The Euros and Copa América may be an excellent way to drive more people into pubs in June and July, but they can also serve as the foundation of a new patronage long term.

Last year’s postponement of both the UEFA Euro 2020 (Euros) and Copa América (Copa) is a boon for live football fixtures this year, as both tournaments are set to run over June and early July. Both tournaments have rich histories and are exceedingly popular, with the Euros being the third most-watched sporting event in the world after the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics; while Copa is the oldest international football competition, having been founded in 1916.

The upcoming tournaments are another major opportunity for pub venues to leverage when it comes to getting patrons into the venue, both for short- and long-term strategies. These football tournaments are a sure-fire way to get bums on seats over the quieter winter months, but – played right – they can also be used to create an additional set of regular patrons based around football fandom.

Wall-to-wall coverage

Both tournaments are being broadcast by Optus Sport, and while both events are being held on similar dates – the Euros are running 11 June to 11 July; Copa from 13 June to 10 July – their timing is pretty convenient for the Australian viewer and venue.

“For the viewer it’s almost perfect for the fact that whilst the European time zone aligns with our night, overnight and early morning, South America aligns with Australia a little bit later in the day, so on some of our match days we’ll be live with our pre-game coverage from 9pm AEST, all the way through effectively to lunch time the next day, because once the Euros wrap up in the morning we go live to South America for up to a few games every match day morning as well,” explains Optus Sport’s director of sport Richard Bayliss.

“So it actually works perfectly in that one leads into the other. So if you thought at breakfast time you’d had your fill of football, think again because after that we’ll see Neymar and Messi going at it.”

The spread throughout the day is also a gift for pubs, as they can capitalise on both the mid-morning-to-lunch trade with Copa, while the Euros can add to trade from dinner until closing. And for the first time, Optus Sport will have live football fixtures in three different time zones, as they J1 League will be running concurrently.

“So we’ll have football running in Australian prime-time, full overnight fixtures for your European football, and then morning games in South America. We’ll be tired by the end of it, but the viewers will get their fill,” states Bayliss.

The short- and long-term strategies

In support of venues broadcasting the tournament, Optus sport is creating a range of marketing and in-venue collateral and promotions to help venues get football fans in the door for both tournaments. These include everything from posters, coasters, table cards, and trackable draws that venues can mark off the progress of the tournaments; as well as digital assets for social media and in-venue promotion. The broadcaster will also work with venues on more tailored activations to start getting the word out about the events from as early as mid-May.

Long-term, Optus Sport’s commercial venues manager Scott Davoren, sees the two tournaments as a foundation from which venues can build a sustained football fan base within their venues in the same way they have for other sporting codes. They can also be leveraged to build relationships with local grassroots football teams.

“From my experience, it’s been a long time since grassroots football clubs know that XYZ pub is the home of Liverpool fans etc. So using events like the Euros can be almost like a ‘Big Bang’ for venues to go out to new and past patrons that are football fans and let them know they are looking to build their football presence and support again – not just for the professional leagues but for their grassroots teams as well,” explains Davoren.

And while venues may look to build that long-term football presence or identity, it does not have to come at the expense of other codes like AFL or NRL. Football fans can add to your patronage, rather than replace your existing set of patrons.

So while the Euros and Copa might make for an exciting six weeks, leveraging them in the right way can have positive outcomes for trade for far longer than that.

This is an excerpt from an article originally published in the May issue of Australian Hotelier. You can read the full article below.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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