Health is the omnipresent focus topic in these pandemic times. This is also the case in professional football – which always has to master the balancing act between love and passion for the game and the entrepreneurial component of the football club’s existence as a company. Health for people and health in financial terms are indispensable here. This has been undisputed at least since the prescribed breaks in competition for the Bundesliga, the Euro and the Champions League, as well as the European Championship postponed to 2021.
How does professional football counter Corona: crisis communication, cooperation, Ko & Co.!
This is how Alexander Jobst (Head of Marketing and Communication at FC Schalke 04) states on behalf of the Bundesliga clubs:
“Media and sponsorship income is existential for FC Schalke 04 and the professional clubs. That has to be clear to everyone who follows the Bundesliga and who are fans of Schalke 04. “
Christian Seifert , boss of the league marketing company DFL, got to the heart of it in a dramatic appeal at the press conference on March 16, when he emphasized that “it is about the existence of many clubs” .
The fact is that economic interests make a continuation of the season with games without stadium spectators indispensable, so Seifert. If these break away over a longer period of time, it will be extremely tight for some clubs of the 36 DFL members, and there is a risk of bankruptcies! We investigated the question of how the Bundesliga clubs communicate in this emergency situation and what solutions clubs can find via digital channels. Because one thing is also clear: the digital communication and sales channels will increase significantly in importance in the short term due to the prescribed blocking of analog channels.
First of all, I would like to remind you of the year 2003, when FC St. Pauli, after two sporting relegations from the 1st and 2nd league, was apparently inexorably faced with total bankruptcy, also financially. But the Hamburger Club vom Kiez finally went down in German football history with a sensationally successful rescue campaign – a multi-conditional cooperation between club, fans, city and a benefit event with FC Bayern Munich and Uli Hoeneß as Bayern boss on Millerntor! The focus of the financial rescue success at that time was the now legendary “rescue shirt”: 140,000 of these simple T-shirts filled the empty coffers of the Kiezclub, 17 years ago as merchandising still had to get along as far as possible without the sales power of today’s e-commerce!
Therefore, even in the Corona crisis, no club needs to be ashamed if, like FC St. Pauli at the time, it seeks solidarity with the fans and also by paying off. Because one thing is certain: Corona threatens many clubs with knockout. Only together can a knockout be prevented.
The overall situation caused by Corona is extremely charged, due to various factors: There are the expectations rumored from politics, for which DFL boss Christian Seifert understands, based on the demand of the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder, according to which the highly paid professional footballers are now are asked to make financial cuts: “Sure, the demand is understandable. What Markus Söder said is what a lot of people think. ” Horst Held, on the other hand, countered as the person responsible for sports at 1. FC Kölnthis objection in harsh words. Another dicey additional note comes into play with regard to the Bundesliga games in front of empty ranks declared by Seifert to secure a livelihood, as SPORT1 in an interview with lawyer Dr. Andrej Dalinger learned:
“I am of the opinion that in the current situation, clubs cannot force a player to expose themselves to the increased risk of infection in ghost games!”
But that’s not all: BVB boss Hans-Joachim Watzke caused an uproar in the professional football scene when he questioned the idea of solidarity injections for clubs in need – and then received headwinds from the 1st and 2nd league. As a partner in TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Dietmar Hopp, the most important opinion leader , stepped on the scene with the proclamation of a solidarity fund :
“We have to support the idea of solidarity financially so that we can find a solution for the clubs that are more existentially affected by the losses than other clubs. I have a lot of sympathy for the idea of a solidarity fund. “
Communicative crisis counterattacks of the clubs
This mixed situation of irritability gives an idea of how difficult and fragile it is for professional football. It is all the more important that the relationship between the football club and the fans becomes the focus of interest. The aim should be: to develop, nurture and serve the spirit of the rescue campaign from 2003. Many clubs are already well on their way here, such as the promotions listed below.
Sausage case instead of worst case: Union of club and fans!
If there were an award for the tastiest “sausage case” in times of crisis, 1. FC Union Berlin and its loyal fans would have a place on the podium for this fundraising campaign for the virtual sausage stand, which generates income via the online shop shopping cart:
From 4.30 p.m., the Unioners bought virtual beer, pea soup and kettle goulash from € 2.50 and enjoyed digital joint tasting on their own online platform “AFTV”.
The Union Berlin Facebook fan community also responded to the virtual sausage stall campaign with great commitment:
Under the motto “WAITING FOR UNION”, the club has also launched a communication campaign for fans: “Unionize a little every day with the fans, because together we can get through it!” This also includes direct links to the merchandising items, the special home -Possess compatibility.
Team spirit: “Ghost game tickets” turn fans into crisis helpers
The traditional football club VfL Bochum is delighted with its loyal fans who have purchased “ghost game tickets” , says Knut Keymer, Director of Organization and member of the management board:
“Admittedly, the idea isn’t new – but it’s still a good one! Desired by the fans, quickly implemented and promoted by a great team! ” Hope from Hoffenheim
Whoever wants to share triggers a Facebook record when “sharing”!
1899 maker Dietmar Hopp proves to be one of the strongest playmakers in the field of solidarity these days . His interview in Manager Magazin gave the TSG Facebook page the highest Facebook engagement value of all Bundesliga clubs of the Corona era: A week ago, still in the crosshairs of some ultra groups, Dietmar Hopp, as the majority owner of the Tübingen pharmaceutical company Curevac, is the bearer of hope Nation on. The first Ultras, for example from Darmstadt 98, are already showing remorse and appreciate Hopp’s solidarity and loyalty.
In harmony through the crisis
Eintracht Frankfurt shows a noticeably large virtual commitment in fan contact, not just since Corona. Retro videos are in high demand and fans can also watch the Euro League documentary every day from 9 p.m. on YouTube or Facebook. Even the guidelines of the Hessian first division club on the social media channels triggered a high level of interaction after a short time with almost 1,000 shares:
1. FC Köln professionals impress with their social media fitness
Whether pedaling on the home trainer or doing creative, family-friendly strength training, like Toni Leistner doing push-ups here with his daughter on his back – the FC professionals are diligently playing digital double passes with their club and fans. And the coverage response, Leistner’s video had over 41,000 views after just 6 hours, pleased the employer as well as the club sponsors. Sponsors can present a good image even in times of crisis and receive a lot of encouragement. True to their motto “without glamor, without make-up, without script”, Effzeh also delivers brand new video content with a new episode from the 24/7 documentation on DAZN and its own FC TV.
DFB national players donate € 2.5 million in emergency aid
New content record in the social media history of the DFB – a whopping 60 selfie videos in story format of the national players went viral on Wednesday. In addition to the emergency donation of € 2.5 million, Oliver Bierhoff, Manuel Neuer and Range King Toni Kroos, among others, encourage the society and call for further donations. The reactions of the followers were seldom faster or the reach greater!
Just 45 minutes after publication, over 10,000 likes had been received:
BVB is playing on the Chinese market with a virtual online fan party
Borussia Dortmund has succeeded in activating it with a pioneering effect : around 2.9 million viewers followed the “digital fan party” , broadcast via live stream in the context of the failed derby against FC Schalke 04. The derby dent, of all places, was impressively “repaired”. Numbers that speak for this two-hour virtual fan event of the Bundesliga club: 1.2 million hashtag readings. At its peak, there were 110,000 viewers of the live stream.
The show included a User Generated Content (UGC), juggling competition, the fan reporter vlog and a documentation of the Dortmund China office. The club was also able to engage its 12 official commercial partners in China and digital broadcaster PP Sports through ads, cross-platform advertising, kit auctions and branded content.
Cocooning versus Corona
In times of quarantine, fans are presented with targeted fan articles for household use in the BVB online shop. Garnished with the claim in a goal scorer tone “You have to do the booth”, fans can expect real bargains and those in charge expect an increase in e-commerce sales for the black and yellow.
#MiaSanSpendabel: FC Bayern TV live for free!
With free entertainment, FC Bayern Munich offers its football fans a pleasant range of TV entertainment with no pay limit and continues to score points in the area of customer centricity, at least off the field.
Nuremberg neighborhood help
The disaster announced in Bavaria also affects the second division 1. FC Nürnberg , for example with the campaign #ClubEinkaufsHelfer, presented on the Facebook account and documented on FCN-TV
Third division club offers digital derby time with esports fans in the FIFA stadium
The current runner-up in the 3rd league, Waldhof Mannheim 07, is still aiming for promotion and is also offensive and creative in the Corona crisis. The Waldhofer invite you to virtually match the planned game days with your e-athletes via FIFA in a live stream. The fans can choose their own donation between a mandatory euro and the 100 € VIP solidarity ticket. The digital spectacle starts on March 27th in the virtually sold-out Carl Benz Stadium against KFC Uerdingen. Digital derby time against corona dreariness!
When all the ticket shops close, the third division team Waldhof Mannheim will show how ticket revenue can be generated in a creative digital way. We think that’s ripe for advancement!
Example from Italy
Inter Milan is stepping up its efforts in the fight against the Corona Virus with a global crowdfunding campaign in which everyone in the club as well as fans and friends from all over the world participate.
The proceeds of the fundraising campaign launched on Facebook will be donated to the Department of Biomedicine and Clinical Sciences of the Luigi Sacco Hospital of Milan, a leading center for infectious diseases and epidemiological emergencies. The aim of the donation is to finance the research activities of the hospital, which currently plays a key international role in the development of a vaccine for Covid-19. Your contribution will help not only Italy but all countries affected by this public health emergency.
Outside of football: Put the crisis in a basket via a digital sports lesson
“Every day there is a digital school lesson (45 minutes) of sport, fitness and interesting facts for all children and young people – to view and participate in within their own four walls,” says the association’s announcement. In addition, the Berliners send an age-specific offer on their YouTube channel from Monday to Friday for children in daycare (9 a.m.), elementary school (10 a.m.) and high school age (11 a.m.). The first program ran on March 18 at 10 a.m. for children of primary school age.
“Everything that we normally do with children and young people – training, games, traveling, in clubs, at schools, at daycare centers – will not be possible for the foreseeable future. This is an unfamiliar and especially worrying situation for children ”, Vice President Henning Harnisch is quoted as saying. “We are dealing with this crisis positively and creatively, living the community despite the separation and turning the apartments into sports venues.”