Fan Engagement Index: Top flight fairs poorly after Super League debacle

Think Fan Engagement

Press Release

Fan Engagement Index: Top flight fairs poorly after Super League debacle

Exeter City win again in 2020/2021. Everton the only Premier League club in the top-twenty in 2020/2021 season, but changes on the horizon

The Fan Engagement Index for the 2020/2021 season has been released by Think Fan Engagement, and it shows that the entire Premier League is struggling to break into the top-twenty, with only Everton present for the season.

None of the six involved in the ill-fated European Super League project faired well during the Covid lockout season that saw football experience what life would really be like without fans. 

Some clubs appear to be getting their houses in order in advance of what could be an independent regulator for English football following Tracy Crouch’s Fan Led Review: Liverpool and their biggest supporters’ group, Spirit of Shankly, are about to conclude a comprehensive agreement to lock-in structured Fan Engagement, with Manchester United reconfiguring theirs. This has notably included the appointment of Rick McGagh, a stakeholder engagement specialist and long-term representative on their fans parliament, the Manchester United Fan Forum. The big Fan Engagement roles have too often seen a focus on marketing and sales – to the clear detriment of the relationship with fans. 

A number of clubs have increased their totals for last season, including Championship rivals Cardiff City and Swansea City – both also posting big rises in the table. Other big risers were Bradford City, Ipswich Town, Burnley, Cheltenham Town and Sheffield Wednesday.

The owner of Think Fan Engagement Kevin Rye, said, “Instead of focusing on crypto, NFTs, and monetising the fanbase, the top-flight in particular needs to focus more on getting the basics right. The relationship with your fans is one of the keystones of your club. There are some positive signs, and there remain some good clubs in the top flight including Everton & Brighton & Hove Albion. But it’s not enough.”

Commenting on the best performing club in 2019/2020, League Two Exeter City, Kevin Rye said, “Exeter City just keep getting it right. It’s not just embedded in ownership, but in culture and attitude. That applies to most of the best performing clubs. But we mustn’t be complacent: if you don’t look after the culture, it dies, and a structure isn’t enough on its own.”

The first Fan Engagement Index was published for 2018/2019 season, and scores clubs in the top four divisions of English Football using publicly available data on their Dialogue, Governance and Transparency in Fan Engagement. Clubs were also asked for their comment on the data collected, and 31 provided new information – down on last year’s 42, but still an impressive level of engagement by clubs. 

The full table for 2020/2021, including biggest risers and fallers, can be accessed at https://fanengagement.net and the full report can be accessed via https://fanengagement.net/fan-engagement-hub

There’s also a special edition of the popular Fan Engagement Pod, available on Apple, Spotify, Acast, Amazon and all major platforms: https://fanengagement.net/fan-engagement-pod

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