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June 20 2021 10.21pm

The bond between football fans and their teams

May 19 2021

Crystal Palace fans (Photo: Andy Roberts)

Crystal Palace fans (Photo: Andy Roberts)

How loyal are English football fans to their clubs? Take a look at these facts, writes Mark Toomey.

Legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don't like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”

While of course this was said tongue in cheek, for many people football is more than just a sport, it is like a religion.

Football fans in Britain are incredibly tribal, and while this can occasionally spill over into ugly scenes, the passionate rivalries between different clubs and their supporters are part of what makes football so popular around the world.

For many, the anticipation of their team’s next match is what gets them through a tough day at work or other difficult situations in their lives.

But just how loyal are Brits to their football clubs? Here are some amazing facts that will lift the lid on how deep the love runs.

1. Crystal Palace Fans Support Their Team Despite Never Winning Anything

Supporting your local team is very important and you better have a good reason like a family connection to support another club. Most cities only have one or two clubs, but Londoners are spoiled for choice with 12 professional football teams in the city.

Despite this, there are few fanbases more committed to their club than Crystal Palace supporters. Palace have never won the top league or the FA Cup, and yet Selhurst Park sells out every week even though Palace often finds themselves in a relegation battle.

2. A Leicester City Fan Bet On His Team To Win The League At 5,000-1...And Won!

When Leicester City won the Premier League in 2015, it was widely considered to be the greatest ever achievement in football, and possibly even in sport. What made it even more special for one Leicester City fan called Leigh Herbert is that he actually bet on his team to do it at the start of the season.

The Foxes were enormous 5000-1 outsiders, which shows just how loyal Leigh was to his team. Sports betting always increases the entertainment value of watching football, and you can check these predictions to see if there are tips for your own team that could match Leigh’s big win.

Just last week, Leicester City won the FA Cup for the first time ever after defeating Chelsea in the final, and loyal fans who had backed their team from the start of the season again had some seriously attractive odds.

3. Leeds United Had Attendances Of 35,000 In The Third Tier

In 2001, Leeds United was flying high at the top of the Premier League and taking on Valencia in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Fast-forward six years to 2007, and Leeds was on the verge of financial ruin and was on the way down to English football’s third tier.

Financial mismanagement, such as wasting huge sums on failures like Seth Johnson from Derby, saw Leeds forced to sell their star assets on the cheap. Harry Kewell left for Liverpool for peanuts, and Alan Smith made the unforgivable move to Manchester United.

It was a shameful state of affairs for one of the biggest clubs historically in England. Despite their new lowly position, however, Leeds still managed to fill their stadium, Elland Road, even when the club’s money issues were so bad they had to rent the stadium from the company they had been forced to sell it to.

Now, Leeds United are back where they belong in the Premier League under the genius management of Marcelo Bielsa, and the future is looking a whole lot brighter than it was fifteen years ago.

4. Manchester United Fans Started A Whole New Club In Protest Of Their New Owners

When the American Glazer family took ownership of Manchester United by borrowing the money needed to purchase the club with a loan they had taken out secured by the value of the club they did not yet own (one for the economists to explain), Man Utd fans were less than impressed.

The supporters of England’s most successful ever team are not used to not getting their way, and they demonstrated their displeasure by wearing the yellow and green scarves that signified Manchester United’s humble beginnings as Salford FC.

When this did not have the desired effect of pressuring the Glazers to sell, die-hard fans left the club altogether and started a new club FC United of Manchester, which regularly gets 4,000 home fans in the seventh tier of English football.

While other football fans have little sympathy for the Man Utd supporters, the problem of American ownership very nearly brought the whole of English football crumbling down recently with the so-called Big Six signing up for the European Super League.

While the Glazers ultimately backed away from this, ugly scenes saw the recent Manchester United-Liverpool match abandoned as anti-Glazer protesters broke into Old Trafford and fought with police.

5. Famous Manchester City Fan Noel Gallagher Once Went Eight Years Without Seeing His Team Win

In the blue half of the city, Manchester City have had to live in their famous neighbour’s shadow for years. Things were so bad on the pitch for City during the 90s, that Noel Gallagher of Oasis fame, never saw the side win live in eight years.

Every time Noel was able to squeeze a trip to Maine Road during his busy schedule of gigs, parties, and fights with his brother, City was just unable to get over the line.

Despite this, Noel Gallagher and the other die-hard City fans never gave up on their club, and 25 years and a billion pounds of oil money later, they are now arguably the best team on the planet.

Football is considered to be the greatest sport on the planet, and for many fans, their beloved clubs mean everything to them. The lengths they go to support their team can sometimes seem over the top, but it is all part and parcel of being a football fan.

Through the highs and lows, British football fans stay loyal to their team until the very end, and that is what makes them so special.

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