Keeping fans online

Zoe Broome looks at the internet’s role in fan participation…

Connected: How the Internet is helping keep fans in touch

Growing up in the nineties and the early part of the last decade in a medium-sized Yorkshire town with a sizeable Scottish population, there were, for me, two realistic options in terms of following Scottish football. These were Sky Sports and the local supporter’s club.
Of course, as supporters of ten teams in the SPL will tell you: Sky Sports favours the Old Firm strongly over other clubs in the league. While this doesn’t provide a problem to me as a fan, it is of detriment to the league of a whole. And, of course, even the old Firm are kept off the screen if there is an English Premier game to be seen.

The web, changing the face of the game?

The other alternative was the local supporters’ club: serving one half of the Old Firm. Its atmosphere was relatively unwelcoming to those who were different, even if you happened to support the same team: it was a drinking establishment for men rather than somewhere for families to appreciate the game.
Still, I dug my heel in and supported  my club. Why not? After all, we were a competitive European side with good players. That hostility was something which needed to be challenged and the silence was something that needed patience.
Still, whenever I (like most kids) demanded the latest merchandise: the bedroom in the right colours and the up-to-the-minute strip, I relied on relatives from further north to buy them. Only one Scottish club had any merchandise sold in the town and, at that, their stock was limited. And the only news available was the matches themselves and the typical banter of the playground. Everything else that I read had to be bought from further north.

When I last went back, there were books from both Old Firm clubs in the shops. What changed? Certainly not success on the pitch, and not the town’s demographics either: the local fans buying these books were still a minority. It was the internet: more available than ever before and with its superfast speeds that had changed things. It had meant that people ordered such books on Amazon and questioned why they weren’t available in the shops: money talks and the local bookstores started supplying demand.
Now, although the relative ease of supporting one Glasgow side over the other or the Old Firm over other clubs remains, it is all a lot easier. We have internet forums, blogs, social media and official websites. Want the latest strip? Every club have their online superstores. Want to check out the match stats? Google. Want to see a classic goal? It’s already available on YouTube. What challenged the monopoly? You’re on it now: the internet. And it has taken less than a decade in doing this.

Find Zoe Broome on Twitter – @zbwriter

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2 Responses to Keeping fans online

  1. Pingback: Connected; The internet and football « The Commentary Box

  2. Paul Barnes says:

    Nice piece Zoe.

    I’m impressed at your refusal to name which side of the Old Firm you support! You’ll make an excellent journalist 🙂 !

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