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Leveraging fans' global football allegiances to build domestic league support

Heath McDonald (Deakin Business School, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia)
Adam J. Karg (School of Marketing and Management, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia)
Daniel Lock (School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism, University of Technology, Sydney, Lindfield, Australia)

Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics

ISSN: 1355-5855

Article publication date: 12 January 2010




It is not uncommon for sports fans to follow multiple sports teams across different sports and even several teams across different leagues of the same sport. Whereas this might be considered a competitive situation, the purpose of this paper is to examine how interest in overseas football (soccer) leagues played a symbiotic role in the successful development of an Australian national soccer league.


Results of survey data are presented from two clubs in Australia's newly formed A‐League. Three surveys were conducted over a two year period with over 3,700 season ticket holders. Specific attention is paid to fans' previous interest and exposure to football, which is then related to attitudes and behaviour associated with the new clubs.


Interest in overseas clubs and leagues is found to be a major antecedent of interest in the Australian league. Those who follow teams in overseas leagues are more likely to be heavy consumers of the new local league than those who follow local leagues or had no prior experience. They also exhibit stronger attitudinal and behavioural loyalty, such as higher attendance and renewal rates of season tickets.

Practical implications

Recognising fan interest in multiple teams/leagues as positive involves a shift in management thinking away from a competitive to a collaborative stance. In this case, rapid adoption of new teams is encouraged by capitalising on strong interest in overseas leagues. This requires careful structuring and branding of the competition that mimicks familiar foreign leagues, while minimising unfavourable comparisons in areas like quality of play.


This study capitalises on the rare opportunity to examine foundation teams in a new national league. The findings highlight the importance and value of taking a “global” perspective to the marketing of sports, and of carefully leveraging the interest in other elite competitions to build interest in new leagues.



McDonald, H., Karg, A.J. and Lock, D. (2010), "Leveraging fans' global football allegiances to build domestic league support", Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 67-89.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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