Handbook of Research on Sport and Business
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Handbook of Research on Sport and Business

Edited by Sten Söderman and Harald Dolles

This Handbook draws together top international researchers and discusses the state of the art and the future direction of research at the nexus between sport and business. It is heavily built upon choosing, applying and evaluating appropriate quantitative as well as qualitative research methods for practical advice in sport and business research.
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Chapter 19: Proposing a relationship marketing theory for sport clubs

Hans Jansson and Sten Söderman


The attendance at Wembley was approximately 87 000 people for the Champions League final 28 May 2011 between FC Barcelona and Manchester United while the television viewers were approximately 300 million (UEFA , 2011). Sports clubs must now market to fans attending a match as well as a television audience. Originally, the consumer was a live spectator but now sporting events are watched by fans across the globe. Aspects that are becoming more and more important are sponsors and advertisers (Beech and Chadwick, 2007). Concomitantly, clubs become outlets for commercial messages and through sponsorship they also get involved in the marketing systems of firms (Beech and Chadwick, 2007; Mullin et al., 2007; Shank, 2005). A major purpose of a professional elite club is, therefore, to be profitable as well as to be instrumental in sponsor and advertising firms to be profitable, otherwise the club might not survive because of the relegation principle in Europe and elsewhere when teams are transferred between divisions based on their performance that season. This chapter, though, is not focusing on the role of sponsors and fans (refer to Schlesinger, 2013 and Cornwell, 2013, both this volume) nor branding (see Ströbel and Woratschek, 2013 in this volume). Franchising in the United States is a different way of league organization and not a consequence of performance leading to relegation. In addition to earning a profit, clubs must also satisfy non-profit needs of the audience, whether it is a member’s ideals in general or more specific needs of certain member groups like supporter associations.

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