Is football on the verge of a hidden crisis? That is the belief of Nirav Patel, CEO of embedded finance firm Andaria, who writes for Insider Sport on why football should look to the payment solution to alleviate a potential financial burden 

Football, while boasting record-breaking revenues, finds itself facing a hidden crisis. While league-wide incomes are soaring, individual clubs are struggling to keep pace with rising costs and the constant need for new streams of income. This financial pressure threatens not only the sustainability of the sport but also the cherished fan experience, which is the lifeblood of football’s passionate community.

The Premier League reported a 12% rise in overall revenues in the 2021/22 season, culminating in a record aggregate revenue of £5.5bn. Though this exemplifies the overall financial health of the league, it masks the intense competition and ever-increasing operational costs faced by individual clubs. To remain competitive, financially stable, and continue delivering unforgettable experiences to their fans, these clubs require innovative solutions.

Taking ownership to streamline operations

Embedded Finance presents a transformative opportunity for football clubs. By owning their financial ecosystem, clubs can significantly reduce reliance on third-party fees associated with traditional payment processing. This move translates to substantial cost reductions, empowering them to reinvest in areas critical to the long-term success of the club, like player development, stadium infrastructure, and fan engagement initiatives. 

Furthermore, Embedded Finance platforms offer valuable data insights into fan behaviour and their spending habits. This data can be leveraged to optimise internal operations, streamline processes, and ultimately enhance fan engagement through targeted initiatives and personalised offerings.

Restoring focus to strategic priorities 

Embedded Finance consolidates all financial activities into a single, streamlined platform. This eliminates the burden of managing multiple systems and frees up valuable back-office resources previously dedicated to repetitive tasks. 

By automating these processes and simplifying financial management, Embedded Finance empowers clubs to focus on core objectives like strengthening their competitive edge on the pitch, recruiting top talent, and forging lucrative partnerships. This shift in focus allows clubs to unlock their full potential and achieve sustainable growth.

Deepening relationships with supporters

Embedded Finance empowers clubs to move beyond traditional fan engagement strategies and cultivate deeper, more authentic connections with supporters. By offering targeted financial services such as loyalty programs, digital wallets, and exclusive payment options tailored to specific fan demographics, clubs can foster a real sense of community.

For instance, football clubs have a really passionate fan base who regularly buy tickets and merchandise. By incorporating Embedded Finance solutions, they can diversify their offerings, providing fans with access to travel and hotel deals for away matches. This streamlined approach could consolidate all transactions within a single app, facilitating seamless payments and enabling fans to accumulate loyalty points for exclusive benefits. 

This both removes any friction points around access to financial services and payment while improving the loyalty strategy, ultimately enhancing the fan experience and overall success of the team.

A renaissance for football

By offering their fans branded debit cards, clubs can gain access to a treasure trove of data regarding their spending habits and preferences, from the casuals to the more hardcore followers. This invaluable information provides clubs with unparalleled insights into the desires and behaviours of their supporters. 

Armed with this data, clubs can develop personalised campaigns, curate targeted merchandise offerings, and tailor future initiatives to resonate more deeply with their fans. This data-driven approach fosters deeper connections with supporters, strengthens the club’s brand identity, and ultimately, unlocks new revenue streams, ensuring the long-term financial health and success of the club.

The passion of football fans across the globe is a force to be reckoned with. Combining this with the transformative power of Embedded Finance unleash a number of new rewards and opportunities for clubs and fans. By embracing Embedded Finance, football clubs can enter a new era of sustainable growth and closer engagement with fans across physical and digital spaces. This will secure the future of the beautiful game both on and off the pitch.

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