Eleven’s CEO Matt Cairns looks back at the 2021-22 season, when it became more important than ever for rights-holders to connect with their local businesses.

The 2021-22 season was a vintage one. We had a fantastic title race in the Premier League, brilliant and unexpected European cup runs, and drama every single weekend.

Most importantly, though, we had crowds back in stadiums. I think we’ve all come out of the pandemic with an even greater appreciation of football, and in particular how important the sport is for communities.

As cornerstones of their communities, football clubs play a vital role in empowering local businesses and providing them with a real platform for growth. Everything we do at Eleven is set up to support rights-holders and local businesses to achieve this.

Many clubs put their local communities at the heart of their response to the pandemic, offering support to those who needed – and continue to need – it the most.

I’d like to celebrate some of the many brilliant initiatives that clubs have constructed since the start of the pandemic.

New York City FC x Mastercard

New York City FC gave back to their local business community through a groundbreaking Mastercard City Assist Contest. Sol Cacao, a small Bronx-based chocolate company, won a competition to become the first Official Small Business of NYCFC. Sol Cacao had its logo on NYCFC’s sleeves, as well as digital exposure on matchdays at the iconic Yankee Stadium and across social.

Liverpool FC x Vista

Vista and Liverpool recently joined forces to support SMEs across the city. As Liverpool’s Official Small Business Design & Marketing partner, Vista is celebrating small businesses across the local community and offering them an opportunity to see their name in lights at Anfield through in-stadium activation, as well as social content.

Chelsea FC

Chelsea’s Proud of London campaign put the club’s community at its heart, supporting local businesses recovering from the pandemic. Chelsea opened up its social channels to SMEs with London postcodes, allowing them free advertising space on matchdays, and exposure to hundreds of millions of people.

Arsenal FC

Arsenal leveraged star names from their men’s and women’s teams to help local businesses in London’s N5 and N7 postcodes. Local businesses were partnered with players to raise awareness of their brands, and they also received space across Arsenal’s social channels as well as on the big screens at the Emirates.

The final whistle

The 2021-22 season was quite the ride, and it’s a pleasure to work with every single one of the rights-holders in our portfolio, and to connect local brands to those clubs.

We’ve seen Celtic win back the Scottish Premiership title, Celtic Women become Cup double winners, London Stadium and the King Power Stadium host some wonderful European nights, Rangers taking their fans on a journey of a lifetime to the Europa League final, Sunderland deservedly winning promotion to the Championship, and of course New York City FC winning their first MLS title.

I’d like to congratulate all of the clubs we work with for keeping their fans and their communities at the heart of everything they do. We’re thrilled to play a part in helping them achieve that.