How football clubs are turning their global fanbase into customers

Since its inception, and during the last 20 years the Premier League has evolved into becoming a competition that is enjoyed all over the world. Its global appeal stretches across every continent and into many developing nations.
Where once an English club drew its support from within the boundaries of the city, the leading names, in particular, can call upon backing the world over. The global broadcast of matches and the reach of the internet is making it easier than ever for fans to engage. But what strategies are clubs using to turn that support into something more lucrative? In this article, we will examine how the UK outfits are turning their global fanbase into customers, including the tactics borrowed from other industries.

Social media

Social media plays a key role in mobilising overseas support for a football team and many have translated their offering across platforms like Twitter into different languages. Naturally, it’s fairly common for teams across Europe to translate the output into English, due to how commonly spoken the language is, but many English clubs also run dedicated foreign language accounts.

For example, Manchester United’s Twitter account features links to accounts that are delivered in Spanish, Indonesian, Japanese, Malaysian and Arabic. This activity helps to engage with fans and can also help to underpin lucrative international commercial deals, as detailed by, such as United’s recently agreed sponsorship deal with an Indonesian drinks brand. This allows clubs to appeal to international audiences and develop their branding for further reach, allowing for more sustainable income.

These kinds of partnerships are helping fans across the globe engage with the Red Devils in their native language and provide an opportunity for the club to point its products and services at a new marketplace. Merchandise is delivered globally – and utilising social media in numerous languages provides a huge boost to sales.


One tactic to engage with customers that transcend industries is the art of the freebie. Properly utilised, free products for a club’s fans can build a deeper connection between them and the club and nurture the possibility of purchases being made further down the line.
Clubs consistently offer free digital assets, such as mobile phone wallpapers and match highlights to bring fans closer to the action. The highlights, in particular, can help introduce supporters to the club’s premium media offerings and encourage them to purchase a subscription to a TV service at a later date. This is a common marketing tool and is also seen in the online casino industry.

The tactic is used across sports and entertainment, with the online casino industry utilising the strategy prominently to entice new players to sign up. Such is the success of the concept that websites aggregating the best offers have popped up such as Websites like these also have an international element and can also help clubs engage with their audience internationally through the range of sports betting markets available. In fact, the online casino industry works just as hard as football clubs to grow followings in new overseas markets, and it’s common for local language guides to be offered.

Pre-season tours

Perhaps one of the most powerful marketing tools to fans overseas is to take the action to their country. A growing number of Premier League clubs organise overseas tours to distant countries, ostensibly as part of preparations for the season ahead, but perhaps more crucially as a means of engaging with a growing overseas fanbase.

Tournaments like the Asia Trophy have become staples of the Premier League’s pre-season calendar in recent seasons, with clubs being provided with a lucrative opportunity to play in front of a fanatical audience that is eager to snap up merchandise.

It’s a common sight to see stadiums thousands of miles away filled with fans in replica shirts of the top Premier League clubs. And even though the games are just friendlies, the atmosphere in the stands is one of pure excitement, with pre-season tours to America, as explored by, helping to cement the competition’s popularity across the Atlantic.

As you can see, several tactics are being employed by the Premier League and its clubs to engage with fans based thousands of miles away. With TV coverage of the competition so prominent in overseas markets, clubs’ investment in engaging with foreign supporters will likely continue to ramp up

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