We’ll Support You Evermore – Or Just Till Next Season? Uncovering the Truth About Football Fans

We’ll Support You Evermore – Or Just Till Next Season? Uncovering the Truth About Football Fans

Room G01 – Clore Management Centre,
Birkbeck College,
Torrington Square,
London WC1 7HX

Wednesday 18 th May, 6pm-8pm

Given by:

Dr Alan Tapp, Bristol Business School


The football industry is characterised by a series of assumptions about `the way things are’ and `the way things get done’ in the industry. One such assumption is that fans are endlessly, often stupidly loyal to their club. Rain or shine, through good times and bad, they will be there for their club. You can rely on them. Football fans are not ‘customers’: no one has their ashes scattered down the aisle of Tesco. This is the accepted wisdom of commercial directors who run clubs, reinforced by the media and commentators. To what extent is this assessment supported by research evidence?

In this lecture, drawing from his own recent research, Dr Alan Tapp challenges these assumptions. Notably he asserts that some football fans support more than one team. Many football fans will routinely withdraw their active support when their team does badly. Others will see football as just an ‘entertainment option’.

Alan will talk through his research projects that have tried to uncover the reality of supporter attitudes and behaviour over time – especially when their team struggles. He will investigate football media rhetoric and compare it against reality, concluding that commercial directors need to wake up to the need to better manage their supporter base, especially when the risks of on-pitch failure are high.

Dr Alan Tapp’s specialist research interest is in direct and interactive marketing, and he has undertaken projects concerned with Internet marketing in the sport, leisure and charity markets. He is the author of the UK ‘s best selling direct marketing textbook, Principles of Direct and Database Marketing, now in its second edition. The book has been translated into Hungarian and Italian, and sells in more than 15 countries world-wide. His work with direct and database marketing and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) dates back to 1987 when he worked as UK direct marketing manager responsible for high value consumers at BT. He has since worked in this subject in the IT, charity and sports markets and as a result has over 35 publications in marketing journals.

As a former international athlete (British Indoor Champion 1986), Alan has long had close links with the sports sector. For example he has advised UK Athletics on database marketing strategy; and has worked with a number of English football clubs, notably Coventry City F.C.


  • Tapp, A. (2004). `The loyalty of football fans – we’ll support you evermore?’, Journal of Database Marketing and Customer Strategy Management , Vol. 11, No. 3, 203-215.
  • Clowes, J., and Tapp, A. (2003). `Looking through the hourglass of fan segmentation. Research findings and marketing implications for live spectator sports’, International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship , 5,1.
  • Tapp A., Clowes J., (2002). `From Carefree Casuals to Football Anoraks: Segmentation possibilities for football supporters’, European Journal of Marketing , Vol. 36, No 11. November.
  • Beech, J., Chadwick, S., Tapp, A. (2000). `Emerging trends in the use of the internet – lessons from the football sector’, Qualitative Market Research , Vol 3, No. 1, February.
  • Beech, J., Chadwick, S., and Tapp, A. (2000). `Scoring with the net – the cybermarketing of English football clubs’, Electronic Markets: the International Journal of Electronic Commerce & Business Media , Vol.10, No.3.
  • Tapp, A. and Clowes J. (1999). `The role of database marketing in football clubs: A case study of Coventry City F.C’, Journal of Database Marketing ; Vol. 6, No.4.

For further details contact:


Sean Hamil 
Football Governance Research Centre

E.mail: / Tel: 020-7631 6763

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