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Do Americans Support Bottom Half Premier League Clubs?

tim howard fan Do Americans Support Bottom Half Premier League Clubs?

“Where were you when we were S***?” is a popular football chant sung out by the die hard supporters of any club that had, at one time, fallen onto harder times and lower leagues, and aimed at the more fair weather fans who seem to always turn up once their club has resurfaced into the light once more.

Now I could be wrong, but I am going to take a guess that this is a chant that is foreign to many American supporters of Premier League clubs. Mostly, because in my experience, a lot of football chants are foreign to us, but also because generally when looking at the teams most popular among Americans, there is a clear pattern that goes:

Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

Is there anybody else who sees this pattern? I would assume so. What it comes down to is this, and I’m aware of the amount of stick I’ll probably get from this, but I feel like it is something that is rarely addressed in this style, usually it’s just seen in the comments of articles and posts, or banter between fans.

Americans like the teams that win.

Goal.com did an article this past December stating that Americans thought Wayne Rooney is the best EPL player. Robin Van Persie was in second and Ryan Giggs was tied for fourth with Steven Gerrard. Anyone who has followed the league this year would know that out of those four men, RVP is the only one who deserves to be in the top four.

I am in no way suggesting that Americans go out looking for a Premier League club by checking the league table and decide whichever team is on top is going to be theirs, but it can be said that that it’s not far from the truth. It’s obvious that the big reason for the massive support for these teams is because, for most of us, they are the only ones we know about. Someone decides they want to start following soccer because they watched the World Cup. So they decide Manchester United because they’ve heard of them, or a player they like plays for them, or one of their friends likes them, so they become a Man Utd supporter.

Contrary to that, maybe they think everybody knows Manchester United and wants to support one of the “underdogs.” A team that has that real chance at a title race, but it isn’t going to be so easy for them. This excitement you can get from teams like Chelsea or Arsenal. They’ll thrash a team 5 or 6 to nil, but the drama is still there. Sometimes they play at home to the bottom place side and miraculously come away the loser!

Obviously I’m getting into hypothetical situations, but what is the truth is that I have met and heard testimony from American supporters of top clubs in the Premier League who say things like, “I still support Man Utd, but I like Blackpool (or QPR or Wolverhampton etc.) I hope they don’t go down.” I have heard, and said such things.

Give a group of people a game to watch between two teams none of them have any allegiance to and the majority of them will pick the underdog. So why when they are picking a team to support long term do the majority of people pick the team more likely to win?

Being an American supporter of a club much lower in the league, and at one point being a [fair weather] fan of Manchester United in my younger years, I’ve come to notice that Americans recognize the amount of commitment and emotion it takes to support a club that truly faces the threat of relegation, but it appears they can’t handle the negatives that come with actually supporting one of these clubs.

Truth is, if you follow the top teams when you win, it’s good. When you lose, it’s bad, and by the end of the season if you’re disappointed, at the worst, it’s most likely because you didn’t finish in a Champions League spot. But if you support a team that’s in the bottom half of the league, when you lose it’s absolutely detrimental. But when you do win, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. And that’s the win that people want to feel. When you’re supporting a top team, you’re never the real underdog.

People can try and justify it by saying they’ve been supporting their team for years, and trash-talking the bottom table teams, but even as I draft this, the most popular categories of any football site are the top teams (including this one). I’m not telling anyone to change their teams. I am just simply hoping future new fans will branch out a little farther down the league.

If you think I’m wrong (and I’m sure many of you do), feel free to give me your own suggestions as to why these teams are so popular in the USA, and why we don’t see more Americans supporting Stoke, Wigan, Villa etc…

Comment if you are an American who does support a team that isn’t top of the league and why you support them. And sorry guys, Fulham and Everton don’t count. We all love Donovan and Dempsey.

About Craig B

Queens Park Rangers supporter from Indianapolis Indiana
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106 Responses to Do Americans Support Bottom Half Premier League Clubs?

  1. Les says:

    Newcastle United. Generations of my family are from there, including my father.

    • Alex says:

      Reading fan, Also like Oxford United. Grandmas family’s from Oxford and Berkshire county.
      Never been ‘cross the pond but I love the EPL. Good post I also think a major reason Americans support top clubs is because they’re televised so much more. Sometimes only get to watch Reading highlights and I’ve never seen an OU game.
      But it’s so easy to watch my previous loyalty to Spurs and Chelsea

      • Wongo1 says:

        Alex has hit it directly on the head, most American see the big 6 on TV much more than any other teams so naturally they gravitate to the teams they see more often than not.

  2. Tony Butterworth says:

    Well I’m a Man Utd fan, I was taken before I was 1 and had a season ticket by the time I was 5. I moved to the US when I was 26 (now 45). What I find hard to process is how I used to, and how people today, support teams that they know have little chance of winning anything. I guess even MUFC fans had dreams of the league and FA Cup every year. But a Norwich or Swansea (:) or West Ham fan knows they have no chance of winning the league. I’ve lost the comprehension (amongst much other brain power) to remember how you can support a team you know has little chance of winning.

    • IanCransonsKnees says:

      Precise the same reason you’ve given, roots and birthright. No more, no less. Without that attachment for me the passion would be dulled and I could take it or leave it. As it is I’m representing my home town and my tribe (for want of a better word).

      I’m no better or worse than anyone else on this forum but my experiences and emotions in relation to my team will only be understood by the minority of users who are in the same boat.

      The best example I can give is it’s not just about the position in the league table or pyramid. This impacts across the whole city or town affected. I’ve never seen a buzz like the one that swept across the place after our promotion.

      Not dissing anyone else or acting superior just giving my POV.

  3. Matt says:

    Fulham have a decent followed in the US, even when all the Americans left.

    • Scott says:

      What’s your measure of “decent” support. I live in a major eastern seaboard city and I’ve never someone wear a Fulham shit, never met another Fulham fan. There is no local Fulham supporters chapter.

  4. Bruce Gottesman says:

    Not going into why I support Newcastle again, but I do have to admit that when I started following them in ’01, they were a top-half club. But as opposed to, say, Arsenal or ManU, rooting for them didn’t come with an expectation of winning every year (yeah, I know how funny that sounds to longtime NUFC supporters). It was odd and kind of difficult to watch a lot of Championship football for a year, and hopefully I won’t have to do that again next year. But yeah, if you’re not from the UK, I would guess that it’s not just Americans who root for the giants. How many Bolton or Norwich supporters you think there are in Japan, for example? Or Malaga supporters, or Chievo supporters, or Ajaccio supporters? As opposed to Barcelona, AC Milan, and PSG of course…,

    • george says:

      Old-timer American who grew up overseas watching English football in Black and White every weekend. Started following the old Div 1 around 1977 when I was a lad of 12. Didn’t have a clear favorite team at first but Spurs got on my radar after they signed Ardiles and Villa from the Argentine World Cup champion team, in 1978(in 1977-78, Spurs were in 2nd Division) Then Glenn Hoddle really blossomed and became my favorite player, and so have been a huge Spurs fan since late 1970s. For many of those years they have been a mid-table or worse team. Great to see them do well lately!

  5. Andy says:

    I think you are missing an obvious point in that most Americans want to support a team they can watch on at least a semi regular basis. ManU, Chelsea, City and Arsenal are on Fox Soccer and ESPN regularly. Liverpool and Tottenham (my team) are on frequently enough to stay connected. If you want to support a team in the lower half of the table, you’re going to need Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Soccer 2 Go. That’s a steep investment for a new fan of the league. Also, to your point about Americans liking winners, that’s true everywhere. It’s not just a US phenomenon. I’m guessing there’s more New England Patriots fans in Britain than Cleveland Browns fans.

  6. Andrew says:

    I’m a Fulham supporter. I picked them because of their Americans. I’m not going to jump teams now even though they’re all gone. I’ve invested too much into them.

    • shwtym46 says:

      Yeah! Same here a solid history with american players. Now that the team is close to relegation wander how will I follow if they go down? You would think with the free moves they made they would spend money to get better?

  7. Jeremy says:

    I know they were “called out” at the end of the piece, but I love Everton! It began because of Tim Howard and Landon Donovan’s first stint with the team, but now has become so much more! Small market budget/team still succeeding! COYB!

    • Eric says:

      I started following Everton for the same reason, a player I knew of, Donovan, went there. But now, even with him not there and knowing Howard wont be there forever, they are my club! I also agree on the ancestral roots. Once I started following Everton and learned more about EPL and the lower divisions. I found out about a team in Cardiff where some of my family hails from. Will be very interesting next year should Cardiff get promoted for me lol!

    • Wongo1 says:

      People that like Landon oh I’m not making it in Germany so let me run home instead of working hard to raise my game are the ones that really fascinate me.

  8. Jonathan says:

    I support Villa. Long story, and now a sad story…

    • Gary says:

      Villa as well. Wanted to support an overachiever but not a giant. Sadly, will have to follow in League Championship next year it appears.

      • Bobby says:

        I’m a Villa fan as well. I actually did the opposite of what you say most American fans do, I didn’t want to support a bandwagon team. I wanted to support a team with a rich history. Over 100 year club, 82′ European Champions, 2 League Cups, and never been relegated out of the Premier League. Hopefully that doesn’t change as well! I became invested in the team and I can’t find myself changing teams now even if we go down, which we won’t.
        I finally saw the team play in person this year in Philly. I went baller and got the seats on the pitch behind the LED screens. Got Ireland and Bent’s signatures..haha.. Not the starters to say the least but they were the only ones that came over to give a signature. I can’t complain. At the end of the day, defense wins games and we need to start something new b/c what we currently have isn’t working! UTV!

        • Alan says:

          AVFC as well. Didn’t want to be a bandwagon supporter and did the research. Love the history (Packers + Cubs fan) and colors. Hard to follow them now, as I picked them up at the end of the MON days.

          • Jonathan says:

            I chose Villa for the same reason as you all. Like Bobby, I am now too invested and won’t change teams when we get relegated. I saw my first game at Villa Park this season against West Brom and saw Villa lose to Tott at White Hart a week later. Claret and Blue Army!

    • Dan says:

      Villa fan as well, for similar reasons plus other innocuous reasons. Starting following only recently (09). It has been eye opening to see there is no “rebuilding” period in the EPL, like the US sports. It’s a bloodbath out there and the lions need to find someone to step up.

    • Matt says:

      Ditto everyone else re: Villa. But you know what really sealed the deal for me, as far as picking them? Their baseball history. I bet if more Americans who were looking for an EPL team to support were aware of this, they’d make out OK. Well, maybe not at the present time so much… *sob*

  9. Rob says:

    As an American, before I got fox soccer channel, Man U would be the only team you would see on TV. I tend to support quality and would rather see an amazing goal or style of play for or against the team I am supporting.

  10. Steve says:

    American West Ham fan since 2000 for a multitude of reasons, thanks to the old Sunday Review Show with Lionel Bienvenu: Paolo DiCanio, Iron Maiden, the great fans (would be lying to deny the hooligan element didn’t draw me in a bit), the colors, being a London club.

    We’ve been through a lot in that time: 2 relegations (1 unlucky, 1 well deserved), 2 dramatic promotions, having 1 hand and 4 fingers on the FA Cup only to lose it to a dramatic injury time goal (that I still can’t bring myself to watch again) and penalties and teetering on the brink of financial annihilation more than once. It’s never ever boring, unless Alan Curbishley is around.

  11. Hoosiergunner says:

    Thoughtfully written article. As a American supporter of a top-four (generally and hopefully) team, my interest came from living in England. I just happened to hit the Gunners at the right time (Wow, has it really been that long now…ha), and it did not hurt that everyone I hung around were “real-life English type” supporters of the club. HOWEVER, I also lived across the street from the Oxford United Stadium, and in many ways supported them to the same extent (if not more… it was cheaper). But I guess you can’t really call Oxford a “bottom half” team, as we were never in any danger of making top flight play. The problem surfaced when I returned across “the pond” to “the colonies”… in those days of yore it was next to impossible to get news on Arsenal, let alone Oxford. I guess its a matter of pragmatics. Who knows if things would have turned out differently in the digital age?

    I will say I love watching any and all teams play… and some of my favorite games have been between two bottom half teams… there’s a passion among the players of these teams that seems to be lacking in the “franchised” teams… same reason NCAA basketball is much more fun than NBA. Anyway.

    Also, congrats on the new professional team in Indy (from a transplanted Hoosier).

    • IanCransonsKnees says:

      The Manor Ground or The Kassam?

      I spent an afternoon watching park football over the back of a terrace at a match at the Manor Ground. We lost 5-1 in League 1 at the time so the amateur match was more entertaining.

    • Craig B says:

      We’ve long deserved to have another chance at another pro team in Indiana that’s for sure.

  12. David says:

    I’m wondering if part of it is because there’s not a lot of Championship coverage in the US- if you root for a team that goes down it’ll be difficult to see them play on a regular basis.

    • JP says:

      This is an issue for me. I have family friends in Leicester and even attended a match at old Filbert Street, but it’s comparatively very difficult to find coverage of the Foxes. Occasionally I can find torrents of The Football League Show, but it’s not nearly as easy to find highlights. Liverpool is my number one, and I’m hoping LCFC gets promoted so I can see my number two.

    • Pat says:

      I’m a Wolves fan, but you can’t really see them play over here on regular TV unless they are in the Premier League. So I also follow Liverpool, just to give me a team to follow that I know should be in the Premier League and on TV year in and year out.

  13. Dean Stell says:

    I kinda support a lower table team. I’m mostly a Manchester United fan (for all the reasons that have been discussed ad nauseum for Americans), but every year I DO pick a second club to pay attention to.

    My “rule” is that it has to be a newly promoted side or someone who finished really close to relegation last year. This year my “second club” is QPR. I don’t follow them with the intensity I follow MUFC. I mean…..I was checking for hourly news reports on Zaha’s transfer but didn’t do the same for QPR’s targets – but I probably read the daily news on QPR. Over the course of the season sometimes I grow to kinda like this second club and sometimes I want to never hear another word about them. If they stay up, I might buy some piece of cheap crap off their website (coffee mug, magnet, etc.).

    So, I guess the answer is “yes and no”. I do kinda enjoy following QPR for the sheer “dumpster fire” nature of their operation, but it is a different type of spectacle than MUFC.

  14. Matt says:

    I have been a ManU fan since the early 90′s when Giggs, Neville and Beckham were young pups. First ManU goal seen was a Paul Scholes’ cracker from outside the 18. Having said that, over the years watching ManU, it has given me a greater appreciation for all of the EPL. I love watching the relegations fights towards the end of the season and following other great players. Thoroughly enjoy watching the likes of Ricky Lambert, Grant Holt, Liuz, Taarabt, Michu, Mata, Lennon and even Suarez (ouch, that hurts to say that!). My point is I love ManU, and they will always have a special place in my heart regardless of which League they are in, but I just love the EPL and football even more!

  15. rollins says:

    Villa fan since ’97. But Face it a ton of sports fans are front runners and it has to do with winners yes but also it’s what is shown. Reality is ESPN and Fox Soccer shove the top of the top half of the table down the American viewers throats so why wouldn’t most support those sides? Frankly I’m just glad Americans are supporting soccer anywhere played by anyone…

  16. Nelson says:

    Unlike American sports, EPL clubs only have about 4-6 well known teams.

    • IanCransonsKnees says:

      You overestimate our interest in American sport. It tends to be individual personalities we get over here. If they’re affiliated to a team that’ll make secondary news as a byproduct of the star player.

    • Why? says:

      That is what you as an American think Nelson.The only American teams that I know the sport they play is the Harlem Globe Trotters, basket ball and I don’t even think they are a real team just a promotion team? The Dallas cowboys and Washington Redskins play American football. As for any others I may have heard the name but don’t have a clue what sport and rather like cricket to many Americans wouldn’t know any thing about the rules or what’s going on.

  17. ed of course says:

    I feel sorry for QPR and I smile for Brighton & Hove Albion. I hope that makes me eligible to respond.

    Among the “bottom 10,there are expats who favor lesser teams, particularly Newcastle.

    Even among the top 10 only a few dominate interest: The current top 4 and Liverpool, which rivals ManU in the states. Also, these are the sides who fill stadiums on their U.S. visits.

    That being said, Barcelona and Real Madrid draw as well as EPL visitors and maybe sell as many shirts in the U.S.

    Other indicators besides shirt sales and summer friendlies would be fan club (or penya) membership and total hours an EPL team is shown on US TV. Of course, TV and cable operators respond to demand, most of the time.

    Perhaps, the NBC network telecasts will widen the scope to more EPL teams.

  18. Rob says:

    Also, as an American sports fan, I support my local teams and am stuck with them for better or worse. With The EPL, Its hard for me to have a real sincere attachment to a team when I don’t know the traditions, values ect. like I am accustom to with my American Football team. I have found myself supporting the teams outside The Manchester’s just for some change.

  19. krazymunky says:

    I support Bolton. I have been able to watch 0 games this season. Not even a illegal stream to tune in to :(

    Thought they would at least have Everton vs Bolton in the FA Cup…but that didnt happen.

    So I can understand why most Americans will end up supporting a top 6 team.

  20. ryne says:

    The big teams are more regularly televised on ESPN and Fox Soccer so they are also easier to follow.

  21. wheresmeporsche says:

    QPR through and through. The lack of tv coverage is not a problem. Twitter, podcasts and the net in general make up for it.

  22. Smokey Bacon says:

    I guess an interesting follow up post is who would still follow their team if they went down. The ex-pats will stick their teams because of the attachment. But I can’t see many Americans or newcomers in general sticking around waiting for Wolves or Blackburn to come back. And why should they if they have no attachment to the place. You might as well go glory hunting with a big 4 team.

    • James says:

      I’ve followed Blackburn since 2002. It’s a lot harder following them this year and it’s quite frustrating but that’s where my loyalties lie.

  23. AtlantaPompey says:

    I started supporting Pompey when they were coming off of a 17th place finish in the Premier League. Two straight top 10 finishes, an FA Cup win, a UEFA Cup berth, and I was hooked. Now twice in administration, another FA Cup final, and twice relegated, with a third inevitable, I’m still supporting Pompey. I’ve seen the highs and some absolutely devastating lows. I’m not quitting on them.

    Play Up Pompey!

  24. Isaac1 says:

    I picked a team based on an article on ESPN on picking an EPL team and it compared Tottenham to the LA Dodgers. I am a dyed in LA blue follower since I was born (my father was from LA). I knew I had my team. Always a threat but can never do well enough to win much of anything. The common phrase is “If you like having your heart stomped on regularly welcome to the club.”. I didn’t know much about THFC but I felt they were the team for me.
    In defense of those that pick the constant winners or top ten teams it’s the same for our sports for people in other countries. They love to root for the good or popular teams because it is what is most sold and advertised in their own countries. Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Lakers, Knicks, Celtics, etc. I believe this is done because they likely support a local team that may suck and so when they take an interest in international sport they don’t have as much drive to support a team that always sucks. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people that support the lower half of any league, it’s just far less likely, and even more lopsided when you look at supporters from another country.

  25. joe says:

    Reading fan since the Bobby Convey days. I watched their first EPL match in 07 and to this day is still one of my all time favorite sporting events I have ever seen on TV. Since that day I have been hooked. The 3 years they spent in the championship was tough but it made it all the more special this year when I could see them on a regular basis. I love a good reputation battle, American league need this

  26. Bradley Edwards says:

    If you poll Brits and find out their favorite NFL teams, I’m sure the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Buffalo Bills are sure to finish in the top 5!

    I think it is a combination of things: 1-When you don’t have a local rooting interest, then you are likely to pick a team that is going to do well on a continual basis. 2-The better teams seem to be shown more often on American television and are given more coverage in mainstream American sources(newspaper and online). 3-Americans have to try hard to follow a team in the Championship. If you root for a team that is relegated and doesn’t make it back, then you have no major rooting interest in the EPL.

  27. jtm371 says:

    NFFC since the days of Clough i know they will never win the EPL but when they still play i dream somehow they will make it back to the EPL before i die.no way in hell with A MacLeast at the helm.Following a side in Eleventh place in the Championship should qualify for a bottom side.would not trade all the silverware of MUFC for my memories of Forest’s glory days.GFYR!

  28. AlexTheGreat says:

    COYI! West Ham supporter for years! Yes, even after being relegated I still supported them 100%

    The only other team I like and will cheer for in the EPL is Chelsea but if they play the Hammers then F**K em!

  29. Fernandez says:

    I’ve been a Newcastle supporter since a friend (and avid Chelsea fan) encouraged me to pick a club and follow the Premier League back in 2009. I did some research, read many opinions of “objective” football/soccer journalists and subjective fans, and took into account that I’d dislike any non-American coming to the States and choosing to follow the Yankees, Lakers, or Patriots (a la ManU, Liverpool, Chelsea, et al). I chose Newcastle for a multitude of reasons, primarily their history and the notorious Toon Army. Also because I’d hate to pick one of the top 4/5- served me well as Newastle were relegated at the end of my first season.

    That didn’t deter me. I followed Newcastle through the Championship, and to this day. I’d consider myself a devoted fan, and have befriended many Newcastle fans in South Florida (both Americans and Geordies).

    I encourage my friends to follow the Premier League and pick a club, but I always discourage choosing the Yankees and Lakers of the premier league. ESPN doesn’t help the cause of clubs outside the top 5, as they never even air their scores on the ticker at the bottom of the screen (they aired the 0-0 draw from ManCity vs QPR today, yet left off the scores of Newcastle vs Villa (which has American players), and Stoke (which has American players) vs Wigan). ESPN and other sports outlets could do a better job promoting clubs outside the top 5.

    - Faithful American Magpie

  30. Bob says:

    Villa supporter since I started watching football a few years ago (yes – they were good at the time). Attracted by their history and that they are not a bandwagon team. Even though they are in a sad state and will be in the Championship next year, I won’t jump ship to Chelski or Man U.

  31. Davis says:

    When I was 14 I went on a mission trip to Nicaragua. There I purchased a knock-off Rooney shirt (I had never heard of him or United at the time) in a store for about $4. When I decided to start following the EPL I naturally chose the team I already had the apparel for. Didn’t exactly look at a table before choosing but I don’t think that shirt would have been available if they weren’t a top side.

    I think the biggest thing that makes Americans choose the clubs mentioned is that they are the easiest to watch for free. When I started to follow the EPL I wasn’t going to lay down the money for an expensive subscription(especially for a teen). Instead I followed the teams I could see on a semi-regular basis.

    Since then I have chosen a championship side that I follow almost as closely – Watford F.C. My means of this may sometimes (always) be dubious but if I can’t possibly support them legally then I guess I don’t really have a choice.

  32. Alex says:

    Middlesbrough F.C. in the Championship. Got a lot a friends from the Teeside area and they have gotten me into Boro. UTB!!!

  33. Clay Olson says:

    Your observation(s) are correct in that most Americans pull for Sky 6 clubs. The basis for their adopted teams has as mich to do with “Americans” , however, as it does Chinese Los Angeles Lakers fans. The media coverage in this country is much like that in any other when covering a foreign league. Shaq and Rooney sell advertising while Kevin Nolan and Ricky Lambert don’t have the opportunity to marinate in our collective understanding of the game.

    If we are to assume the typical US fan has no historical allegiance to a club, we should expect these same fans to follow teams that feature world class players.

    I pull for West Ham (long story) although I don’t expect anyone else to.

  34. Jake Slagle says:

    7 year West Ham supporter. Through relegation and all. Usually the only one at the pub, though there are a few of us in my region (Cincinnati). Always outnumbered, never outgunned.

    COME ON YOU IRONS!

  35. S04th says:

    Became a Sheffield Wednesday fan in the mid 80s because, quite simply, I liked their name. Still watch ‘em on illegal streams when I can find them and follow them in the papers (as it were). In lieu of the Owls being up I root for individuals in the BPL rather than teams (Arsenal usually because Arsene Wenger so consistently cracks me up).

    My true love is in Germany and while Schalke is considered a top team I have been repeatedly told (I work for VW with a LOT of Wolfsburg fans) that they will never, ever win the league.

  36. Marc says:

    I started following Man United back in 1997 when Dortmund knocked them out of the Champions League on a conserversional disallowed goal against United. Dortmund went on win the Champions League that season. Acutally I don’t even think it was called that but the European Cup. It was hard to follow them back then. I would watch the weekly high light show when ever I could find it. This was before Fox Sports World when then I could watch Lionel Beinvenue’s wonderful show. I can remember even paying $20 a match to watch my beloved United on PPV. Now I am raising my son to be a United Supporter. I also support Aberdeen FC and the NY Mets. So yes I do know disappointment.

  37. Bishopville Red says:

    I don’t fit either criteria to respond (neither American or bottom half supporter), but I know a lot of Hammers. Must’ve been a mass exodus of east enders in the 60′s.

    I also know a fair few Newcastle supporters, but they’d insist that they won’t be in the bottom half for long. I hope they’re right for the proper reasons!

    SB

  38. Captain Obvious says:

    It’s not rocket science. The casual American fan will support a team they have access to – via televised games and jerseys/gear they can find in stores. The exception will be those who inherit their fanhood from parents or find a team while traveling abroad.

    The teams you listed at the top of the article are the teams typically shown on the ESPN game… And even with FSC, those are the televised teams. To see lower teams, you’d need to also get the Fox Soccer to Go thing… but then we’re not talking about the casual fan any longer.

    Walk into a Sports Authority or DSG and you can find ManU, Chelsea, etc jerseys on the rack. Wigan, not so much.

  39. March says:

    I’m a Colchester United supporter, but I have a soft spot for Fulham and Newcastle. I have not met any fellow U’s fans in the States, or personally met any Cottagers supporter either. I know there’s a good internet presence of Fulham supporters though, so they’re out there. I have met many Newcastle supporters though. Outside of the six big clubs, I really only ever see West Ham and Newcastle fans.

  40. Greg says:

    You don’t pick your club, your club picks you.

    Everyone’s got their own story, but in the end Americans aren’t the only one who tend to pick the best teams to route for. I have a good # of friends in China who are all Barcelona fans (shocking!)

  41. SteveE says:

    I think a lot do it because the team is at the top. I can say that I am a Gooner from Seattle. Why? Our first draft pick Steve Zakuani was an Arsenal youth. Our first DP Freddie Ljungberg is an Arsenal legend. That got me interested in watching Arsenal play and I was obsessed since I saw my first game, loved the play. I tried to follow Wolverhampton as well due to Marcus Hahnemann went to my high school before me (saw them play at the Emirates 2 years ago). It was very hard to follow the Wolves though. Arsenal is always on a big channel on the weekends and it was easier to find streams online during work. So I think tv has a big part in it. The networks pump up the big teams and the big clashes and put those in the primetime. So a west coast guy who wants to watch the smaller teams has a rough time at 5 in the morning on a Saturday if they are even on.

  42. Battleship Potemkin Village says:

    Forest, but that’s because me mum’s from Notts. But because they can’t get out of the minors, I can’t follow them from across the pond. Right now I’m really pulling for Swansea City, just ’cause I like how they play.

    The problem with getting attached to bottom dwellers is that — should they get relegated — they cease to exist as far as the cable channels in the US are concerned.

  43. William Wallace says:

    The problem with following a bottom half team is that they’re not on TV enough in the USA. It is hard to pull for Wigan or Bolton when, in the case of the former, they’re on once a month or so, or, in the case of the latter, they’re never on because they got their as*ses relegated.

  44. cmasia says:

    I’m an American, who lives half the year in Bangkok.
    I became a West Ham fan in 2002 – 2003, as they were fighting a losing battle against the drop.
    A friend, a born and bred Hammer, owned a pub and I was just starting to become a “football” fan, so it became easy to cheer for an underdog.
    Been a Hammer ever since.

    I agree with the premise of the article, but it’s not just Americans who latch on to to the top sides.

    Most Thais I know favor Liverpool, the rest Man U, Arsenal, and Chelsea.

    And most of the people I’ve met there who live in other countries also favor the top sides.

    I’ll go one step further. Brits I know who grew up as fans of lower level sides like Bath and Luton all end up cheering for EPL sides as their “second” side.
    Guess which end of the table these second sides reside in?

    Cheers,
    cmasia

  45. Justin says:

    There are a few comments talking about TV being the issue. They are all spot on, not only do ManU and Chelsea get more airtime here in the States but they also get better time slots. (Not always, I know).

    Meaning with the time difference (I am in Denver, Colorado) games can air as early as 5:30am. There is a real lack of “free” ways to watch football from overseas. You have to have the full sports package on Satellite or Cable to watch which is expensive. There are a few bars that will open but after buying breakfast and a few pints you have just spent $40USD, and that is pricey if you are just looking for a team to follow.

    You end up finding a team based on access to watch them and then once you get hooked then you are willing and happy to pay $40USD and wake up at 5am to watch them play.

  46. Guy says:

    I’ve followed the Premier League for 5 years basically being an underdog rooter in any given match. Stoke just grew on me as being the ultimate underdog team and I have been quite happy being a Potter the last two years. That’s the way it’s going to stay, regardless. I don’t think I have to ever worry about being called a glory hunter. ;-)

    I don’t mind those who back the big clubs. We can’t have the visceral attachment to a team like the English, so we wind up choosing a club for all kinds of reasons. That’s fine. We are all at least fans of the same great league.

  47. Genevieve says:

    When the Premier League launched in 1992, I was 12. I picked two teams to follow, based on my estimation of the awesomeness of their names: Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield Wednesday. Obviously their fortunes have been pretty different in the past 20 years, but I stick with my choices. Frankly, I’m a bigger fan of Spurs at this point mostly because as an American, I *can* be – it’s hard to find opportunities to keep up with teams when those games aren’t available for watching in the US. But I’ve continued to keep loose tabs on SWFC, and I’m pleased when they do well. And hey – Spurs have definitely not been a top team the entire time I’ve been a fan. I have been outright sneered at before when announcing my team loyalties.

  48. Smokey Bacon says:

    Getting caught up on some great posts here. Fascinating stories. Nice to see some hardcore fans among the Americans. Though Pompey is probably a step too far for most people.

    How many of you have been to a game of your team in England? That to me is the mark of a true fan over the armchair supporter. It’s not easy from here I know but you don’t really know Newcastle until you’ve been there.

    Great thread. This one and today’s one about NFL are the best articles I’ve read on here in a long while.

    • Fernandez says:

      Saving up my pennies to make a trip to Newcastle as soon as possible. I made it to their friendly in Orlando back in 2011. I wish they (and the other PL teams) made a greater effort to travel here in the summer in order to increase recognition for the PL.

  49. steven wade says:

    West Ham Til I Die! I will say this in hushed tones, but our most recent relegation wasn’t as horrible as our previous one. I caught a lot of matches on radio, which I really enjoy, maybe it had something to do with being a ‘bigger’ team in the Championship, but the coverage wasn’t horrible. I even bought shirts with Championship badges on our last 2 relegations so I could say, I was right here when we were sh!t! It’s getting a lot easier to follow your team (no matter league position) now with apps and computer feeds, FOX Soccer 2 Go has been great, I watched today’s disappointment on my Ipad. Good article.

  50. shwtym46 says:

    Fulham….GO WHITES! Yes been a fulham fan for along while and its hard to route for a team each year not to go down in relegation. When Dempsy, Dembele, left really left a whole in the club loss in scoring and defense.

  51. Tom says:

    I became mesmerized by Ronaldo when he was on Manchester United. That was when I first got Fox Soccer and was able to watch a lot of soccer. Manchester United was on the most(and the best) so they are my favorite team. but because I’m American, I have no real emotional attachment….. I wasn’t even that disappointed while watchin Aguero’s winning goal last year.

    I enjoy just as much Stoke City (especially late in close games with Rory Delap’s monster throws), Newcastle, and Reading, among others, games.

    Arent most British NFL fans Cowboys, Patriots, or Steelers fans? I bet they don’t enjoy a Browns-Chiefs game as much as I enjoy a QPR-Sunderland match

    • Dust says:

      I don’t agree with the comparison of quality in games of Cleveland v Kansas and qpr v Sunderland, the nature of the premier league and its relegation system means that bottom of the table clashes between the worse teams (like the browns and Kansas in NFL) are far more exciting than those NFL games.

      NFL is the apitemy of using fans as ATMs, clubs have no real incentive to play well, so what if they suck… Actually they get rewarded for sucking they get the better draft picks.

      The relegation system is great and means that any of those games involving teams at the bottom as the season progresses are very very entertaining to watch!

      Far more entertaining than any NFL games with the por teams.

  52. Juss Taylor says:

    As an American Liverpool fan who has followed the club for around 11 years, sometimes I am supporting a bottom half club, sometimes I am supporting a top half side. I can say, without a single doubt in my mind, that if Liverpool were to be relegated at any point…I would be following them down. 100%.

  53. Maggie says:

    I admittedly became a Spurs fan because the boy I loved when I was 20 was a North London native, and at the time, they were a consistently mid-table team. I find Spurs’ inclusion on the above list rather entertaining, to be honest…I’m still usually the only Spurs fan in the room.

  54. Ben says:

    I have been following soccer since I was a Junior General (the New York Generals-look them up). For years, as far as US television was concerned, there were only two teams –Man U and Arsenal, just as the NBA in the Sixties consisted every weekend of Wilt vs. Bill Russell. That only changed in the past decade with Fox Soccer, when fans could see the whole league for the first time. I followed Fulham, principally because of Brian McBride. I was hooked after the Great Escape, probably the most exciting month I can remember as a sports fan.

    Apart from the issue of exposure, it is also hard for a neutral to warm to some lower teams who employ less interesting tactics. It’s easy to follow a team that plays quality soccer. Fulham, except for the Lawrie Sanchez period, has generally played attractively. That cannot be said for many lower clubs however. For example, I always say to my son that I would hang myself if I had to follow Stoke every week.

    • IanCransonsKnees says:

      IAnd that’s the difference. We can’t make that choice based on style or personality. We’re born into it and you either stick with your home town team or get tagged a glory hunter, and have to accept the ridicule that comes with it.

      I haven’t hung myself yet, if I had to watch a team as ‘nicey, nice’ as Fulham I’d have to overdose on cappuccino and start dressing all preppy. 20,000 Hugh Grants, ok yah!

    • Guy says:

      Well, I chose to follow Stoke and haven’t looked for a rope, yet. ;-) Actually, being a Stoke fan makes you stronger, shrugging off all the negative commentary (which is frequently off the mark, btw).

      We know the style isn’t pretty, but it’s TP’s and he’s the one who brung us to the dance and kept us there. That is not to say that many Stoke fans wouldn’t enjoy a change, but for now it is what it is.

      Goarrnnnn STOKE! :-)

  55. Krawmn says:

    for anyone who likes to ridicule or berate others for being on a bandwagon or not sticking with ONE TEAM forever, guess what: some of us don’t care and don’t feel lesser men because we don’t fulfill that definition of a sports fan.

    That^^ out of the way, for myself, I’ve kept with the same teams through my life, but normally just get sick of any given sport after a period of time. As a Dortmund and Chelsea fan, my enthusiasm for footy has not waned despite all of Chelsea’s poor decisions since about the summer of 2007.

    Still, being that it’s now 5 years since Robben and Duff were both gone, about 4 years since Makelele departed and 2.5 years since Ballack left, I’ve spent some time feeling disgusted by Chelsea and watching other clubs in England play as a way to maintain a healthy relationship with football. So, I’ve enjoyed watching Sunderland, Wigan, Newcastle, Swansea, Norwich, Middlesbrough, Everton and Bolton.

    Today, coincidentally, Chelsea are facing a side that I do favor for the viewing experience. Newcastle/Ligue 1B has just gotten more exciting due to the fact that they acquired Moussa Sissoko, one of my favorite players from Toulouse. The upside of the match might be that Torres isn’t on the pitch and I can enjoy the match doubly because of the quality French players for the Magpies.

    The answer, for me, is: no, I don’t favor a bottom half club, but I do consistently cheer for Swansea, Wigan, and sometimes Newcastle or Sunderland.

  56. kylel515 says:

    I started getting really into the EPL last December. I did a lot of research and decided on West Ham United. They have great tradition, exciting football, excellent fans, and they’re in London. First game I saw was there 3-1 win over Chelsea. After that I was hooked. What I love about being an American and picking an EPL team is that you’re choice isn’t based on location since you don’t live there. This may sound weird but it’s almost like falling in love. There really is a team for everyone. I haven’t fallen for a team quite like West Ham before. COYI!!

  57. Kronarr says:

    I used to just watch epl but never claimed a team until Norwich. I follow them because my surname is Cromer and they are closest to Cromer, England. I know it’s a random way to choose a team but hopefully one day i can visit both norwich and cromer.

  58. Sam says:

    I think another big reason Americans cheer for those six is we can see them on TV weekly.

    As a Southampton fan from the days I studied in England, I find it extremely inconvenient to watch a bottom-half team. That is nothing compared to when Southampton played in the lower leagues and it was impossible except during a cup.

    So… I started following Chelsea instead.

  59. Carter says:

    I wouldn’t throw Man City into this mix quite yet. I am a City supporter in the US, and I come across very few of us. I’ve only met a handful of American supporters in the last few years. Obviously most people are front runners, and are United fans…but I can’t say I blame them too much. If you live in a lot of areas, youre pretty limited to what EPL teams you can actually follow. It’s usually the more popular teams that get their games televised. I’m not even sure how you’d go about following teams that get relegated or on’t get their games shown on TV. Its hard enough to follow soccer in the US, even if you’re a fan of the top clubs. Hopefully with the increased popularity of the sport, more channels and outlets will pick up on the games and help spread the word. I think NBC has the rights starting next year, and it looks like they have some interesting things planned.

  60. Wongo1 says:

    I am a PROUD United supporter and I have supported them since 1976, when I rebelled against my grandad who was a City fan and chose the Devils.

    Based on the numerous clubs supported here I think it proves that numerous Americans try to support clubs across the leagues. Long may all the teams survive except Liverpool as no one really cares about them anyway lmao!!!

  61. ToonArmy says:

    I am an American and I support Newcastle United, I will find sites to watch their games and when they play one of the Big 4 and are on TV I get so excited! I was drawn to them by their crazy fans and I like that they are a 1 city team. Not all of us Americans are glory seekers! Magpies!

  62. Eric says:

    Proud supporter of the claret & blue of West Ham. Having spent part of a semester in London in ’00, I latched onto WHUFC and have supported them religiously ever since (which isn’t necessarily easy, living in Nashville).

  63. Brad says:

    I am a Spurs fan have been for almost ten years. My situation is unlike other s, I sought out a team to make mine for years to come, I am from St. Louis and wanted a team that mirrored the St. Louis cardinals. Rich tradition, classy fans, legendary stadium, original type logo and kits. And of course a team who merely had a chance to make a title run one day. I think other comments make good points about the big 6 being shown on TV much more and I agree that is the main reason people trend toward those clubs in America. It did not have an affect on my decision but I can easily say I’m happy I didn’t choose Aston villa or whoever because they truly are shown much less. Nothing I look forward to more than Cardinals opening day, but the North London Derby twice a year is a close second.

  64. bbp says:

    hey! I’m a canadian and have been following the epl for a few years (since coming to uni) and I have been religiously following Wigan for no apparent reason.

    LATICS!!

  65. JimyZ says:

    try supporting Sunderland year after year as a yank. Talk about a roller coaster which always gets stuck at the bottom….

    • JimyZ says:

      BTW, my wife is from No England and I’ve been to a bunch of games. My bro-in-law is from Liverpool and supports Liverpool, my other bro-in-law is from Ireland and supports Man U. Talk about fun Thanksgiving piss take.

  66. Eric says:

    Played soccer since a kid, but growing up in the 80′ in the US there wasn’t soccer on tv to follow. So unless it wasn’t me playing, which was all the time, there was nothing to follow. So even since the MLS started i just haven’t gotten into any team, even though Dallas was close, but in general hated all things Dallas. If Fort Worth ever got a team, I would be a diehard fan.

    For finally trying to follow the EPL, of course I am not following the big 4, I thought maybe the home on my ancestors “Bolton” (but they are relegated) or the general area of Old Lancashire: Everton, ManU, ManCity, Liverpool?

    I will take my time with this. I do enjoy rooting for my fellow Americans. But it is true, the team will choose you. I need to go over and experience as many venues, games as I can.

    • Eric says:

      And no not ManU, ManCity, or Liverpool even though in the area. So Everton? Is this bad if ever to be a Bolton fan?

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