Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Economic Impact of Support in Spanish Professional Football

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Economic Impact of Support in Spanish Professional Football

Article excerpt


This paper explains the concept of support as an economic driver of football. It begins with a theoretical approach to the concept of support and a review of the literature relating to support, fan typology and factors that determine attendance at stadia. Next, factors that influence support are explained and a schema for a model of support is proposed. Finally, an analysis is carried out of the influence of attendance on revenues in Spanish professional football clubs.







Executive summary

The level of support for a football club is a key variable for club revenues and, of course, determines most other revenues, either directly, via ticket sales for example, or indirectly, through activities such as merchandising, sponsorship and even the sale of television rights. The concept of support is therefore worth examining. In this paper we take a theoretical approach to support. We explore the relationship between attendance (as a proxy of support) and performance on the pitch, and enumerate different typologies of fans. We review the literature on elements that influence attendance and suggest a model to explain support.

Taking Spanish professional football as our reference, we then analyse the relationships between attendances and sporting revenues. Previous work has looked at the demand for football, factors that influence attendance in English football (Cairns, 1990; Dobson & Goddard, 1992; Simmons, 1996; Peel & Thomas, 1996; Szymanski & Kuypers, 1999; Dobson & Goddard, 2001), in international football (Baimbridge, 1997; Falter & Perignon, 2000; Koning et al, 2001) and in Spanish football (Garcia & Rodriguez, 2002). However, there are no studies exploring the influence of attendance on revenues and we think it worth checking empirically to see whether attendance influences sporting revenues.

We acknowledge that there are many forms of support recognised by football clubs and that, for example, football can be 'consumed' in ways other than by attending matches, such as via television or the internet, but our focus is on live attendances at football. We have chosen to examine average attendances (ATT) for a whole season. Analysis of a whole season is undertaken because many sources of revenue, such as those from TV rights, advertising and sponsorship, depend on deals that cover one or more years.

The fact that the sample consists exclusively of Spanish professional clubs does, of course, partly dictate the nature of our findings. The methodology used is mainly Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression. The sample included all teams (20) in the Spanish first division and 13 from the second division during the 1999-2000 season. Only 13 Second Division teams were analysed because it is extraordinarily difficult to get the financial statements of Spanish clubs. Indeed, it is common for Spanish clubs to delay presentation of their annual accounts to the Spanish equivalent of Companies House (the UK register of companies).

Finally, we highlight some implications the model could have for managing the value chain related to support in a professional football club in Spain.

The concept of support in football

The Football Supporters' Association (1) defines 'support' as "a lifelong and unchangeable commitment" (FTF, 1999; 4.3). Therefore, we are dealing with a concept that implies a loyal affection. We have to differentiate between two levels within this love of football; usually one follows as a result of the other, but it is possible that one exists without the other. First, we can talk about support for football in general, as a sport and a spectacle. Here, the supporter identifies with a particular team. However, it is possible to find people who support a club without being attracted to football in general (in this case passion is prevalent). …

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