How to make football matches possible during Corona

 

How could football matches be made possible (not only) in times of the Corona crisis? How could fans be offered a community experience, season ticket holders be given the best possible service, and, in addition, partners be better integrated or social projects implemented?

For many football clubs – especially in the major European leagues – TV revenues are the main pillar of financing. If this income collapses, this can lead to problems threatening the club’s existence. Even in the German Bundesliga, insolvencies can no longer be ruled out. It is obvious that a season cancellation due to the Corona crisis must be avoided by all means in order to keep the TV money coming in – in Germany, for example, one last instalment is outstanding. It goes without saying that the human well-being must always be the primary concern, so that only games without spectators are a realistic scenario. Leagues in countries all over Europe are subject to current, emergency regulations. In Austria, for example, no major events are allowed to take place until the end of June, so football matches with spectators are legally not an issue until the beginning of July.

Leagues that want to complete the season will have to rely on games being played behind closed doors, for better or worse.  They want to start playing again as soon as possible. But how could that work in the current situation? Which requirements would have to be met? And how can you still involve fans? Here are some thoughts about how you might restart the season and how you can give fans, partners and sponsors the best possible experience within the confines of current rules.

Barracking
Players are naturally concerned about their health and that of their families. If players become infected that could mean the end of the entire season. All players of the team where just one became infected, would then have to be quarantined.  The only way to prevent this is to have players live together – a closed barracking – combined with regular testing and antibody tests. This would allow the game to restart safely.

Involving fans
Television transmission of the games should also be possible in the current situation and should not pose a major problem. At the same time, season ticket holders should be given special treatment. They could be given access to an exclusive livestream in which they can interact with each other. Watching football together could thus be made possible again.

Sell virtual tickets
In addition to season ticket holders sitting in the “virtual stadium” and being able to watch the game and to communicate with others, it would also be possible to sell virtual day tickets and thus enable non-season ticket holders to access this exclusive virtual community event.

Involve sponsors
It is also obvious that sponsors can be integrated into such a digital environment in a simple and, above all, personalized manner.  This could offer sponsors more valuable opportunities to interact with fans.

Add additional features
In addition, virtual products could be sold to support the clubs or to raise funds for social purposes in cooperation with non-profit organizations. Fans could buy virtual fan scarves and virtual messages that could be aired during half time with the profits supporting charities.  Football clubs could provide virtual choreography in the stadium, for example, fans sending in photos of themselves to create a virtual crowd.  Virtual animation changing the colors of seats, creating waving flags and virtual sound effects could enhance the watching experience. This is all about creating a feeling of community, especially when you are not allowed to be together physically.

When you know the customer, you can address them directly, and you can connect with them via live streaming, maybe getting to know them even better.

If you think about this scenario further, such a tool would not only be interesting now, but also in the regular season. For fans who can’t attend away games, who can’t make it to the stadium for health reasons or who simply can’t attend matches due to geographical circumstances. Those fans can be offered a more intensive, individual experience than is the case today.

In the end it is on the politics to decide whether football competitions can start again. But these scenarios might be an argument to do so.

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