|Vietnamese fans of Manchester City pose for a photo at an official event. Photo saostar.vn|
As a little bit of a nerd, lies, damned lies, and statistics is not a philosophy I subscribe to.
Statistics, in complete context, can offer deep insights into anything and football is no exception, even if I’m not a full-fledged convert to the expected goals revolution.
So you can imagine how giddy I was when I stumbled across a whitepaper that included a survey looking into how Vietnamese football fans follow the game.
Hanoi-based content marketing agency We Create Content put out the ‘Football in Vietnam: The Time is Now’ report late last week, packed full of insights and opinions on the commercial opportunities available in Vietnamese football.
The report includes insights on the opportunities available for brands to tap into the rabid Vietnamese fandom and a roundtable of the future of the V.League, but it was the survey results that I found most revealing.
The survey, conducted alongside The Method Research, was carried out on more than 500 football fans in Hà Nội and HCM City.
Unsurprisingly, the V.League was comfortably behind the English Premier League and the Champions League in popularity among fans as only 58.6 per cent of fans said it was a competition they watched.
However, a deeper look at the statistics shows the opportunity the league has to grow in popularity.
Of the fans surveyed, just over 20 per cent said the V.League was the competition they watched the most, outstripped by only the Premier League.
In addition, a whopping three quarters of fans are watching four or more games a month, with 35.4 per cent watching seven games or more.
Taken together, these two statistics provide a pretty clear recommendation for the V.League: play more matches!
While the V.League doesn’t have the broad support the Premier League does, the fans that do follow clearly follow passionately, and we can safely assume the majority of them would watch more matches, if they were available.
With a full V.League 1 season coming in comfortably under 30 games per team compared to the Premier League’s bumper 38, it’s obvious that simply playing more football should have an immediate positive commercial impact on the league.
Aside from just getting eyeballs on the league, the survey also revealed that clubs should be doing a lot more in the merchandise realm.
The study found that 86.7 per cent of fans are interested in club merchandise, and despite how common fake kits are here, more than three quarters prefer official gear.
Anyone who has ever tried to buy a replica V.League kit will know how absurdly difficult it is to find one for some teams so it’s nothing new to say clubs should be doing more, but it’s still striking just how much unfulfilled demand is out there.
As is rightly pointed out a couple of times in the whitepaper, football clubs in Việt Nam don’t necessarily have the same priorities as commercial entities as those in other parts of the world do, but for those that do, statistics like these and the actions of global mega-clubs can provide a solid roadmap.
Last week, Manchester City announced the growth of their Vietnamese supporters’ clubs with a short post on their website.
A small gesture and one Pep Guardiola doubtless had nothing to do with, but it must have meant the world to the clubs mentioned and those lucky few who were pictured on the Citizen’s website.
It’s not rocket science, if clubs can just make a little more effort to show fans they matter and the league can get more matches played, we could change some of those viewing statistics the next time a survey is carried out. VNS