Difficulties in filling the stadiums: “We must reduce the investment required of the supporter”

The cross : To attract the general public, clubs have relied in recent years on digital and social networks. Has it become an essential vector?

Boris Helleu: With social networks, where clubs previously met the public once every fortnight, during matches, contact can now be made daily, with backstage, storytelling, direct exchanges with fans. For some sports organizations, which are also brands in their own right, there is the possibility of reaching a wider audience than the local or national public.

The supporter has become digital, therefore international. Aware of this issue, the clubs have relied heavily on the recruitment of dedicated teams and community managers (responsible for the animation of social networks, editor’s note), the first relays of the club’s image. A phenomenon that has continued to grow since 2010. The role of a community manager has become essential. It offers fans a new way to follow a competition or a match, through multi-screens, real-time chat, etc. A social network like Twitter is particularly suitable for sharing reactions on the spot, it is suitable for the instantaneous dimension of sporting events.

Isn’t the risk to become a supporter present only through the screens and therefore to abandon the sports arenas?

BH: The use of social networks does not prevent, in my opinion, from always being a faithful supporter present at the stadium. We’ve all gotten used to multitasking. From the stadium, you can contribute to the excitement on social networks by posting a selfie supporting your team. That’s what a lot of supporters do.

The ability to complete or not complete stages actually depends on several factors. There is the cultural argument, which consists in saying that France is not a country of sport. Not like England, for example, where the love for a club is passed down from generation to generation. There is also the quality of the offer. Today, the French championships of popular sports are less attractive in terms of quality of play. In football, for example, the English Premier League, the Spanish La Liga, the Italian Serie A and even the German Bundesliga always rank above .

How can we compete with our European neighbors and improve stadium occupancy rates?

BH: We must first reduce the investment required of the supporter to get to the stadium. It is estimated, for example, that a sporting event that lasts 90 minutes actually requires four hours for the supporter, between journeys, installation, etc. If you don’t have a level bar or an organized sense of showmanship within the enclosure, you’re not attracting. We must rethink, no doubt, access to the stadium and the relocation of the speakers on the edge of town. A stadium like that of Lyon is a good example: with convenient access and in the city center, the occupancy rate is one of the highest in France.

Today, you have a 75% fill rate with a relevant audience. The remaining 25% are people who wonder what the weather is like before going to the stadium, who the opponent is, if the price is not too high. These represent families. We can also point to the culture of the “show”, which is not very present in France. Initiatives must be thought out to attract the supporter to a real spectacle, beyond a simple sporting event.