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football forum

Measuring the 'size' of a club

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If there is one arbitrary thing I despise about football (that I'm guilty of myself) is the fan appraisal of 'club size'. What makes a club 'bigger' than another? Is it fan numbers? Trophy case? Tall stories of history? Money? What is it, a combination? Saint-Etienne are one of the most 'historic' clubs in French football but these days they are nothing to write home about? Are they a big club based on their history alone? Ajax is possibly one of the most famous and storied clubs in all of world football but are nothing more than a glorified academy these days, run more like a store; developing and show-casting young players to sell to the highest bidder. Are they a big club? What about River Plate? Officially the most successful club in the world but they don't play in a particularly prestigious league nor is their team particularly strong on the sense of European football (one must use European football as the marquee of football). People dream of playing for River, and then move onto 'bigger things', they trade the greatest Argentine club of all time for a mid-level Italian team...

Is there a universal standard? Or is everything looked at in a vacuum? 

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If football ended tomorrow then club size would be trophies won. That is a fair way to measure time.

In the living game so to speak club size should be measured by where you are on the food chain. Money removed what level of player can you sign and ahead of whom? That determines living breathing club size for me. 

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Why are there still people who think United are bigger than Real? That is the real question. 

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3 hours ago, Cicero said:

Why are there still people who think United are bigger than Real? That is the real question. 

Cultural penetration in the Anglosphere.

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3 hours ago, Cicero said:

Why are there still people who think United are bigger than Real? That is the real question. 

Global "fan base" I guess.

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Fanbase plays a bit part, rightly or wrongly.

Trophies also play their part, but I don't think you can go overboard - who is a bigger club out of Blackburn and West Ham? For me it's comfortably West Ham and yet Blackburn have a league title, West Ham don't.

If Bournemouth and Leeds went for a player, I'd say the chances are he ends up at Bournemouth.

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I find it's mostly just used when it fits someone's agenda. In twenty years when Man City have won multiple Champions Leagues and another 10 league titles you'll still have people saying that Nottingham Forest are still a bigger club based on irrelevant evidence from before they were born.

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I used to be bad for getting into "big club" debates but now I don't tend to care that much. Or maybe I have realised it's a pointless exercise and a waste of time arguing with, say an Aston Villa fan about who is bigger out of them or Everton. I value a club on their tradition and their identity now more than anything. 

When it comes to arguing which club is bigger the goal posts move all of the time. 15-20 years ago it was history and fan base as they were what determined success (most of the time) but now it's probably who sells the most replica shirts world wide.

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19 minutes ago, Any O'Brien said:

I used to be bad for getting into "big club" debates but now I don't tend to care that much. Or maybe I have realised it's a pointless exercise and a waste of time arguing with, say an Aston Villa fan about who is bigger out of them or Everton. I value a club on their tradition and their identity now more than anything. 

When it comes to arguing which club is bigger the goal posts move all of the time. 15-20 years ago it was history and fan base as they were what determined success (most of the time) but now it's probably who sells the most replica shirts world wide.

Pretty much agreed.

As a Leeds fan, I'm pretty fed up hearing the debate as we're always dragged into it so don't bother. We know we are a reasonably big club for the division we are currently in, we know that many pundits, journalists and fans of other clubs still perceive us to be a 'big' club because we probably wouldn't get half the stick we do otherwise.

But in the general Football pyramid, we have been usurped by plenty of other clubs who we probably always perceived as smaller than us. Southampton being a brilliant example of one. These are the clubs that have consolidated their place in the Premier League, gone in to Europe and expanded their status globally.

The only thing that I find tiring with these topics is when you get fans from irrelevant clubs like Reading and Fulham, who stick their five eggs in and try to get involved by slagging your club simply because you compete at the same level when really they know deep down they have no place in the conversation.

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1 hour ago, RandoEFC said:

I find it's mostly just used when it fits someone's agenda. In twenty years when Man City have won multiple Champions Leagues and another 10 league titles you'll still have people saying that Nottingham Forest are still a bigger club based on irrelevant evidence from before they were born.

As a side note while you've given me an excuse to mention them, Forest are not a big club. They have been remarkably successful for their size but they're no giant, utter rubbish. I'd say their situation was nearer to what ours was - a provincial club on a purple patch.

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It's a pointless topic of discussion really and is mostly used by fans of a club that don't win anything, or between rivals. If clubs win silverware then they focus on the now and recent past, if they don't win anything they focus on the 60s/70s/80s. It's all well and good and I'm sure it was great for fans when they were alive watching their clubs beat the best in England or in Europe but if you've not won a trophy for 20 odd years then really you're no better off than any Football League side because football isn't about living in the past, it's about winning.

People use the argument of "if football ended tomorrow" but it won't, it never will and if it does we'll all be dead anyway. It's about what happens here and now and always will be, regardless of whether you're winning silverware or you're in a relegation battle.

Some clubs are big yes, but does that deserve a pat on the back? Not digging anyone out here but the likes of Leeds, Newcastle, Sunderland, Norwich, Ipswich...one city clubs with no competition for anything, of course they're going to have a big fanbase. Then you've got your smaller clubs from small towns, less people live there = they will be smaller. Then you've got London, there are 4 clubs in west London, there 4 clubs in south London, 3 in north London and 3 in east London depending on if theyre in the FL or not. Arsenal by far the biggest in London, pre-oil money you'd probably say Spurs, then Chelsea...then it's the rest.

To touch on what @Lucas said and I don't want to get in the business of defending Fulham, even Reading is a small town but you're comparing a club who shares its catchment with three others to a one club city. That being said anyone who supports a small club and gives it large about fanbases etc probably wants to wind their necks in.

Personally I think @RandoEFC got it spot on.

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10 hours ago, Danny said:

Global "fan base" I guess.

Real's fanbase is as big as United's.  Spike touched on the Angloshpere, but the Hispanosphere is as diverse too.  The difference between those two clubs right now is the marketing product both respective leagues provide where the Premier League is bigger.

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In my opinion you have a few traditional football clubs that transcend anything that can ever happen which for me are:

  • Real Madrid
  • Manchester United
  • FC Barcelona
  • Juventus
  • Bayern Munich

Then you have clubs that are absolutely massive but have been affected by their loss of effectiveness on various elements such as finances, success and failing to capture how modern football changed in recent years on time and now have a hard job while playing catch-up...  Amongst other things.  These clubs for me are:

  • AC Milan
  • Liverpool
  • SL Benfica
  • Ajax
  • Internazionale
  • Saint-Ettiene
  • Olympique Marseille
  • FC Porto

Finally you have the modern era which has off the back of great product packages, ridden on the shoulders of the change in football in the modern era and are now more brandnames than traditional historic football clubs with legendary weight.

  • Paris Saint-Germain
  • Manchester City
  • Chelsea
  • Zenit Saint Petersburg

Just to add...  Clubs like Arsenal, Spurs, Atlético Madrid, Valencia, Sampdoria, Roma, Lazio, PSV, Feyenoord, Borussia DortmundMonaco etc... etc... Because you catch my drift, are clubs of domestic weight and size within their own countries but again with the advent of leagues becoming international phenomenons with the way tv has grown to pump the product, are now also included in amongst the big boys as brandnames but it's a false sense of size in reality.

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Chelsea were more or less on equal footing with Tottenham before the takeover, perhaps with more unstable finances. Everybody's second team and all that...

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@SirBalon where would you place Torino on that list? I think they belong in that second tier... maybe they'd be first tier if not for Superga...

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17 hours ago, Any O'Brien said:

r maybe I have realised it's a pointless exercise and a waste of time arguing with, say an Aston Villa fan about who is bigger out of them or Everton. I value a club on their tradition and their identity now more than anything. 

When it comes to arguing which club is bigger the goal posts move all of the time. 15-20 years ago it was history and fan base as they were what determined success (most of the time) but now it's probably who sells the most replica shirts world wide.

 

9 hours ago, SirBalon said:

In my opinion you have a few traditional football clubs that transcend anything that can ever happen which for me are:

  • Real Madrid
  • Manchester United
  • FC Barcelona
  • Juventus
  • Bayern Munich

Then you have clubs that are absolutely massive but have been affected by their loss of effectiveness on various elements such as finances, success and failing to capture how modern football changed in recent years on time and now have a hard job while playing catch-up...  Amongst other things.  These clubs for me are:

  • AC Milan
  • Liverpool
  • SL Benfica
  • Ajax
  • Internazionale
  • Saint-Ettiene
  • Olympique Marseille
  • FC Porto

Finally you have the modern era which has off the back of great product packages, ridden on the shoulders of the change in football in the modern era and are now more brandnames than traditional historic football clubs with legendary weight.

  • Paris Saint-Germain
  • Manchester City
  • Chelsea
  • Zenit Saint Petersburg

Just to add...  Clubs like Arsenal, Spurs, Atlético Madrid, Valencia, Sampdoria, Roma, Lazio, PSV, Feyenoord, Borussia DortmundMonaco etc... etc... Because you catch my drift, are clubs of domestic weight and size within their own countries but again with the advent of leagues becoming international phenomenons with the way tv has grown to pump the product, are now also included in amongst the big boys as brandnames but it's a false sense of size in reality.

I'd probably agree with this categorisation.

I do love my history, so I'll always stick up for the likes of Preston, Huddersfield and Blackburn when you get people calling them small clubs.

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2 hours ago, Spike said:

Chelsea were more or less on equal footing with Tottenham before the takeover, perhaps with more unstable finances. Everybody's second team and all that...

In what sense? Performance on the pitch at that present time sure, but you were absolutely nowhere near us in pretty much every other aspect. Domestically you still don't come close in terms of fanbase. Money has changed things in terms of global fanbase and recent success of course though.

 

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1 minute ago, Storts said:

In what sense? Performance on the pitch at that present time sure, but you were absolutely nowhere near us in pretty much every other aspect. Domestically you still don't come close in terms of fanbase. Money has changed things in terms of global fanbase and recent success of course though.

 

Recent trophies and team talent.

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1 minute ago, The Artful Dodger said:

Do Spurs dominate the South then? You don't get many up North really, whereas Chelsea have infiltrated the glory seeking youth.

Compared to Chelsea? Yeah, absolutely - Home Counties and London definitely in our favour. 

We don't have the youth up north, we do have pretty big fanbase of an older generation though. 

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@El_Loco who would you say was the biggest Brazilian club mate? There are some huge clubs in Brazil and once upon a time you actually had arguably the strongest league in the world. At that time, Brazil was producing the best players around and those players didn't move to Europe back then. I'm speaking about Pele's day and Garrincha's.

But still today, Brazilian football is certainly not outright poor(despite having a lot of problems), neither is the Argentine league and I rank them above any other league in the world other than La Liga, the Premier League, the Bundesliga, Serie A and the French league, which is growing.

I think it's unfair to forget South America when speaking about the world as they are a very rich footballing continent themselves. The rest of the continents(other than Europe and South America) in the world are irrelevant in these discussions though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Spike said:

Recent trophies and team talent.

We were awful during the 90's and early 00's but in terms of size of club wasn't even close before the takeover. Nowadays a different matter though, Chelsea's global appeal is huge.

Big club debates are stupid though to get back to the original topic!

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46 minutes ago, Storts said:

We were awful during the 90's and early 00's but in terms of size of club wasn't even close before the takeover. Nowadays a different matter though, Chelsea's global appeal is huge.

Big club debates are stupid though to get back to the original topic!

That is kinda why I said more or less. Better team at the time? Chelsea. More popular? Tottenham. It is never clear, cut, and dried for most teams. 

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3 hours ago, Spike said:

@SirBalon where would you place Torino on that list? I think they belong in that second tier... maybe they'd be first tier if not for Superga...

Torino are an era club for me. It’s just an opinion though mate like everything else on this is. Due to the Superga disaster that stunted what may have been. For many, that team was the best team in the world at the time by a considerable margin.

What I’ve always found curious about Torino is that they are the majority supported club in their home city of Turin, massively! But their giant sister is one of the traditional giants that will never die and that’s that Juventus have had their moments where they could’ve observed doom from their own doing and in other circumstances due to financial issues. But because they are one of those clubs in the first list they will always resurrect themselves and be at the top of the tree. 

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12 hours ago, SirBalon said:

Real's fanbase is as big as United's.  Spike touched on the Angloshpere, but the Hispanosphere is as diverse too.  The difference between those two clubs right now is the marketing product both respective leagues provide where the Premier League is bigger.

I don't think it is, United are the biggest in Asia and when they played each other in North America Real Madrid had to alter an aerial photograph to make it look like the majority were wearing white instead of red.

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5 minutes ago, Danny said:

I don't think it is, United are the biggest in Asia and when they played each other in North America Real Madrid had to alter an aerial photograph to make it look like the majority were wearing white instead of red.

Play the game in Mexico or any other Latin American country and take aerial pictures then.  The Premier League is a bigger product in the US without a doubt.

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1 minute ago, SirBalon said:

Play the game in Mexico or any other Latin American country and take aerial pictures then.  The Premier League is a bigger product in the US without a doubt.

I don't doubt that, I just don't believe Real Madrid are a bigger global entity than United when it comes to "fanbase". (Not that it actually makes a difference to actual supporters)

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Just now, Danny said:

I don't doubt that, I just don't believe Real Madrid are a bigger global entity than United when it comes to "fanbase". (Not that it actually makes a difference to actual supporters)

Indeed...  What we're going into here are semantics and basically merchandise and branding because what happens outside your continent is exactly that.  But believe me...  You go to Spain and they'll believe one thing 100% and if they come here they'll probably be told something different.  I have no reason to defend that club, no reason at all, but for me personally United don't even come close and aren't even on the same stratosphere.  Real Madrid are on their own and then we have the elite which consists of 4 or 5 clubs at most.

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