Before Saturdays crunch early kick off between Liverpool and Manchester United (the country’s most successful clubs) it was claimed by Alex Ferguson that it was bigger than both the Milan and El Classico derbies respectively. This was dismissed by some countrywide supporters as just creating attention on the fixture and it is an undue statement.
After all with Liverpool not winning a trophy in several years (the F.A. cup in 2006) and not having claimed the league title in twenty one year’s how could Liverpool football club hold their end of the bargain in the claims.
This morning however the figures were released to back up the thoughts of many including Alex Ferguson in that the fixture is the most popular fixture in the most popular league, despite Chelsea’s recent money laden attack on trying to swing the balance of appeal and power. It just goes to show that not all foreign supporters choose a team purely based on recent success (glory hunting) and calculate which club best represents them in terms of having values, history, tradition and the personality of other fans, remarkable!!
500 million people are estimated to have layed their eyes on the encounter and more importantly across 211 countries! (That equates to around 1 in 8 people across the whole globe spread out far and wide!).
Despite other clubs across Europe including Real Madrid and Barcelona being allowed to sell their own rights the appeal of the Premier League still attracts huge figures with kick off times being adapted and full and noisy stadiums surely the main attraction.
The record for the largest audience ever for a club league fixture however is shared by Arsenal and Manchester United with a record 1 billion tuning in during the 2007 premier league season. Although this figure dropped considerably the next season, consistently it is the old Lancashire derby that prevails and delivers year after year. Sky sports pre match build up containing news reports from New York and the Far East were bars and public areas packed out to see what would unfold between the red giants.
Basketball and global superstar Le Brawn James tweeted upon his arrival in Liverpool ‘Cant wait, going to see the biggest game in the EPL later! Possibly even the world!’
With James being a minority Liverpool shareholder and ambassador he already knew what the game meant globally despite him being new to football itself.
Nearly four times as popular as the closest rivalry in Milan is incredible considering there are a few big historical fixtures in Europe for people to be interested in. Also not many people would predict that the two richest clubs in the world do not come close with the appeal! I think you have to choose between having a strong league with huge viewing appeal or being super rich, it is as simple as that.