Supporting your local football club is a badge of honour for many fans. Those who opt to support a team just down the road are traditionally seen as ‘proper fans’ – ones that don’t need fanciful stories about their dad once working in Liverpool, or a great uncle who lives in Manchester, to legitimise who they support.
Yorkshire-based internet provider, Plusnet, collated search data from the whole of the United Kingdom to determine which cities and counties favour a local side, and which residents have had their heads turned by the allure of a ‘big’ club. (Click on the image for a close up).
Most Searched-For Clubs in the UK
Unsurprisingly, the research revealed that Manchester United is the most searched-for club in the UK, taking the top spot in Ireland, Scotland and most English counties, with a combined 3,350,000 searches in the past year.
While the Special One’s new regime isn’t exactly going to plan, the dominance of ‘Manchester United’ as a search term isn’t up for debate.
Arsenal is the second most searched for club in the UK, with Wenger’s men encouraging 2,740,000 searches in the past year. The inspirational underdog story of Leicester’s title win is likely to have helped Ranieri’s men become one of the most searched for clubs in the UK.
Which Non-Premier League Teams are the Most Popular?
With the recent furore around changes to the EFL Trophy, the football powers that be have been accused of showing contempt for lower league clubs and fans. While it’s true that top-flight teams generally command high gates and larger fanbases, there are still many lower league clubs with impressive support – a fact reflected in Google’s search statistics.
The search data shows a healthy interest in many of the Championship, League One, and League Two teams, with the likes of League Two’s Doncaster Rovers, Carlisle, and Portsmouth getting an extremely high percentage of search traffic in their respective locations.
The residents of Sheffield search predominantly for Sheffield Wednesday (sorry Blades fans), while Leeds United and struggling Rotherham United are both the most popular football related search term in their areas.
Championship sides Aston Villa and Newcastle have adjusted to life in the second division at different speeds, with the Toon looking all but guaranteed to achieve promotion back to the top-flight this season. Both clubs do have a strong home support in common, however, with each club boasting the top spot for Google searches in their county.
Which counties search for a local club the most?
To get a better impression of which areas in the UK favour a local side, we analysed the traffic from every county. Here are the most interesting stats we discovered:
Garry Monk’s overhaul of Leeds seems to be gathering pace, which will come as unusually positive news to the thousands of United fans across Yorkshire. The Whites are the top searched-for team in North and West Yorkshire, with East Yorkshire unsurprisingly favouring Mike Phelan’s Hull.
Sheffield residents like to stay local too, with their search landscape dominated by last year’s play-off contenders, Sheffield Wednesday, and Chris Wilder’s League One promotion favourites, Sheffield United.
Rotherham United and Doncaster Rovers are both loyally supported in their hometowns, making Yorkshire one of the few counties that strongly favours local clubs over the glamour of the top four.
West Bromwich Albion and Wolves both failed to make a mark on the West Midlands’ search results, with the pair falling short of the top three. Relegated Aston Villa dominate the region, followed by Premier League big boys Manchester United and Arsenal.
Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and, ahem, Phil Jones, may be struggling to propel Manchester United into the realms of their former glory, but United’s strong legacy of success has left a lasting impression on Greater Manchester.
Manchester United dwarfs its rivals, Man City, in terms of search volume, with Liverpool and Arsenal taking the second and third spot. Bad luck Oldham, Bury, Rochdale, and the countless other teams in this area that don’t scratch the surface of Manchester’s online interest.
Koeman’s reinvigorated Everton has started the season admirably (actually getting them to defend seems to have helped), but in league status, the Toffees remain the underdogs compared to Klopp’s free-scoring Liverpool. Despite this discrepancy in quality, Everton is the top searched football club in Merseyside.
We expect that the high search volume for Manchester United is likely to be from their two rivals checking up on their them – rather than a large contingent of Liverpudlian Man U fans.
For whatever reason, it seems that East Anglia isn’t loyal to its local clubs. Cambridgeshire and Suffolk both favour Manchester United and Arsenal over their native Cambridge United, Peterborough United, and Ipswich.
This said, Norwich City has a strong influence in Norfolk, with the Canaries topping search volume rankings in this county, seeing off Premier League opposition to reach the top spot.
Tyne & Wear
With Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic firing Newcastle into the automatic promotion positions at the top of the Championship, it’s no wonder that the Google-searching public of Tyne & Wear favours Newcastle United. Relegation-threatened Sunderland is a distant second, with only a quarter of their bitter rival’s search volume, with the ever-present Manchester United coming up in third place.
Do you support your local team?
Supporting your local team is an easier decision for some people than others. Residents of Manchester have two Premier League giants to choose from, as do the residents of Merseyside. Occupants of less desirable footballing areas have a tougher choice on their hands – do they get used to the rough and tumble of lower league football or chase glory, following a team located at the other end of the country?
Do you support your local team? Does it matter? Get in touch in the comments and let us know.