Football Statistics UK – How Popular is Football in 2023?

Football Statistics UK 2021

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How Popular is Football in the UK in 2023?

Football is the most popular sport in the world, with roughly 3.5 billion worldwide fans of the sport. But how popular is it in the UK, which is the most popular team and how many people play the beautiful game?

What is the Most Popular Football Team in the UK?

We analysed the most searched teams in the UK (based on data about number of searches per month in Google UK according to kwfinder.com) looking at all English and Scottish League clubs, as well as those in the top divisions in Wales and Northern Ireland and National League teams in England.

Search Term2022202120202019
Liverpool5,540,0003,365,8333,300,0004,114,167
Arsenal4,390,0003,812,5003,582,5003,775,833
Man Utd3,800,0003,932,5002,801,3332,820,833
Chelsea2,730,0002,692,7501,707,5001,985,833
Rangers2,680,0002,101,0831,633,2501,516,667
Leeds United2,530,0002,101,6672,414,4172,173,333
Tottenham1,930,0001,902,5001,496,7501,813,333
Celtic1,700,0001,624,4171,276,6671,332,750
West Ham1,630,0001,478,583835,417792,333
Everton1,510,0001,214,6671,044,0831,017,000

Liverpool was the highest searched team in the UK in 2022 (up from 3rd in 2021) followed by Arsenal in 2nd (same as 2021) and Manchester United in 3rd (down from 1st in 2021). Only two teams that aren’t from the English Premier league make the top 20 and these teams are Rangers (5th largest search volume) and Celtic (8th largest search volume) proving that currently the most searched team in Scotland is Rangers.

These searches indicate the number of fans based in the UK for each of the clubs. We based the search terms on what a fan would search to find their club in Google, as opposed to the “official” name of the club.  For example “Man Utd” as opposed to “Manchester United” and “Tottenham” as opposed to “Tottenham Hotspur”.

Even though they are in a different order, our top 3 also coincide with the top 3 at 90Min.com, which supports our metric for relating search volumes with the fan base.

Which teams have had the biggest rise in popularity over the last 4 years?

 Division% increase20222019
Man CityPremier League753%1,330,000155,900
Crystal PalacePremier League727%423,00051,167
StevenageLeague Two605%156,00022,133
QPRChampionship447%282,00051,583
Hull CityChampionship374%206,00043,500
Salford CityLeague Two350%51,50011,433
BrentfordPremier League347%311,00069,625
Fleetwood TownLeague One329%37,6008,755
BarnsleyLeague One327%122,00028,600
Tranmere RoversLeague Two309%83,50020,417

Manchester City has seen an enormous increase in average monthly searches between 2019 and 2022 with an increase of over 750%! This does seem to have been heavily skewed by an enormous spike of searches in October 2022, when there were over 4 million searches!

Other teams making up the top 10 have had relatively modest changes numbers-wise, but no less insignificant when we look at the percentage changes.  Teams such as Salford City and Brentford have come from very modest numbers, but with Salford City gaining promotion to the Football League and Brentford becoming an established Premier League side, these search volumes come as no surprise.

Which football teams have seen the biggest fall in popularity in England between 2019 and 2023?

League% decrease20222019
Newport CountyLeague Two33%58,60087,025
Birmingham CityChampionship19%55,70069,142
MorecambeLeague One13%91,000104,458
Swindon townLeague Two11%110,000123,583
Lincoln cityLeague One10%82,20091,750
Wycombe WanderersLeague One10%82,20091,550
WolvesPremier League7%644,000690,333
Port ValeLeague One6%181,000191,750
Carlisle UnitedLeague Two5%77,00081,083

Newport County of League Two have seen the biggest drop in search volume between 2019 and 2022 – with a 33% decrease between these years. The decrease could partly be down to the clubs heroics in reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup in 2019, where they eventually lost to reigning Premier League champions Manchester City. Wolverhampton Wanderers saw the biggest drop in searches from the Premier League at 7%.

What is the most popular side in England outside of the Premier League in 2023?

The top 10 teams in the UK are dominated by the Premier League (with the addition of he Old Firm from Scotland to make up the top ten).  Outside of England’s top division, which teams have the highest search volumes?

 Division2022202120202019
Derby CountyLeague One712,000533,833363,250485,417
SunderlandChampionship527,000367,000202,250315,750
Sheffield UnitedChampionship511,000471,000464,667509,083
Sheffield WednesdayLeague One449,000366,167294,333306,583
BlackpoolChampionship443,000177,125137,250143,458
ReadingChampionship408,000168,667159,292131,667
BurnleyChampionship361,000142,458105,67588,675
WatfordChampionship357,000212,458182,500170,875
MiddlesbroughChampionship334,000145,625131,000136,833
West BromChampionship332,000319,500336,458300,500

Quite surprisingly, in 2022 the most searched-for team in England outside of the Premier League was Derby County with 712,000. Although they are a very well supported club, they were in the headlines quite a lot throughout 2021 and 2022.  They had former England captain Wayne Rooney as their manager and they unfortunately went into administration in 2021 and got relegated from the Championship to League One after a twelve-point deduction for entering administration.

Sunderland were the most popular club in 2022 from the Championship.  They are a very well supported club with the highest average attendances outside of the Premier League.  They swapped places with Derby County at the end of the 2022 season via promotion via the League One play-off.

The two Sheffield clubs make up the top 4.

How Many People Play Football in the UK?

When identifying how many people play football in the UK, we identified two metrics which give us an idea of the popularity of the sport. The first metric is the number of searches for the term “football pitch” as we are assuming that if somebody was looking for a place to play in the UK, they would search for this term. We also analysed the term “football boots” as every player needs this piece of equipment so we expect it to be a more accurate measure than that of “football pitch”. The keyword research was undertaken with KWFinder.

Most Popular Type Of Football Pitch According to Google Searches in the UK

The term “football pitch” is searched 23,400 times per month in the UK which is considerable as it is only expected to be searched when football teams are looking for a place to play. This implies that this term is more of an indicator on the number of teams in the UK rather than the number of players.

 

When identifying the most popular types of pitch to play on in the UK, this is what we found.

Most Popular Football Pitches UK 2021

As shown in the chart, the most searched pitches are 3G, 4G and astro which are all artificial synthetic pitch styles. These pitches are more likely to be playable in winter months due to decreased chances of waterlogging or the ground being too muddy to play on, potentially explaining the increased search volumes. Additionally, players are less likely to get dirty after playing on synthetic pitches, also contributing to increased popularity. 

Most Popular Football Boots in 2023 Based on Searches

The terms “football boots,” is searched a whopping 230,000 times on average per month in Google in the UK alone- almost 100,000 more searches than in 2021! 

 

But what is the most popular football boot? We looked at searches for specific keywords and outline our findings are below:

We searched for each of the brand terms in the graph above with “football boots” – for example “Nike Football Boots”. Nike was by far the most popular by the end of 2022, with an average of 98,000 searches per month for “Nike Football Boots”.  Nike has streaked ahead of second-placed Adidas since 2018.  In 2018, Nike had around 6,000 more monthly searches whereas in 2022 there were around 41,000 more searches for Nike – this despite Adidas’ own search volume increasing by 14,000.

Puma has seen around a four-fold increase in search volume for football boots between 2018 and 2022.

Summary: UK Football Statistics 2023

To conclude, football remains one of the most popular sports to watch and to play in the UK, with significant search volumes based on equipment and locations to play. Furthermore, Liverpool gains the most monthly searches resulting in it being the most popular football club in the UK currently.

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