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“Fans Without Borders” Spend €35bn Playing Away Each Season



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To celebrate the 2012 UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and CHelsea FC, UEFA sponsor Mastercard has conducted research into football fan behavior and unearthed some very interesting statistics on team following, spend and the increasing globalisation of football brands.

Football fans in Europe are collectively spending a staggering €35bn each season supporting clubs from foreign countries. Whether it’s funding their overseas match attendance and PayTV subscriptions or buying merchandise, Fans Without Borders notch up a combined spend per season that would fund the construction of 100 Fußball Arenas München (Allianz Arena to you and me), or buy 372 Cristiano Ronaldos or even 562 Fernando Torres’.

The results show one quarter of Europe’s football faithful (41 million) are classed as Fans Without Borders, with FC Barcelona the most popular foreign team (29%), followed by Real Madrid CF (10%) and Manchester United FC (8%).

How They Spend It

Fans Without Borders ring up €35bn worth of spending each season and here’s how:

  • One fifth of the total spend, or €7.5bn, is on Pay TV.
  • Merchandising (club-branded goods) earns 13% of our far-away follower’s money.
  • Actual match attendance consumes 10% of Fans Without Borders’ spending, with an additional €2.5bn allocated to food, drink and other goods purchased when there.
  • 6% of spend is given over to visiting a pub or sports-bar to take in a game on the big screen, and subscription to a club’s own TV channel takes 5%.
  • One in four fans attends home matches abroad. Accommodation and travel relating to match attendance, or visits to their favourite stadia, cost Fans Without Borders €8.75bn each year – one quarter of the total spend.
  • The impact on tourism is positive; one third of all Fans Without Borders have booked a trip for the sole purpose of watching a match or visiting a stadium. One fifth intentionally combine match attendance with a short city break, or integrate the game into a regular holiday.
  • In total, cities hosting Fans Without Borders at live matches, benefit by around €4.5bn per season.

Categories of Fans

The report suggests that Fans Without Borders have been categorised into three groups:

  • Highlight Fans, representing almost two thirds (60%) of all Fans Without Borders, are attracted to a club’s playing philosophy (85%) and success (79%).
  • Regional Affinity Fans account for just 12% of the total number of Fans Without Borders. Many of these faraway followers feel a special connection with the team because of a link to the city, with 55% of these fans regularly visiting the club’s region.
  • Star Followers represent 11% of Fans Without Borders – their loyalties are firmly set at the feet of great players and coaches and these fans are prepared to switch allegiance in line with wherever their favorite stars go. The Ronaldo and Mourinho fans.
  • Lead Photo Credit: Hassan Rai.