Which Team Tops the English Premier League Supporters Table in the UAE? Updated for 2016/2017 Season

Amit Vyas August 14, 2016


there are almost 1.1 million fans of English Premier League Clubs in the UAE - which team comes out on top?

This time last year, the research team at Nexa conducted a study using social media targeting capabilities to see (a) how many fans there were in the UAE of English Premier League teams and (b) the breakdown of the suuport per team.  The results were hugely interesting with Manchester United, after two trophy-less seasons at that time, still comfortably topping the supporters premier league with over 30% of the overall support.  The study was based on an audience of 752,860 supporters residing in the UAE at the time.  12 months on, we thought it would be interesting to see if the 2015/2016 season had an impact on the current supporter statistics.  Would there be any change?  Would Manchester United still hold the title as the best supported team in the UAE?  Did Leicester City's remarkable season generate more fans in the UAE?

1 Year on - The Results

The 2015/2016 season was probably the most remarkable season in Premier League history mainly due to the success of Leicester City.  From being relegation favourites at the start of the season to finishing ten points clear at the top of the table is an achievement that will live long in our minds and go down in football folklore.  This unlikely triumph may also be responsible for the increase in English Premier League football fans in the UAE.  A year ago, there were 752,860 fans in the UAE and 12 months on, this figure has increased by over 44% with close to 1.1million fans associating themselves as supporters of a English Premier League club.  While there may be other reasons for this growth, an increase as substantial as this may also come down to changes in population and increased media coverage.  Either way, we'll continue to monitor this now and in the future.

A Summary of our findings

  • While, Manchester United remain the best supported team in the UAE and have increased support by 60,000 fans, their overall share of support has decreased from 30.55% to 26.21%.  With Jose Mourinho now in charge and superstars such as Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic now lining up for United, we think next season may see an even bigger increase in their UAE supporter base.
  • Despite Arsenal failing to win any trophies last season, their support in the UAE more than doubled from 75,000 to 160,000.  This enabled them to overtake Liverpool as the third best supported team in the UAE.  This may in part be down to their continued sponsorship by Emirates.  
  • Despite an under-achieving season by Manchester City, their fan base continues to grow in the UAE and this will likely continue under the guidance of arguably the world's best manager, Pep Guardiola this season.  Over the last 12 months, City outperformed the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United with a percentage fan increase of 38.8%.
  • Last season's champions, Chelsea saw their UAE fan base increase but a stronger season might have seen a more substantial increase. While Tottenham's charge up the league as title contenders saw their popularity increase by almost 50%
  • The largest increase is reserved for Leicester City, whose fan base grew by a staggering 900% from last year!  We should note that the increase was from a relatively low starting point, however, with Champions League fixtures and wider media and television coverage, it'll be interesting to see if the Foxes can maintain this momentum into next season and beyond.
  • In terms of percentage fan growth from 12 months ago, Southampton saw the second largest percentage growth after Leicester City, with over 200% new fans.  Much of that may be down to the attacking football employed by Ronald Koeman however, with Koeman now in charge at Everton, it will be fascinating to see if that fan base follows him to Everton.
UAE Supporters Table Team Facebook Fans (2015/2016 Season) Facebook Fans (2016/2017 Season) Percentage of Support (2015/2016 Season) Percentage of Support (2016/2017 Season)
1 Manchester United 230,000 290,000 30.55% 26.61%
2 Chelsea 150,000 190,000 19.92% 17.43%
3 Arsenal 75,000 160,000 9.96% 14.68%
4 Liverpool 76,000 99,000 10.09% 9.08%
5 Tottenham Hotspur 66,000 97,000 8.77% 8.90%
6 Manchester City 67,000 93,000 8.90% 8.53%
7 Southampton 12,000 40,000 1.59% 3.67%
8 Everton 20,000 22,000 2.66% 2.02%
9 West Ham United 13,000 18,000 1.73% 1.65%
10 Leicester City 1,700 18,000 0.23% 1.65%
11 Swansea City 12,000 17,000 1.59% 1.56%
12 West Bromwich Albion 6,700 8,600 0.89% 0.79%
13 Stoke City 2,500 6,700 0.33% 0.61%
14 Crystal Palace 3,800 5,900 0.50% 0.54%
15 Hull City n/a 5,800 n/a 0.53%
16 Sunderland 2,500 4,900 0.33% 0.45%
17 Middlesborough n/a 4,500 n/a 0.41%
18 Burnley n/a 3,800 n/a 0.35%
19 Watford 1,600 3,700 0.21% 0.34%
20 Bournemouth 960 2,000 0.13% 0.18%

Source: Facebook Ad Platform. All supporter numbers are from people located in the UAE. Data count: 1,089,900 as at 13 August 2016

Today's Targeting Capabilities: 

As digital marketers we very rarely get a chance to use the powerful tools available to us for anything other than client work, so when the opportunity to have some fun and produce reports such as the one above comes along, we're happy to grasp it!

The above is a simple example of the targeting capabilities available to businesses in the UAE looking to reach highly specific segments of their market.  No matter what type of consumer or individual your business targets, there's a great chance that we can present and market your brand to them.

For more information on how we can help your business target new customers, please complete the contact form on this page or download our Marketing in 2016 E-Book - available to you absolutely free!

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