Twitter Followers or Average Attendance?

In one of my recent articles I put forward the idea that average attendances have become less important as an indicator of a clubs level of support and potential. This is based on two things:
  1. As clubs income streams diversify attendance has become less reliable as an indicator of a clubs financial potential
  2. Attendances are subject to physical limits and therefore may not reveal the true differences in supporter bases between clubs
My view was that Twitter followers could be used as a measure for clubs wider support.
As a test of this I decided to run some simple tests of correlation using the following data:

Finance data from the 2014 Deloitte Football Finance League. This contains details of the revenues made by the top 20 revenue generating clubs in Europe, using financial information from the 2012/13 season.

Average attendances from the 2012/13 season

Current UEFA correlation coefficients

Twitter followers


UEFA coefficients:

The UEFA coefficient is in effect a ranking based upon a clubs results in European competition. Like the FIFA rankings it is based upon several years worth of results. Quite simplistically this measures a clubs success on the pitch. Taking the 20 money league clubs there is a correlation coefficient of 0.71 between a clubs number of Twitter followers and its UEFA coefficient (the maximum is either -1 or +1). This compares to 0.57 for average attendance. If we just took the top 10 money league clubs the correlation coefficient for attendance drops to just 0.34, compared to 0.69 for the number of Twitter followers.

correlation twitter 2


Looking at total revenue for the top 20 the result is much closer. For the top 20 money league clubs the correlation between total revenue and Twitter followers was 0.66 compared to 0.60 for attendances. Again looking at just the top 15 the correlation coefficient for Twitter followers rises to 0.72 while for attendance it weakens to 0.54. Looking at just the top five however, the correlation between Twitter followers and revenues becomes an even stronger 0.93, compared to 0.50 for attendances. This seems to support the point that the number of Twitter followers better captures the differential between the top
clubs who thanks to physical constraints are all likely to have similar ground capacities, yet may have very different levels of wider support and therefore earning potential.

  • Correlation twitter
  • Conclusions
  • This brief analysis shows that when compared to average attendance the number of Twitter followers appears to be strongly correlated with clubs on field success and revenue generating ability. For revenue generation more so, when looking at the handful of top clubs.In both cases – success and revenue generating – it is reasonable to assume that both are related to a clubs profile in that successful clubs attract more support, while more support should lead to more success by boosting resources such as cash revenue.
  • There are a number of issues. Firstly Twitter (and other social media platforms) have different levels of penetration in different
    geographical areas, therefore English clubs may be over-represented compared to say, Eastern European sides where Twitter is not the dominant platform. This makes the figures less comparable than attendances. Data is also less available as unlike attendances, it is not (yet) routinely recorded.This though provides a challenge to find new ways. One possibility is to use a composite social media index which works across platforms. Survey data may also prove useful in determining the extent of clubs profiles.
  • Correlation Coefficients: UEFA Coefficient
  •                          Twitter Followers       Average Attendance 12/13
    Top 20                         0.71                               0.57
    Top 15                          0.67                              0.36
    Top 10                          0.69                              0.35
    Top 5                            0.82                              0.78
  • Correlation Coefficients: Total Revenue
  •                           Twitter Followers       Average Attendance 12/13
    Top 20                           0.66                             0.60
    Top 15                            0.72                             0.54
    Top 10                            0.65                             0.77
    Top 5                              0.93                             0.50


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