Oppenhuisen, J. & Van Zoonen, L. (2006). Supporters or Customers? Fandom, Marketing and the Political Economy of Dutch Football. Soccer and Society, 7(1), 62-75.

Abstract: In this essay we examine how Dutch football supporters perceive their clubs in terms of social and cultural values. This question is framed in the context of the financial predicaments of Dutch football that have forced clubs, among other things, to adopt commercial branding strategies to generate more income. With values being a core element of branding, supporters’ perception of their clubs’ values is vital to the acceptance and success of these strategies. Our data from a survey among 365 Dutch supporters of different clubs show that supporters hardly differ in terms of their own individual value patterns. In terms of how they perceive their clubs, supporters of the big top clubs differ significantly from supporters of smaller, average clubs: the former value success and tradition for their clubs, whereas the latter appreciate the sociability and leisure associated with their clubs. We conclude that the relative lack of variability in the value associations of supporters of small clubs will limit their successful deployment of branding strategies and we discuss these outcomes in the context of the political economy of the sector as a whole.

Link: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14660970500355595