The popularity of the Barclays Premier League grows with every year thanks to media rights deals that broadcast live games all around the world. Take the United States as just one example. Sports fans in the US who have, for years, ignored soccer outside of World Cup years have embraced watching Premier League contests on Saturday and Sunday mornings before tuning in to catch college and National Football League action. It turns out that sports fans who love the hard-hitting style of American football encounters will accept top-flight soccer as an appetizer leading up to other events that dominate television ratings in the US.
No soccer brand in England is bigger than Manchester United. One could talk about the success that the club has enjoyed when discussing why United are so popular. The fact remains that the United crest, colors and name are all recognizable to even casual soccer fans who probably could not name a single player on the team’s roster other than Wayne Rooney. Every Premier League club, regardless of whether or not other chairpersons would want to admit it, wants to get to the level of marketability that United has risen to over the years, but none have yet managed to achieve that accomplishment.
Just as in any sport, however, with great love also comes great hate. The New York Yankees are not despised by so many Major League Baseball fans across the US because they play in the Bronx or because of the pinstripes on the uniforms. Detractors who would use the “Evil Empire” phrase when describing the Yankees are merely jealous that their favorite teams have not won as many championships as have the Yankees. The same can be said about those who hit out at Manchester United, as United have, for the most part, been the kings of English soccer in more ways than one. As the Mirror recently learned, that success had bred great hate for United as of 2015.
10. Aston Villa
Aston Villa being in the top-ten of the most hated teams in all of the Premier League for 2015 would make a little more sense if such a study was conducted among Cleveland sports fans. Villa are owned by Randy Lerner, the man who owned the Cleveland Browns for a decade and who made multiple business decisions that set that National Football League franchise back for years. Lerner has been chastised by Villa fans for now doing enough to bolster the Premier League side, and it has long been rumored that he would be willing to sell the team for the right price. That price has not yet been met by any group or person.
9. West Ham United
You know what would not have helped West Ham United regarding how much the team is hated among Premier League fans? Signing English bad boy Joey Barton in August 2015. All indications are that the move has been abandoned by both parties, but the hatred non-West Ham fans have for the club will nevertheless remain. Individuals within the West Ham fan base have helped to make the team so disliked as of 2015. This includes one individual who actually went out and got a tattoo of the scoreline for when West Ham defeated Arsenal in the 2015-16 Premier League opener.
8. Newcastle United
Newcastle United have become somewhat of the cockroach of the Premier League in that the team would likely survive a nuclear blast and still remain in the England top-flight. Other teams such a Fulham, Queens Park Rangers and Norwich City have all eventually dropped down into the Championships after managing to hold onto Premier League football for years. Newcastle, meanwhile, have managed to avoid relegation and become even more hated in the process. Will the 2015-16 season be the one that sees Newcastle go down? Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
7. Stoke City
“But could he do it on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke?” is a joke that is thrown out there by fans and by analysts when discussing some of the best footballers in the world. Such comments do not fully explain why Stoke City are so hated within the English football community. Regardless of who is serving as the manager for the club or who is wearing the team’s colors on the pitch, it has become accepted that Stoke are going to play a boring style of football that more resembles rugby than the beautiful game. Neutral fans will accept that teams lose now and again. A boring style of play grows hatred, and understandably so.
Those who do not accept Arsenal as their favorite Premier League club often point out that the Gunners seem to love celebrating those fourth place finishes that have allowed the team to back into the Champions League. The truth of the matter is that Arsenal probably would not be as hated as they are if the team did not feature in the top European tournament every year. There will eventually come a time when those running the club will expect more from Arsene Wenger or from a different manager. The Gunners will only be more hated when they are again in the hunt for the Premier League title.
5. Tottenham Hotspur
One would have to assume that Tottenham Hotspur are as hated as they are because of people in the team’s fan base who routinely mention that the team is about to take that next step into greatness. That step has not yet been taken, as Spurs are routinely relegated to the Europa League competition and to second-class status in north London football on a yearly basis. You can be sure that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy would love for his team to be hated because it is competing to win the Premier League each and every spring. Maybe one day, Mr. Levy. Maybe one day.
4. Manchester City
Remember the days when Manchester City were a plucky underdog scrapping and clawing for victories and attempting to grab any attention possible away from Manchester United? Those days are now well into the past thanks to ownership that has dumped millions upon millions of dollars into the club. City have since won the Premier League on multiple occasions, and the perception that the team has bought titles has made it a hated club within the “Against Modern Football” faction who long for the time when smaller teams could realistically compete with the giants of European football. I’ve got bad news for those people. Those days are never coming back.
It has been some time since Liverpool finished a campaign atop the Premier League standings and hoisted the Champions League trophy, and yet the club remains hated among pockets of English football fans who follow the league every season. Part of why Liverpool are so hated may have to do with the fact that those who support the club love to take others down a figurative Memory Lane when talking about the success that the team enjoyed in the past. Will the hate for Liverpool subside if the team continues to fail to qualify for Champions League football? No, probably not.
They are owned by an eccentric Russian billionaire who will seemingly spend whatever money necessary to buy grow a winning side. Fans of the club are said to be “plastic.” The often-controversial Jose Mourinho has taken the club to title reigns and brought with him his fair share of haters among Premier League viewers. Chelsea have enjoyed numerous victories since Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge, and the club may, as it pertains to 2015-16, have the deepest squad of any found in the Premier League. The hatred for Chelsea is only going to grow with every piece of hardware that the team adds to its trophy case.
1. Manchester United
The New York Yankees. The Pittsburgh Steelers. LeBron James. Sidney Crosby. Floyd Mayweather. Manchester United. As beloved as those entities are among fans, all of them are also hated for one reason or another. United barely edged out Chelsea as the most hated team in the Premier League among those surveyed by the Mirror, and it is easy to understand why the club is so disliked. No team in England has the brand worth and marketability had by United, and the team’s championships and victories on the biggest stages of European football have made the team public enemy No. 1 among many who do not support the Red Devils.
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