Soccer Economy: Thrilling Fans, Enriching Promoters
The Business Is Good If Well Located And Funded
SOCCER, the round leather game, is daily expanding in prominence and relevance in Nigeria, especially among the youths and the young at heart. The popularity of the game is to be located in its glamour, huge spending, mouthwatering prize money for club owners, players and marketers.
Drawing the attention of young and old, men and women, soccer among all sports in Nigeria has the highest following.
Despite that Nigeria is a soccer-loving nation with many private and state-owned football clubs to show for it, foreign soccer leagues and championships have continued to gain huge following.
This, however, is made possible with TV franchise owners stepping up on digital satellite television broadcast into the country. With this medium viewers are encouraged to pay for subscription and have the opportunity to watch different countries’ soccer leagues and championships. Not only did this create room for more entertainment, it has provided avenue for some people to set up viewing centres and make money, showing European Premier League (EPL), the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League, Spanish, Italian and other leagues.
European soccer is big business in Nigeria. It has encouraged the spring up of viewing centres across major towns.
Taking advantage of this, Kunle Adeyemo, who runs a viewing centre alongside a restaurant, said, “the European soccer league is a big one. It promotes my business and I make good sales each time any of the big clubs are playing. Imagine, I sellout my stock and even make good money from gate takings.
“Even though, we sometimes double or triple the prices of our plate of pepper soup and bottles of beer, depending on the club playing, the time of the day and the turnout, viewers still stay to watch. On a good day, I make sales up to N500,000. Some people come to watch soccer in viewing centres because of the vibes, gist, commentaries and even curses, they get from fellow viewers. Soccer is a spectator sport; you have to be connected to the field of play to enjoy it, which is what the viewing centres are doing,” he said.
Explaining how the game has impacted his business, Adeyemo disclosed: “There is always good sales whenever Manchester United (Man U) and Chelsea are playing. Some Man U fans do come and share free drinks, they personalise the clubs and would go to any length to protect its interests.”
It is not only European clubs that are celebrated at viewing centres. Big names like David Beckam, Ronaldinho, Didier Drogba, Christian Ronaldo, Merci and others, as well as some Nigerian internationals, who play professional soccer in Europe are also celebrated. In some of the centres, viewers are seen sporting tee shirts or holding souvenirs of the clubs they are supporting. In fact, pictures of European soccer stars, replica of the various football club jerseys and souvenirs like mufflers, caps, wristbands are sold in the open markets across the country.
Disclosing how these items get to the open market, a clothier, Godwin Ikejirika, said: “We get our supplies from China. The Chinese are taking advantage of the fact that Nigeria is a soccer loving nation to supply us jerseys to sell. The market is huge and Nigerians love them.
“However, there are two types of these jerseys, the locally made ones and the ones from China. The locally made ones are of less quality and come cheap. Some of the jerseys could be between N200 and N1,000 depending on the bargaining power of the buyer, while items from China are of higher quality and could go for as high as N5,000.
“No matter the class one buys, the jerseys and souvenir business is good. Could you imagine, some people come from outside Lagos to buy these materials on weekly basis. I have been able to sustain my family just selling them. The demand for the jerseys of the big names like Manchester United, Barcelona, Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid and AC Milan is high. I make close to N50,000 monthly selling them,” he disclosed.
Stating when the demand is usually at its peak, Ikejirika noted: “We are already getting towards peak season; it’s usually from August to May of next year Since the timetable came out early in the year, the market has be opened from August 2015 to May 2016. The market is promising, because most Nigerians personalise the clubs, and as such, see the souvenirs as items to be revered.
“I must also reveal that apart from the money I make selling jerseys, I make good sales from mufflers, hand and head bands. They are cheaper, easy misplaced and also easily replaced. I sometime sell up to 1,000 pieces in a month, which is good business for me,” he said.
As the European soccer is enriching the bank accounts of jersey and souvenir sellers, printers are also keying into the business, reproducing different pictures of the various moves of notable players.
According to Nurudeen, pictures of great EPL and UEFA stars come from the Internet.
“We watch the various moves on big screen at the viewing centres and then go to the Internet to download them. If they are of low resolution we retake them and blow them to the format we want. We also reproduce them on papers, book covers and tee-shirts. Man U and Chelsea stars make good sales. The glossy large format pictures go for N500 to N3,000, while prints on ordinary newsprint could be in the neighbourhood of N150 to N2,000,” he disclosed.
Are viewing centres really rewarding? Kingsley, who operates an entertainment centre, said yes. “I charge individuals N500 per match. My centre is a cozy one with a 3D large screen TV. I sometime record 200 -300 people at a seating if it is a popular match. Imagine having this number twice a day, thrice a week; that is the type of reward that comes from it.
“I have recovered my capital. The least I have recorded in any match is 50; the business is good if well located and funded,” he said.
While some centres charge high, Adewale revealed that he charges as low as N20 for an ordinary match and N50 for the big ones.
“Despite my low gate takings I do realise enough money to run my generators, pay the boys that play the dual roles of security men and collectors. The business is good, but the operators need to be strong to withstand the squabbles that come with viewers mercurial emotions,” he noted.
For a potential investor that wants to go into the business, Olamide Akeem advises he/she to understand the terrain of the business and know how to invest.
“Study the environment, because some places are prone to crime. Some miscreants may rob and run into the centre; so one has to be very careful. Aside this, there are some category of fans to watch out for. These are the bet addicts; they are not there for the clubs, but to bet and win some money. There are also the trolls that throw jibes and indirect insults at opposing fans. There are also the die-hard, who flaunt the clubs jersey, celebrate widely if their club wins and are ready to fight if they lose.
“The other two groups are the analysts, who claim to know everything about every major European club, and of course, the Chelsea fan club; they are stereotyped, noisy and aggressive. Knowing this will help any investor to manage the different category of people and at best, know how to set off,” he said.
According to Taju Oladele, a potential investor does not need huge sum to go into it. If you must start small, get a decoder from an authorised dealer, get sets of benches and two medium size TVs, if you cannot afford the big flat screens.
“You can start it in your compound; but equip the centre to a level that viewers would want to pay. No matter how low it is, never create a shabby atmosphere and be mindful of your customers.”