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New Research Reveals The Loyalty Of Football Fans

‘Carefree casuals’, ‘committed casuals’ and ‘football anoraks’ are three of the categories of fans identified in the latest football research conducted by academics from Coventry University.

Nearly 700 Coventry City supporters were interviewed inside Highfield Road before the Coventry City versus Leicester City game earlier this season. A cross section of fans took part, including families, and individual men and women of all ages.

Fans were questioned about their levels of support for the club, that is how often they attended games, and how important Coventry City Football Club was in their lives.

Dr Alan Tapp and fellow researcher Jeff Clowes of the University’s Business School identified around 10 per cent of a typical Coventry crowd as what they call ‘carefree casuals’.

"These are supporters who attend infrequently, tend to be general football lovers rather than team supporters and, for 90 per cent of them, watching football is just one of many things they do on a Saturday", explains Alan.

A new insight provided by the research is that, while 75 per cent of supporters described themselves as loyal, nearly a third of these supporters also attended matches not involving their club.

"Conventional wisdom states that football supporters only go to see their team play and have a strong antipathy to other teams, sometimes even hatred of local rivals. During the course of our research we found that many fans accompanied friends to watch other clubs, and some actively supported two or even more clubs", said Jeff.

This was particularly true of those with professional jobs who have moved around the country, building up affinities with local clubs along the way.

"We found Coventry City fans who also supported Carlisle, Northampton Town and Exeter City, as well as the inevitable attenders of Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs games", adds Alan.

The research also discovered that casual fans are much more likely to live outside of the city, in towns such as Leamington or Rugby, while the most loyal lived in the city itself.

"Casual fans often did not know the latest ticket situation and, because of the geographical distance involved, were keen to buy tickets via the telephone or possibly even remote automatic ticket machines in their home towns", said Alan.

In order to maximise fans’ loyalty to the club, Jeff and Alan will suggest to Coventry City that they look at establishing a Loyalty Points Scheme, specially tailored for football fans, who could accrue points by attending games, purchasing club merchandise etc, which they could then use to obtain discount tickets or other purchases.

"We also found that many fans, especially the passionate supporters had a need for stronger links with the club outside of match days, including more club news, a chance to meet and talk with club representatives", said Jeff.

"The return benefits for the club would be an increased loyalty by the cementing of the bonds between the club and the fans, preventing fans drifting off when times are bad. Also the more committed a fan is, the more he spends", he added.

Commenting on the research a spokesman for Coventry City Football Club said:

"We were very interested in the research that the University has produced, and we look forward to working with it in the future to gain further insights into what our fans think."

Cyrrhian Macrae or Floyd Jebson  01203 838352


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CWN / Education / Universities / Coventry University / 7 Apr 99

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM