‘Class’ gets talked about a lot in football. There’s world class talent, there’s the working class fans getting priced out of the English game, and there’s the more nebulous idea of ‘class’ as a way of describing clubs and individuals that do things the right way.
It’s a word we all use, but it’s still somehow difficult to define. To me, when I talk about ‘class’ in a football context, I’m talking about talent and style, sure, but I’m also talking about clubs with a sense of ethics and a respect for history and tradition; clubs that conduct themselves with decorum, and that supporters can be proud to follow.
In general, fans tend to be pretty biased when you ask them which clubs stand most for ‘class’ in the Premier League – we all want to be able to think the club we support is a class act. So we partnered with survey specialists Toluna and asked 1,600 members of the public (a mix of men and women of all ages from across the UK – both fans and non-fans) “which of the following clubs do you most associate with the word ‘class’?”
The Results of the Survey
Precisely half of all respondents didn’t feel that ‘class’ was a word they associated with any of the clubs we included in the survey. As far as the general public goes, it looks like some of the Premier League’s biggest teams aren’t viewed in a positive light at all.
Is ‘class’ simply not something many people associate with football, or do they just have little respect for the top division’s big spenders? That’s open to interpretation, but for those who chose a club, Man Utd was the most popular response by a clear margin, with 13% of all votes. Is that because we’re just the most famous, most successful, all round biggest club on the list? Probably – maybe it was a predictable outcome – but we’ll let you make your own mind up about the data and what it all means.
To reiterate, the survey wasn’t targeted at United fans or run through this site – it was carried out by an independent polling company. In line with population spread – there were more responses overall from London than the North West. Below is a breakdown of the split for each of these two regions (‘London’ includes Central and Greater London):
Even in the North West, City’s reputation lags a long way behind United and Liverpool – clearly the ‘project’ hasn’t won everyone over just yet, and the claim that City are Manchester’s most-supported club looks shaky against these results.
Liverpool, meanwhile, came in just behind United – the graph almost looks like it could be comparing our Premier League title hauls, with United just 2 ahead.
In both London and the North West, Chelsea are seen as the classiest London club, whilst unsurprisingly Everton enjoy a higher rate of respect in their home region compared with the capital.
Arsenal fans, who – judging by the existential crises regularly playing out on Twitter – seem to be somewhat obsessed with the idea of class, will not be happy with the results.
As for Spurs – pretty much nobody up North cares about them, and down South, their reputation isn’t a great deal better.
Whether you’re a United fan or a supporter of another club, we’re keen to hear your take on the data, and find out what class means to you.
Journalists / bloggers – for a copy of the raw data from the survey, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send the Excel sheet across.
Cover image remixed under Creative Commons licence. Thanks to jonboy_mitchell.