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FANS HQ: Edition #9 October 2018

A fun monthly fan engagement journal from Blair Hughes (@MrBlairHughes/www.mrblairhughes.com) exploring some of the key exciting and innovative developments in the world of fan engagement and fan experience in the sports business both from Australia and abroad.

FANS HQ will also touch on sports merchandising, the wackier side of fan engagement and other areas of the business to include interviews with professionals in this space, venue updates, new technologies plus a variety of fan zone pictorial recaps.

Fans HQ is a fun, educational and insightful resource for those interested in the fan engagement/experience space.

I hope you enjoy the monthly musings and recaps from this very entertaining industry.

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FANS HQ: Edition #9 October 2018

  1. 1. FANS HQA Monthly Fan Engagement Journal By Blair Hughes September Fan Engagement/Experience Round Up NZ All Blacks, AFL Footy Festival, NRL Grand Final Fan Ex Reviews  Interview with  EFL  League Two's  Colchester United's  Matt Hudson   Edition #9:  October  2018
  2. 2. 3 NZ All Blacks  Game Day Experience 6 The Importance and Benefits of Harnessing Fan Generated Content: An NRL 2018 Case Study 9 2018 NRL Grand Final Fan Experience September Fan Engagement/Experience Recap 23 16 Mr. Blair Hughes Interviews....Colchester United's Matt Hudson 12 Newtown Jets  Game Day Experience 20 AFL Footy Festival Fan Experience 25 Wellington Phoenix A-League  Community Day www.MrBlairHughes.com   |   @MrBlairHughes FANS HQ Edition #9 October 2018
  3. 3. New Zealand All Blacks  Game Day ExperienceA quick pictorial recap of the New Zealand Rugby Union All Blacks Game Day at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ 15/09/2018
  4. 4. Wellington, New Zealand In mid September I made the exciting trip back over to Wellington, New Zealand to both take in the rugby international between the NZ All Blacks and the South African Springbox at the always impressive Westpac Stadium and get back to this quirky fun city. If you've not visited Wellington let alone New Zealand then drop everything and get over here for a game day as soon as you can. Catching up with the stadium's CEO and all round good sports business guy Shane Harmon on game night it was good to learn about some of the things that the venue has done in recent times to keep fans coming back and having a good time out here. The free All Blacks signs also proved popular with kids and fans who could write their messages to the team and hold up during the game while the welcome to country and All Blacks fan engagement throughout the week and on game day highlights how much fans love this team here. I thought the free sauce stations with everything from 'Mrs Balls' (whoever she was, she made a tasty sauce!) chutney to a diverse range of mustards and ketchups went a long way for fans and when we often have to pay for sauces which are usually just one mustard and ketchup this was a nice touch, well presented and set up in a way that made it easy to sauce your dogs. The ability to have local Kiwi craft beer available around the ground from Panhead Brewery was good to see and I made sure I tried all four of the selections that were on offer with the stout an absolutely delicious drop on a chilly winter's night here and not bad at all for $9NZD. The artworks and murals around the concourses were something I must have missed on past visits here but these player features and artworks were an effective way to add some colour to dull concrete spaces and it's well worth taking a closer look at these if you visit the ground sometime. I think we're only going to see even more of these as well with St Mary's, Allianz Stadium and Hard Rock Stadium all having recently brought in either local artists or kids to decorate these spaces. The ‘BBQ vs Braai’ food promotion was a good way to show off local flavours and give fans from both sides something interesting to eat with the combo deal and these different hotdogs both being ample in size and flavoursome as opposed to the usual bland hot dogs found in venues.New caterer Delaware North’s range of food options showed off a diverse selection of gourmet options from the Butchers Block, The Great Kiwi BBQ and a $5 kids 'chook and chips' deal. All in all its always good to get back to Wellington. A marvelous place to explore (see my twitter timeline for record shops, hiking and craft brew bars for holiday tips!) and catch a match at this stadium too. 4
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  6. 6. If it’s one part of the fan engagement spectrum that I have consistently championed over the years for clubs and my clients it has been to acknowledge, promote, utilise and harness the diverse skill sets of their fans. Fans have skills that can help a club in many ways whether it be from graphic design to podcasting and what we’re seeing more and more of is that teams are realising that they can create deeper emotional loyalty, new revenue opportunities and provide extra engaging content to their members and fans by working alongside these fan groups. Teams like the MLS Seattle Sounders are one of the best in the business when it comes to harnessing the skills of their fans. Every year they do a ‘Posters By The People‘ and a scarf design contest which allows Sounders fans of all ages and skill levels to contribute match day poster and scarf designs which are then voted on for by fellow fans and either used across the clubs official social media channels or produced for fans to wear on game day respectively. It’s an incredibly effective and simple way to bring these fans closer to the team, highlight the skills and passions of their fans and overall it’s a positive thing to do. It’s not going to work for every team and it’s certainly never going to take over from the quality output that team staff do but it’s just a great look for a club to illustrate that they’re listening to their fans. One reason for the proliferation of fan generated content has been because the barriers for entry into both graphic design and podcasting for instance have been broken down. You can now create quality designs and effective podcasts as a result of free design platforms like Canva whose intuitive platform enables anyone to get started creating content as well as podcasting’s explosion which has seen every man and his dog set up a podcast with the very basic of equipment. For both graphic design and podcasting the costs are also much lighter on the fans wallet these days as opposed to the past where expensive graphic design software and a recording studio would have stopped many fans from getting started. 6 The Importance and Benefits of Harnessing Fan Generated Content: An NRL 2018 Case Study
  7. 7. Now obviously the vast majority of fan generated content creators out there are not at the level of professional graphic designers or creating professional studio recorded quality podcasts such as what the league or teams contribute however what it does do is highlight that fans have these skills, that they’re building their own fan groups of fellow supporters of the same team and that their voice and that of fans voices globally are growing louder every day as they realise that they can create content that is highlighting their love for their team. It’s impressive to see the rise and rise of the fan voice across the globe as they can now create content that other fans enjoy and engage with. Clubs should absolutely start tapping into this more and more as it shows an appreciation of the fans effort and compliments the work that their in house teams do whether that be in writing, podcasting, graphic design or other related fields. I recently posted this thread on Twitter highlighting the creative efforts of NRL fan content creators here in Australia after what has been a stellar year for the code with ratings, revenue, memberships, crowds all up as well as the establishment of the NRLW and games in Perth and Denver. The game’s greatest asset is the fan so it is important to acknowledge these fans as they are constantly pumping out the positive, passionate and engaging content and I feel this illustrates my point that it is both vital and rewarding for clubs to find ways to engage, highlight, promote and harness the diverse range of skills of their fans as it is a win-win positive thing to do. 1. Podcasters Having worked very closely in the podcasting space in recent times I have seen the rise of people wanting to get their passion into podcasting and as I said above the barriers have now decreased with a very basic bedroom podcasting set up costing well under $100. Podcast quality has also increased so while some pods may not be at a high quality level, whats happening is that fans are getting better the longer they stick with it. There’s also an incredibly strong community amongst these podcasters too. They do it for the love of the game. They promote each other and therefore that of the game and their team. They are broadcasters and should be taken seriously. Some of the podcasters out there in the NRL include: Ladies Who League, Oh Errol, Full Credit To The Boys, The Full 80,Shark Cast, Fifth And Last, Progressive Rugby League, League Life NRL, Roosters Radio, Panthers Weekly, Dead in Goal, NRL Roast, Woody & Slugs Do League, Fire Up On FBI, This Week In League, Sports Best Friends, League Digest, Zero Tackle, NRL Boom Rookies, Fins Up Pod, League Counsel, ASD Podcast and View From The East Stand. 2. Statistics/Game Data Fans like stats guru Andrew Ferguson who runs one of the best league sites out there in Rugby League Project is an incredible fan generated site which houses a massive range of rugby league data and is an absolute credit to the game. I find myself using this site a lot as do other NRL fans. Another fan doing good things with stats is pythagoNRL. 3. Sports Science In a classic case of a fan using their diverse skills to offer the rest of us an insight into player injuries and recovery, the NRL Physio has provided some really interesting insights and analysis for NRL fans this year. The NRL should find a way to utilise his skills as fans have greatly enjoyed his insights and graphics in real time during games on social as he provides game player injuries and recovery information and analysis. He knows he’s not affiliated with the NRL and that what he says is only his opinion however he has built an incredibly strong trust with fellow fans as a result of his skills and willingness to want to contribute to his passion. 7
  8. 8. 4. Independent Broadcasters The independent fan NRL media, broadcasters and writers like The 81st Minute, Steele Sport, League Unlimited, Nothing But NRL, Steve Mascord, James Smith, RLeagueLive, JasonNRL and even to an extent ‘The Fan‘ which while it may be shown on Fox Sports is run by mega league fan Andrew Voss who consistently provides outstanding behind the scenes storytelling that fans greatly enjoy. 5. Fan Club Social Accounts The NRL fan club accounts across social constantly provide fellow fans with a passionate atmosphere at games as well as insights and analysis throughout the week and add to the stories and content from the club but from their perspective as hardcore fans. Some of these include: NRL Bulldogs Fans, Nothing But Knights, The Greenhouse- Canberra Raiders, Red V Mail- St George-Illawarra Dragons, NZ Warriors Die Hards, The Burrow- Souths, Wests Tigers Hub, Titans Legion- Gold Coast Titans, NQ Stampede- NQ Cowboys and Eels The Cumberland Throw- Parramatta. 6. Social Commentators The often hilarious NRL social commentators who constantly provide cheeky laughs, clever analysis, interesting stats, glorious memories as well as cutting through the media bullshit, crisis merchants and spin that often snakes its way into the game. In fact what we’ve seen this year is that as a result of the positives in the game as well as the huge level of fan generated content and these positive fan voices in NRL that fans have collectively called out the rubbish reporting and negativity in rugby league. Some of the accounts to follow on Twitter for instance include: Boring NRL Guy, Sports Freakshow, Former Legend, Karate Warrior 2, Winfield Cup, NRL Grammar Cop and Simpsons NRL. 7. The Graphic Designers The graphic designers like PixelRugby and MattHainesSport as well as others who’ve put their own skills and spin on things to create interesting NRL content like jersey designs and artworks are to be applauded. Perhaps a game day poster idea could be something teams could think about for 2019 and then have these around town prior to a game to promote the match. 8. The Hardcore Fans And then there’s fans like @troypod78 who travelled 19259.4kms for 24/24 Parramatta Eels matches this year, documenting his journey along the way for fellow NRL fans to enjoy. What were some of the other great NRL fan stories you enjoyed from 2018? Overall it’s been a huge positive year for both the NRL and NRL fans and I just wanted to put this together before the start of the NRL finals start tonight to shine a light on some of the creative content creators and fans out there who go above and beyond for the game. League’s greatest asset is the fan and the faster clubs around the globe realise the benefits of working closer with these particular fans and their skills, the more the game, fans and the code as a whole will grow together. 8
  9. 9. Newtown Jets Game Day Experience A quick pictorial recap of the NSW Intrust Super Cup's Newtown Jets 'Beer, Footy, Food Festival' Game Day at Henson Park, Marrickville, NSW 28/07/2018
  10. 10. Sydney, Australia This edition of FANS HQ sees another fantastic fan experience review from a new contributor in Tom Mace who is an Operations Manager for a large multinational company with a focus and passion for delivering the customer experience. Tom is better known to rugby league fans on Twitter as @aussiebeastmode. If you would like to contribute to FANS HQ with a fan experience review of your team's game day from anywhere in the world then by all means please just touch base with me on Twitter or via email.  Nestled in the heart of the Inner West is the home of the Newtown Jets.  Henson Oval is commonly referred to as the eighth wonder of the world and now hosts all the Jets Intrust Super Premiership games. On what was a glorious winter’s day, the Jets were celebrating their huge annual Beer, Footy and Food Festival which in recent time has impressed many people in the Australian sports business as a result of its exceptional event presentation. Parking was relatively easy seeing as a large crowd was expected. On the walk in to the ground the streets were full of people heading to the game with a blend of rusted on Newton fans from the 70’s and 80’s mixed with the new generation of fans that relate to the club with the Jets active association in the local community and surrounding businesses. The hills were packed and the Henson Park was a buzz with festivities for the young and old. Highlights for adults included:  • 18 craft brewers, many of which were Inner West Independent brewers ( $7 for a can/cup ) All breweries operated a cashless system  • Quality food with an array of different food options from Texas style BBQ, Mexican, Jerk Chicken, Venezuelan Arepas, Gourmet Burgers and Artisan Gelato.    • Henson Oval is Pet Friendly • Sitting on a grass hill (picnic style), you could take your own food if you wish • Cheap admission. $15 for adults, free for kids • Suburban location with a cool friendly atmosphere • For those in early, you could park in the ground and view the game from your car. Highlights for kids included: • All kids and adults are welcome to play on the field before, at half time and after the game • Kids could go up to players on the field after the game and take photos • Petting zoo, ferris wheel, multiple jumping castles, soft play area and slide formed the kids area. In summary it was a great family day at Henson Oval with over 7000 in attendance. The way the Jets players engage with their fans after the game and allow fans to play on the field was a really nice touch. To blend that with a great variety in local food and beverage offerings, it gave the event a genuine community feel. A great family day out and one I would highly recommend.  10
  11. 11. AFL Footy Festival Fan Experience A recap of the AFL's Footy Festival at The MCG during AFL Grand Final Week 2018
  12. 12. Melbourne, VIC, Australia On what started out as a wet, cold and rainy start to the day in Melbourne for the AFL Grand Final day I made the trek into the MCG a few hours before the first bounce at 10am for a look at the impressive AFL Footy Festival fan engagement set up which is free for all fans to check out during the AFL Grand Final week and on Grand Final day. The atmosphere was building as soon as I made my way into the Footy Festival and only continued as I made my way around the ground pre-game chatting to fans both those heading into the game and those seeking tickets of which there were many of the latter. The Footy Festival comprises a host of exciting spaces for fans to hang out in and features the ‘Taste of Football’ food truck area, the MILO Kids Zone with loads of activities to keep families happ along with the Toyota AFL Grand Final Live Site. The fan engagement is next level with so many new, well presented and exciting sponsor activities for kids and fans young and old to try out both with a fitness and fun factor. This is a truly superb best practice fan engagement spectacle which has a key inclusive focus on kids and families and featured a host of impressive, fun and colourful sponsor activations which included the Scream A Meter, Family zone, Ball pit, Kicking challenges, Fitness challenges, Giveaways, Kids activities in the MILO zone, Inflatables fun, The Dunkinator, Ultimate Handball Challenge, Free hot pies, Tower of Torp, Ferris Wheel, Outside broadcasts, Toyota chill out zone As the day progressed and the sun came out in Melbourne, it was also good to see the MCG’s Buggy Transfer Service which has been a clever inclusive addition to the fan experience here at the G for less mobile fans and those needing assistance around the ground on game days. The ‘Taste Of Football’ food truck area and bars were also keeping fans well fed with a range of local gourmet food and beverage options from Melbourne staples like Biggie Smalls. A really good thing to see that the AFL have continued to keep it local with these Melbourne F&B institutions to show off the best of Melbourne’s foodie culture. All in all, the AFL Grand Final Footy Festival is an outstanding sporting fan experience at the MCG which in my opinion is right up there with NFL Experience at the Super Bowl,  the Australian Open, Australian F1 Grand Prix and the Denver Broncos as one of the best global fan zones. A quality inclusive family and fan fun spectacle from the AFL. 13
  13. 13. 2018 NRL Grand Final Fan Experience A recap of the NRL Grand Final fan experience at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on 30/09/18
  14. 14. Sydney, NSW, Australia On the final Sunday in September I trekked up to Sydney bright and early for an outstanding night at ANZ Stadium to take in the National Rugby League and Women’s NRL Grand Final fan experience. Fans travelled to the game for free with integrated ticketing for free transport and it was good to see this clearly visible at Sydney Central station. Arriving at the ground the fan zone outside was filled with quality fan engagement sponsor activations including photo opportunities like player face cut outs, the WNRL/NRL logos and the trophy along with skills challenges like reaction tests and footy passing. A chill out zone was also a nice touch along with an abundance of merch shops, outside bars and social spaces and a variety of food trucks catering for every taste and dietary need. A ride share zone was set up and texts from at least one of these companies offered fans special deals on the day. Arriving inside early as gates opened to watch the massive Women’s NRLW Grand Final which drew an impressive crowd it was also outstanding to see every fan (all 83,000) received for free a special edition 2018 NRL Grand Final seat cushion from sponsor Chemist Warehouse that also included sunscreen in a clever zip pouch design which was a smart addition to the fan experience that would have impressed families looking to keep their kids protected from the sun. The pre-game show was simply outstanding with synchronized fireworks, a band in Australian outfit Gang Of Youths that were authentic and enjoyed playing this gig and the on field crowd which formed a mosh pit also went a long way in enhancing the atmosphere in the stands. The half time performance from Aussie rock legend Daryl Braithwaite was an unexpected and hilarious bonus while the sign language of the national anthem was also a good inclusive touch. Both sets of fans at either end with their name cut outs, flags and big player heads all brought a vibrant atmosphere to the game too and made the ground look good both in-ground and at home. Ten minutes from leaving the game and I was on a free train back to Sydney central at the end of the night which was a great hassle free way to end the fan journey. This was another exceptional day out for rugby league fans in Sydney at ANZ Stadium. Well done to all involved not least the fans here who well and truly brought a pumping atmosphere. 17
  15. 15. Wellington Phoenix A-League  Community Day A quick pictorial recap of the A-League's Wellington Phoenix game day in Wellington, NZ 16/09/2018
  16. 16. Waitangi Park, Wellington, New Zealand With the upcoming A-League season about to get underway, I found myself in Wellington, New Zealand at just the right time to take in the Wellington Phoenix Football Club community fan day down in Waitangi Park. There were plenty of inclusive family fun activities on show for kids and fans of all ages but it was also impressive to learn that the Phoenix are ramping up their 'FootbALL' initiative again for the 2018/19 season. This programme sees season ticket memberships provided free of charge to recently settled refugees in the Wellington Region. The programme aims to help integrate refugees into the Wellington and New Zealand community through sport by introducing them to their new city’s professional football club as well as providing them with an opportunity to experience live football at Westpac Stadium. Speaking with Courtney Marsden and David Dome from the Phoenix at the community event it was also impressive to learn that this year they will also be providing packed lunches and transport for them as well. How amazing is that! I think this is a very inclusive and respectful thing to do from a sporting club and other stakeholders as well as being a prime example of how communities and people can be brought closer together through sport.  21
  17. 17. Some of the developments from the world of fan engagement/experience which stood out this month included: 1. Brentford FC's family website. Another killer idea from their team there this season 2. Harlequins 'Quinformation' stand helping fans with match day queries 3. Sid Tapia's NRL venue art works around Allianz Stadium for the NRL Finals 4. Optus Stadium in Perth showcased their player entrance area on Channel 7 recently in the AFL Finals series where fans were able to cheer on the West Coast Eagles before they ran out of the tunnel 5. Shell V-Power Racing gave fans a good incentive to fill up the tanks by going a bit retro and offering 88c a litre for an hour to honour V8 racing legend Dick Johnson. 6. Manchester City welcomed two very special mascots to the pitch who have held season tickets for 85 years! before their clash with Fulham 7. Celtic FC invited visually impaired supporters to lift their trophies and meet the players 8. The NFL 49ers released a smart piece of content for a recent game day called 'Five Things To Look For At The Game' which was a creative and simple way to show fans the key things that are on around the Levi's Stadium on game day. 9. Essex Cricket gave every member a free half pint of Greene King IPA at a recent match 10.  The MLB Orioles became the first pro team to wear uniforms with Braille lettering 11. The Cleveland Browns were able to let off those free beer fridges with the videos of the moment they were unlocked well worth a look 12. The Seattle Seahawks released new value pricing on F&B joining the ranks of more teams to do this 13.  Durham FC Women updated their outstanding match day calculator. Well worth a look 22 September Fan Engagement/Experience Recap
  18. 18. Mr.Hughes Interviews... In this edition's interview I have a chat with Colchester United FC's Media Manager Matt Hudson to get an insight into his background and insights into the fan engagement work that he does within English football at Colchester United FC. Be sure to follow Matt on Twitter at  @mattyhudson. Name:  Matt Hudson  Current Role:   Media Manager, Colchester United Football Club. I am currently Media Manager for Colchester United, which means I am in charge of all areas of media, public relations and fan engagement for the club, and for the stadium as a whole. I look after the club’s media channels, be it the club website, the matchday programme, social channels and e-mail marketing. I also liaise with local, regional and national media to ensure the club is well represented in external as well as club led media. 1. Can you describe your entry into the sports business and why did you want to work in this space in the first place?  I have been a lifelong follower of football in general and sports more widely. Whilst at university, I was chairman of the Football Supporters Society, organising trips to games and holding other football related events and activities. That gave me my first passion for being involved in sport and my first job saw me work at the popular football website Football365 at a time where sports websites were first coming to prominence at the turn of the millennium. After two years there, the opportunity came up to work at Colchester United, the club I had supported growing up. Initially, this was as website editor, but as the years have gone on, my role has broadened to lead on all media and PR, fan engagement, safeguarding, supporters liaison and much more! I feel very fortunate to have built a career within professional sport and, to this day, still have to remind myself that I am fortunate to be within a game that so many people commit so much of their time, emotion and money to follow.  2. How did you then come to work in your current role at Colchester United FC?  My father’s former work colleague was commercial manager at Colchester at the time that the English clubs signed a collective agreement to work together on the infrastructure to support the websites and provide a central bargaining position for club advertising. I was approached as to whether I would be interested in taking the job and it was a no brainer. 17 years on, I am still here and still enjoying the challenges that football presents. I am not sure that working in sport is like any other industry!  3. Describe a typical game day for you? I tend to get in at 10am, so five hours before kick-off. This gives me time to pick up on any issues that may have occurred overnight, along with finalising match preparations to ensure that the areas such as the big screen and matchday PA are set up and ready to go for later in the day. From 12pm to 2pm, this is where I and Tom Tayler, our Community Development Manager, ensure that the fan engagement aspects of the day are working as they should. A typical matchday will involve the community team providing engagement activities to the young fans in attendance, we usually have a live band playing before the game and often have external exhibitors or charities on site on the day who look to engage with our supporters. Quite often, stadium tours will also take place in this time slot, often with grassroots teams, and Tom will be looking for families for whom we can offer magic moments to make their day special, such as meeting the players, coming pitchside or getting autographs with those not in that day’s squad. At present, the stadium is still somewhat on its own in this part of Colchester, so we have worked hard to put together a matchday offer to the supporters that will justify them getting here a little earlier than they might otherwise do. The day will tend to have a social media thread running through it and along with tweeting regularly in the build up to kick off, team line-ups will need to be tweeted at 2.00pm. 25
  19. 19. The last hour is often the most manic and, in my role as Supporters Liaison Officer, where I can get called into action to deal with enquiries or complaints. Then, from just before kick-off to the end of the game, it’s tweeting the match as it unfolds, along with writing the match report as we go. Post-match typically sees more opportunities for magic moments and for young fans to meet the players, whilst also ensuring our digital channels are up to date! 4. What are some of the challenges of your role and working in your role and across fan engagement? Two main challenges really – time and budget! As my role has broadened, I have tried to ensure the department and the club as a whole are forward thinking and provide content and engagement that are well received by all elements of our fanbase. This can provide some interesting challenges as the fundamentals of the job have to be maintained i.e. getting the matchday programme to print on time and ensuring that the game is promoted to the best of our abilities, but the odd curve ball or PR management issue can take you well away from what you were originally working on! We are also a small club in the grander scheme of things, so we have to achieve our aims without being wasteful with our budgets, so that’s where our creativity and innovation need to come to the fore. Hence why, in August 2014, we were up a ladder painting the Family Enclosure at nearly midnight before the first game of the season to try and brighten up that area… 5. What's been your greatest success story or highlight or work you've been most proud of in working in the sports business and why?  The club was selected as the EFL Family Club of the Year for 2015 and it was the culmination of a lot of hard work and effort from the team at Colchester United. As a keen fan engagement advocate and someone who helped drive the project over the course of that twelve months, I was incredibly proud when we were selected as winners. Previous winners had tended to be Championship clubs with a fair degree of available resource, so it was good to show that a bit of hard work and creativity could come out on top.  6. What do you enjoy most about working in this space?  Football evokes emotions in people that you don’t often see elsewhere, so it’s great to be in the thick of it on a day to day basis. It also has a real power to bring a smile to people’s faces and it is incredibly rewarding to provide those moments for supporters that they will never forget, often through the simplest means of a letter or autograph from their favourite player in the squad. I have also met some incredible people both inside and outside of clubs who are passionate about making football a better day out for everyone and their creativity and drive to grow the game is inspiring.  7. What are some valuable tips or insights you've learnt over the years to better engage with fans? What works and doesn't work in your opinion in engaging fans? Be consistent. The team’s fortunes may fluctuate on the pitch, but fan engagement can and should remain the same in its application and its positioning on a matchday. Don’t hide away when the team is losing! Also, be human – football is often accused of having been taken away from the man in the street, but showing a human side through a kind or memorable gesture will get spoken about among the fanbase as much as any winning goal or big transfer. We try our best to monitor the general sentiment in the fanbase and look for opportunities to assist with enquiries or to turn around discontentment and if people feel like they are being listened to, it’s a great start to retaining that supporter and turning them into an advocate for what you’re trying to do.  8. What advice or feedback would you give someone looking to get involved in the sports business? It is an incredibly difficult industry to get into, but the rewards are amazing. So many people are now trying to get into the industry now and more and more are graduating with sports related management or journalism degrees, so work out what you can do to differentiate yourself? Can you volunteer with a local team? Can you get involved in local sports community projects? A CV with more than education related qualifications will always stand out. Finally, if you’re after a 9-5 job, then sports are not for you!   9. How would you define what fan engagement is? Developing a relationship between the fans and the club, both on matchdays and during the week, which makes them feel valued and a part of the club’s forward direction. Furthermore, when they do come to the stadium, that their experience is a positive and painless one, regardless of the result! 26

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