How many times have you come across that Manchester United fan who has never set foot in Lancashire? Or the City supporter who is based over two hundred miles away, and has only started following his ‘beloved’ since the post-Sheikh days?
We’re by no means suggesting that each and every football fan should live a stone’s throw away from their team’s stadium, but it’s a topic that causes a talking point and certainly gets on the goat of some supporters who have chosen locality over league titles and have to withstand the ridicule of those that have done the opposite.
Bearing the above in mind, we have produced a study based on eight of the most popular Premier League team shirts that SportsDirect.com sell – covering Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham. Some of the results are to be expected, while others make for intriguing reading. In each case, the results have been condensed into the top ten selling areas for the 2014/15 season so far.
Perhaps some of the most “boring" results surround two of the London clubs, in Arsenal and Tottenham. It’s in both of these cases that the most sales occur in London by a country mile and really, there isn’t anything ground-breaking to report on. What might be interesting, is this showdown between the three London sides we're covering.
It’s a similar story for Chelsea as well, with well over half of sales arriving in the capital. There was one statistic of interest here, with a high quantity of shirts coming from Lagos in Nigeria. Who knew the Blues had such a prominent following over in Africa?
However, a small percentage of Newcastle shirts are sold even further away – with Perth coming 9th on the list for the Magpies, as Australians bid to get their fix of soccer jerseys. London again topped the standings, but Newcastle was 2nd while nearby Ashington and Durham also made an appearance.
It’s probably when we cross over to Manchester where some of the more interesting stats start to enter the picture. Over at Old Trafford, one could question if the glory supporter really does exist with almost 45% of our Manchester United shirt sales occurring in London. Manchester actually comes 3rd on the list, while there also seem to be a few Liverpool-based fans that have dared to don that shade of red. We were also surprised to see that Fijnaart over in the Netherlands made an appearance in the top ten, with our first assumption being that this was related to Louis Van Gaal’s appointment at the start of the season. The biggest claim-to-fame that this 5500-strong village had up until now was a Junior Eurovision Song Contest participant in 2007, so its inclusion is interesting to say the least.
Alternatively, perhaps most of the few thousand residents of Fijnaart just have a soft spot for Manchester. It was also found that they came 3rd in the charts for Manchester City shirt sales – although this wasn’t the most interesting statistic. Instead, it was that London was again the biggest source of sales but to a much lesser extent than it was for United. Maybe even more significantly came the fact that Manchester was 10th placed, although nearby Stockport did hold a mid-table position which probably evens it out. On the subject of Manchester, on the request from some supporters, we compiled a breakdown of sales in the city between the two clubs.
It’s actually a similar story in Liverpool, with over 50% of sample sales arriving in the capital. Ireland was also a big contributor with Dublin and Belfast up there, while Liverpool itself came in 4th which appears quite respectable considering some of the results we have seen.
Out of all eight clubs that we analysed, Aston Villa was the only one where London didn’t top the list. It appears as though the Villains have a strong Irish backing, with Dublin being the chart topper of choice this time around. Birmingham was unsurprisingly up there, while a lot of other regions in the Midlands such as Coventry, Alcester and Wolverhampton made up the ten.
As you can see, the results formed a real mix. Do they prove the “glory hunter" suggestions correct? Or do fans residing in their team’s area itself just buy from the high street instead? We’ll leave those conclusions up to you – for now, here is the breakdown for all eight clubs.
On special request from a section of Manchester United supporters, we were also asked to show just how shirt sales in Manchester varied between City and United. Here's what we found:
Then, some of the London-based fans asked us for the same breakdown in the capital. Here are the results: