July 11, 2017

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Planet Football – Strategies for International Success




Burson-Marsteller, a leading strategic communications and public relations firm, has teamed up with The WPP Sports Practice and international tour organiser Match IQ to get to the heart of this issue. We invited thought leaders in the industry to give their expert insights on how best to engage with audiences abroad. The Planet Football report highlights that football and other sports still have plenty of scope to expand their reach into new territories.

Today’s technology means that audiences are no longer limited to regions; they have access to content on a global scale. The growth of a global middle class, urban migration and increasing mobile accessibility allow sports rights owners and brands to expand far beyond their traditional base. But many have struggled to adapt to this new environment and found it difficult to identify the right path to international growth.

Significant international expansion requires new forms of engagement, new products, new markets, and often new employees or partners. Finding the right balance between the traditional and the new is no easy task for any organisation – and certainly not for stakeholders rooted in their local communities.

There is no status quo in sports

A certain tension will always be there when it comes to determining why, when, where and how international expansion should (best) take place to ensure success in the decades ahead. But how much stability and how much change is required to get the balance right? It is clear from our report that every sports organisation needs to seek change if it is ambitious. The process of international expansion is an unstoppable force and the status quo is not an option.


Premier League champions in the global game

English Premier League clubs lead the way when it comes to taking part in pre-season tours abroad aimed at expanding their international fan-base. More than half of the Premier League’s 20 teams, including Chelsea, Manchester United and Swansea City, will play overseas games during the close season, compared with only five teams from the German Bundesliga, four from the Italian Serie A and La Liga Santander (Spain) and even fewer from Ligue 1 (France). This is one of the findings of the Planet Football  report, which looks at how clubs and leagues can boost their international footprint in a highly competitive, global market.


The most popular destinations

The most popular overseas destinations for European clubs are North America and China, while markets such as Africa, South America, Indonesia and Australia are currently less successful at attracting teams. However, the potential fan base and revenues from all overseas markets are becoming increasingly relevant as clubs make winning in the global league a top priority.


There is no status quo in sports

Embracing the new realities and engaging with the new opportunities is a strategic imperative for all decision-makers in the industry. We would like to thank all contributors and organisations who helped to make this report possible. We hope that you will enjoy reading it as much as we have enjoyed researching and developing it.


The press release is available here

The executive summary can be downloaded here

The full report can be downloaded here


Media Contact:

Alexander Bielefeld, Manager, Burson-Marsteller Brussels


+32 2 743 66 11

About Burson-Marsteller:

Burson-Marsteller, established in 1953, is a leading global strategic communications and public relations firm. It provides clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, reputation and crisis management, advertising and digital strategies. The firm’s seamless worldwide network consists of 77 offices and 85 affiliate offices, together operating in 110 countries across six continents. Our integrated services in the sports sector are provided through our global network as well as TSE Consulting – a Burson Marsteller company – specialised in sport.

About Match IQ:

Match IQ acts as a consultant to more than 25 Bundesliga and European clubs as an official and long-term partner in the fields of sporting preparation, match day execution and internationalisation. Working transparently and always in the background, Match IQ’s goal is to optimise and implement the sporting preparation for the season and simultaneously create new platforms to activate unused potentials for sponsors and fans. Match IQ benefits from its international network and from new approaches to generate additional economic revenues.  The firm also works with rights holders and brands around the world in the creation, sourcing, planning and implementation of major friendly matches, tournaments, training camps and international tours while also creating unique and innovative sports marketing concepts in places like the USA, South Africa, China, and Indonesia.


About The WPP Sports Practice:

The WPP Sports Practice is the global entry point to WPP’s collective sports services and expertise. We bring Brands, Rights-Owners and Event hosts the very best of WPP’s global sports marketing and communications solutions, to help them create and exploit new opportunities in the fast-changing world of sports marketing. Supported by WPPs broader marketing and communications services, our specialist sports marketing agencies are already working with some of the world’s biggest brands, rights holders and event hosts. Delivering cutting edge services across the full communications spectrum, globally.