IPM conduct research for Manchester City Football Club



IPM have recently completed a research study exploring drivers of atmosphere at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium on match days. The work was commissioned by Manchester City Football Group, and undertaken by IPM (Dominc Medway, Steve Millington, Chloe Steadman, and Gareth Roberts), along with colleagues from other University departments, including psychology and Media.

IPM’s research strand involved a ‘netnography’ of Manchester City fans drawing upon three online forums, the social media platforms Twitter and Facebook, and audience discussions relating to online news articles. In addition, three focus groups were undertaken with Manchester City fans at the Etihad Stadium. These focus groups comprised a group of male Manchester City fans; female Manchester City fans; and a mixed gender group of fans that had never visited the club’s former stadium location at Maine Road. The findings indicated that whilst fans can recall examples of memorable and fantastic match day atmospheres at the venue, they are also able to recall many incidences in which the atmosphere has been poor or disappointing.

The research undertaken indicated that poor or problematic atmosphere can be more easily understood from the perspective of a timeline, moving from pre-match build-up (which can commence days before the match takes place) to during the match itself. Within this timeline, a series of potential atmospheric disruptions are identified, which can each hamper the build-up of atmosphere on a match day.

In order to produce recommendations for intervention by the Club, these disruptions were placed on a matrix, indicating their overall potential influence on match day atmosphere and the degree of control the football club has over them. On the basis of this matrix, recommendations and interventions for improving the atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium on match days were made.

Recommendations for interventions included those relating to regulation of fans inside the stadium, increased emphasis on enabling interactions between fans, improving accessibility of tickets, improvements to the stadium environs, and recommendations relating to addressing the ongoing issue of empty seats – particularly around kick-off time and before the final whistle.

More information on the findings of the project will be made available in due course.