Salford City: The most interesting football proposition for brands this summer?

Salford City continued their meteoric rise on Saturday by winning promotion to the Football League for the first time in their history. The Manchester-based club came out 3-0 victors against an inferior AFC Fylde side at Wembley in the National League play-off final, which secured their place in the fourth tier of English football.

Salford’s rise up the football pyramid should be an inspiration for all English clubs lower down the divisions, but it also presents an interesting opportunity for brands to get involved. The club have issued a statement of intent to the rest of the league; and organisations can share their pursuit of success.

Whilst they’ve only just arrived on the Football League scene, Salford have been subject to relentless media attention since they were taken over by the ‘Class of 92’ in 2014. David Beckham also declared his interest in the club by buying up 10% earlier this year, joining forces with Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and the Neville brothers.

Yet, despite the coverage, Salford are still climbing the commercial ladder.

Clearly forming a partnership with the Ammies would hardly reap the same scale of benefits as teaming up with a Premier League club, but having said that, they’re arguably better positioned than any other League Two club.

Partnering with Salford gives brands direct access to the club’s shareholders, who have a significant influence on football industry – something which should not be underestimated. It’s nothing new to suggest that sporting icons offer partner brands the opportunity to optimise their appeal by incorporating popular names into content marketing strategies, but using the global status of the ‘Class of 92’ as a vehicle to drive fan engagement is a strategy that could see a brand reach enormous audiences. And that’s certainly not something brands are usually able to achieve by partnering with a club in English football’s fourth tier.

In a The Set Pieces article from December last year, Charlotte Tattersall, the club’s official photographer, said, “More people have become aware of the area through all the media and TV exposure that Salford now get. We’re probably the most well-known non-league club, whether people like it or not.”

Following Beckham’s arrival into the fold, Gary Neville told the Press Association, “What he brings is his international experience, obviously playing and now he’s got an ownership over in Miami.” Does this hint that the ambition is look further beyond the standard partnerships that Football League clubs can generate in the hope of achieving worldwide recognition, too? Salford clearly have the potential to garner a significantly larger audience than the similar size of clubs surrounding them.

Salford have acquired 139k followers on Instagram, which is over four times the number of the second largest League Two club, Northampton Town (27.9k). Just on that basis, the audience Salford have engaged right now are incomparable to rival clubs in the same division, without even addressing the global potential. Brands have endless opportunities to penetrate Salford’s growing fan base.

Yet despite the pursuit of global success, the side based in Moor Lane have certainly achieved their ambition of “engaging the local community”. They have already increased their stadium capacity from 1,400 to over 5,000 supporters in order to accommodate growing demand. Local brands are constantly benefitting from the surge of interest in the club; Vimto have been hosting half-time entertainment, and Seven Bro7hers became involved when the brewery was invited to cater for their FA Cup 2nd round game last year.

While these brands can be considered to have a more local appeal than those that Salford might be looking to attract in near future, their storm of the Football League will made increased exposure possible for almost any brand. The club’s promotion will mean greater publicity than even the fabled ‘Class of 92’ have been able to create thus far, and both local and global brands could be looking to take advantage.

Snack Media owns an audience of 26m football fans and the largest audience site dedicated to the English Football League. If you’re interested in reaching Football League World’s audience of Football League fans ahead of the new season in August, contact Calum@Snack-Media.com or call 020 7272 7582.

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