Raith Rovers Football Club
Raith Rovers Football Club was founded in 1883 and has since become a legend in Scottish football. Based in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, it has a worldwide fan base. The Honorary President of the Supporters Club is lifelong fan - the Rt. Hon Gordon Brown M.P., Britain's Chancellor.
Entering the 2005/6 season, Raith Rovers FC shared the same financial Catch 22 concerns of many other community clubs across the UK. Overheads continued to rise, and income from ticket sales, club memorabilia and local business sponsorship was struggling to meet costs and leave enough funding to grow the future of the club through Youth Development initiatives. The club needed to quickly find new sources of sustainable revenue, but could not risk investing existing funds to develop them.
Spider Networks solved many of Raith Rover's concerns for the future of their youth initiatives in a matter of weeks. Under a revenue-sharing agreement, Spider and Raith Rovers launched a subscription-based interactive communications website for fans at no technology cost to the club.
The success of this new venture was immediate and prompted John Drysdale, Raith Rovers FC's commercial manager, to comment: "Rovers' fans have overwhelmingly voted for our interactive web communications and business services site with their credit cards." Its success continues to this day.
The website, a bolt-on extranet to the club's official web presence, was customised to give the look and feel of the club's official site and contains a dashboard giving access to all of Spider's interactive communications tools at the click of a mouse.
Via the extranet, subscribing fans have access to a range of personalised Internet communication tools and services. Recognising that one license model does not fit all, fans were given a choice of three levels of membership – core, budget, or premium. The core package gives daily news bulletins, access to the club diary, question time with the manager and players, and ISP services including a personalised raithrovers.net email address for life. The budget package comprises core services plus a choice of either SMS alerts or video and audio streaming services such as match highlights and post-match interviews with the manager, club officials and the players. The premium package covers all services.
In launching the new extranet, Raith Rovers FC called upon Spider's marketing and PR expertise to raise fan awareness of the new initiative and was rewarded by extensive regional radio and press coverage, as well as national press reports in targeted newspapers.
In the first two months of operation, the site surpassed all user adoption targets. By the third month, all setup costs had been re-couped and the website today continues to deliver strong financial returns.
Strong partnerships between Spider Networks, Raith Rovers FC and local businesses ensured that fans' subscription costs were more than recouped through special online deals for goods and services, and provided valued visibility to local businesses.
The site also broadened the commercial scope of the club considerably with subscriptions coming from four continents. Remote supporters particularly value SMS alerts announcing goals and breaking club news, and streaming videos such as training sessions, game highlights, and post-match interviews with the manager and players.
Spider Networks' extranet has enabled both supporters and local businesses to feel more part of the club, and has helped Raith Rovers' to focus new income on the future of the club through it's Youth Development programmes.
With Spider Networks completing all design, testing, pre-release configuration and payment processing, the initial resource impact for Raith was extremely low, and this was matched to a zero-capital commercial model, ensuring that the new site could go live without calling upon valuable capital from the club.