Ahead of the group’s latest partnership within women’s football, Dean Akinjobi CEO of FootballMedia, tells us more on why he believes football needs to be a positive influence when it comes to sustainability.

InsiderSport: Can you tell us more about the deal you have just made within women’s football? 

Dean Akinjobi: The deal that Football Media has created is a three year deal between our eco friendly spring mineral water client brand, Aqua British and West Ham United Women’s team.

Aqua British provides its spring mineral water in 100% plastic free biodegradable bottles and we have created a deal for Aqua British to be the official water partner of West Ham United’s Women’s team, they will drink Aqua British, it will be served in the VIP hospitality section at the women’s ground and as part of the deal we have created a retail channel, where Aqua British will be available for sale to fans at all West Ham United Women’s team home games.  

InsiderSport: What type of initiatives and activations can we look forward to as part of the deal? 

Dean Akinjobi: Football Media is currently working on a number of strategic activations and initiatives as part of the deal, we are very keen to showcase the importance of hydration, whilst at the same time, educate fans and the wider public on the importance of sustainability in everyday life product choices that we make. 

Aqua British being an innovator in the market with its 100% plastic free biodegradable bottles and with four pence from the price of every Aqua British bottle sold going towards planting trees, we are in a strong position working with West Ham United Women’s team and Football Media’s activation network to achieve the objective of getting this essential message across.  

InsiderSport: How important is it that the football sector takes a lead when it comes to sustainability?

Dean Akinjobi: I think it is very important that the football sector takes the lead when it comes to sustainability, football clubs have huge global and local influence over fans and this can and should be used to promote sustainability through leading by example in multiple ways, from football club operations such as clean renewable energy, recyclable waste disposal and usage of eco friendly products through to partnerships with sustainable brands. 

Football clubs are often the pillar of communities, attracting thousands of fans to stadiums each week and millions of viewers on TV, OTT and social media platforms, this scale combined with the emotive connection that clubs have with their fans, places football clubs in a very strong position to take the lead when it comes to sustainability and influencing positive environmental lifestyle change.

InsiderSport: What more do you believe can be done in order to increase the efforts of football when it comes to sustainability? 

Dean Akinjobi: I think there are many things that can be done to increase the efforts of football when it comes to sustainability, I’ll give you an example of four  areas, Energy, Technology and Food & Beverage and Club Shops. 

Energy 

Over the course of a year there are thousands of football matches played around the world, football stadiums are major power consuming venues and can consume up to 25,000 KWh during a 90 minute match, the amount of power used during the 90 minutes could provide around twelve homes with energy for a year.

What football clubs can do is look at the sourcing and or implementing renewable energy sources into stadiums such as solar, wind or biomass, in a number of scenarios with renewable energy sources such as solar, there can often be times where there is a surplus of energy generated that can be sold back to the national grid, football clubs could use the revenues generated from surplus energy sold to the national grid to help to support charities focused on eliminating fuel poverty.

For example, in the UK alone around 4m households are in fuel poverty, unable to live in a warm home, out of this number there are going to be a huge percentage that are fans of a football club and the clubs could really give back to fans and the wider public in a unique way through this type of initiative. 

Food, Beverage and Club Shop

Huge volumes of drinks are sold during matches and a large number of fan merchandise is purchased from stadium’s club shops. Using plastic free cups for all fan beverage and reusable carrier bags for all club shop acquired merchandise are sustainable initiatives that clubs can seamlessly implement.  

Technology 

Moving towards a paperless environment in the stadium, the implementation of a mobile phone entry system for access to the stadium on a match day via mobile App, which can be used for in-stadium food, beverage and merchandise purchases, to help to eliminate the need for paper based match tickets and plastic membership cards. Further down the line, fingerprint and facial recognition entry systems could be implemented in stadiums, with all functionality powered by the stadiums renewable clean energy. 

InsiderSport: In terms of innovative types of sponsorships like this, do you believe entering women’s football is a more alluring prospect then the men’s game? 

Dean Akinjobi: I believe that entering women’s football has major benefits where there is a brand, product or service that has synergy with the audience, when looking at women’s football as more of an alluring prospect than the men’s game it really depends on the objectives of a brand and who the core target audience that they are trying to reach is.

Women’s football is growing and has its own core audience and men’s football is fully established along with its core audience, both can provide individual or joint channel partnership propositions for brands. Where we do see opportunities for some of our clients is where a brand enters women’s football and then also extends into the men’s team where there a synergy or diversification of their product or service. 

Historically the process has been the complete opposite, men’s football sponsors have extended their partnerships into the women’s game as an add-on opportunities that form part of the core men’s deal, however, Football Media is helping to change this narrative with some of our client sponsorships and activation activity in women’s football, which is ultimately great for the game of football itself.