Date: 18th June 2007 at 8:49pm
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There’s been a lot of debate on this site in recent weeks about which club is the world’s biggest and what it actually means to be a ‘big’ club.

This was on the back of an article we published a few weeks ago and since then, we’ve been running a poll asking you who you think is in fact the ‘biggest’ club on the planet, taking all of the criteria that we discussed into account. The results of this are below:

Manchester United 37%
Celtic 21%
Barcelona 20%
Liverpool 11%
Real Madrid 7%

The rest of the teams in the poll were AC Milan, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Boca Juniors and Santos, but they all received 1% or less each.

So despite United coming out on top with 37%, it was hardly a landslide victory for any of these sides. Of course, we have to take into account the fact that a lot of fans simply vote for their favourite team regardless of the criteria presented, but I do think it’s possibly the case that both United and Celtic have arguably the biggest followings in world football. However my own vote was Real Madrid taking all things into account.

It’s simply one of these arguments that no-one can ever truly win isn’t it? A classic pub argument! Many thanks for all who took part in the poll and feedback on the original article.

PS Click on the link below to read the original article:

Who Are The World’s Biggest Club?


21 Replies to “Man Utd World’s Biggest Club?”

  • Mr H, Just clicked the link back to the original article. Congratulations on a most though provoking article AND also hats off to all the punters who contributed. Was quite frankly staggered by the intelligent thinking of Mr Cain, who I think is a Man City fan. Now that MUST be a first.
    –Cropped of Stockport (and intellectual midget, lol)

  • God we’re being invaded by the boys from Stockport! Thanks for the comment mate – Mr Cain is indeed a City fan, proof indeed that intelligence can pop up in the strangest of places! Who would you have voted for as a matter of interest?

  • You need only look at the post match show in the Bernabeu last night to answer your question. I don’t think Man U are quite at that level.

  • As has been said before, it’s a tough question – but of the five teams there, it could be argued that Man Utd are the odd ones out as the others are moer than just a football club (though Liverpool could be questioned there, too).

  • I’d say they’re all more than just football clubs, but I take your point. You referring to the fact that Barca are essentially like a national team? Celtic possibly are in some ways too regarding the Irish aspect – and for once I don’t mean that in a derogatory way! As for the Bernabeu last night, I actually thought their fans lacked passion for a large part of the night, but they tend to be ridiculously critical over there. As I said before though, I’d like to see what all of their respective crowds would be if they had 100,000 capacity stadia…I reckon United would average more than the rest as things stand… fact I believe they do now have the highest average in Europe.

  • I would have voted (grudgingly) for Man U and Real Madrid in second. United have 36,000 people on a waiting list for season tickets and in a recent poll 3 million ‘fans’ i.e. merchandise purchasers, in the UK and Ireland. They have the worlds biggest football brand though Madrid are now pushing it. They do not have Madrids Euro history of course. It all leaves me cold though.

    Putting the ball back in your court Mr H, are Hearts Scotlands No3 ? Or do Aberdeen hold that ‘honour’? Anyway, as I have always been told, “size doesn’t matter!”

  • I’ve heard somewhere that Barca have more ticker holders than the capacity of their stadium… It sounds quite unlikely, but does anyone know whether this is true?

  • As a Celtic fan i am probably assumed to have more bias towards my great club. But Celtic do have a massive following, much greater than that of Rangers and many other clubs in Britain. Celtic have large contingents all over the world, primarily in Scotland and Ireland but also extending across Europe to Sweden,Poland,Italy etc. And also Japan and USA. The Celtic fans are also very very passionate about the football as some observers will know because of they many heated debates that take place on CelticVital. Someone recenlty said to me that Celtic have a bigger following in european catholic countires than they may think. I dont want to be making political points now but i would just like to inform some neutral spectators what i am referring to. He said that catholic countires like Italy,Spain etc all have sympathies for Celtic who are generally considered a catholic club and many of them countires assume that they are fighting a football battle mainly on political grounds, which is a common misconception in many countires outside Britain. Nonetheless I do feel that Celtic are worthy of being atleast 2nd on that list. I wonder how many Man Utd fans would be singing if they went on to lose 9 consecutive league titles to Chelsea in the next decade?

  • United would average 100,000+ if their ground was big enough. Anyway, it would appear that milking each ‘customer’ for as much as they can upon each visit is more the current name of the game that expanding the OT capacity. Anyway, with all this talk of ‘big’ and ‘biggest’ lets not forget the grass roots! Someone once told me that Morton have decent potential to become one of the top 8 Scottish clubs. Anyone back this up?

  • Jamie, that list of attendances was for last season – I’m pretty sure that this season the top crowds will be Old Trafford as the capacity has been 76K for the whole season and it’s pretty much been sold out all the way through.

  • Yes AirHearts you’re right in a way – Barca have around 125,000 club members whereas their stadium only holds around 98,000 these days. It’s funny because if you ever try to buy a ticket for the Nou Camp, when they first go on sale you’ll struggle to find any seats available. Then a week before the game you’ll have about 10,000 due to the number of ST holders who tell the club they won’t be going! Different breed from British football supporters.

  • rk1888, agreed that Celtic’s following could well be the biggest in the world. Think I acknowledged that in the original article, but I do still think that the likes of Real and United are ahead of them in other ways to effectively make them “bigger”. No doubt Celtic have potential to get to that level though. One question though, do you think it’s healthy that people view Celtic as a “catholic club”? Personally I don’t and I often feel that people follow Celtic for the wrong reasons i.e. not because they’re a football team from Glasgow. Know what I mean?

  • Cropped, your question of Hearts Vs Aberdeen is an interesting one. This has been debated for many years, the old “third force” argument, which got a tad embarrassing really. Again it comes down to how you define “big”. Hearts have by far the bigger potential fanbase to call upon – any time the two clubs play in big matches you’ll see that very often Hearts have double the number of fans that Aberdeen do. But in terms of average crowds and achievement in the game over the years, there’s not too much between them. However, overall I’d say that both Edinburgh clubs are bigger than Aberdeen, even despite Fergie’e era of success in the 80s.

  • cropped – Morton is possible, so is Partick Thistle, etc, etc. Just don’t go and tell there fans it isn’t possible…

  • Technically any club with a reasonable enough catchment area has this sort of potential up here, but they’d need serious investment to be able to realise this potential. Think Fulham and to a certain extent, Chelsea. Gretna on the other hand, are an example of a team with money behind them but absolutely no catchment area to speak of!

  • Man United for all the millions of fans they have around the world and also I think the best team in the world at the moment even if Milan did win the cup….Southend must come close as we beat Manure last season and have a 100% record against them.

  • Yes well unfortunatley there are a number of fans who follow Celtic for the wrong reason. Im from Ireland, Northern Ireland, where most of the sectarnism is born. There are a number ppl who tend to support Celtic because they see it as a rebel club. To me they are not supporters but shirt fans, People who may been seen to wear the stirps of Celtic but know very little about Celtic and could not even be bothered to watch the games. But there are also many people who follow Celtic for the right reasons, some see it as an Irish club and as you may know Ireland has a very poor standard of football and there is no decent club that can represent Ireland in competitve football therefore that is why many in Ireland consider Celtic to be the club to follow. But i think that now the majoirty of the fans if not all at parkhead are true Celtic fans.

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