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Clubs should start doing it for the fans

By Clive Kyazze
SC Villa fans hold up sarcastic placards towards KCCA fans during a recent derby | Courtesy photo

Basketball star Kobe Bryant (RIP) was on Sunday morning inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and in a moving speech, Vanessa Bryant honoured her late husband.

Vanessa revealed how Kobe played with pain and injuries throughout his career for the LA Lakers, and at one time, she was forced to ask ‘why don’t you take a rest?’ Because he was always in too much pain.

His response; “How about that one fan who has paid their ticket to watch me play for the first time?” That right there was one of Kobe’s driving factor, the fans.

He was too hungry to succeed on the court, but he also too desperate to do it for the fans, a culture we need to adapt to.

The fan is the main sponsor of any sports team or club, a fan is a customer, and as they say in any business, ‘a customer is king’.

In Uganda, a customer is a slave who should never bother to matter because even without them, the football team, the basketball team, the volleyball team will survive.

Some stakeholders think like that, and they are not shamed to throw tantrums around every time someone tries to make a case for the fans.

That is where we get it wrong, especially in these pandemic times when teams are struggling to get income through sponsorship deals and other avenues.

Because a customer is a king in any business, they ought to be treated with respect and utmost customer care.

When you treat a customer with respect, they will recommend your business to other people, and guess what your income will increase.

Teams like KCCA, Vipers, SC Villa, Express, Mbarara City and others have in the recent past introduced membership cards, season tickets, club merchandise and all sorts of other avenues to increase their revenue but also bring fans closer to their teams.

Many of those clubs if not all of them, have not delivered what they promised to their customers despite collecting a few million shillings from those few fans willing to spend.

And what is laughable is that the business owners are not willing to listen to feedback from their disappointed customers.

But how do you expect your incomes to increase if those who are willing to spend their little income on you are not supposed to have a say?

How then will they recommend your business to others so that your numbers and income can grow? Do we ever think about these things?

Cries of ‘our game needs many to grow’ have been loud enough for the last two decades, and by the look of things, they are going to be even louder for more generations to come.

But what if we paid more attention to strategising around getting more money from the fans by doing the right things.

KCCA vice-chairman Aggrey Ashaba always talks about ‘creating the experience,’ but how many clubs/teams today create the experience for their customers during games.

Before we even look at the product in the four lines, what else beyond the football is being sold at these football grounds? (This is a discussion different club administrators and owners are not willing to engage in.)

Especially if the target is to recruit a new crop or generation of football fans, the school going teenagers, the university young adults, the fresh from university working class and those in their early thirties and forties.

This is a generation that to whom plenty of European football has been sold, and they identify with it because the product has been packaged so well that it’s hard to turn it away.

But also that is the category that will always go to rugby grounds, not because they love the sport but because of the experience that people who manage the grounds have created.

Football stakeholders can do the same. The question is; do they know what to do? Are they willing and ready to take the bold step? Are they interested in seeing their teams’ revenues grow?

If we can find answers to those questions, then maybe we will start treating fans with the respect they deserve.

And also accept that they are the number one customer/sponsor for our sports teams and that you are nothing without them.

Because the cooperate, sponsor, you think is more important than the fans, actually brings money to your team because of the numbers that want to associate with you.

And if you were wondering why it has been hard for you to land sponsorship deals for your club or team, maybe because you lack the numbers.

Now, how about you work on that small details and see how things unfold in the long run for you?

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