Academic journal article Advances in Management

The Role of Commercialisation of the European Football Business for the Emotional Bond between Fans and Clubs

Academic journal article Advances in Management

The Role of Commercialisation of the European Football Business for the Emotional Bond between Fans and Clubs

Article excerpt


This study's goal is to analyse the connection and the effects between decreasing fan loyalty and the increasing commercialisation in professional football.

The analysis of this alleged problem is based on the increasing criticism of the commercialisation of football by fans of all European professional leagues which e.g. manifest itself in rising player salaries, rising costs for ticket prices, a massive influence of television broadcasters and the influence of sponsors.39

In recent decades, several researchers have addressed the issue of brand loyalty and developed a conversion model based on research results that measure the strength of the relationship between people. This model is particularly designed to help the brands successfully deal with their customers.30 In order to examine the strength of the bond between a fan and a club, the following question needs to be raised: Can a club be seen as a brand?

In addition, how does the emotional bond between fan and club and people and brand differ?

Since a fan is usually "bom" into a club by relatives who are already followers or sympathizers of one club, or the person is born in the respective region of a football club, the clubs usually have no large losses of members due to them sympathizing with another club or becoming a fan of that club.63 Here is a clear difference between the world of a fan and a club and the world of competing brands.36

The general loss of interest in football or the game represents a potential risk for the clubs, as the fans and the fan culture are of immense importance for the sports clubs, especially in terms of financial success.50

Nowadays, football clubs are forced to follow the course of commercialisation in professional football both from a financial and a competitive perspective.26 Nevertheless, a balance must be struck between commercialisation and the spirit of football in order to prevent a decline in fan loyalty and fan culture, since such a decline would have a significant impact on the financial success of a club. It is therefore of great importance for professional football clubs, also due to the lack of scientific research, to investigate the possible effects of commercialisation on fan loyalty and the general interest in football.

Possible solutions or a modified conversion model could form a creative leeway between the preservation of the fans' interest in football and the increasing commercialisation of the sports and thus protects the emotional bond that exists between the club and its fans.

Review of Literature

In order to analyse the possible effects of commercialisation on fan loyalty, it is not sufficient to only take a closer look at the current situation. Instead, it is vital to analyse the evolution of football, which is based on a variety of factors and perspectives. This in-depth analysis is necessary to link a possible effect of commercialisation on fan loyalty, to identify developments in the evolution of football and commercialisation and to define possible causes within this development.

The aspects, factors and topics that are examined more closely in this work have been found to be extremely important in analysing the relationship between fan loyalty and commercialisation. They are based on a wide variety of study results published in books, journals and magazine articles.3,38,48

On this basis, the work is divided into the aspects of fan evolution and its significance for society in the past and today, fan culture and the different fan groups as well as the commercialisation of football with a focus on the transformation of the football game to mass media entertainment.

The Football Environment: To analyse the emotions of football fans and to recognise possible effects of commercialisation on fan loyalty, it is important to define and understand the different types and dimensions of fans in the first step. In doing this, it is important to look at how these groups developed over the years - also with regard to the development of the commercialisation in the last decades and what football meant to our society in the past and today. …

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