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>Blog >YouGov FootballIndex: The brand health of top Italian and European Clubs after the first half of the 2023-24 Season

YouGov FootballIndex: The brand health of top Italian and European Clubs after the first half of the 2023-24 Season


Last week saw the end of the first leg of the 2023-2024 Serie A, a moment usually associated with mid-year evaluations. To see what the current situation is, here at YouGov Sport we have taken a look at the brand health of Italian top clubs, in Italy as well as in other relevant markets (i.e. USA and China), comparing them to their national and international rivals, and tracking the evolution since last year. For this kind of analysis, we have used FootballIndex, a YouGov proprietary tool that is unique in the landscape of market research.

Italy’s ranking sees Real Madrid on top, followed by Inter Milan, AC Milan, Juventus and Napoli

Italian football fans are into their national teams – Italian clubs fill four of the top 5 FootballIndex spots. However, the ranking’s leader is a non-Italian team, Real Madrid. Following the Spanish giants are Inter Milan, which gained two positions since last year thanks to the Champions League final and the great first half of the current season, then AC Milan, confirming their presence on the podium, Juventus, rising back after the drop they had last year (when they were 8th in the ranking), and Napoli, losing points after the past season peaked with the Scudetto.

Among the top 15 we also find many international top clubs such as FC Barcelona, FC Bayern, PSG and the main English clubs. Only two other Italian teams appear in the list: AS Roma at 9th and ACF Fiorentina at 15th, the latter being significantly higher than last year’s 22nd position, now right behind Arsenal FC.

USA ranking: the power of the Premier League

Turning to the United States, Real Madrid reaffirms itself as the club with the strongest brand perception. But another insight emerges when looking at the rest of the ranking, namely the power of the Premier League, whose teams appear in all positions from 2nd to 7th, except for FC Barcelona’s 3rd spot. Only three Italian clubs appear among the top 15: AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus, respectively 9th, 10th and 14th.

Despite the apparent gap, there is good news: a large margin for growth. In fact, FootballIndex score of all clubs in the list is significantly higher than last year, meaning that football is developing strongly in North America, and there is a lot of potential. Therefore, teams switching positions depends solely on who has grown more: while AC Milan and Juventus have remained stable, Inter Milan has gained 2 positions.

Ranking in China: three Italian clubs among the top 7, AC Milan 2nd

The Chinese market gives interesting signals to Italian football. In its FootballIndex ranking, three Italian clubs appear in the first seven spots, with AC Milan being 2nd, Inter Milan 4th, and Juventus 7th. These results seem to suggest that Chinese football fans are more interested in the Serie A rather than the Premier League, whose teams appear starting from the 5th position. Among the top 15 there is also AS Roma, 14th, same as one year ago.

The brand image of the top 3 Italian clubs in detail

YouGov FootballIndex allows us to dig further into the aspects that build the strength of a football brand. The brand health index and rankings displayed above are the result of six different KPIs regarding the perception of the clubs: having likeable players and coaches, management quality, fan culture, club’s tradition, playing an attractive style of football, and the current success of the team.

The three graphs below show how the different KPIs affect the overall brand health of the top three Italian clubs in Italy, the United States and China.

Analysing the data in the Italian market, we can see that Inter Milan’s perception owes much to its results on the pitch, having higher “Success” and “Attractive Football” scores than its rivals. Regarding the club’s management and the appreciation of players and coaches, also AC Milan shows good scores, being aligned with their city counterpart. On the other hand, the Rossoneri appear alone on top in terms of “Fan Culture”. Different story for the KPI “Tradition”, where the team with the top score is Juventus, a little bit higher than AC Milan.

Moving to the US market, the same KPIs show significantly lower scores and with a totally different shape. In this case, AC Milan is quite aligned with Inter Milan on “Success”, “Attractive Football”, “Players and Coaches” and “Management”. The main difference between the two clubs’ perception is a result of the remaining two metrics, “Fan Culture” and “Tradition”, with American fans preferring AC Milan on both. Moving to Juventus, the Vecchia Signora displays lower scores than the two Milanese teams on all KPIs, possibly because of its relatively weaker results over the last 2 years, during which the interest in football has increased significantly in the US.

In China, it is easier to analyse the situation. In this market, all the top three Italian clubs present higher values in all the metrics (as mentioned above, they all appear in the top 7 positions in the ranking), and they have well-defined brand perceptions. The undisputed leader is AC Milan, that has the highest scores on all KPIs. At the same time, Inter Milan is second on every KPI, while Juventus is third. It can thus be argued that Chinese fans tend not to have different perceptions on different metrics; rather, clubs’ overall image is reflected on every dimensions it is made of.

Methodology: surveys made on YouGov’s proprietary panel, through CAWI method, on a sample of 5500 respondents in Italy, 4200 in USA, 1500 in China, representative of the national population aged 18+ in terms of age, gender and region. In China the sample represents the population with access to internet. Note: SSC Napoli is not included in the surveys in USA and China, in which surveys include a selection of 30-40 clubs that are relevant for the market (including local teams).