Article Sports and Entertainment

Engaging the New Generation of Football Fans: The Evolution of Fan Experiences in the Premier League

Read time: 5 min
Published: Jul 2023

Can Sports Organizations meet the Demands of Younger Fans ?

Honestly, I don’t know how I’m still married.

My wife and I are avid Fantasy Premier League players, and you’d think we’d be rooting for each other on a matchday – hoping that we both do well to climb the ranks of our respective FPL mini-leagues.

But no.

It’s competitive. Fiercely competitive.

And I’m like it with my mates as well – there’s no prize, nothing of monetary value for beating them at this game that over 12 million players globally now play on a weekly basis.

It’s just pure, unadulterated bragging rights. Picking that differential – a player no-one else has got – that brings home the points is so satisfying, that it brings to life another side of the beautiful game – especially in our household!

Interest in the Premier League’s Fantasy game has grown every year for as long as I can remember playing it – and I’m now in my 17th season.

As a Liverpool fan, I’m of course, always rooting for the Reds and want them to do well, but through FPL there’s suddenly some magic in Bournemouth vs Brighton,

For example – a game that I wouldn’t ordinarily watch, now has some interest for me, as I cross my fingers for my Brighton defender to keep a clean sheet or Solly March to bag a brace.

There’s a level of fan engagement there for the Premier League and its member clubs, that would otherwise be lost or ignored.

An experience that would otherwise not be had.

And it’s those experiences that led my wife and I to start our own FPL YouTube channel, build our audience of over 70,000+ followers and in the last few seasons, appear on the Premier League’s social channels and Sky Sports News to talk about our passive-competitive home life.

Shameless plug time – you can find us @FPLFamily on Twitter and YouTube.

Unleashing the Data Geek within

Let me also share something I wouldn’t usually share.

I’m a massive data geek.

I love numbers. Ask me to interpret a painting or compose a song and I’m struggling but ask me to calculate the xG (more on that later) of Kevin De Bruyne’s performance against Spurs and I’m all over it.

According to the research, I’m not alone. There’s a whole segment of the Premier League’s audience that are typically younger, typically more digital-native and typically more data-driven.

The propensity is high for Millennials and Gen Z to pick up their second screens during matches and engage in a very different way.

Fantasy is just one example of that – and once they’ve created their own micro-insights, they love to share, but in a very different way than the average fan used to.

The days of giving opinions in the pub with your mates is being replaced by giving data-driven, reasoned insight on Twitter and Discord.

The Quest for Engaging the New-Breed Fan

This new-age football fan lives online, their communities are online and how they appear online matters to them.

It’s where they want to interact and it’s where they want to engage – with each other and with their beloved football clubs.

The xG statistic that I mentioned earlier is an ‘Expected Goal’. With relative ease and access to the right data, I can start to quantify what I’m seeing during the match.

Salah takes a shot and misses the target – what was the expectation that he scores that goal.

  • Should he have scored?
  • Does he usually score from that position?

Whatever I think the answer maybe, I can create a narrative and can support that opinion with data. I can say something thought-provoking online that encourages engagement with my followers.

And so ultimately, we arrive to the challenge for Premier League football clubs and Sports Organisations everywhere in engaging with this new-breed of supporter – this new, younger, digital, global supporter.

Giving them experiences outside the stadium, like FPL, that they love and tell their friends about.

Arsenal’s global fan base is estimated to be around 60 million people, yet their stadium holds around 60,000 and is only used once a fortnight domestically and a handful of times this season in the Champions League.

  • How can they tap into those fans that don’t (or can’t) get to the stadium?
  • How do they inspire loyalty in the average teenage fan, based in Asia?
  • How do they build new revenue streams from the US fanbase?

Fantasy Premier League is part of the answer, but increasingly sports are looking for digitally engaging fan experiences, meeting them where they want to meet – online.

The Rise of Web3 Technologies and New Frontiers

The rise of Web3 technologies such as AR, VR, NFTs and Metaverse are a whole new ball game to many – and increasingly I’m finding there’s a hunger to know more from forward-thinking sports organisations.

New technologies and new markets are already having an impact – University Campus of Football Business now offer a BA (Hons) in eSports for example.

The times they are changing – and the sports organisations that ignore the needs of these new, emerging audiences will certainly find themselves at a disadvantage off the pitch and therefore, perhaps on it.

The Next Generation Fan: Born into a Digital World

The geek in me will never die – and I’m already noticing some of those characteristics in my son.

He’s 9 years old and as you’d expect, a top FPL player in the making!

He already knows Roblox better than I ever will and. for his birthday asked for Robux – the digital currency used within the Roblox gaming platform.

Mostly through grandparent generosity, he managed to rack up £60 worth of Robux – and had a very happy birthday. In reality, he already KNEW what he was going to buy.

New costumes, new badges, new trinkets for Roblox – NFTs of sorts – that gave him access to exclusive, in-game content. £60 disappeared in a few days of gameplay.


If Premier League clubs and sports organisations in general, are going to appeal to my son and his generation 10 years from now, they’re going to need to:

  • Work on their NFT strategy
  • Offer enriched fan experiences outside the sacred walls of the stadia
  • (Strange as it may sound now) Find a way to meet in Metaverses like Roblox

This generation will demand it – and crucially for sports teams, they will pay for it.

Stay tuned for more exciting developments as Jugo continues to innovate and harness the power of sports technology.

Talk to an expert on how Jugo can be integrated into your workplace to transform virtual meetings.

Author: Lee Bonfield
VP of Sports Partnerships

Request a demo

Take the first step on your journey to creating and delivering truly immersive virtual meetings.