This month (November) I had the pleasure of attending an RSC Anderlecht game at their stadium in Brussels.
Apart from enjoying the game, this also gave me the opportunity to see what the club are doing on match day.
Below are my observations together with some ideas for the club to consider:
Outside the ground
- Upon arrival at the stadium, it was very noticeable how many people congregated outside the ground not inside the ground. Many of the bars, restaurants were full with fans meeting up with friends and family members. While this is great, who is making the money and how much money is the club losing from food and beverage sales?
- There was no sponsorship activation outside the ground. There were plenty of opportunities to engage the fans by sponsors, so apart from a cost issue, I couldn’t understand why sponsors weren’t more visible.
- I received a paper ticket pre game. Whilst there is nothing wrong with the ticket, my only comment was that is was extremely busy. The key information I want to know is my seat/row number, stand, KO time. This should be more prominent in the ticket design. I am lead to believe the design of the tickets is made by a ticketing provider. A meeting should be held with them to review the design of the ticket.
- Before going into the stadium, we asked a steward a particular question relating to the stadium. He knew the answer and was very polite. Excellent!
Inside the stadium
- The club has implemented a new cashless system with the aim to reduce queues at the stadium. This shows forward thinking from the club. My only concern is that they don’t collect or link a fans ID with the card for single ticket purchases. For example, you can buy or top up a card quickly but it is not linked to that individual. The data which the card can tell the club is therefore limited to the likes of how much food/beverage is purchased, where in the stadium and when. It does not tell them who is purchasing, where they live, how often they attend games etc. For me, this is a massive opportunity missed by the club.
- Similar to the lack of sponsorship activation outside the ground, I didn’t see any sponsorship activation inside the ground. This was very surprising. Why sponsor the club if you don’t engage with their fans?
- At half time I went to the toilet and to view the food/beverage area. Both areas had massive queues. In terms of the toilet, it took ages and there was only one sink in relation to 10-15 urinals. For me this is not acceptable. I totally understand the stadium is old but the toilet blocks needs reviewed asap. In addition, the queues at the food and drink stalls where so long I just didn’t bother waiting.
My question: how much income is the club losing due to long queues in both the toilet and food areas. In addition, many fans where smoking inside the stands which did not lend itself to a nice environment.
- Fans shop. I decided to take a walk into the fans shop. The shop has the clubs colours of purple but that’s it. There are no images of the players, history about the club, brand messages – nothing. In addition, the shop was poorly laid out with no clear signage for kids , women and men sections.
Inside the stand
- Pre game, legends from the past were interviewed and beamed onto two big screens (the PA system was not clear but the two big great screen were great). The screens were well used pre and during the game with engaging and creative visuals used.
- The noisy fans are split into two sections of the ground – both behind each goals. They had drums, flags and club related songs. This was amazing. I loved it. This really helped with the atmosphere during the game.
- The club has installed LED on the mid tier around the stands. Great idea.
- The colour Purple is everywhere – fans wearing the tops, in the retail shop, inside the stadium. This was great. My big concern was it didn’t tell me about the clubs history, brand, culture. It was just purple!! This is something the club and fans must work to identify and communicate clearly on match days through a range of marketing activity.
Areas for the club to consider
- Create a clear brand message – who are you? What do you stand for?
- Conduct a review of the queues in the toilets and food and beverage areas.
- Conduct a review on the cashless system. Seek to link fans data to the payments on the card for single ticket purchases. Then use this data for marketing purposes.
- Work with sponsors to create regular fans zones and activation areas.
- Conduct a review of the fans shop from a retail viewpoint.
Dispite some of the negative areas outlined in this blog, I really enjoyed the experience at RSC Anderlecht. The atmosphere generated by the fans was fab and to see good football being played was also pleasing. The club are investing in youth and I wish them every success
About Geoff Wilson
Geoff runs his own Sports Consultancy, working with clients such as FIFA, UEFA, AFC 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