Young fans to increase football spending

Nearly half of young fans intend to spend more on the sport despite financial impact of COVID-19

New research from the IPA and Rare: Consulting has found that despite the impact of the pandemic, young fans are much more optimistic regarding their spending on football compared to other age groups.

According to the free Match Day Report, Game on: Taking the lead with young football fans, nearly half (45%) of football fans aged 18-24 intend to spend more on the sport when crowds return, compared with 32% of all fans. In addition, only 12% of young fans expect to spend less on the sport vs 16% of all fans.

Additional findings include:

  • While younger fans were marginally less likely to watch football via a TV broadcast during lockdown (25% v 26% for all fans), they were significantly more likely to engage with the sport via digital channels of all varieties, than all fans. This includes watching football-related content on social media (22% v 16%) and watching match highlights online (22% vs 16%).
  • Young fans are most likely to be interested in exclusive and behind-the-scenes content (37% of 18-24s v 30% of all fans) and interactions with athletes via videos and live chats (33% vs 24%).
  • Football video games such as FIFA or Pro Evolution Soccer are most likely to be played by younger fans (32% of 18-24s and 28% of 25-32s) with a significant drop-off in interest among older fans with no other age group over 19%.

Says Damian Lord, Head of Insight, IPA: "The nature of fandom is changing and some of the biggest stars in football are cultivating brands that could potentially outshine the clubs they play for. As seen by the impact Cristiano Ronaldo’s move from Real Madrid to Juventus on the club’s social media followings, more and more young fans are becoming attached to individual players rather than the clubs themselves.

While traditional club support is far from dead, brands and clubs need to understand what young fans are looking for, and where they are looking for it. This generation of fans are the future of the sport, and it is vital that the game becomes more tailored to their interests, or risk missing huge opportunities for generations to come.

Says Leah Doyle, Research Assistant, Rare: Consulting: "The impact Coronavirus has had and continues to have on the football industry has shaped the way fans enjoy the sport. Younger fans in particular seem the most likely to increase their spend on the sport once the sport returns and could have the most impact on how successful the industry bounces back. Further, these digital natives could also influence the future of football fandom."

Game on: Taking the lead with young football fans is the third in our series of Match Day Reports. In the next edition, to be published in December, we will consider how match day experiences may change in the future and where opportunities lie for brands, broadcasters and clubs.

Download "Game on: Taking the lead with young football fans"
Last updated 30 November 2020