Premier League clubs trail in fan engagement index

Everton and Brentford are the only current Premier League clubs to feature in the top 25 of an annual index which measures fan engagement for the 92 teams in the top flight and English Football League.

The Toffees and Bees ranked 23rd and 25th respectively for the 2021/22 season with Norwich City, now in the Championship, earning eighth place.

However Kevin Rye, the author of the The Fan Engagement Index, says too many clubs “don’t meet fairly basic standards of engagement with their fans”.

The index rates clubs based on publicly available data for their dialogue with supporters, the governance in place to reinforce a relationship with fans, and the transparency of their fan engagement processes.

Most Premier League teams rank outside the top 50. Only Brighton and Aston Villa join Everton and Brentford in the top 50, placing 44th and 47th respectively. Newcastle United and Leeds United are in the bottom four of the table.

Last year’s Premier League champions Manchester City are in 71st. Their ranking and score dropped compared with last year, as did Manchester United’s (56th), Liverpool’s (73rd), Tottenham Hotspur’s (81st) and Chelsea’s (86th).

Arsenal (62nd) are the only member of the so-called ‘big six’ to improve their ranking and score from 2020/21.

Last season Everton announced the formation of the Premier League’s first independently elected Fan Advisory Board which meets at least four times a year with the club.

On Friday the Premier League launched its own Fan Engagement Standard.

Rye said that huge change in the relationship between clubs and fans is possible.

“The Fan Engagement Index was created as a positive way to make clubs take fan engagement more seriously, with an ambition to place it at the centre of everything they do,” he added.

“I’m not convinced we’re there yet, as can be seen by too many clubs still not – publicly at least – meeting fairly basic standards of engagement with their fans.”

Exeter top again


Exeter City, who are now in League One, have finished top of the Fan Engagement Index every season since its inception in 2018/2019. They are one of three fan-owned clubs in the UK, alongside AFC Wimbledon and Newport County.

Nick Hawker, chair of the Exeter City FC Board and Supporters’ Trust, is putting their success down to their ownership model.

One way in which they engage with their fans is by hosting interviews with new signings, where fans have the chance to ask questions to the newest members of the squad.

“The fans are our shareholders,” said Hawker.

“They are the single biggest stakeholder we have, the single biggest contributor to the finances of the club.

“They uphold the ethos of the club which is to embedded into the community. We know that we get 7,000 people every week. You can’t ignore those views. They pay for our gas bills, electricity, training ground etc. You have to treat them respectfully.”

Original article published 22.03.2023 on the BBC Sport website.

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