Spencer Owen, Dan Brown and Theo Baker…….. Have you heard of them?

The Likelihood is probably not, but these guys are revolutionising how football is watched by the younger generations, giving a much more personal feel to how a football team is perceived by their audience.

Hashtag United is an amateur football club formed in 2016 by YouTube influencer and Hashtag United Captain Spencer Owen. The club is made up of Spencer’s friends, family and fellow YouTube influencers making the phenomenon that is ‘Hashtag United’, the team play against a variety of opposition from Manchester City and West Ham United Staff teams, to semi-professional clubs such as Biggleswade United in leagues created by captain Spencer. What’s most fascinating about this concept is hundreds of thousands football obsessed teens tune in to watch Hashtag United’s AMATUER football games, with 5,000 Facebook Likes, 169k Twitter Followers, 310k Instagram Followers and over 350k YouTube Subscribers, which is where the club records and posts videos of its games, emphasises how strong the clubs online following is, with these figures surpassing many professional Football League clubs.

Hashtag United’s Ryan Adams celebrates in front of 35,000 at Wembley –  image credit thesixthaxis.com

The club further boosts its following by signing established YouTube influencers who specialise in football generated content, such as Charlie Morley and Jamel Akeem, these signings have also helped to bring in crowds for the beast which is the ‘Wembley Cup’. Sponsored by mobile network EE and fronted by Hashtag’s Spencer Owen for the last three years, the Wembley Cup, involved Hashtag United for the first time in 2017. They played a team of YouTube Influencers lead by the F2 Freestylers at Wembley Stadium attracting a crowd of nearly 35,000 for an amateur football match last October.

This was helped by the likes of footballing legends Steven Gerrard and Robbie Fowler getting involved, but doesn’t take away from the fact, that 35,000 people and millions from a YouTube live stream would watch a football match played by mostly amateur players. In an interview with BBC News, Spencer’s Brother and Hashtag United Left Winger, Seb Carmichael-Brown said, “We’re average footballers living the professional footballers dream”, showing how far the amateur club has come in just a few years.

With the club recording nearly everything they do, as well as many of the team ‘vlogging’ their experiences on a daily basis, it allows supporters to get up close, giving their viewers the chance to get to know the players on a personal level, offering a unique perspective unlike any other professional football team. This, combined with the club seemingly becoming more professional, by going on sponsored tours to the USA and Spain, setting up the Hashtag Academy, to find hidden talent like Scott Pollock and gaining a lucrative shirt sponsorship from football manager game Top Eleven, in which brand manager of Nordeus, the firm which has developed Top Eleven said “We like the idea of investing in teams which have a journey ahead of them, approaching football in a way that isn’t the norm”.

More and more football obsessed teens come home from school or college to watch their favourite influencers on YouTube, professional football clubs could learn a lot from the lads at Hashtag, moving away from the traditional way of engaging with their audiences.

With the club growing and becoming more professional by the day, could the likes of Hashtag United become the norm in football and change how football is perceived forever?

Remember, don’t forget to Hashtag It!

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featured image credit thedrum.com