The View From Africa: The rise and rise of Yanga FC: A Tanzanian football powerhouse
June 1, 2023
In this View From column Cynthia Mumbo, Founder and CEO Sports Connect Africa, shines a light on the story behind Yanga FC, a shining example of Africa’s potential.
Yanga Football Club (Yanga FC) has emerged as a dominant force in Tanzanian football, captivating fans both at home and abroad. Yanga FC is a shining example of African football’s potential, with a rich history, remarkable commercial growth, passionate fan engagement, and strong governance. This article delves into the club’s history, highlighting its commercial success, fan engagement strategies, strong governance, key partnerships, recent accomplishments, and innovative ownership model.
History and Commercial Growth:
Yanga FC was founded in 1935 and has a nearly nine-decade history. The club has seen significant commercial growth over the years, securing sponsorship deals, expanding merchandise lines, and leveraging its brand to attract investments. Yanga FC’s financial stability and marketability have been aided by partnerships with brands such as Azam Media Group, Vodacom Tanzania, Kilimanjaro Premium Lager, SportPesa, and Haier. The recent historic agreement with LaLiga and Sevilla FC raises the club’s commercial value even further, opening the door to global sponsorships and investments.
Innovative Ownership Model:
Yanga FC’s ownership structure was altered in order to involve the public and increase fan engagement. Under the leadership of current chairperson Hersi and his team, the club adopted a model in which it became 51% publicly owned and 49% privately owned. In phase two, they formed Young Africans Sports Company, which has a 51% public and 49% private board. This approach provided fans with a voice and a financial stake in the club’s success, as well as an opportunity for external investors to invest in the club.
Fan Engagement Model:
Yanga FC created a fan engagement model in which fans could register and pay registration fees. This model aimed to ensure that the club’s financial fortunes were no longer dependent on a single individual, but rather shared collectively among the fans. The establishment of a limited company composed of representatives from the club’s investors and fan groups increased the fans’ influence in decision-making processes.
Yanga FC’s dedication to fan engagement extends beyond traditional methods and into innovative strategies that captivate their fans. One notable example is their recent fan engagement campaign, which took place during their incredible journey to the CAF Confederation Cup Finals. The club launched an interactive campaign in which fans could purchase tokens using a mobile USSD code. Fans who purchased these tokens were entered into a drawing for a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to South Africa to watch Yanga FC’s semi-final match against Marumo Gallants.
This fan engagement campaign served several functions. For starters, it increased fan excitement and involvement, strengthening their bond with the club and the journey to the finals. Second, it used a microtransaction model, in which fans made small purchases to enter the draw, resulting in revenue for the club. This strategy demonstrated Yanga FC’s innovative thinking and ability to use technology to engage fans while also developing a sustainable financial model.
Yanga FC successfully encouraged their fans to actively support the club while generating additional revenue streams by combining the allure of a prize and the thrill of participating in a high-stakes competition. This strategy not only strengthened the club’s bond with its fans, but it also demonstrated the potential for innovative fan engagement strategies to drive financial success.
Financial Success and Expansion:
Yanga FC’s fan engagement strategy has been a resounding success. Today, the club has up to 900 branches throughout Tanzania, with fully paid-up subscribers contributing to the financial stability of the club. Yanga FC has generated significant revenue through registration fees, membership fees, the sale of membership cards, partnerships, media rights partnerships, ticketing (their games are almost always sold out) and merchandise sales.
Yanga FC’s rise and rise demonstrate the potential and resilience of African football. With their commercial growth, fan engagement strategies, strong governance, key partnerships, and recent accomplishments, Yanga FC has positioned itself as a leading Tanzanian football club with global recognition. The innovative ownership model that involves the public and empowers fans has transformed the club’s financial landscape, ensuring a more sustainable and inclusive future. The success of Yanga FC serves as an inspiration for other African clubs, encouraging them to explore similar models and embrace fan engagement as a pathway to success.