RAFC raises 32,000 euros with online auction of historic Cup shirts


Winning the Belgian Cup in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – it’s something that no football club has ever achieved, except for Royal Antwerp FC. The club wanted to share this historic event with its most loyal fans in a unique way. What if your supporters did not get the chance to smell their heroes’ sweat at the Heysel? You organise an online auction of the original match shirts, of course.

The Great Old has had a loyal following for years. Sofie Spinnoy has contributed to this success for two years now, working as a merchandising manager at the Bosuil: “If you consider the evolution over the past seasons, you’ll notice that merchandising sales have risen spectacularly. This is partly due to our investments in our (online) fan shop. But the secret lies just as much in a broad product range and the right partners. Precisely because the RAFC fan base is so diverse, we consciously choose a wide range.”

Best-sellers show the way

By monitoring demand and sales, Antwerp continues to expand its fan shop – both in terms of product quality and service. For Sofie, three specific articles stand out: “The plush mascot – the little tawny owl that was created by Mrs Gheysens (the wife of owner Paul Gheysens) – is selling very well, just like the club scarf and our polar fleece blankets. What is remarkable is that even when temperatures reach 30 degrees, these blankets still sell very well.

Online charity auction

In addition, Antwerp also capitalises on events during the course of the season. The Cup Final, for example, presented a commercial opportunity that would have made Dieumerci Mbokani jealous: “Our partner Topfanz was able to integrate an online safety module into our web shop in a very short space of time. It had already produced good results with other clubs. This prompted us to put our players’ team shirts up for auction. This allowed us to add a unique sequel to the cup win. At the same time, we supported our RAFC community: all the proceeds went to RAFC Streetboys, Royal Antwerp Amputee Football Club and the volunteers of the Antwerp G-Fans.”

1,250 euros for substitute goalkeeper

Sofie and the rest of the Antwerp team had high expectations. Reality, however, far exceeded those expectations: “We managed to raise 32,910 euros through the online auction. Even seasoned fan consultants like Jo and Gilles from Topfanz hadn’t expected that (laughs). The biggest seller was the autographed shirt of Refaelov, which brought in 6,750 euros. Then came the 4,000 euros for Mbokani’s shirt and 3,805 euros for cult hero Lamkel Zé. Also notable was the 1,250 euros for Matijaš’ shirt, the substitute goalkeeper who kept a clean sheet for 90 minutes.”

From online auction to customisation

The entire online auction took place through the RAFC web shop. This module was installed by Topfanz, after which the Antwerp people could get to work with it themselves: “We prefer to stay in control of the entire process. Adding new products, updating descriptions or launching promotions: it’s all very easy with the Topfanz module. The concept of auctions will probably continue to play a role in our merchandising strategy. We are also looking into the possibility of customising other fan articles such as coffee mugs and duvet covers in addition to shirts. If our first team continues to perform well, this will help our fan experience to grow.”

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