An investigation into the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on event attendee motivations, with a focus on Scottish Football
Understanding the motivations of event attendees is vital for event organisers, as people have multifarious motivations for attending events. Since the COVID-19 pandemic put the world on hold, and stopped people from attending events, it has been recognised that there may be a change in the motivations of sporting event attendees. However, this has yet to be examined in the literature. With a focus on Scottish Football fans, this study sets out to examine the changes in attendee motivations going to football games, and the impact COVID-19 has had on sports fans. Because quantitative data approaches predominate in the literature of motivation, previous researchers have not treated the emotional qualities of motivations in much detail. Therefore, this research presents the work of Funk et al. (2009), who devised the SPEED scale: Socialisation, Performance, Esteem, Excitement and Diversion, as a basis for questions, and uses a qualitative methodological approach, in the form of interviews, to test this model and to determine the changes in attendee motivations, whilst gaining personal insight into why motivations have changed. The results of this study suggest a variation in future motivations, because, although many fans are desperate to return to stadiums, some have found benefits to watching at home which may influence their motivations in the future, therefore a practical recommendation has been made. Additionally, the findings were consistent with previous research in establishing Socialisation, Escapism and Family Needs as the main motivations of respondents. Attending football games was once a common past-time for people, and gave them a form of escape, socialisation, community, a form of expression or a way to vent their anger, and the COVID- 19 pandemic, and consequent lockdowns, has both neglected this form of therapy, and reaffirmed a desire and love for the sport in fan groups. This study should, therefore, be of value to event organisations as they plan to introduce fans back to stadiums, and future researchers, in which it is recommended, to analyse the impact of a pandemic on other demographics, or different events, to understand the changes COVID- 19 has had on lives as we know them.