The purpose of this research
proposal is to identify and understand what motivates individuals into becoming
passionate supporters of their local football teams and why they attend the
It’s important to know who goes to
football grounds because if a club know the people who attends, they’ll want to
get more of these people coming to see the games. Moreover, from a business
stand point, a football club will want to know who isn’t attending their games
– therefore they will want to put a marketing campaign around those who don’t
come. From a business perspective, knowing who your customers are is important
because they allow you to plan for your business and are your primary revenue
The need for this research proposal
is because it’s important for a football club to know how to create a strong
brand image. In order to create a continuous revenue stream, a football clubs
brand is vital to this. “Brand loyalty has been shown to have many benefits
that directly affect the sales and operating costs of businesses 3,6,9. For
this reason, the commitment between the brand and the customer is seen as a key
to success for businesses” (Caner Özgen).
The benefits that will derive from
this research proposal is that the CEO and board members of football clubs will
know what methods to undertake when trying to attract more fans to come to
This research proposal will
specifically be looking at non-league football fans. Dulwich Hamlets is a
semi-professional football club located in South London – and are playing in
the 7th tier of English football. This is a club that’s doing well,
getting far bigger crowds than others in their league.
Questions, Aims and Objectives
Who are they – Gender, age, ethnicity, income,
Why do you watch and what do you like about football?
To uncover the reasonings of Dulwich Hamlets football
fans motivation of attending non-league football matches.
To develop a survey to measure the characteristics of
footballs fans in order to conduct a research.
To select an appropriate time of when to conduct the
To get an accurate and fair representation of the
Dulwich Hamlets fans.
“Die Hard” Fans
For the majority, attending
football events are for casual fans and is used as a source of entertainment –
however, it’s much more than just entertainment to a “die hard” fan.
A die-hard fan is what every
football club need. They demonstrate loyalty by following the club on social
media and staying up to date, buy merchandise and tickets and travel across the
country to support their team (Smith and Stewart 2007). Without these fans, the
organisation will fail.
It has been researched that every
year more die-hard fans are becoming more common (Laverie and Arnett, 2000). If
you become a die-hard fan, then you’ll stay loyal to the club and become
motivated to attend.
Loyal fans are more likely to try
and recruit new fans (Bauer, Stokburger-Sauer, & Exler, 2008). This is only
beneficial to a football cub because the more fans they have, more revenue will
be coming in.
Wann (1995) conducted a research to
uncover the reasonings as to why someone becomes a fan and why they attend the
games – this was known as the Sport Fan Motivation Scale (SFMS).
The factors that Wann gathered were
then updated by Smith and Stewart (2007) and the following are the results:
The motivation scale that Wann
conducted demonstrated that when fans affiliate their emotions with the team’s
performances, their self-esteem increases. Fans and players share the same
emotions – whether the team is successful or has failed. The emotional
rollercoaster that fans experience is what they live for. (Brown, 2007) said
that if you’re a fan of a team, you go through the pain and struggle, all for
that one moment when your team wins. Watching your team win a trophy after all
the games you’ve witnessed makes the fans feel like they’ve won it with the
players. Winning is an indescribable feeling and experiencing those emotions
will make fans want to keep attending.
It was found in a research from
Wann (1995) that entertainment is an important factor when it comes to a
person’s loyalty. If a fan doesn’t feel entertained, then they’re not
satisfied. In Wann’s (1995) research, there was a question from a survey in
which 85% of the partakers answered yes to “I enjoy sports because of their
Entertainment from matches can
include loud chants, acts of suspense and solidarity. Attending matches to
watch the games isn’t the only way of being entertained – fans can sit outside
of grounds with a pint of beer and connect with other fans, this will boost the
excitement before the game starts (Smith & Stewart, 2007).
Having been to a non-league
football game a few months ago, witnessing fans outside the ground chanting,
demonstrated that entertainment is a main factor in a person’s fan loyalty.
The majority of football fans live
a ‘normal’ life, with standard working hours. This can result in stress,
therefore if they have an event to attend where they can support their
favourite team, they’ll take that opportunity to escape everyday life and
remain in high spirits. Passionate fans will always chant and cheer when at
games, this is the only time they can do this act and further increases their
escape from everyday life (Smith & Stewart, 2007).
Fans uses sports to be affiliated
within an exclusive group to unite together to support their favourite team.
This creates a strong bond and togetherness within the fanbase. When similar
fans come together to cheer for the same team, a sense of togetherness
permeates the group (Murrell & Dietz, 1992).
Singing the same songs, wearing the
same uniform – these are factors that give a fan the feeling of group
affiliation within the community (Smith & Stewart, 2007).
Every fan has a team they dislike.
For example, Dulwich Hamlets fans will hate Dorking Wanderers. This is because
they’re both from South London and play in the same league. Thus, when these
two teams play each other, both sets of fans will create an exciting atmosphere
and they’ll want to beat one another. This will mean that the fans will merge
as one and help support their team, creating a strong togetherness.
If you feel the love from the
people surrounding you, in a place where you feel a connection with, this will
make any fan want to return.
Attending football games allows
families to spend some quality time together. Smith and Stewart (2007) said
“Sporting events provide an opportunity for families to spend time together,
and in this respect, a sport experience is a vehicle for fulfilling family
needs in much the same was as a vacation or weekend outing” (p.161). If for
example a father brought his family to see their local football team, he could
convince his family to feel the same type of love he has with the club – this
can enhance fan loyalty and therefore more people will be paying for tickets,
which is beneficial to the club.
Research Methods and Research Plan
Similarly, to Crawford’s article
‘Characteristics of a British Ice Hockey Audience’, where he did a survey, this
research proposal will be the same. There are two routes this could go: a hard
copy survey or an online survey – both have their advantages and disadvantages,
so it’s important to decide precisely which research tool to go for.
An online survey is a questionnaire
that respondents can complete on the Internet.
In order for people to complete an
online survey, the survey will need to be posted on social media linked to the
football club – so that the relevant people will see it. An advantage of this
is that the survey will be reached out to people that it’s intended for, fans
that are passionate and care about the club.
Online surveys can collect data in
a short amount of time. Creating an online survey is simple and posting it on
social media takes minutes. For the reason of this fast distribution, the
sample population can respond to the survey instantly.
The capabilities within an online
survey is far more flexible compared to a hard copy survey. Web-based surveys
can include drop-down boxes, clickable images and slide controls – these are
features that will be attractive to the respondent.
Online surveys are convenient for
the respondent. They can answer the questions in their own time, at their own
pace and can stop and complete the survey later.
However, there is a disadvantage to
this method. Fans can see that there is a survey posted onto Dulwich Hamlet’s
social media accounts, but not everyone will be interested or have the time to click
on it. In addition to this, not everyone has social media, or even the
Internet, consequently, the survey won’t be complete to the maximum amount of
people it could be completed by.
A way of doing an online survey
would be to do it on SurveyMonkey. SurveyMonkey is a website that allows users to
create their own surveys. SurveyMonkey has a basic version that’s free and an
advanced version that comes at a cost. The basic package would be too basic for
the intended survey, therefore purchasing an enhanced version would be best.
However, a student subscription is £25 a month, which is too much for a
Hard Copy Survey
A hard copy survey is a
questionnaire where participants can write down their answers on a piece of
paper. The procedure would be to stand outside Dulwich Hamlets’ stadium when
there is a game and hand over the survey to fans to complete. With this
procedure, the person handing out the surveys will be getting answers from
people that actually go to non-league games.
It’s difficult to lie when
completing a hard copy survey because it’s in person and people tend to find it
difficult to lie when put in this environment. A hard copy survey makes it
easier for respondents to read the questions compared to an online survey. This
is because a paper survey offers a better resolution compared to any other
computer screens. A paper survey also allows the person conducting the survey
to get an in-depth, flexible answers. For example, when someone picks an answer
to a question, the interviewer can ask the respondent why they chose that answer,
making the respondent explain their reasonings.
Paper surveys are unable to produce
the presentation to the high levels of an online survey. Paper surveys have a
limit in terms of how much space they have available on the paper. Cost and
time also come into play as a disadvantage. It’ll cost to print out the surveys
and to travel to the venue.
It is intended that the best way to
gather the research to find out the characteristics and motivations of fans
will be to do a hard copy survey. Living in South London means that Dulwich
Hamlets is local, therefore the travel will be minimal, thus it will be a
simple process to go to the ground and hand out the survey to fans.
Timetable and Estimated Resource Requirements
The plan is to find secondary
research that has some information about characteristic and motivation of
football fans and then using the information to come up with questions for the
survey. To find this information could be time consuming as there are many
sources to look from: books, journal articles, etc.
Using the information gathered from
the secondary research, a hard copy survey will be made and printed out at St.
Mary’s library. There shouldn’t be a problem with accessing the library because
it’s a 24-hour library. Cost from printing shouldn’t be much of a problem as
it’s quite cheap to print there.
Next will be to look at the fixture
list of Dulwich Hamlets. It’s important to know when Dulwich Hamlets will play
at home so that there will be a large amount of non-league football fans there,
completing the survey. Thus, it is a must to follow the club on social media in
order to get this information.
Travelling to the venue by car
means that it will cost petrol and could be time consuming depending on the
traffic. From experience, whenever it’s a football game day the area around the
stadium will be quite busy, so it’s important to plan what route to take to get
to the ground on time. It’s best to arrive 30 minutes before the game starts because
when fans start to come, all, if not most of the surveys can be handed out to
In conclusion, there are many
factors as to why someone will want to attend a non-league football game. The
secondary research from the literature search will help with the planning of
the survey that will be conducted next year.