24 February 2021
By Roger Jones
The Republic of Ireland might have its own footballing identity, but there’s no doubt that the English Premier League is a popular attraction for many sports fans. The All-Ireland SHC and SFC finals might command huge audiences that are in the hundreds of thousands, as does the Six Nations, but the Premier League isn’t far behind.
Historically seen as ‘the foreign sport’, it’s one of the most in-demand in the country. However, the relationship isn’t one-sided. The EPL does enjoy a lot of Irish supporters, yet the Green Army certainly repays the favour. Let’s take a look at a selection of the ways Irish fans impact the EPL.
Historic Fan Bases
The UK’s premier division also holds the title of Europe’s main league concerning entertainment figures. Only the Bundesliga in Germany and the Championship in England can compete with its dominance. Ireland has a significant role to play in this because of the historic support from across the Irish Sea.
To this day, Manchester United and Liverpool are still the clubs with the biggest followings. Nationally, United holds 33% of the vote compared to Liverpool’s 29%. Although this reflects in money spent by fans and the EPL’s revenues – more on that later – it also cements the brand’s entertaining reputation.
This is heightened by football betting odds that increase the excitement and anticipation; for instance, Man Utd being placed at 33/1 to win the title, while current champions Liverpool are 80/1. The tribal nature of following a team, which thousands of Irish people do, adds to the tension and boosts the audience’s viewing experience.
Whether you agree with it or not, spending money is part of the English Premier League’s business model. Prices might be rising, yet supporters do get a lot of bang for their buck in terms of the quality on offer. English teams have competed in 22 Champions League finals, a stat that is only bettered by Spain (29).
England’s supremacy in Europe coincides with a greater level of investment in the English game, something Irish fans affect dramatically. On average, a single Irish supporter of the EPL spends €7,408 to cheer on their team at home games during a season. In GBP, this is the equivalent of £6410.
The Premier League will remain a 20-club competition for the foreseeable future
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 18, 2021
Openness to the Brand
Irish fans might support clubs historically and spend money on them hand over fist, but they aren’t a closed-off demographic. Indeed, there’s a lot of room for growth in Ireland, which is one of the main reasons why the connection between the EPL and ROI is strong.
This is best represented by a survey that asked people in Ireland why they follow teams. Among the top answers were “liked a player or players at the club” (17%) or “they are successful” (14%). Strikingly, these are attributes that can change depending on the era. Therefore, the right style of play and transfer policy enables all Premier League clubs to appeal to fans from the country.
As a result, the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City, Tottenham, and Leeds United can all get in on the act and secure a piece of the action. Irish support is fluid, and that’s its biggest impact