When sponsorship causes anger: understanding negative fan reactions to postings on sports clubs’ online social media channels

Daniel Weimar, Lisa Carola Holthoff, Rui Biscaia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (SciVal)
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Research question: Fans’ perception that sponsors are a financial need illustrating the increased commercialisation in sports is not always aligned with their view of a club’s culture. This perceived imbalance represents a challenge in the online marketing strategies of sports clubs. When club managers decide on the content of online social media posts/messages related to sponsors, they should be aware of potential fan reactions. Therefore, this study analyses how sponsor-related and other online social media communication of football clubs affect fan reactions. Research methods: We analyse Facebook postings (N = 4,603) published by German first division football clubs. After classifying postings regarding their content, we regress ‘Reactions’, ‘Shares’, and ‘Angry’ reactions on the content variable and further covariates. Linear regression models, Poisson regression models, and general dominance statistics are used for exploring variance within the data. Results and Findings: Fans react considerably angrier to sponsor-related posts than to other content except for defeat-related postings. Regarding overall reactions and shares, sponsor-related posts perform worst among different contents. In addition, the content of posts is elementary to negative reactions, but of less importance to overall reaction rates. Implications: Sports managers and sponsors should be aware of the potential negative shift in reactions when using clubs’ social media channels to share sponsor-related content. We recommend releasing sponsor-related posts as videos on game days to decrease the fraction of negative responses and simultaneously maximise the overall reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-357
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Sport Management Quarterly
Issue number3
Early online date29 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022


  • Facebook
  • Football
  • Social Media
  • Sponsorship
  • Sports Fans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management


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