Digital is a two-edged sword. Even as new platforms open up new ways for brands to engage with consumers, the expectations of those same consumers are growing faster than traditional brands can deliver, leaving space for new, more agile operators to fill the gap. No sector, including sport, is immune. "Football is now at the tipping point of disruption," according to Jon Reay of e3. "There's really big gap between what people really want and what they're getting."

He was speaking at the Festival of Marketing (London, October 2017), where he was launching Great Expectations: The Football Issue, a research report which highlights the gap faced by fans - and by players too - and explores how innovators and new technologies are helping to bridge that gap and what the opportunities are for brands to usefully partner with these disruptors.

The gap

The football experience of fans in the UK has changed significantly since the launch of the English Premier League in 1992 and the grabbing of the broadcasting rights by new satellite broadcaster Sky to show live games for the first time. Over the past 25 years, the price paid for those rights has risen exponentially, with Sky - and more recent competitors like BT Sport - able to dictate when games are played in order to reach bigger audiences, so altering the Saturday afternoon ritual for fans. Meanwhile, clubs have spent ever larger sums to attract some of the world's best players - and rather more ordinary ones - in a footballing arms race that has sometimes been less about player quality than about merchandising opportunities around the world.