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Solving a break in tradition

5:28:49 31 August 2021

Manchester City’s move from Maine Road to the Etihad Stadium was designed to give the club a bigger and newer stadium, boost match day revenue, and help fulfil the club’s ambitions to challenge for English and European football’s highest honours. However, the move presented a serious problem for fans with age-old match day routines and strong emotional ties to their home ground.

FreeState was tasked with helping fans fall in love with their club’s new home and hit those higher revenue targets. As well as changing behaviour in the name of increased revenue and a cementing a better sense of identity, increasing time spent at the club presented a fantastic opportunity to make for a more diverse fan base, the extra-curricular activities designed to attract more families and young people.

Part retail, part entertainment, and entirely for Manchester City fans, we designed an experience strategy for the iconic City Square. Deliverables included:

  • A vision for a match day experience which would compel people to come earlier, spend longer time there.
  • Advising on the use of dedicated content in event and entertainment programmes to change behaviour and match day routines, including the Blue Carpet experience, allowing fans unique access to team, players and match day information.
  • An Activation Plan based on a segmented fan base, journey mapped to maximise the fan experience, and with it increase match-day ROI – increased F&B, retail spend.

Testament to the importance of research, the fact that every committed Manchester City fan accessed multiple channels to find out the team sheet on match day proved a game changing discovery. Persuading the club to publicise the team sheet only at Manchester City Square, we built the entire experience around the exclusivity of a single piece of information.

Today, 38% of Man City fans turn out to City Square on match days, while on average only 11% of fans from other teams attend their own dedicated zones. That’s approximately 20,000 people at the ground for an additional 90 minutes every match day.


Next up


A world of wonder


Piloting a new station property & public realm experience