Today’s football fans have come of age in a paradoxical environment. On the one hand, they are priced out of the live game, on the other the proliferation of social platforms has given them unfettered access to football content and players. This paradox inspired COPA90 to explore what makes them tick by analysing the modern football fan’s behaviours, values and motivations.

To do this they focused on those fans transforming the football landscape (i.e. fans aged between 16 and 24) to capture the demographic and attitudinal factors that will shape the future of the world’s favourite sport. In the report ‘the modern football fan’s behaviours, values and motivations’ they highlight the 15 major shifts and changes in football fandom that show how this new generation of fan relates to, and is changing, football. The fan insights presented were sourced during February 2018 via a variety of proprietary quantitative, qualitative and video diary methodologies and further validated by secondary research.

So what’s happening? Well a new generation of fans are relating to and changing the game of football in many new and surprising ways. These young fans are a generation priced out of the live game. Yet thanks to the proliferation of social platforms, they enjoy greater – and closer – access to football content and players than any generation before them. Aged 16 to 24, their behaviours, their values and their motivations are now transforming the Modern Football landscape.

The Modern Football Fan inhabits a landscape in which traditional TV sports broadcasting is in decline, and platforms are in the ascendant. These fans are worldly, culturally curious and passionate – about football, yes, but also (coming a close second): music and gaming. Gaming has provided them with an education – creating a new fan perspective that blurs the line between reality and virtual, and between the local, national and international game.

The five main ways the Modern Football Fan is changing football are:

  1. With their content consumption driven by immediacy and mobility, Modern Football Fans are accelerating a shift in the balance of power within football – away from traditional media formats that encourage passive lean-back consumption in favour of active participation, with fans themselves taking a driving seat in creating and distributing content.
  2. Modern Football Fans are also driving a shift away from old voices of authority towards younger, culturally more diverse and multi-faceted commentators.
  3. By pulling in a patchwork of perspective during games via an extended network that adds texture to their viewing of the game, Modern Football Fans are building the importance of differentiated opinion – and its positioning as an antidote to a shift towards algorithmic control in other aspects of daily life.
  4. Modern Football Fans preferred social safe havens – notably, WhatsApp – have become the epicentre of a new form of football conversation increasingly characterised by a new tone with memes not just enhancing but becoming the game’s modern language.
  5. By more actively creating and distributing their own content, Modern Football Fans have spurred on players to hand over greater control to their audiences – like any good social brand nowadays.

In these ways and more, Modern Football Fans are posing major challenges and new opportunities the rest of us must now meet. To read COPA90’s ‘The modern football fan’s behaviours, values and motivations’ report, click here.