Purpose: There is debate and controversy about the use of branding in sport. Often, fans show loyalty to their club that many brands could only dream of, and a key argument of previous research is that supporters do not like to think of their club in commercial terms, as a brand. However, the authors argue that in today's environment fans have pragmatic attitudes towards the necessity of branding and its importance in the future success of their clubs. Thus this paper aims to develop and test a model conceptualising the relationship between supporters' emotional attachment, supporters' brand perception/strength and their support for brand extension. Design/methodology/approach: In-depth interviews with, players, clubs' officials and supporters, leading to the design of a survey instrument completed by 842 supporters of two professional Norwegian football clubs. Findings: The model confirms that fans that have a strong emotional attachment to their club have a stronger perception of the club as a brand and support brand extension. Research limitations/implications: This is a one-country study. Practical implications: Club management needs to be careful when extending its brand. Brand extension must be designed to reflect the heritage and tradition of the club. Also, club management needs to show in brand extension an element of competitiveness, which improves brand image, strengthens supporters' belief in their club and attracts new supporters. Originality/value: The authors provide new evidence which contradicts existing theory. The study challenged the widely accepted argument that supporters of football clubs are likely to disapprove of and reject the thought of their favourite football club as a brand.