerings are placed, is there a way to make concourses more pleasant places to be before a game?