True football fans are not just local lads anymore


Picking your favourite football club used to be a nonchoice in England. You often just received from your father or other family members. But these days English Premier League is a global phenomenon and it has millions of fans all over the world. They can be as passionate about the club as the local lads.

The world before the internet

Everything used to be more local just a couple of decades ago. People were occupying a small area in their daily lives and weren’t that connected. Travelling was difficult, there was no internet and barely any TV-channels.

Football used to be also a more local or nationwide sport. An average guy saw World superstars only in in the World Cup and the European Championships. It was possible to get some coverage of top leagues of other countries, but very few people had satellite TVs and internet streams didn’t exist.

This also meant that there weren’t many overseas fans either. It was quite difficult to establish a relationship with an English Premier League club if you never saw them play. Newspapers didn’t cover that much either, so there was very little information available before the internet age.

You could always travel to see your favourite team to London, but flying was too expensive to do regularly and travelling, in general, wasn’t for the average joes. All this has changed dramatically in the 21st century.

The explosion of media coverage

The Internet started to gain popularity in the late 1990s. This was the era of slow modems and Netscape Navigator and poor services in general. You could browse the internet, but there was very little content in it.

The internet revolution started at the beginning of the 21st century. Cable connections became available, which made it possible to watch streams as well. Everyone rushed online, which also meant sports clubs. Teams started to publish news, interviews, blogs and videos. This made it easier for fans to stay updated with current events.

West Ham has a special program to unite the local community with the club.

TV coverage has also exploded in the past ten years. The problem used to be that there were no matches to see even if you were willing to pay. Now, the problem is that there are too many games available. You can follow all the major European leagues and cups from TV now.

Anyone can also become a VIP member of your favourite club. This will give you access to interviews, videos from training and other exclusive information.

One major change is the cost of travelling. Airlines like Norwegian and Ryanair have lowered the flying costs, Airbnb gives you affordable accommodation and Uber takes you cheaply to the airport. Average guys from Europe can travel several times a year to see their favourite Premier League clubs.

On top of all, we have the explosion of social media. It’s easier for fans to connect with other fans and even with players. The interaction can go both ways. For example, Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante recently surprised a fan by attending his wedding!

All this has made it possible for hardcore Premier League fans to exist even in Asia.

What makes a true football fan?

Back in the old days, true football fans were local lads with club colours in their blood. Your dad was a supporter, your grandad was a supporter and your whole community was behind the same team. But these days, there might be a fan as passionate living in Shanghai.

Betway has produced a documentary titled “Over Land and Sea”, which touches this subject.

It tells a story of Pan, who is a West Ham fan living in Shanghai. Pan shares how he became a supporter and how he travels to England to meet his heroes. The documentary features also West Ham players Mark Noble & Declan Rice

What makes a true football fan, then?

The documentary makes it clear, that true football fans are no longer tied to a location. Pan can be as passionate about West Ham in Shanghai as some local lad in London. It is more about connectivity and passion for your favourite team.

The fan base of Premier League clubs becomes more and more global. The Internet has made it possible for people to connect and share the feeling of being part of something bigger. If you support your favourite club through bad times as well and show your passion, you will be accepted as a part of the same family as the local lads.

Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels

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