Interview: What the ESL fallout says about the evolution of the global fan and lessons to learn for club owners

7 May 2021

Photo: Alamy Juventus FC have a large number of fans in China.

80 per cent of Gen Z football fans around the world were against the European Super League, according to new research.

A survey of 11,000 fans found that the ESL conflicted with what they love about the game, such as fair competition and the idea that clubs like Leicester City can enjoy success.

“We're not talking about an audience that is against change generally. It was this specific approach and how it was launched that missed the mark with them,” says Owen Laverty, director of fan intelligence at Ear to the Ground.

He suggests that the owners may have fallen into the trap of looking for the answers they wanted when assessing the appetite for a potential ESL.

And he warns that understanding the behaviours of global fans is proving increasingly challenging, with new trends emerging such as a growing interest in clubs outside of the European elite.

Jonathan Dyson

What do European football’s global fans really want?

As the dust begins to settle on the failed attempt to launch a European Super League, it has become clear that the owners of the clubs who initially signed up to the ESL haven’t found the answer they were looking for in many of the far-flung places where an appetite for such a concept had perhaps been taken for granted.

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