Brand building and the revenue challenge for football clubs
Premier League clubs are currently the beneficiaries of record-breaking TV deals but the challenge for all professional football clubs remains to grow their revenue from both commercial and match-day activity. Football clubs’ ability to operate like great brands and manage their brands effectively to drive incremental revenue is critically important.
Clubs need to put their unique brand to work to achieve both short term and long term growth objectives. The Deloitte 2016 Football Money League report starkly demonstrates the challenge. TV revenue accounted for a massive 69% of total revenue for Everton in 2015 compared to only 27% for Manchester United who have exploited a powerful brand position to drive commercial and match day revenue. Clubs like Everton must build stronger brands to achieve sustainable growth and reduce reliance on TV money.
Match day occupancy rates in the Premier League 2015-16
Focusing on match day, the average 2015-16 Premier League attendance was 36,452. The remarkably consistent feature of attendances in the Premier League is that most stadiums are regularly close to capacity. The average occupancy rate across all matches in 2015/16 was 96%, with seven teams boasting an occupancy rate of over 99%.
West Ham finished top of the league for percentage occupancy in 2015-16 with an average attendance of 34,930 and an occupancy rate of 99.75% during their final season at Upton Park. Relegated Aston Villa had the lowest average occupancy rate with an average 78.74% at 42,788 capacity Villa Park. The next lowest were Sunderland with an average occupancy of 87.90% at the 49,000 Stadium of Light. The cases of Vila and Sunderland demonstrate the difficulty of maintaining a high occupancy rate in large stadiums when the team is not performing well on the pitch.
Match day occupancy rates in the Championship 2015-16
The challenge for teams to fill their stadiums is even more pronounced in the Championship. Derby County missed out on promotion last season but finished top of the league for both average attendances with 29,663 and stadium occupancy at 88.29%. Four further teams achieved occupancy rates of over 80%.
The Championship features a much wider distribution of occupancy rates across the division. Milton Keynes Dons achieved the lowest average occupancy of 43.14% at Stadium MK with an average attendance of 13,158. Former Premier League clubs Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City also struggled to fill their relatively large stadiums achieving 45.05% and 49.47% average occupancy with capacities of 31,367 and 33,280 respectively.
A key challenge for clubs is to proactively manage their brand in both the short and long-term in order to maximize occupancy rates. Clubs must build goodwill towards the brand to protect revenue when form on the pitch inevitably dips.
As the 2016-17 Premier League and Championship seasons progress, Atomic Sport will continue to monitor attendances and occupancy rates for clubs and provide updates for key insights and trends. Keep an eye on our social media channels. #matchdayinsight