Which Football Team Has The Happiest Fans?

Guest Post: Luca Massaro is Founder and Managing Director of Fan Engagement agency We Play.

Football is a funny old game. The constant swings and roundabouts is enough to turn us all bipolar. The fallout of a match has been known to wreak havoc in relationships, turning playful banter into insults and abuse, with the ability to dictate our mood for a whole weekend (take a second to thank all the girlfriends and wives out there standing by their man after a tough weekend).

The use of data and finding new ways in which to bring it to life in sport has been discussed a lot in 2012, so much so that this entertaining phenom now has a title, thanks to  the highly influential digital advisor at Manchester City, Richard Ayers, coining this arising new super fad as ‘datatainment’ – we love you for this Rich. Whether or not datatainment is going to break into Wikipedia is not known, but if Gamification can make it, it’s got a chance.

On this note we decided to explore football fans, their clubs and really see how we all feel about our teams. We all have our up and down days depending on the teams performance or news and following a previous post (which looked into fan sentiment towards Premier League managers) we thought if would be grand idea to expand our original analysis and look at the overall sentiment of Premier League fans.

Which Team has the Happiest Fans?

We’ve taken the sentiment data of Tweets featuring club hash tags over the last 365 days and analysed the percentage of these which come out as a positive or negative tweet. This percentage is represented below under sentiment point. For example for every 1000 tweets over the last year mentioning #MUFC, 892 of them had a positive score. The first thing to point out would be that obviously the hash tags are universal but we’ve taken the view that outside of the media/commentators it’s usually the fans who use their own clubs tag.

Here is what the league table would look like if it was decided by how happy the fans were.

Team Sentiment Points Difference between happiness position and league position*
Manchester United 89.2 +1
Norwich 86.9 +14
Southampton 86.8 +16
Everton 85.8 +1
Arsenal 85.2 +1
Newcastle 85.1 +4
Chelsea 84.6 -7
Manchester City 84.1 -6
Liverpool 83.9 +3
Reading 83.9 +8
Sunderland 82.6 +3
Aston Villa 81.1 +5
Stoke 81.1
West Brom 80.2 -6
QPR 80.1 +5
Spurs 79.7 -11
West Ham 78.9 -8
Fulham 78.8 -11
Wigan 78.8 -4
Swansea 78.7 -9

*Correct as of October 31st 2012

The Ups and Downs: Happiest and Saddest Moments

We explored this further, because it’s not enough to just state the overall sentiment score. We felt it would not only be datataining, but it also backs up our case just a tad to show what were the happiest and saddest days for Premier League footie fans.

Manchester United #MUFC
Happiest Day: November 7th 2011 – SAF celebrates 25 years as manager
Saddest Day: December 20th 2011 – Liverpool’s Suarez given 8 game ban after racially abusing United’s Patrice Evra

Norwich #NCFC
Happiest Day: January 14th 2012 – Norwich beat West Brom 2-1 with a late header
Saddest Day:  December 6th 2011 – Norwich fans reel from 5-1 loss to Manchester City

Southampton #SAINTSFC
Happiest Day: March 11th 2012 – Rickie Lambert Announced as Championship Player Of The Year
Saddest Day: January 19th 2012 – Southampton announce failure to sign Gary Cooper

Everton #EFC
Happiest Day: May 16th 2012 – Everton linked with permanent signing of  Steven Pienaar
Saddest Day: October 10th 2012 – Fellani injured in International Break

Arsenal #AFC
Happiest Day: April 22nd 2012: Robin Van Persie named PFA player of the year
Saddest Day: July 20th 2012Sir Alex Ferguson announces United’s intention to bid for Robin Van Persie

Newcastle #NUFC
Happiest Day: April 26th 2012 – Alan pardew wins manager of the year award
Saddest Day: June 18th 2012 – Demba Ba linked with move to Galatasaray

Chelsea #CFC
Happiest Day: May 20th 2012 – Celebrations continue into the day after the Champions League Win
Saddest Day: Dec 21st 2011 – CPS formally charge John Terry with racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand

Manchester City #MCFC
Happiest Day: May 3rd 2012 – Celebration’s from winning the league
Saddest Day: January 23rd 2012 – Mario Balotelli given a 3 match ban

Liverpool #LFC
Happiest Day: September 17th 2012 – Hillsborough documents about to be announced- game with Everton presents Merseyside united
Saddest Day: 20th December 2011 – Suarez given 8 match ban for using racial language towards Patrice Evra

Happiest Day: April 13th 2012 – Reading win promotion to the BPL with an away win over Southampton
Saddest Day: May 24th 2012 – Reading sell Michail Antonio to Sheffield Wednesday

Sunderland #SAFC
Happiest Day: January 6th 2012 – Martin O’neil wins manager of the month award
Saddest Day: December 16th 2011 – Sunderland lose 1-0 to Spurs

Aston Villa #AVFC
Happiest Day: August 2nd 2012 – It’s Announced that club captain Petrov’s cancer is in remission
Saddest Day:  December 18th 2011 – Villa fans reel from loss to Liverpool

Stoke #SCFC
Happiest Day: 25th February 2012 – Stoke gain important win over Swansea
Saddest Day: 15th May 2012 – Jermaine Pennant is handed a suspended jail term for dangerous driving

West Brom #WBAFC
Happiest Day: May 6th 2012 – West Brom’s first game since manager Roy Hodgson is announced as the new England manager
Saddest Day: July 16th 2012 – Odemwingie rumoured to be leaving after a bust up with new manager Steve Clarke

Happiest Day: October 4th 2012 – John Terry found guilty by the FA of racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand
Saddest Day: July 28th 2012 – Owen Hargreaves announced to be training with QPR

Spurs #THFC
Happiest Day: February 4th 2012 – Tottenham beat Wigan 3-1 and Bale announced at Player Of The Month
Saddest Day: December 14th 2011 – Spurs lose to Stoke away

West Ham #WHFC
Happiest Day: May 19th 2012 – West Ham win Playoffs for promotion to the BPL
Saddest Day: February 20th 2012 – West Ham lose Rob Green, for 35 minutes in a 4-1 win over Blackpool

Fulham #FFC
Happiest Day: April 21st 2012 – Fulham defeat Wigan 2-1
Saddest Day: Jul 8th 2012 – Announcement that Moussa Dembele will be allowed to leave for the right price

Wigan #WAFC
Happiest Day: August 25th 2012 – Wigan beat Southampton 2-0
Saddest Day: Jun 19th 2012 – Hugo Rodallega Leaves for Fulham

Swansea #SWANS
Happiest Day: August 25th 2012 – Swansea beat West ham 3-0 to go top of the Premier League
Saddest Day: Dec 23rd 2011 – Swansea Draw to QPR

LOL moment of the year:

Arsenal’s happiest day was when Robin Van Persie wins the PFA Award. Arsenal’s saddest day was when Man United look to sign him.

Serious Moment of the Year:

Villa fans positive sentiment peaks at it’s highest as it’s announced that club captain Petrov’s cancer is in remission.

Down in December

The eagle eyed amongst you would’ve noticed this surprising trend- for half of the clubs their saddest day were in the months of December and January. Outside of the race allegations which occurred last year, could a possible reason be down to the season congestion? Six games between the 18th of December and the 6th of January seems to not only takes it’s toll on the players but also on fan morale.

“Six games between the 18th of December and the 6th of January seems to not only takes it’s toll on the players but also on fan morale.”

If this is the case and fan morale really is at it’s lowest in this period, especially where people have been calling for a break like in the Bundesliga; would fan morale over this period not help persuade the powers that be to make a change?

For 11 of the clubs the happiest days are at the end of the season/during the off season. This isn’t a huge surprise as traditionally the events which will elate a fan group would be a cup or league win, survival from relegation or promotion (as is the case for the West Ham and Reading). Southampton however preferred it when Rickie Lambert won Championship player of the season rather than when they won the Division, definitely an interesting one for Southampton FC to think about.

Behind the Analysis: What Does it Mean?

These findings highlight the importance of fan analysis, knowing the reactions from your fans, what they are motivated by and their emotions around the key events throughout the season. Having this kind of insight into your fans behaviour not only assists with community management and building relationships with your fans, but also empowers your marketing strategy; knowing that certain developments and content will have a positive effect on your audience. That kind of insight is extremely powerful.

If you know your fan morale is lowest in December you can combat this by offering positive rewards, incentives, comedic content, transparency tactics like Q&A sessions with stakeholders and use this to your advantage to turn fan sentiment on it’s head. If you know morale is high then you can use this to your advantage also for any sales and marketing around merchandise, membership, tickets or anything else you are selling.

About author

Daniel McLaren
Daniel McLaren 694 posts

Dan McLaren launched Digital Sport (formerly UK Sports Network) back in January 2010 and has worked in the digisport industry with adidas, We Are Social, Copa90 and Pulse amongst others. He's now a freelance social media guy living in the East Midlands and podcast host with the Digital Sport podcast on Audioboom, iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

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