The concept of a ‘fan zone’ or ‘fan village’ has been around for some time. Traditionally, this type of dedicated fan area would have been a temporary structure, created specifically to mark a high profile event within the sporting calendar.

The zone itself would commonly be hosted within a city centre location, or other appropriate nearby space, outside of the stadium or sports ground hosting the event.

For example, in the summer of 2017:

  • A three-day Try Rugby ‘fan village’ was set up in Edinburgh to create a central hub in which fans could celebrate finals weekend
  • A Big Spanish Cardiff fiesta was held in Cardiff in for over-18s in honour of the Champions League Final
  • FC Barcelona opened a fan zone in Madrid offering a meeting point for the build-up to the Copa del Rey final

However, in recent years the potential benefits of such zones have started to be fully recognised, particularly by football clubs.

Fan zones have started popping up all over the UK, coming in all shapes and sizes. This influx has seen the construction and promotion of many permanent fan zones, formed within stadium grounds. While most clubs offered a full range of hospitality services for fans before, the formation of a fan zone has allowed them to create a dedicated and unified area, often enhanced with additional forms of live entertainment and other family-friendly activities.

But what’s driving this trend?

When you consider the potential benefits, it’s easy to see why the introduction of fan zones is on the rise: What is a fan zone and why are sports clubs investing so heavily in them?

So, what action have clubs been taking in this area?

We’ve taken a closer look at some of the trailblazers – many of which it has been our privilege to work with. For more inspiration or advice on creating your own fan zone, check out the ‘Fan zones section of our website, or call the Rapid Retail team on 01386 555044.

Manchester City FC

At Manchester City’s home ground, City Square opens two and half hours before kick-off. It boasts three large screens and a main stage, along with the Summerbee Bar and family friendly Blue Moon Café.

Every week, at least one up and coming band or musical act gives a live performance. Capital FM’s DJ Wingman is also on the decks, while resident comedian, Mike ‘Squeaky’ McClean entertains the fans with competitions and interactive games to win exclusive prizes.

City Square closes 15 minutes before kick-off but reopens at the final whistle, when it hosts its very own post-match analysis in a ‘Match of the Day’ style.

Liverpool FC

Opening four hours before kick-off, Liverpool FC’s fan zones have been designed as a place for supporters to meet before the game, to soak up the atmosphere of the pre-match build up. They offer entertainment and activities for all the family, along with stalls for food, drink and shopping.

We’re proud to say that a number of our Rapid Retail units have taken pride of place in Liverpool’s fan zones – for more details, see ‘Liverpool FC kicks off expansion with four new Rapid Retail units

Crystal Palace

Following its opening in August 2017, the Fanzone at Selhurst Park has been offering something special to fans young and old. Inside the dedicated zone, located outside the Main Stand reception, fans can grab something to eat and drink, including food freshly prepared on an open-air BBQ. A large seating area is in place in front of the main stage and big screen, which hosts live acts as well as appearances by Crystal Palace mascots, Pete and Alice.

A special section for young fans offers a ‘Fastest Shot’ machine, EA game station, and a Class Room style area with a range of activities for youngsters to take part in and chances to win Palace prizes.

Ipswich Town

Bars, live music, food and kids’ entertainment is on offer at the Ipswich Town Fanzone. Opening three hours before kick-off and situated on the fieldturf, the zone is free to entry for all fans with a ticket or match ticket, as well as club members.

The zone offers a variety of entertainment in the lead up to kick-off. There are bars stocking a range of beers, with the latest news and live matches shown on giant TV screens. Traditional matchday food outlets are available, while fans are entertained by live music. And for younger fans, there are bouncy castles and other fun activities.

For more details, see: ‘Fan experience is the focus for Ipswich Town Football Club’

AS Roma

The AS Roma Fan Zone is an entertainment area designed for families at Giallorossi home games, inside the Stadio Olimpico.

Ahead of every home game, children, parents and fans can play each other at table football, or take part in a range of other football-related activities. This includes an inflatable penalty shoot out, honing skills with top corner shots, street soccer pool and jumbo target practice. There is also music, face painting and demonstrations by Roma’s football freestylers.

You may also be interested in:

fan zone guide to creating a fan zone

Further reading:

For over a decade, Rapid Retail has been working with retailers, brands and sports clubs across the UK and Europe.  For an informal chat or more information, check out Fan Zones, view our gallery, or call the team at Rapid Retail on 01386 555044.