Soccernomics, Global Leagues, TV Money and Quality

Discussion in 'MLS: Commissioner - You be The Don' started by triplet1, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

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    I'm working my way through the newly released "Revised and Expanded" edition of Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski. Much of the thought provoking material from the original is still here, but the book has been updated with references to the rise of Man City, the takeover of PSG and FFP.

    On page 201, they note that in 2010-11, EPL TV revenues amounted to $80 million per club (although it isn't distributed equally), while the NFL averaged $95.8 million per team. When you consider that during the 1980s a single NFL team got more in TV money than all the clubs in the English first division combined, it's been a stunning rise. And Kuper and Szymanski suggest the EPL could, in the not too distant future, not only pull even with the NFL in terms of annual TV revenue, but pass it.

    And while other select European clubs -- particularly those that built their massive fan bases in the thirty year peroid following WWII -- continue to generate huge sums of money too, for clubs not among the handful of super clubs, it's an EPL phenomena.

    They then reiterate their argument from the original book (page 206): "The market in sports fans is becoming more global. This means that a century-old model of fandom -- the man who supports the hometown team he inherited from his father -- is collapsing. The new globalized sports fan will happily snub his local domestic league. If you live in London and you like football, you probably support an NFL team rather than some bunch of no-hopers playing on a converted rugby field a few miles from your home. Similarly, if you live in the U.S. and like soccer, you are more likely to support Manchester United than your local MLS team, which, in any case may be hundreds of miles from your house. Even in Argentina, with its great historic soccer clubs, people increasingly watch United on TV. That's all the more true in the US, China, or Japan, countries whose soccer fans mostly came of age during the second wave of sporting globalization."

    "These people want to see the real thing. Global fans want global leagues. For most of them, that means the NBA, the NFL, or the Premier League."

    I've been trying to digest this for a few days. It is, I think, the classic characterization of the Eurosnob -- a fan who is drawn to better soccer much more than local soccer. These are, primarily, TV fans -- and they are fueling the explosive growth in EPL TV revenues.

    MLS has done a very good job getting people in the stadiums, but TV has been more difficult. I suspect that's because when fans don't have the experience of a live game as an offset, they'd rather watch better than local on their living room TV.

    In several threads, we've had conversations about MLS "catching" up to Liga MX, but if Kuper and Szymanski are correct, MLS needs to set its sights even higher -- to the EPL and super clubs. How is that possible? Unless masses of fans can be convinced to watch MLS during what may be a generation of "catch up", the league can't possibly compete financially with a league where foreign TV revenue is exploding with every contract renewal.

    So should it even try?

    For some time, I've advocated more payroll spending, in part to start closing the gap with the Mexican clubs, but also so that MLS will be able to retain many of the good young players it hopes to develop. But if MLS can 't possibly catch the first tier clubs of the world -- those with revenues over $100 million -- does spending another $5m per MLS team matter? Perhaps its better to just play the kids, replace the best of them with new kids after four years, save the money and be done with it.

    Now, I do think there are some MLS markets that could support world class teams, but not nearly enough of them. I don't see how the entire league can be elevated to that level -- something even large Euro leagues are struggling with as cash continues to slosh into the EPL.

    People the world over are voting with their TV remotes, and many are voting for the EPL and other "global brands".

    How can MLS compete with that?

    Perhaps its best not to try.
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  2. Zxcv

    Zxcv Member

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    I really respect the work by the duo, but I'm flabbergasted that they come to this conclusion:

    First things first: the rising soccer powers didnt have clubs that their fathers supported (China, Japan, USA for instance). Not in the way that existed in England at least.

    What do they have to say about the people who follow more than one league? I'm sure there are quite a lot of people like myself who follow multiple teams in multiple countries. Maybe the process goes something like this:

    1) Played the game from a young age, including video games
    2) Started watching highlights and matches from overseas leagues. Being an English speaker, gravitated toward the EPL, helped by local TV coverage which concentrated mostly on English football.
    3) Despite the lack of cachet of the domestic league, the mere fact that it was the domestic league was enough to begin devoting time to it.

    I'm seeing no evidence that national leagues are weaker because of the global brands. In fact, the opposite is true: they're stronger than ever, and rising. The global teams helped, and are helping, popularize the game worldwide, but the world is too big for a handful few to rule. There are too many large markets that Manchester United can't host weekly games in. As long as there are hundreds and hundreds of markets with 1m+ people, there will always be locals who will flock to local stadiums.

    The likelihood is that more of that will take place. People will be fans of varying overseas teams, but support for local clubs will flourish.

    The REAL issue for me is the loss of support for clubs WITHIN countries. Dominant clubs in national leagues are sucking in supporters that once had well supported local teams. The problem for these cities is that they're too small to do anything about it. Im mostly referring to European nations here.
  3. Whitecaps10

    Whitecaps10 Member

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    It will take a long time to rise further. I could see MLS passing Liga MX sometime in the future with continual growth, but England won't be beaten unfortunately.
  4. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

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    There is a whole section of the book devoted to this, so it's hard to do it justice in a few sentences. They make the point that fans fall into different catagories, but typically there is significant turnover from one season to the next. Again, while the super clubs often have very stable season ticket bases, for most if you compare the people in the stands at a specific match to those who attended the same fixture the season before, perhaps half the people in the stands have turned over -- they weren't there the previous year.

    The point they stress (on page 213) is that even in Europe, "fans behave much more like consumers than like addicts." In other words, most fans pick and choose what they watch, and many will indeed watch other games, particularly older fans (40+). And, yes, fans do dift away from teams that aren't very good.

    My take on this is when MLS can sell a unique experience -- attending a live game for the local team in the stadium -- it can compete for fans who may well go home and flip on the big game of the week in the EPL or La Liga. Few fans are so fanactic in their devotion that they can't enjoy both experiences. But when the battle is for "TV fans" alone, it's much more difficult for MLS to get people to watch lower quality soccer. Which is why MLS has found it harder to drive TV ratings in the way that it has jumped attendance IMO.

    But there's another storyline here too. Thanks to TV, the money pouring into the EPL is rapidly making even average clubs some of the richest in the world, and its pushing them to the top of Europe's food chain. Six of the top 12 teams in Deloitte's recent money league are from the EPL. Schalke 04 may be one of the biggest clubs in all of Germany, but Spurs generate more revenue. Aston Villa, 20th in the most recent report, are ahead of Dortmund.

    http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_GB/.../c774a9e481a7d210VgnVCM1000001a56f00aRCRD.htm

    Wealth is concentrating in the super clubs -- and in the not so super clubs that happen to be in the EPL. It's not just MLS that can't compete with the English clubs, much of Europe and South America can't eiher.

    That's not to suggest MLS is going to fail, but it has serious implications for how the league can grow IMO. No league in the United States has ever achieved "major league" status without the public perceiving that offered top talent. I'm not sure how MLS can do when the EPL and a handful of other super clubs are simply printing cash. MLS has got enough following in the stadiums to survive, but as a "top quality" league as they say the wish to become? That seems very difficult wth this model. If Michel Platini is right and Ajax can't really hope to win the CL anymore, how does an MLS team ever reach this level of quality?

    The better sports analogy may be college athletics. The Mid-American Conference has been around a long time. It's got some good sized schools. It's produced some great players and coaches. And it averages 17,000 fans a game for football. The Big 10, overlapping in many of these markets, averages 71,000 fans a game. And try as the MAC might, that isn't likely to change. It can't. The Big 10 has too much money, too many fans and too big a head start.

    That doesn't mean the MAC just folds up its tent, but it does suggest that it needs to have realistic expectations about how it can grow.

    MLS isn't any different IMO.

    Watching the young players from the Galaxy the other night in the CCL, I thought, you know, this isn't so bad. MLS could certainly do worse than this niche.

    But as the EPL TV revenues continue this surge, there probably isn't any other choice.
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  5. Unmarked

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    MLS has huge potential but the clocking is ticking. More and more fans will opt to support teams overseas if the quality in MLS doesn’t improve quickly enough. If MLS can find a way to become a top 5 league in the world, I think most American soccer fans would support it over foreign leagues. The question becomes can MLS become a top 5 league?

    I think most people would agree for MLS to take that next big step they need to increase television revenue. I think most people would also agree for MLS to increase television revenue they need to increase the number of neutral viewers. The question becomes, how do you increase the number of neutral viewers? Is it better to have a parity driven league or is it better to have a league with super clubs

    Neutrals like see a David vs Goliath or a Goliath vs Goliath match-up. MLS is a bunch of David vs David match-ups and this is of no interest to anyone except for the 2 markets that are playing. Why do you think a sub-par basketball tournament like the NCAA tournament makes so much television money? It's because of the David vs Goliath match-ups and the upsets. The NCAA tournament wouldn't be as compelling and wouldn't make anywhere near as much money if there was parity. Neutrals like a David vs Goliath match-up because it gives them someone to root for. How exciting would it be for a small market team to make a run in the MLS playoffs?

    Many think MLS should emulate the NFL. However, the NFL didn’t start off as the parity driven league that we see today. The NFC was the much stronger conference when the NFC and AFC merged. The Packers won the first 3 super bowls. The NFC Colts were heavily favored over the AFC Jets in the 4th super bowl. Namath made a wild guarantee and David beat Goliath in the 4th super bowl. This became one of the most memorable and pivotal points in the league. The win would not have had anywhere near as much significance if the NFL was the parity driven league as it is now.

    The NFL had dynasties in the 70’s and 80’s. The reason why there are so many Cowboys fans across the States is because neutrals saw the Cowboys on TV and wanted to permanently support a winner. It’s the same reason why there are many Yankees fans and Manchester United fans across the States. When neutrals pick a team to permanently support, they like to pick a winner. A large part of the NFL’s success today is due to a lack of parity in its earlier years because they were able to get many neutral fans to pick a team. Can anyone name a bandwagon team in the MLS?

    The only reason why MLS is growing now is because they relaxed the parity rules and allowed DPs and expansion. Once expansion is done, growth will flat line unless they relax the parity rules again. There is a huge risk of losing soccer fans permanently to other leagues if they continue down the path of parity.

    MLS is only in 18 different markets and desperately needs the neutral fan to grow. Neutrals have no reason to watch a parity driven sub-par league when they have so many other options. If MLS want to continue to grow, it needs to allow super clubs. Perhaps when they are one of the top leagues in the world and are in 30 plus markets they can think about parity. Until then, you are only hurting growth. Time is running out for MLS to make the right move. If it continues down the path of parity it will forever be doomed as a small niche league.
  6. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

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    Some sobering numbers.

    The EPL will have its new deals in place starting in 2013. The domestic rights for 2013-2016 have already been sold for £3.018bn over three years. When the foreign rights are sold, they expect the total three year package will generate £1.7bn and £2bn per year, which means the foreign rights could potentially be as lucrative as the domestic rights.

    http://www.sportingintelligence.com...ng-where-the-money-goes-and-what-next-190601/

    At the high end, that amounts to £100 million per EPL club each year.

    That's roughly $158 million at the current rate of exchange, or EUR 126m.

    And EUR 126m would put each and every EPL club just ahead of Atletico Madrid, which is currently the 17th richest club in the world on Deloitte's most recent rich list.

    http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_GB/.../c774a9e481a7d210VgnVCM1000001a56f00aRCRD.htm

    It's little wonder the EPL clubs are shelling out so much money in this transfer window.

    Wealth is not only concentrating in the EPL and a handful of other super clubs, but it's concentrating very, very quickly.
  7. Zxcv

    Zxcv Member

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    There is a strong case to be made that those overseas teams are actually part of the reason why MLS has flourished. I don't see it as a clock ticking. Worldwide there is ample evidence that in the face of super clubs, local leagues thrive, and in most cases are top of the pile in their country.

    I'll bite my head off if MLS isn't a top 5 league in the medium term future, because it would fly in the face of everything that logic dictates.
  8. Bubba1971

    Bubba1971 Member

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  9. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

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    But even if that's true, what it means to be a "top five" league is going to be very different. Depending on how the money is divided up, there is a very real possibility that 20 of the 30 richest clubs in the world will be from the EPL by 2014.

    We're talking about even the smallest EPL teams having $100 million payrolls compared to an MLS team with $5m.
  10. Unmarked

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    If the smallest EPL clubs can spend $100 million on wages, being a top 5 league might not be good enough. The gap in quality will be too much. It's not going to be easy for MLS.
  11. phillyguy1

    phillyguy1 Member

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    Interesting post,
    With regards to England I think you could argue that the increased revenue has led to more parity
    in the EPL. It used to be Man U and Chelsea on one level followed by Arsenal and Liverpool on a second tier then everyone else filling in. Now, last year you had a pretty interesting race with 6 -7 teams then another tier of 6-7 teams that were decent quality by European standards. We should ask if it's the parity fans are responding to. If you are a European you know the EPL games available are going to be pretty competitive.
    Also, lets not pretend that the Euro crisis isn't affecting this. Italy and Spain's economies are if not in the dumpster close to it. England and Germany are somewhat stable. Their local customers are relatively better off and support them locally. EPL teams have also done a better job in international marketing. This seems to have led to huge increases in international rights fees.
    Is it possible for the Epl to become a defacto champions' league?? With something like 20 of the top 30 payrolls in Europe, if that is the result of the new contracts, then that could be possible.
    Which leads to the second part, which is what this means to MLS.
    First I think MLS has improved greatly, especially the last two seasons. So they are on the right path. But what can we learn from the EPL? We need to grow our reach internationally. Strengthen ties to the Spanish language networks. Push for teams in Copa Libertadores. Increase tours of Latin America in our winter off season.
    The league parity is a plus. As the quality of play increases you get more quality games.
    The final thing is the U.S. economy turning around. It's significant that MLS has made real progress in growing the league in very tough economic environment and with serious competition from other major sports leagues.
    The final question of whether the 5M model you presented is good enough?? I think the only honest answer is I don't know?? There really isn't a model franchise in MLS where you say that's how you need to do it. MLS is a league of a lot of different teams doing different things. For me that is interesting and enhances the leagues appeal.
  12. HailtotheKing

    HailtotheKing Member+

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    Which is just fine.

    In the early 2000s we had the MAC ATTACK in which the MAC schools upset Big 10 and other "top" conference schools with regularity (or scared the dog shit out of them). We also got a nice slew of guys like Roethlisberger out of the conference. We got a RB that set the D1 record for rushing TDs (Travis Prentice).

    It's about establishing quality on a consistent basis (which the MAC has done with Western Michigan, Northern Illionois, Toledo) while being able to punch above your weight from time to time. It's about being quality appropriately at your level, which the MAC has done. You don't have to be able to be as good as the top dog, but good enough that the top dog pays attention (like Ohio @ Ohio St a few years ago) to the point that they know that you're good enough to do damage on any given game day.
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  13. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

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    That's certainly part of this. Just to be clear, they are expecting the foreign TV rights alone to generate .7bn - £1bn per year. That's $1.1 - to $1.58 billon at current rate of exchange. And, at least so far, the foreign rights have been divided equally, meaning every club will get $50m - $79m just from foreign TV rights. Add in the domestic rights at $1.58bn a year, and it's very likely that every EPL club will get as much in TV money alone as all but perhaps a dozen other clubs in the world have in total revenue from all sources -- TV, gate receipts, sponsors, etc.

    If they hit a home run and sell the foreign rights for £1bn per year or more, starting in 2013 the TV money flowing into the EPL will be in excess of £2bn per year -- nearly double what it is now (£1.1bn ).

    Kuper and Szymanski are right, I think. The EPL has effectively become the global soccer league.
  14. SwissGCZ

    SwissGCZ Moderator Staff Member

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    Can't say I agree with this. There are some leagues that have done alright despite the competition from the big five leagues. The Swiss Super League for example surrounded by Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1. That however seems to be the exception rather than the norm, especially outside Europe where you don't necessarily have a rooted tradition for the league. Worldwide I can see many leagues in Asia and Africa that will forever struggle to gain domestic attention with the elite clubs just one click away on the tv remote. Can't say I like it but that seems to be the reality.

    With the concentration of wealth in England all signs point towards a European Super League with heavy English participation. Barcelona, Madrid, Bayern, Milan, PSG etc. will want to be part of that. Once it happens the "foreign" fan will no longer have to choose between leagues and you will have the soccer equivalent of the NFL. Hopefully it will still somehow fall under UEFA/FIFA otherwise the World Cup will be relegated to its equivalent in Ice Hockey and Basketball.
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  15. Cosmo_Kid

    Cosmo_Kid Member

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    ah the term Eurosnob. A term used by insecure American soccer fans to describe anyone who thinks that our domestic league (and soccer pyramid) should be modeled after the most successful soccer league systems on the planet.

    I didn't realize that the Eurosnob was also someone who prefers to watch the EPL over MLS.

    I have an idea. If we really want to find out why no one wants to watch MLS on TV we should ask the soccer fans in the US why they don't watch MLS.
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  16. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

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    I suspect you are right. Typically, discussion of a European Super League always assumes a break-away league; in fact, it may just be built on the existing chassis of the EPL. But even if that doesn't happen, this surge in EPL TV money is going to have real implications. For starters, I think it is going to reverse the trend toward collective selling of TV rights in Italy -- the Milan clubs and Juve will need the money they can generate from selling the rights themselves. Real Madrid and Barca will re-affirm individual selling of TV rights too.

    While EPL TV money is burgeoning, for context let's look at Juve -- the 10th richest club in the world according to Deloitte:

    The Swiss Rambler notes he impact of moving from individual sale of TV rights to a collective deal on the Serie A giants:

    http://swissramble.blogspot.com/search/label/Juventus

    Still, the €87 million pocketed by Juve from Serie A TV deals is a good number -- the highest in Serie A. By contrast, last year Man U and Man City got about €75 million from EPL TV deals, but with those deals set to potentially double in value, if their distribution likewise doubles (there is a formula), the Manchester giants will jump to about €150 million -- far above the Serie A super clubs. Indeed, Juve's distribution would be €10m+ less than the 20th club in the EPL receives. Even though the TV revenue sharing formula tilts heavily in their favor, how long until Juve concludes that it can't share that €23 million with the smaller Serie A clubs?

    According to SR, Serie A's TV deal is the second best in Europe -- €1bn per year, or twice as rich as the Bundesliga. The new EPL deals will be worth €2bn - €2.5bn per year, or at least double what Serie A generates and potentially five times what the Bundesliga generates. And with the value of the EPL's international rights growing so quickly, it's a pretty good bet that after this next three year deal they'll jump substantially again.

    Finally, with FFP putting such emphasis on raising revenue to balance the books, it's going to put other big European clubs under real pressure to keep pace.
  17. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member

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    Real Salt Lake is in a small market by the standards of cities with a top level team in the United States. I don't remember what they did to qualify for the 2010-2011 Champions League, but they finished second in the Champions League which is the best an MLS club has done in the Champions League or Champions Cup in a long time.

    The English clubs would have less travel (and therefore less money spent on travel) than the other clubs in the league if there was a 20 club league with 10 to 15 English clubs and the rest from the clubs you listed and/or others like Lyon and Juventus. It would have a big impact on the Champions League and Europa League, but why would it hurt the World Cup and other national team tournaments? I'd be interested in finding out what percent of active players who have played in at least two World Cups have:

    1. Never played for a club in UEFA
    2. Played for a club in UEFA but never in the Champions League
    3. Played in the UEFA Champions League

    I would rather keep the current league structure than have a super league formed. Maybe I would feel differently if England moved way ahead of Spain in the UEFA coefficients.
  18. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

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    I want to return to your suggestions because I think they are thoughtful. The problem I see, however, is that people in other countries want to see stars when a foreign team comes to town. For my money, RSL is one of the best clubs in MLS, but I can't imagine them being much of a draw on a foreign tour -- or very marketable for international TV.

    HTTK's phrase -- quality appropriate to your revenue level -- is sensible and achievable, but that's a challenge to market domestically, let alone internationally IMO.
  19. RichardL

    RichardL BigSoccer Supporter

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    It'd be interesting to see how they arrived at that conclusion.

    While you could see how someone like Arsenal theoretically might be able to get another 30,000 season ticket holders from a waiting list if 30,000 stopped going (which seems an exceptionally high turnover of fans) I don't see a club like Swansea being able to find a new 12000 fans every season to replace the half who stop going.

    If they looked lower down the leagues then there's a fair chance that of the 2500 who saw Aldershot v Dagenham one season, only 1250 went to the previous year's match. That doesn't mean that either the ones who aren't there this year have stopped going, or that the ones there this year but not last are new fans though. Fans pick and choose games for a variety of reasons.

    Fans do pick and choose, but that Aldershot fan, for example, isn't choosing between watching Aldershot or maybe Reading or QPR or Chelsea that weekend, he's choosing to watch Aldershot or go out with his mates or do something with his family or just sit back and watch the Bond film on TV.

    Fans do drift away from teams that are underperforming, but they just stop going. They don't watch other teams (unless maybe they like a bit of non-league football) instead. I've never heard of anyone beyond school age who's given up supporting a club another one nearby that's more successful. Quite apart from anything else, they'd almost certainly hate the local more successful sides. The idea that a West Ham supporter would start watching Arsenal if West Ham went down is just crazy.
  20. realUSpride

    realUSpride Member

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    (Condensed)
    Well there is a critical value where the market power would shift, but I highly doubt it's an additional 5million per roster. Right now it's at 2.5million with 3 DPs, it'd be more logical to say at least a roster of 25million with three DPs.
    That's a common business question: enter or don't enter. And right now I think MLS is answering that question themselves. It looks like they're waiting to possibly enter that tango after they have more security, sometime after the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires
  21. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

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    Richard, I know you have expressed this point of view consistently, and if you do read the book I'd be interested in your reaction, but they argue the opposite. Or, more accurately, that there are increasing numbers of casual fans who follow several glamorous teams. Start with the chapter "Are Soccer Fans Polygamists."

    Again, I can't replicate all of their argument, but I'll try and give you a snippet.

    Remember too, this narrative is talking about both foreign fans and English fans -- and their thesis is that both are watching the EPL in wider numbers.

    Okay, here goes (from pages 236 - 237):

    " So we start our quest into the nature of fandom with only one or two faily safe premises. One is that foreign fans of English clubs, at least, are not all monogamous in their devotion. Rowan Simons explains in Bamboo Goalposts, his book about Chinese soccer, that many Chinese fans support "a number of rival teams at the same time" and are always changing their favorite club . . . Stephanus Tekle, senior consultant at the market researchers Sport+Markt, has polling data to back up Simons claim. Tekle says that since the late 1990s hordes of new soccer fans around the world -- particularly women -- havecome to soccer without long-standing loyalties. Many of these people appear to be "serial supporters" who probably support Manchester United and Liverpool, or Real Madrid and Barcelona, simultaneously."

    The reason for this, they speculate, is that these new fans are entering the sport through TV and are drawn to stars, not the home town team of their fathers.

    They continue:

    "Still, surely British fans are a lot more loyal than those fickle Chinese, right? Unfortunately, the polling suggests otherwise . . . Newly rising clubs like Chelsea are particularly prone to attracting short term fans, says Tekle of Sport+Markt. Clubs like Liverpool or Manchester United with stronger brands tend ot have more loyal long term supporters. In fact, the likes of Manchester United are likely to have both far more [loyal long term supporters] and far more casual fans than other clubs."

    The data for Chelsea supporters is especially interesting. In 2008, polling indicated that Chelsea had 2.4 million fans in Britain, a 523 percent increase since Abramovich bought the club -- but that represented a steep decline from the 3.8 million fans they had in 2006, having just one the league twice in a row.

    The reason for the polling variance, according to Kuper and Szymanski, is that many casual fans don't support only Chelsea.

    Again, it's a long chapter, and you'll have to decide for yourself how persuasive you think the argument is.
  22. RichardL

    RichardL BigSoccer Supporter

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    It depends a lot on if you count children, who do often have a habit of switching clubs, especially in areas that have no natural local team.

    It also depends a huge amount on the poll itself with regards to how/where the answers were sought, and how the questions was worded.

    Some things just don't add up. For example it's claimed only 10% of English Chelsea fans in 2006 supported the team in 2003. It also claims the club had 2,4 million fans in 2008, being a 525% jump since 2003. Clearly those two values contradict each other, unless support was supposed to have slumped back from a 900% rise in 2006 down to just 525% in 2008.

    Looking on the internet reveals no details on how these figures were reached, or if they are confusing attending with supporting, or stopping supporting with supporting somebody else.

    There's no doubt Chelsea's rise saw a pretty big bandwagon to jump onto, but Chelsea have always had a pretty big latent following of fans, even in the days of Doug Rougvie and visits to Carlisle and Shrewsbury. Get a big cup tie or play-off game, and even in the dark depths of the 80s, you could get a 44,000 full house at the Bridge.


    I've really never met, or indeed heard of, a single fan who watches several top sides. I know loads of fans who'll regularly watch non-league football, often at a variety of grounds. I also know a fair few who'll go to other pro teams because they want to "do the 92" or just like going to grounds they haven't been to, but they don't claim to support those other teams (unless they have a favourite non-league team).

    Asking "do you exclusively watch your team play?" would catch a huge number of those, even though the answer wouldn't be revealing what they thought it did.
  23. Kappa74

    Kappa74 Member+

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    On page 213 (1st edition), the authors draw a conclusion that I don't think necessarily follow from the numbers preceding it. They state "The discovery that half of all spectators-supposedly the hardest of the hard-core Fans-do not bother to return the next season conflicts with the Hornby version of loyal one-club fandom." Certainly the fan who doesn't renew his or her season tickets fails the Hornby longevity test, but how are we to conclude that this fan then runs off with another club? Or that the person replacing said fan in the stand is a converted cross town rival. If 45% of British adults like soccer, and that only 3% of them go to matches (p208), presumably there are enough fans of each club in each city to replace the fan who didn't renew, all without anyone changing allegiance. The fact that some folks go to a few games, as RichardL and the Tapp study (p216) noted, doesn't really say much about a fans loyalty to their team.
  24. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck in the Middle
    At least with respect to England, I'm not sure it really matters all that much. The bSkyb funds keep trundeling in and the money machine shows no sign of abating, so people obviously like the Premiership enough to keep paying to see it.

    I think the analysis of overseas fans (ex-Pats excluded) is probably close to the mark though. It's rare that people in Asia or the Americas choose to become fans of Coventry, or even Stoke. They want to see the stars and the big clubs, and they are, on balance, far less devoted I think.

    That has some real implications on how MLS can grow IMO. I do think you see different types of fans in the United States. Some (the type that post in the MLS forums) are cheering for the home town team and the live game experience. Quality is a secondary concern. But there are also many new fans being introduced to the sport by telecasts of the super clubs and the EPL, and they are attracted to star power IMO. The Galaxy and RBNY may draw them in for awhile, but that's about it.

    What concerns me is that there is so much money flowing into the Premiership it really isn't going to be practical for MLS to compete with that kind of star power which the EPL can and will afford. Not now. Not in ten years. Perhaps not for generations. Again, I think we are fast approaching a time when even lower level EPL clubs will feature payrolls that are 15 to 20 times what MLS is paying, much of that funded by surging international TV payments, including money from the U.S.

    We'll get an early preview. The U.S. EPL rights should be awarded in October (I believe), and it promises to be a spirited bidding war between Fox, beIN Sports and ESPN. It will be interesting to see how much these rights are worth compared to MLS. It will also be interesting to see if Fox tries to compete with what's expected to be a massive bid from beIN by promising more games on the main network, perhaps as a lead in to the NFL.

    You can see the seeds are already planted. I do think there is a chance that viewership of pro soccer in the U.S. might move in the next decade, but I fear the league these new fans will associate with the "major league" isn't going to be MLS, it will be the EPL, which will soak up a lot of soccer revenue.

    That's really what's at stake here -- people all over the globe seem to want to watch the EPL, and the revenue that it is generating will make it even more difficult for teams like those in MLS to compete for players, fans and attention.
  25. EEUUAm.

    EEUUAm. New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2012
    Club:
    --other--
    Just readying through here, the thing that occurred to me was: to what extent do content providers influence the rise of this "fandom"? And I mean that in the sense of being able to watch a game on Fox Vs. FSC or FS+/etc.

    Also, is there a point where said content providers just turn around and decide that spreading some of that money around on domestic/cheaper leagues makes more sense than facing ever escalating rights fees?

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