Today’s FSF fan survey results show that football clubs are still not grasping the need for genuine, properly structured dialogue between fans and their clubs.
Clubs have undoubtedly got better at recognising the needs of supporters when it comes to matchday, but they have looked too much to the United States and ‘fan engagement’, which too often focuses on the fan as a type of ‘customer’. Instead, they need to be recognised as something more than that: as a stakeholder – a special form of association, which requires a different approach to the relationship.
This isn’t just about language: Relationships need to be managed differently. Clubs need to established proper ‘structured dialogue’ between supporters and clubs, one which allows both sides to air their views honestly and openly, and to seek to use those relationships to improve the way the club communicates over issues such as ownership, finance and the general treatment of fans.
Football has made some tentative and welcome steps towards better, more grown up relationships, but they have only made a start.
Kevin Rye is a consultant with over 14 years experience of working with supporters all over the UK and Europe, I understand their priorities and frustrations, how they think and what they want. I also know the challenges clubs face in football today, and I build bridges between the two, helping to forge understanding and agreement, while advising clubs on how best to communicate with their biggest stakeholder.