Home » Which team dominates London?

London is the most interesting city when it comes to football, there are seventeen(17) professional teams in London alone, not mentioning semi-professional ones because the number is much higher. This topic is really interesting, and it’s been debated since the earliest rivalries in football. Of course, fans of each team will favor their team on numbers, you’ve probably discussed this on many occasions, in work, pub or in your houses with everyone you know, but now we have done a little research to show you some numbers and clarify it for you. The thing you’ve to understand about London is that it is not like any other normal city with its city center and then radial suburbs. London is more of a collection of small towns whose boundaries have met, and it still retains that feel. So, people from Barnet don’t feel any attachment towards Charlton because it’s literally another town, albeit one inside the M25 (the big motorway around London which usually defines the city limits) and won’t want to support their team, they want their own team. When English people talk about their team, it means something close to their families or their communities, so more often than not Londoners choose their team closest to them and usually are not glory hunter fans chasing after teams that win a lot of trophies. In London there is still a decent number of Manchester United fans, which was a bit of a shock knowing the English culture and what we mentioned above and the reason seems to be that it was really successful during the 90’s and 00’s.

There are currently seven London teams in the Premier League: Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Fulham, Brentford Crystal Palace and West Ham.

Arsenal are the biggest team in London, and one of the biggest in English football. They play in North London, after moving from Woolwich in Southeast London about a hundred years ago, which Spurs fans are still bitter about (football fans have long memories). They have a traditionally very middle class fanbase (in contrast to football in general being a working-class sport), and the middle class were the first to use the Internet which is partly why Arsenal have a big online presence. It is also why Arsenal have by far the most expensive tickets in English football, with the cheapest season ticket priced at £985 ($1690).

North London has a bit of a weird mix of really posh parts and really crappy ones. Tottenham isn’t particularly nice (it’s where the London riots started two years ago), but Spurs do attract a lot of North London middle class folk. North London was also the main settling place for a lot of Jews, and it still remains to an extent, and Spurs do carry the image of being a Jewish club. Their supporters have embraced the derogatory term Yid, which has resulted in a bit of controversy over the past year. White Hart Lane is only a few miles north of where Arsenal play, so they have one of the biggest rivalries in English football known as the North London Derby. West London is pretty uniformly posh and residential, and the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the poshest of them all. Chelsea FC actually don’t play in Chelsea, but in the neighboring borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. They are the most successful team in West London and Chelsea is a very chic place, so they have attracted a lot of support from not just West London but also posh areas like Wimbledon (in South London) and Surrey (just outside of London), especially in the last decade due to their success. Despite this middle-class veneer, Chelsea had one of the biggest hool firms in the country in the 80s which was especially known for harboring a lot of skinheads, and Stamford Bridge has been known to hiss to Spurs fans when they play there to remind them of gas chambers. During match days a lot of these Chelsea FC outsiders come into the neighborhood which annoys Fulham FC supporters, who do play in Fulham just a short walk away from Stamford Bridge. Fulham were traditional a smaller, lower league team who had trouble attracting supporters (they were the only Premier League club with an official neutrals section in their ground, Craven Cottage). Their very gentile, West London crowd and the fact that for a long time they didn’t play in the same division as Chelsea meant that the West London Derby is quite a friendly one. None of the four big West London clubs -Fulham, Chelsea, Brentford and QPR- have shared divisions enough for big rivalries to develop. West Ham is the biggest East London team and while never particularly great, they have always been consistently good. Their supporters consisted mainly of people who worked on the docks, and in Southeast London further down the river Millwall FC supporters also traditionally were traditionally dockworkers so they competed for business which is where the rivalry began. It escalated during the 70s and 80s when West Ham and Millwall had the two most notorious hool firms in the country: Inter City Firm and the Millwall Bushwackers. While West Ham are a notably bigger club, so they don’t often play in the same division, it’s one of if not the most heated rivalry in English football to this day and there was a riot when the two met in 2009. Charlton from Southeast London is the other East London club, and while they do have a rivalry with Millwall and are closer to Millwall’s size than West Ham, Millwall considers West Ham to be by far their main rival. Crystal Palace who plays in the Premier League is the biggest South London team, and because they are quite far South they attract supporters from Surrey and Kent (counties outside of London) and have a rivalry with Brighton and Hove Albion, who are so far from South they are on the coast. The other main South London team is AFC Wimbledon, who have one of the great stories in English football. They had some financial troubles in the 90’s and they were bought by a businessman who saw that 50 miles north of Wimbledon, new town Milton Keynes didn’t have a big football team so in 2002 he moved Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes and renamed them MK Dons. Moving teams is basically unheard of in English football and it’s considered the worst kind of treason to the team’s local fanbase. But a motivated group of Wimbledon FC supporters still wanted to have their own club, so they founded AFC Wimbledon. They had a Cinderella rise through the non-professional tiers until in 2011 they were promoted into the Football League. They now play in League Two, one division below MK Dons, and faced them in the FA Cup a few years ago (they lost 2-1) and will face them again in a few months in the League Cup. AFC Wimbledon basically no one dislikes, and MK Dons are one of the most universally hated teams in England. Here is some data from yougov: As of w/c 12 February 2023, lives in London region, age 18+.

Question: “Which one, if any, football team do you support?”

  • Arsenal: 14% (vs 6% UK)

  • Chelsea: 8% (vs 3%)

  • Man U: 6% (7%)

  • Spurs: 5% (3%)

  • Liverpool: 5% (6%)

  • West Ham: 3% (2%)

  • AFC Wimbledon: 3% (2%)

  • Palace: 2% (1%)

  • Man City: 1% (2%)

  • Brentford: 1% (0%)

  • Fulham: 1% (0%)

FWIW, 37% of Londoners say they don’t support a team. That’s compared to 41% nationally, which is a statistically significant difference.

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