‘How does customer satisfaction and loyalty function in football fans and their relationship to their club?”
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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This investigative study sought to develop knowledge of the concepts of customer satisfaction and loyalty in the contemporary football industry. Using a mixed method case study approach, the research focused on loyalty from a fan perspective. Decreasing commitment behaviours were observed, the research suggested this was caused by changes at the club. With particular emphasis on the relationship with the owner, it is established that football fans portray loyalty traits recognised in regular consumers. This was identified in decreasing commitment behaviour, which was found to result from dissatisfaction, lack of fulfilment of expectations and feelings of disregarded value. The research also found that loyalty in this population was more complex than in regular consumer markets. Fans appeared to hold a higher sense of loyalty and control in their devotion to the club. This strong emotional commitment and sense of control exacerbated the conflict with the owner, resulting in further decrease in commitment behaviours. A greater behavioural impact of negative feelings was also observed to be most prominent in more emotionally involved fan groups, who were found to have social power and control over the loyalty of other fans. For the future success and financial stability of the club, the need for a customer orientated focus to develop loyalty was established. This focus should concentrate particularly on high loyalty fans, as they are the most profitable and influential consumers. The findings and recommendations within this study are portrayed in a model of best practice. As a result of findings, future recommendations are to research fan loyalty in the wider industry. From this, the effect of external influences of loyalty can also be established, such as changes in the industry or consumer trends in society.
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