You will regularly hear fans discussing which football teams are ‘bigger,’ but what does it actually mean for a club to be classed as ‘big’?
Looking at the Jupiler Pro League, you would quickly say that Club Brugge and Anderlecht are the two biggest clubs, but which is bigger, and why?
With a focus on the English Premier League and its fans, a study by Betway, entitled the ‘Big Club Survey’ asked 3500 fans how they would rank certain criteria in relation to their influence on a team being considered as a big club. From there, the study went on to rank each team that has ever played in the Premier League based on their ranking within each criterion.
The study uncovers the 20 biggest clubs in England, so let’s have a look at what makes a big club.
Method of ranking teams’ size
To establish the criteria and importance of criteria, the Big Club Survey listed ten areas that would be considered when ranking a team’s size. Those included achievements such as total seasons in the Premier League, total silverware, and recent silverware, as well as support with criteria like match-going support and worldwide support. The squad was also taken into consideration through the criteria of transfer spend and number of internationals in the team.
With ten criteria established, the Big Club Survey asked over 3500 Premier League fans to score each criteria out of ten based on its level of importance. Once the results came in and were tallied, it was found that the most important criteria when it comes to gauging the size of a club are: total silverware, match-going support, and European pedigree. Elements such as transfer spend and the number of internationals were deemed to be less important, as you can see in the table below.
With the importance of the criteria established, the Big Club Survey went about giving teams from 20 points to one point depending on how they rank compared to all other Premier League teams (past and present) in each criterion. From there, clubs were given a score based on their rankings in each criteria as well as the importance of the criteria they ranked within.
The survey puts Manchester United as the biggest club
All things considered, given rankings of importance and calculations, it turns out that Manchester United’s dominance of the Premier League era statistically makes them the biggest club in England. With the top six of The Big Club League Table being comprised of the six teams who the majority of fans deem to be the big six of England, it’s fair to say that the Big Club Survey hold weight.
The rankings, which encompassed all 27 seasons of the Premier League so far, also featured a few teams which haven’t been in the top flight for some time, nudging current mainstays out of the top 20, such as Bournemouth. All of Leeds United, Sunderland, Blackburn Rovers, and Nottingham Forest made the cut, with Blackburn’s league title and Forest’s UEFA Cup run having a significant influence.