Past. Present. Future. Football Museums Are Timeless. – IFBI.Brussels

Past. Present. Future.
Football Museums Are Timeless.

“Preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present over a mutual concern for the future”

Football clubs are dealing with a prodigious quest to keep looking for new ways to generate revenue. When willing to generate more income via alternative revenue streams, exploring the possibilities of increasing non-match day revenues is indispensable. This blog post explores the commercial exploitation of Football Museums as a potential -alternative- source of revenue.

The relationship between football and mass media intensified in the last decennium. Therefore football can be seen as one of many sub-industries devoted to entertainment. Olivier Jarosz, Konstantin Kornakov and Prof. Sten Söderman emphasised in the ECA Club Management Guide that “football’s popularity became apparent in terms of its strong appeal as a spectator sport due to the strong symbiotic relationship that football retains with the mass media.” It is clear that football has turned into an industry that aims to bring entertainment to everybody with a passion for the game … and, this as often as possible.

Entertainment -in football terms- covers more ground than watching a game or attending a fan day of your favorite club. Development of the stadium and the club as a venue that can be set to daily commercial use, is the way to go. Herein, there are no limits on what a club can do. Focusing on their history and the history of the game can be a part of their own development. This is where a Football Club Museum enters the gate of the stadium.

The National Football Museum in Manchester is a true masterpiece. With a keen eye for detail, Dr Kevin Moore -former director of the National Football Museum and guest lecturer at IFBI- and his team worked on creating the ultimate football experience outside a stadium. Together with the FIFA World Football Museum, probably the best there is. But, how about the approach of football clubs in terms of portraying their own heritage? We can say that there is a significant variety in approach, and that is an understatement.

F.C. Barcelona is not only winning on the pitch but they are also collecting victories off it, as their museum is attracting more and more visitors. In the 2016/17 season, the Blaugrana museum welcomed visitor number 30.000.000, and was able to welcome -for the second consecutive year- more than 1.8 million visitors. This puts them on top of the to do list of the Department of Culture of the Government of Catalonia. It is not surprising that the museum has been taken up in the business plan of the club. Together with the increase in attendance at the stadium and an increase in revenue from the Camp Nou hospitality services, the 20 million EURO generated by the Stadium and Museum Tour played an important role in the increased commercial revenue of 10% in comparison to the previous season.

Apart from the simple strategy of not having a museum, there are numerous examples of football clubs which a have chosen to engage fans through presenting their heritage, but without updating the museum to modern standards. Two club museums I have recently encountered can -in my opinion- do better: Manchester United and Liverpool FC. Although their great history, both museums did not lit my fire. These two giants in European football have an extremely rich history, and therefore they need to raise the bar to a new height. The potential of those two clubs regarding further commercial development of their museum is boundless. By modernising the way they showcase their heritage, and by making the way customers get in contact with the displayed objects more interactive, visitors will get a better grip on the overall story line.

How avoiding these pitfalls? Benchmarking. When comparing one's business processes and performance metrics to industry bests, it is possible to determine certain characteristics which make a museum into a great experience:

  • Tell a story, and make the objects fit the storyline
  • A clear navigation throughout the museum
  • Inspire visitors through interactivity; “tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”
  • Make sure the exhibition is accessible to everyone
  • Use modern technologies to give an extra dimension to the portrayed objects
  • Create a temporary exhibition to attract fans multiple times
  • Merchandising
  • Do not overdo it

My personal opinion on how it should be done? Maybe a bit unexpected, but here you go: Ferencvaros T.C. in Hungary. The Fradi museum is located in the Groupama Arena near to the city centre of Budapest. Although space is limited, you find yourself sucked into the culture of the green eagles. Due to the limitation in terms of surface, the architect needed to break down the exhibition in different areas. The clear structure enables the visitor to get a hold on everything the museum has to offer, and by using new technologies visitors are engaged in a large extent throughout the entire visit. And, last but not least, while we visited the museum -as part of our Experience Tour to Hungary- a temporary exhibition on women’s football was under construction. Already looking forward to going back!

Want to discover these best practices in the world of football museums? Keep an eye on our Social Media Platforms as we give our participants the possibility to visit the described museums during our Experience Tours. Or even better, join IFBI and discover everything yourself! More questions about this topic, or interested in joining IFBI?


Martijn Ernest
0032 494 38 51 50