Original Research

Assessing the importance of spectators to soccer clubs in South Africa: A management perspective

Victor S. Mogajane, Engelina du Plessis, Elmarie Slabbert
Acta Commercii | Vol 19, No 1 | a633 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v19i1.633 | © 2019 Victor Mogajane, Engelina du Plessis, Elmarie Slabbert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 April 2018 | Published: 04 April 2019

About the author(s)

Victor S. Mogajane, School of Tourism Management, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Engelina du Plessis, Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society, School for Tourism Management, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Elmarie Slabbert, Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society, School for Tourism Management, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: This study investigates and analyses the perceptions of soccer club managers based on spectators’ loyalty factors, values and challenges concerning soccer clubs in South Africa.

Research purpose: These results could assist managers of soccer clubs to be able to manage these aspects in order to sustain a competitive advantage.

Motivation for the study: This study could contribute to deeper insight into the role of spectators’ loyalty, value and how it could contribute to the development of soccer partnerships in South Africa.

Research design, approach and method: In the case of this study, qualitative research was done to obtain relevant information from the senior management of the nine clubs with regard to the aspects of loyalty, the role of spectators within the clubs and the challenges faced by club managers to gain loyal spectators. During face-to-face interviews, the senior management were assured that their answers are confidential and would be used for the purpose of this study as a means of ensuring trustworthiness and qualitativeness. Selecting these people was based on their relevance for the study and their status in the senior management. Each club session interview took one and a half hours at a central location convenient for respondents. The same researcher was present during each of the club’s meetings to keep data accurate and consistent. Notes were taken and all sessions were recorded. Respondents in the interview were informed about the aims and procedures of the study.

Main findings: The value of spectators to soccer clubs in South Africa was identified to be commercial value, partnerships value, marketing value and spiritual shareholders value. Marketers need to be aware of their spectators’ needs in order to build the relationship and should focus on commitment, customer satisfaction and customer retention as well as trust and brand identification aspects when developing marketing strategies.

Practical/managerial implications: The challenges faced by managers to sustain loyalty to their clubs were identified as absence of heroes, economic climate, safety and security, marketing and public relations. Managers of clubs need to develop their clubs to surpass their current levels of loyal membership and supporters and establish the brand identity of their clubs to increase the satisfaction of their current spectators and to earn more club money for the players.

Contribution/value-add: As stated above, this study focused on assessing the importance of spectators with regard to soccer clubs in South Africa from a management perspective, which could be utilised to gain competitive advantage.


Keywords

challenges; loyalty; soccer; South Africa; spectators; sport; value

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