Fanbase Founder Alasdair Crawley: Providing a new experience for fans

How would you describe Fanbase to someone who is just hearing about it for the first time?

We set up Fanbase because we saw a lot of clubs had a lot of challenges when it came to adopting digital technologies. Engaging with fans beyond the old punters that would come down and pay cash or take the ticket stub out their season pass that they would buy every year. There’s a load of revenue left on the table and fans felt disconnected from the club.

We did a lot of research, all the way up to Premier League clubs in Scotland and we found the same outcome which was revenue left on the table and fans feeling as though they aren’t recognised by the clubs. That’s where we started from.

Our vision with fanbase is to help clubs of every level, top level or clubs like Linlithgow Rose, to have a platform that can help them connect with that fan on a very meaningful basis and launch technology solutions like, digital ticketing or subscriptions that link everything together so it’s easy to use.

Were you surprised by the fact that something like this wasn’t already available to fans?

We were shocked when we looked at it. If you look at what’s available on Spotify, at the click of the button you can listen to any song you dreamed of, with Amazon you can get anything delivered to your front door. Then you get into the world of sport and it’s like going back 25 years across the board. Some clubs do really, really well but the vast majority just weren’t. So it was a real shock when we started doing the research and picking away at clubs and there was a vast emptiness of digital technology.

What is the big thing that clubs can gain from joining up with the app?

So the big thing we’re bringing is we’ve invested all the effort into making the platform what it is today. Straight away a club from any level rather than thinking Oh my God if I wanted an app I’m going to have to spend £10,000 and that’ll get you news and maybe a couple of other things, another £20,000 you may get ticketing added on to that, another £50,000 you’ll be able to link that all in a database; Within a week a club can get all that available to them for peanuts, we just charge commission. They can run a contactless stadium, thinking about next season for when fans are back, they will be able to understand who’s coming to their games. Clubs will be able to see who’s coming, who’s not coming, what are people buying, what aren’t they buying, are they really engaged, are they not that engaged. They can start to think about good strategies, that we can help them with, to progress everyone. It’s a big sales and marketing platform with all the necessary infrastructure of GDPR and all the regulatory things.

What clubs have joined up so far?

We’ve had clubs from across different leagues. We’ve had Elgin City, Annan Athletic are the ones we’re really excited about, Brora, Keith, Clach, Buckie, Bo’ness, Berwick, Gretna and quite a few others in the Lowland League, then all the way down to eastern super league so the likes of Carnoustie and we are talking to some Championship teams. It’s a really broad spectrum but that’s the beauty. We switch it on for Carnoustie and they’re going to have really high capability to do what they want to do; but switch it on for a Championship club they might want things like allocated seating and more software for their hospitality but broadly speaking the capability is going to be there or there abouts.

You mentioned a subscription service before, can you just explain to me how that works?

We’ve got a something called a super season pass which means you can go to all the games, get priority access, get all the benefits and you also some discounts and those sorts of things, it’s not just a season ticket. Then one stage down from that you need to treat that group separately, they might be able to come to a few games but they are probably going to consume way more content and they might want some discounts so that’s your next level down. Then you have your lowest tier which will people who can’t really come to games, they can only go to a couple, so give them access to a few of those. Then the free tier is for those who are just interested in the club. The goal is to get as many fans into the correct tier for them which they pay for on a monthly basis.

Do you think you’re biggest challenge is the fact that not a lot of fans or clubs are willing to change?

A lot of fans haven’t been willing to change in the past as well. A lot of our feedback was that older people aren’t going to want to buy digital tickets but that same audience during Coronavirus all made Zoom accounts. They’ve had to change their behaviour, as have everyone else. Older people are now paying with paypal, they’ve never paid with paypal in their lives. We’ve got a group of people who have seen a big behaviour shift because of this pandemic. I think it will change a massive amount of peoples view on how they interact with a sports team because they’ve had to.

I think it’s a hard task but I think we need to work with clubs who are visionary in that regard. So there are a few in Scotland that we think are really pushing the boat and we should let those guy lead. The rest in time will get there in their own way.

What is the main goal in the future for the Fanbase app?

For us what we want is to take what has been a very stressful year for sports clubs and make bringing back fans as simple and easy as possible and help to grow that club sustainably as simple as easy as possible. That’s going to be the goal continuously make it better make it easier.

We did a research study with Livingston football club, so we got Livingston fans in when we were getting started and one of the fans, who was about 55, said ‘I’ll go to Livingston ever single year, I will pay for my season ticket and I will go. But, the one thing I wish my club would do is just recognise me.’ That stuck with Mikey and I massively, we cannot get that out of our heads. So in 15 years time if that guy can come to me and say my club recognises me more than I can ever hope for and in the grand scheme of things clubs have been able to personalise the experience for fans, use technology they have never been able to use before and we’ve enabled that then that’s massive.

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