BLOG | by Charlie Dundas

Football fan culture: Liverpool come out top but the bigger story is the north/south divide

As you may have seen (particularly if you’re a Manchester United or Liverpool fan), we launched our new YouGov FootballIndex tool in the UK last week. This week we’re mining it again to see how the public’s perception of clubs’ fan culture differs across the age groups.

There’s a lot of marketing cache tied up in fan culture – in particular a sense of authenticity and identity which is strong trading base for a club and its sponsors. But we wondered whether there were big differences between the clubs which project a strong sense of fan culture across the generations.

Here are the top ten clubs for ‘good fan culture’ over the last month (we don’t define it any more than that in our polling, since fan culture can be a pretty broad concept).

We’ve highlighted the clubs that are in the top ten for all three age groups – Liverpool, Leicester City, Barcelona and Newcastle United.

It’s interesting, but perhaps no surprise, to see Liverpool come out top across all three age groups. The city itself has a strong local identity, but perhaps even more so its football clubs, with Everton also coming in the top ten in two demographics. Nevertheless, Liverpool are the runaway winners, particularly among older members of the public.

Dortmund make a strong showing among our younger two segments but it’s Leicester who are perhaps the surprise package overall, especially given their relatively bare trophy room.

Most of the other clubs here (with the exceptions of Bournemouth, Norwich and Sheffield United) have won strings of honours but while Leicester’s major silverware is limited to a Premier League trophy and a creditable three league cups, their fans have been more successful in forming a perception of culture that more trophy-laden clubs can’t rival.

If Mike Ashley could cash in on the reputation of his club’s fans, he would surely have done so by now. Newcastle are the fourth club to feature across all segments for fan culture, an asset which he might have made more of during his tenure at the club.

Before we sign off, let’s remark on something that is missing from the data – and that you therefore may not have spotted. That is the complete absence of London clubs from these rankings. In fact, if you discounted Norwich and Bournemouth, you might think it’s not possible for a British club anywhere south of Wolverhampton to have a strong reputation for fan culture.

This is a curious result, perhaps partly down to the difficulty of establishing a unique identity in a multi-club city (Liverpool and Manchester only succeed with two large teams each). Nevertheless, it shows up a sharp selling point for those marketing clubs or partnerships. Fan culture looks best grown north of Birmingham.

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

BLOG | by Charlie Dundas

Commercial Director

With over 15 years’ experience in the sports and sponsorship field, Charlie’s role at YouGov Sport is to develop new market opportunities as the company continues to grow internationally. He also assists established and future clients to get the most from YouGov Sport’s market-leading tools and research techniques.


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