Survey: Fans need customer treatment

The loyalty and passion of football fans should not be taken for granted by clubs, according to a new opinion poll.

The survey, conducted by Soccerex in association with sports marketing agency NSP Sport, found that supporters need to be treated more like paying consumers.

Researchers polled the views of more than 100 senior figures from within the European football industry.

The analysis by SKOPOS market insight showed that more than 80 percent of all respondents felt understanding and monetising fan behaviour was important as the credit crunch continues to bite into consumer spending.

One respondent, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "Today's fans are already more like traditional consumers than 'supporters'. If the price isn't right or the product not good enough, they'll walk."

With clubs panicking over sponsorship deals, their responsibility to the fans has been lost in the current economic climate.

The findings come on the heels of a critical report by the All Party Parliamentary Football Group that's urged clubs to secure their long-term future on a more financially sustainable basis.

Paul Barber, executive director at Tottenham Hotspur, said: "Fans are the life blood of any club and their loyalty should never be taken for granted.

“Although their commitment begins at an early age and is usually lifelong, fans must still be recognised as customers of the club and should be treated as such.

“More than ever in this economic climate, we need to listen to our fans on a regular basis to ensure we continue to understand their expectations off the pitch as well as on it".

On Wednesday May 13, 900 decision makers from the world of football converge at Wembley Stadium for the Soccerex London Forum 2009 to discuss the challenges that lay ahead for football.