Keeping Football Fans Engaged (Series) – The Case of the Singapore Premier League (3rd Part)

Background:


So what happens next? What happens after someone decides to attend a football game? What sort of experience that will have them coming back for more? Whom should they support? Traditionally, geographical and familial bonds are found to be essential factors in influencing fans’ decision to support a team[1].


This is hardly recognizable in the Singapore Premier League as Singapore’s land area is about 724.2 square kilometers[2]. Resultingly, our sense of belonging to the country is more reliable than our sense of belonging to a particular area. A person that stays in Bedok could be working in Tuas, and his spouse could be someone that grew up in Bukit Batok. Hence, to inculcate a sort of local pride in football is an arduous task. And this is just the geographical side of things.


Fan Bonds:


The decision-making process to support a club is not similar to consumers’ choice between brands. There are problems in identification.


Fans see a problem in identifying with a club because there are no formulated bonds that they can rely upon. Based on these assumptions, it is thus relevant to relate the relationship between fans' location and fans' participation.


In the identification with a brand, a consumer will be made to feel a unique experience with the brand, whereas, in the identification with a club or a team, a fan, similarly, need to feel that there are unique experiences in attending stadium venues.


For one, these experiences are not limited to their personal interests. It could be an interest that pursues monetary gains (such as gambling) or other non-football related pursuits.


Before one decides to pass moral judgment on these factors, it is worthy to note that these business and marketing dimensions constitute a significant catalyst to draw in the fans.


TSS 1: In Singapore, The Board holds the legal right to operate sports betting (football). Tote Board exercises governance over Singapore Pools (Private) Limited on sports betting operations[3].


The betting entertainment options include before and during SPL games[4],[5]. Betting in sports is everywhere, whether one likes it or not. The opportunity to lose all the wagered amount and the chance to win more than the wagered amount is up to anyone’s guessing.


TSP 1: If football is a religion, then for many, money is god. Paraphernalia associated with gambling can be found on football jerseys, stadiums, heads of players, and hands of owners[6]. Presently, and also for the foreseeable future, hopefully, this will not be replicated in the Singapore Premier League. Nevertheless, it is proven that fan identification with a team can be associated with gambling as it creates that bond between a fan and a football club.


Although there are exchanges of monies between clubs and players, fans and ticket offices, and sponsors and clubs – it does not, though, hold true for fans equally.


Fans Equality:


Professional football does indeed attempts to live up to the capitalist ideal; if there is money to be made, someone will find a way to make it. For the fans in Singapore, though, especially those who grew up in the internet era of higher mobility places higher importance in stadiums, jerseys, and players.


However, as this series followed an exploratory, inductive approach, it is neither able to generalize any figures and statistics nor to assess the sociological importance of the above paragraphs.


As such, the assumption is that stadiums cannot afford to ignore the burgeoning generation of younger fans. There is a realized fear that the root cause of declining attendance in stadiums is the disengagement of these millennials from live football. This demographic has emerged to be an essential component in increasing stadium attendance.


This is a group that does not consume much television; they do not subscribe to cable services nor many other services that an older fan will typically consume. This shows that efforts must be tweak to deliver elements that satisfy this demographic.


TSS 2: The Singapore Premier League has noticed this gap and has managed to address a few areas. Among others, it includes short-term engagement such as live statistics – lauded as the first of its kind in the history of the SPL[7].


Hence, it will be interesting to find out the metrics of this implementation.


TSP 2: Increasing satisfaction via this implementation is not exclusive to a particular group of fans. It serves the greater hoi polloi, as mentioned in the 2nd Part[8] of this case. The problem of declining stadium attendance cannot be solved merely by rechannelling video for PCs and smartphones, but it does, however, help to a certain extent.


There must be a concerted effort from all clubs that are plying in the SPL. Clubs must consistently engage fans through modes of contemporary norms. Among others, these could include;


· Live-streaming of training sessions,

· Player-cam highlights,

· Fans commentary during matches,

· Consistent club news,

· Match analysis by fans,

· Fun, quick social contest keeping fans engage during live games (done via Social Media Platforms)


Adding on, clubs need to communicate these options in a cohesive way that speaks to each fan as an individual. Millennials have a fear of missing out and they are consuming a voracious amount of screen viewing.


The need to utilize the right digital behavior is greater than before. Needless to say, the adoption of relevant digital products could build a larger fan base – one which has no geographical boundary.

– to be continued –


[1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258454504_Looking_at_satellite_fans'_reasons_to_choose_a_club_to_support_A_study_of_the_English_Premier_League_in_China

[2] https://data.gov.sg/dataset/total-land-area-of-singapore

[3] https://www.toteboard.gov.sg/who-we-are/what-we-do

[4] http://www.singaporepools.com.sg/en/rules/Pages/football-sports-betting-appendix.html

[5] http://www.singaporepools.com.sg/ms/sleague/en/index.html

[6] https://www.cyantongue.com/news

[7] http://www.fas.org.sg/2020-singapore-premier-league-all-matches-live-on-television-real-time-statistics-for-fans/

[8] https://www.cyantongue.com/post/keeping-football-fans-engaged-spl-2nd-part #CyanTongue #KeepingFootballFansEngaged #SingaporePremierLeague #SPL #FansExpectations #FanBonds #FansEquality

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