Planet Football: Premier League Champions in the Global Game

Press Release

Planet Football: Premier League Champions in the Global Game

European rivals miss opportunities to win new international fans  

BRUSSELS/LONDON, July 13 2017 – English Premier League clubs lead the way when it comes to taking part in pre-season tours abroad aimed at expanding their international fan-base. More than half of the Premier League’s 20 teams including Chelsea, Manchester United and Swansea City will play overseas games during the close season, compared with only five teams from the German Bundesliga, four from the Italian Serie A and La Liga Santander (Spain) and even fewer from Ligue 1 (France). This is one of the findings of ‘Planet Football’, a new report which looks at how clubs and leagues can boost their international footprint in a highly competitive, global market.

The most popular overseas destinations for European clubs are North America and China, while markets such as Africa, South America, Indonesia and Australia are currently less successful at attracting teams. However, the potential fan base and revenues from all overseas markets are becoming increasingly relevant as clubs make winning in the global league a top priority.

The Planet Football report, compiled by leading communications and public relations firm Burson-Marsteller in partnership with Match IQ and The WPP Sports Practice, highlights that football and other sports still have plenty of scope to expand their reach into new territories.

International fan engagement is increasingly important for clubs and leagues in the battle to win over the next generation of fans. As a result overseas revenues could soon exceed domestic profits for more teams – and not just those at the very top of the football pyramid. Today’s technology means the game’s audience is no longer limited to countries or even continents. The growth of a global middle class, urban migration and increasing mobility are also factors in the internationalisation of the sport, as rights owners and brands look to expand far beyond their traditional base. Also the role of elite players becomes increasingly important to build relations with the next generations of fans.

But many clubs have struggled to adapt to this new reality and found it difficult to meet the demands of a changing fan base.

“Significant international expansion requires new forms of engagement, new products, new markets, and often new employees or partners,” says William Gaillard, former Director of Communications for UEFA and senior sport adviser at Burson-Marsteller. “Finding the right balance between the traditional and the new is no easy task for any organisation – and certainly not for sport stakeholders rooted in their local communities. A tension will always be there when it comes to determining why, when, where and how international expansion should best take place to ensure success in the decades ahead.”

But how do clubs ensure the right balance when it comes to their home and international audience?

“It is clear from our report that every top-tier football club, indeed every sports organisation, needs to seek change if it is ambitious,” adds Gaillard. “The process of international expansion is an unstoppable force and the status quo is not an option. Embracing the new realities and engaging with the new opportunities is a strategic imperative for all decision-makers in the industry.”

The Planet Football report includes views from leading clubs and organisations including UEFA, LFP, FC Barcelona, AS Roma, VFL Wolfsburg, FC Schalke 04, FIFPro (World Players’ Union), streetfootballworld, CIES Football Observatory, as well as experts from the University of Glasgow and University of Tübingen. Its goal is to provide thought leadership on how best to reach out to a globally connected generation of fans while ensuring that football’s purpose and local roots are not forgotten.

The executive summary can be downloaded here.
The full report can be downloaded here.

Media Contact EMEA:
Dennis Abbott, Managing Director, Burson-Marsteller
+32 2 743 66 51

About Burson-Marsteller:
Burson-Marsteller, established in 1953, is a leading global strategic communications and public relations firm. It provides clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, reputation and crisis management, advertising and digital strategies. The firm’s seamless worldwide network consists of 77 offices and 85 affiliate offices, together operating in 110 countries across six continents. Our integrated services in the sports sector are provided through our global network as well as TSE Consulting – a Burson Marsteller company – specialised in sport.

About Match IQ:
Match IQ acts as a consultant to more than 25 Bundesliga and European clubs as an official and long-term partner in the fields of sporting preparation, match day execution and internationalisation. Working transparently and always in the background, Match IQ’s goal is to optimise and implement the sporting preparation for the season and simultaneously create new platforms to activate unused potentials for sponsors and fans. Match IQ benefits from its international network and from new approaches to generate additional economic revenues.  The firm also works with rights holders and brands around the world in the creation, sourcing, planning and implementation of major friendly matches, tournaments, training camps and international tours while also creating unique and innovative sports marketing concepts in places like the USA, South Africa, China, and Indonesia.

About The WPP Sports Practice:
The WPP Sports Practice is the global entry point to WPP’s collective sports services and expertise. We bring Brands, Rights-Owners and Event hosts the very best of WPP’s global sports marketing and communications solutions, to help them create and exploit new opportunities in the fast-changing world of sports marketing. Supported by WPPs broader marketing and communications services, our specialist sports marketing agencies are already working with some of the world’s biggest brands, rights holders and event hosts. Delivering cutting edge services across the full communications spectrum, globally.

Published on JULY 13, 2017 @

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