Understanding Football in The UK

football in the UK

For many people in the UK, football (soccer) is a religion, and that’s no exaggeration. If you’re looking to spend time in the UK, then it can be important to know about their football culture. And, more importantly, how you can use football to quickly create friendships and close connections. 

Here we’ll look at why it’s so popular and give you a few basic tips to follow. Then you’ll see how you can use British people’s love of football to your advantage. Let’s get started!

The UK’s Biggest Sport

Football is by far the biggest sport in the UK, and it’s not even close. Around twice as many people watch football than any other sport. The UK is a sports-mad country, but football is head and shoulders above anything else.

If you love sports but have never been too interested in football, then it can be a good idea to try and get into it. Almost everyone will have a favourite football team and, for men especially, finding out who someone supports is often the first topic of conversation. 

Not a football fan? If so, then you’ll most likely find people who enjoy cricket, rugby league or rugby union. However, there is a class and geographical divide between these sports. For example, rugby league is very popular in many northern towns but hardly followed in the south. 

Conversely, rugby union and cricket are much more popular in the south and more affluent areas, even though cricket still has nationwide appeal. Rugby union is also much more popular in Wales than in England or Scotland.

Football, however, is loved equally across all the countries of the United Kingdom. Wherever you are, you’ll never be too far away from a huge football fan.

football in the UK

The Football League System

To understand the culture of football in the UK, it’s important to know about the football league pyramid. While the Premier League comprises 20 teams, there are many teams in the leagues below who all dream of making it to the Premier League through promotion.To put it into context, Wrexham AFC had an average attendance of nearly 10k in the 2022/23 season, which is much more than many A-League teams. What makes this astonishing is that Wrexham spent that season in the 5th tier of the league pyramid, needing four promotions to make it to the Premier League.In the league below the Premier League, Sunderland, in the 2022/23 season had an average attendance of 39,328. As for the Premier League, Manchester United had the highest attendance average of 73,645. When combined, nearly a million people in the UK watch a football match every weekend.While the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal are among the most well-known clubs, in any town or city in the UK, there will be a devoted following who are fiercely proud of their team.To further emphasise the point, there is a yearly professional cup tournament called the FA Cup. In 2023 it was won by Manchester City but nearly 800 clubs were included in the competition. The love for football in the UK extends far beyond the Premier League.

What is Footy?

Never call it soccer! Even though the term came from the UK, many hate what they deem to be the Americanization of the sport. While level-headed people won’t care, you’ll get laughed at by many for calling it soccer and they’ll think you know nothing about the sport. 

You’ll also need to change your idea of what footy is! Hardly anyone in the UK follows Aussie Rules and if you mention footy, they’ll presume you’re talking about soccer, sorry, we mean football! While ‘footy’ is commonly used, there are plenty of people in the UK who’ll always refer to it as just football.

Following football in the UK can be an easy way to instantly have a conversation topic, find a shared hobby and quickly feel at home in your new country. All you need to do is choose a favourite team and start watching some matches. 

Thinking of moving to London and want to get set up with a hospitality job? You’ve come to the right place. The UK Pub Co. has been doing this since 1997. We offer full-time, live-in hospitality jobs across the UK. Find out more about our programs or book a chat today. 

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