This month I traveled, with my daughter, to Anfield to watch Liverpool FC play AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League.
I decided to make our way to the ground early to sample the atmosphere and build up to kick off.
So, as someone involved in #SportsMarketing and #SportsBiz I thought it would be interesting to write my experience as a fan.
The Anfield experience
- Fan zone – it was great to see live music at the ground projected onto a huge video screen. In addition, the video screen showed key Liverpool FC content as well as images from around the fan zone, these included interviews with the fans as well as close ups of the musicians performing well known songs on the stage. Besides the live music truck, there were several food outlets which served good quality food. Apart from a kids 2v2 mini pitch, there were a limited number of things to do pre the game.
Areas to consider: The range of food on offer was limited and could be expanded to suit a variety of other tastes. In addition, the fan zone could be expanded or improved by including more fans engagement games or competitions. The biggest surprise was the lack of sponsor activity at the stadium. It was very limited. Maybe sponsors should be encouraged to perform fans games with an element of enjoyment.
After the game, the fan zone was closed with the exception of the merchandising store. Maybe this is due to security reasons but from a fans viewpoint this was extremely poor. Fans want to spend time sampling the atmosphere and seeing around the ground, so why not do it after the game like other sports? Let’s treat the fan as a guest.
- To the traditional fan, Wi-Fi may not be a top priority but for some fans or visitors it is. The Wi-Fi strength was good at the fan zone and in the concourse area of the main stand but there was no access once I got to my seat. I actually didn’t mind the lack of WiFi in the ground as I was at the game to watch the match rather than be on my mobile. I was keen to post on my social media platforms at half time but I had to use my own 3G data. Could this be a missing opportunity to collect key data for the Liverpool FC Marketing department?
- Main stand – brilliant! Lots of room, clean, live music pre the game, plenty of food outlets and WiFi access.
Areas to consider: potentially have more family orientated competitions or games in the concourse areas. Also sponsorship activity would be good to introduce in this area.
- Stewarding – In general, the stewards were knowledgeable and welcoming but I did have one bad interaction with a steward which spolt the overall experience! After taking a photo of my daughter in the stand 5 mins after the final whistle, one steward told me to put camera away, finish up and make my way out. For me the tone of voice and interaction could have been more friendly rather than a call to get out of the stadium shortly after the final whistle.
Areas to consider: continue to train the stewards on a regular basis and maybe reward stewards for being welcoming and friendly. Also, don’t force fans out of the stadium straight after the final whistle. Let the fans experience the stadium and take photos for 20-30 mins max after the final whistle.
- Merchandising Shop – while there were a good range of products on offer, the store seemed cramped. That being said, there were lots of tills which helped to reduce queues quickly.
Areas to consider: review the layout of the shop – make it fan friendly. This should include a review of the space in the upstairs area. Seek to sell more smaller priced items when queuing.
- Poor signage getting back to the city centre. This was my first time back at Anfield since the new stand was built. For me there was a lack of signage to get from the stadium to the city centre ie transport information.
Areas to consider: work with transport organisations to improve the signage and bus information for fans leaving the stadium
- Fans officers in the fan zone. A number of well branded ‘fans officers’ where in and around the stadium. The fans officers were knowledgeable and friendly.
- Inside the stadium. A number of things struck me when at my seat inside the stadium:
a. No Big screen.
b. Lack of fan engagement both online and pre/half time.
c. Last but by no means least was the sound of the stadium P.A. system. I could hardly make out the messages from my seat in the stadium.
Areas to consider : conduct a review of the stadium PA system in terms of the sound levels. Investigate the potential of installing a big screen for fan engagement purposes and seek to introduce a range of suitable fan experience programmes in the stadium and online.
Overall, we had a great time, the atmosphere was good, we witnessed three goals and the new stand is amazing. Small improvements could be made to further enhance the fans experience. What is important is to work with the fans to create the right activities and to ensure the club remains true to its brand and values.
Geoff runs his own Sports Consultancy, working with clients such as FIFA, UEFA and FIBA across the world. He is also on the board of Tourism Northern Ireland. You can follow Geoff on twitter @geoffwnjwilson connect on Linkedin at linkedin.com/in/geoffwnjwilson or follow his blog posts at http://www.geoffwnjwilson.wordpress.com
Drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like your sports club or Federation profiled in the up and coming months.