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Appetite for or Resistance to Consumption Relationships? A Trans-European Perspective on the Marketisation of Football Fan Relationships

Although most sport organisations are encouraged to better manage the relationships they maintain with fans, little is still known about the types of relationships that fans want to establish with sport organisations. Also, as most suggested management and marketing practices come from professional sport organisations and European contexts, it is questionable whether they can apply to all sports organisations, and whether they are received in the same way by diverse fans from various socio-cultural contexts. Thus, the study aimed to explore football fans’ relational expectations towards their national football association across Europe and attitudes towards this marketisation. Focus groups and individual interviews were conducted with several casual and die-hard fans from three European countries chosen for their heterogeneity: Armenia, Lithuania and England. Overall, and possibly in contradiction with numerous publications dealing with club football, the fans from the three countries did not express clear opposition or resistance towards the marketisation of their relationships towards their national teams and associations. English fans seemed quite neutral or indifferent although Armenian and Lithuanian fans presented many characteristics of brandom demonstrating an appetite for this marketisation.