According to new research from True North Research, 61% of Australian sports fans are either against or undecided about a return to competition for the AFL, NRL, A-League, Super Netball and Super Rugby in 2020.
With the never-before-seen level of uncertainty and confusing across the nation’s top codes due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) global pandemic forcing almost all professional sports to suspend or cancel competitions, the results of the research show a strong divide on what fans think the leagues should do.
True North Research director, Georgie Maynard, said the research included over 1400 Australian sports fans and proves that doubt and uncertainty about whether sport will and should return this year is strong.
“Australia’s COVID-19 numbers continue to track positively compared to other countries,” Maynard said.
“However, there is still some work to be done to convince all quarters of the supporter base of the merits of a return to competition.
“From other research, we know 41 percent of Australians are pessimistic or unsure of their own future over the next 12 months.
“So, of course there’s a level of doubt or uncertainty about whether sport should return.
“For many it is a signal of a return to normal life and a much-needed distraction, but for others, it’s something that is irresponsible and even irrelevant given their own pressing needs,” she said.
Despite the uncertainty of Australian sports fans, the results showed across all codes, 88 percent of followers will be just as passionate or more passionate about these competitions next season.
“Codes should continue to foster this passion by providing engaging content and keeping the conversation going with fans,” Maynard said.
“Certain organisations will have little or no choice about whether to continue their partnership at any level, they will need to put their business and employees first,” she said, discussing what the results could mean for sponsors and broadcasters.
“But for others, they will need to consider the reputational implications of their actions.
“We know sport is about emotion, so regardless of when sports do return, sports fans will remember those who stood by their team and those who didn’t.
“They’ll forgive some, but not all, for abandoning their league or team.
“Why is that?
“Because many sports fans will be experiencing difficulties and hardship through this period and if you walk away from their team when you don’t have to, they will remember.
“On the flip side, for sponsors looking for value, there is a golden opportunity, even now, to engage fans with their story and message, and when competitions do return, those watching will be paying closer attention,” she concluded.
This research from True North is part of an ongoing study into the emotional connection to Australia’s sports teams and competitions.
The ‘BenchMark Emotional Connection Study’ results will be available in a few weeks’ time.