Have a question about the Fan Engagement Index? See if you can find the answer here, or contact us if you have a question we haven’t answered here. And if you want to pop by one of our social channels for a chat, you can do that too.

Why do fan-owned clubs do so well?

Simple: part of the structure of a fan-owned club is mechanisms to engage with fans over strategic decisions. This means that for any measure of Fan Engagement, we have to take this into account. What it doesn’t mean is that they’re automatically better at the culture and delivery of engagement. In fact, plenty of privately owned football clubs such as Norwich City, Carlisle United, Lincoln City, Bristol Rovers and Bradford City regularly finish in and around the top places. Many clubs have an excellent structure and culture of Fan Engagement even if they don’t win the title, and that’s why we publish case-studies and things like ‘The Anatomy of an Engaged Club’. There’s also the Fan Engagement Pod, which showcases best practice and leadership – the latter being an essential element for successful Fan Engagement.

Does a high-score in the Fan Engagement Index mean you’re good at Fan Engagement?

This might seem an odd question to ask, but bear with us.

On the one hand, yes. Absolutely. If a club scores highly it’s clearly doing something right! Our research picks up what clubs are doing in terms of their meetings, how they guarantee transparency by publishing records of those meetings, and how they underpin their Fan Engagement.

On the other hand, we can’t pick up everything by looking at measurable things. We aren’t always going to pick up details like whether a supporters’ trust is satisfied with the relationship it has with the club, whether the club is revealing enough of the right information during meetings, or whether the supporter director is being sidelined in decisions.

All of these things can – and do – happen, and with the recent attempt to create a European Super League, we know they happen across the game. That’s partly why we created the Fan Engagement Index. It’s also why we work with clubs and others in the game too, why we publish case studies, podcasts, and other material. The numbers in the table are a snapshot, and we want to work with clubs to ensure that we get the most accurate picture possible. But we want to tell the stories behind the numbers too.

Why do some clubs which have a good reputation for Fan Engagement score so low in the Fan Engagement Index?

There are several factors that determine a club’s individual score and place in the table.

  1. What we could find out by searching on their website, social channels or other publicly available sources of information about their Fan Engagement
  2. Whether the club concerned commented on the data we collected (from 2019/2020 season edition only)
  3. The amount of different types of dialogue that a club does (including anything required by the rules or expected as part of EFL or Premier League best practice); what their governance arrangements in relation to Fan Engagement are (including anything required by the rules or expected as part of EFL or Premier League best practice); whether they publish records of meetings with fans (even where such information is redacted on reasonable grounds)

The reason we started sending data to clubs for comment is because we want the best and most accurate possible information, whilst retaining the important element of independence.

Are you trying to ‘name and shame’ clubs into changing?

Far from it. We want to work with football to help change the culture, practice and structure of Fan Engagement. In fact, we know a lot of people from a whole range of clubs. We strongly believe that by holding up a mirror to what’s going on, and encouraging good practice and good people – as we also do through the Fan Engagement Pod, our work with clubs and the other work we do – it will help everyone. In terms of the actual table, if by finishing low in the table it encourages a club to think about and change its Fan Engagement, then that’s got to be a good thing. Fan Engagement hasn’t been enough of a priority at too many football clubs and in the game as a whole in England, or has been focused on fads like fan tokens, crypto-currency, tech and marketing, and we think that needs to change.

I’m a fan, and no-one asked me

It’s a fair point, but the aim of the Fan Engagement Index table is to objectively measure whether Fan Engagement at clubs is effective. We do this by taking what football says is important in Fan Engagement, and measuring it. The three areas are:

Dialogue – the formal conversations & meetings clubs are encouraged or required to have by the rules or expectations laid out by the EFL or Premier League, or by their own commitments;

Governance – the things that ‘underpin’ or make those meetings happen, or provide guarantees that engagement will happen;

Transparency – whether the club lets people know what happened at those formal meetings and conversations

What we do is pretty simple: we take what’s been promised or committed to by a club, The EFL or Premier League, and we tell you if it’s being done. From the 2019/2020 edition, we even sent the data we collected to clubs for comment, and they could also provide additional information if they wished.

What about other ‘indexes’ and measures of Fan Engagement, including those who use your data?

The only scoring system that we formally compile or are involved in is the Fan Engagement Index. However, we take it as a complement if others want to use our work, provided they credit the source properly.

We did previously endorse the Fair Game Index and its forerunner the ‘Sustainability Index’, but we took the decision that we should withdraw that endorsement from December 2023 and remain independent from other such measurements.

If you want to ask another question or find out more about the Index, either go to the Fan Engagement Hub (no registration needed) or contact us