The English Premier League is back, and with it, African fans desire. The EPL is the most popular football league in the world. It reaches 800 million homes in 188 countries with 90 broadcasters and 400 channels. It is so highly respected around the world that many footballers see it as the pinnacle of competition, where they can put their skills to the test against the finest in the world.
Its hold on the average African football fan is so powerful that match results have a significant impact on the emotions of some fans. When asked what he likes best about the English Premier League, sports enthusiast Abdulmalik defines it as “the best thing in the world after food.” This is only one example of the EPL’s devotion to millions of Africans. When you ask the ordinary African football fan about his favourite club, you’ll hear names like Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool, with only a few, if any, suggesting an African league club. Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United are some of the most popular English Premier League teams in Africa. They have already formed partnerships with major African companies in the beverage, telecommunications, healthcare, and drinks industries.
The appeal of the English Premier League is difficult to overlook in prominent African cities such as Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial metropolis. The EPL is watched and celebrated avidly, with private and commercial vehicles decorated with stickers of their favorite EPL clubs and promotional billboards featuring EPL personalities. African societies, the rich, famous, and powerful are all proud supporters of Premier League clubs. Even Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, couldn’t stay away from it, since he constantly declares his affection for Arsenal Football Team, implying that he may one day assume control of the club.
So, why is the English Premier League so popular in Africa, despite the fact that Africans have established football leagues with teams and international partnerships? Why do African soccer fans pine for the English Premier League while African leagues lag behind? We polled football supporters at stadiums and on the streets of major African cities, and the following observations were made based on their responses:
The number of African players in the English Premier League – The EPL currently has over 40 first-team African players as of the time of this publication. Idrissa Gueye, Kalidou Koulibaly, Cheikhou Kouyate, Edouard Mendy, and Nampalys Mendy are all African champions who play for Senegal. While Africa’s highest-ranked team in the most recent FIFA ranking, Algeria has Said Benrahma and Riyad Mahrez playing for West Ham and Manchester City, respectively.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria now have seven first-team players in the English Premier League, including Taiwo Awoniyi, Emmanuel Dennis, Frank Onyeka, Joe Aribo, Alex Iwobi, Wilfred Ndidi, and Kelechi Iheanacho, as well as some of the country’s largest and most successful football exports. Not to mention countless more Nigerians who play for other countries, like Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, who plays for England’s national side.
These are significant inducements for Africans to continue following the English Premier League.
The Most Exciting League – The English Premier League boasts some of the best football styles in the world, from explosive offensive play to full-backs moving upfield like wingers. In this league, there is never a boring moment. The attractiveness of the EPL originates from its varied combination of styles.
Elite International Players in the Premier League – The Premier League is home to some of the world’s top players. Because of how well the league does financially, many of its teams have many superstars in different positions, while most teams in other top leagues only have one or two. Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah, Joel Matip, Alison Becker, Virgil Van Dijk, Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane and Yves Bissouma, amongst others, all make weekly appearances.
Being able to watch top international players battle against each other every week in the EPL, rather than just when the best teams are there, is a significant benefit of being a regular fan at league matches. A total of 133 Premier League players from 26 different countries were named to the squad for the just concluded FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, with 120 of them playing on the pitch. There were 91 Premier League players in the last 16. Sixty-three of them made it to the quarter-finals, with the number reduced to 12 for the semi-finals. Argentina and France both featured 10 Premier League players on their rosters, with Emiliano Martinez, Lisandro Martinez, Cristian Romero, Alexis Mac Allister, and Julian Alvarez all returning home with national pride following Argentina’s final triumph against France.
Nothing beats an EPL goal – Nothing beats an English Premier League goal when it comes to goals. If players want to score goals, they must strive for it! Any objective requires significant work. The fact that the English Premier League does not have Europe’s highest goals-per-game average demonstrates this. Smaller clubs can still compete and surprise the larger ones. A team from the bottom half of the table, or even the relegation zone, can upset one of the top six teams on a weekly basis. Just ask Liverpool fans about their stunning loss to relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest this season, in which Nigeria’s Taiwo Awoniyi scored the only goal. That unexpectedness adds to the excitement for Africans who follow the English Premier League.
Branding – Perhaps the English Premier League’s tremendous rebranding is what has made it so appealing and compelling to so many people. Many innovations have come from the EPL, notably the popular Fantasy Premier League (FPL). The EPL Fantasy Premier League (FPL), which is a vital aspect of the league’s advertising plan, has become a key draw for the league. In this online game, English Premier League fans can take on the role of a fantasy manager or coach of Premier League players.
The EPL is often unpredictable – The English Premier League is so unpredictable that fans have grown accustomed to expecting the unexpected from each season. It’s seldom easy to predict which teams will finish first, second, fourth, or even last before the start of the season. Only in the English Premier League can six different teams compete for the title. Try finding that year after year in La Liga or the German Bundesliga. There is no other league that offers such high-level competition as the English Premier League. Consider the 2015-16 Premier League season, when Leicester City won the title at the end of the season, capping off what is now regarded as one of the greatest sporting stories of all time, despite having a 1 in 5001 chance of happening.
The Premier League Stadia – There are first-rate venues with first-rate facilities all around the Premier League. Throughout the season, EPL teams maintain completely flawless fields. Every EPL venue is magnificent, whether it’s Old Trafford or Anfield, or a more modern stadium like Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. As a result, even if you know nothing about the wonderful game of football, the gorgeous beauty of their stadiums and the sheer number of spectators will keep you riveted to the television. Even for freshly promoted teams, stadiums in the EPL are generally well-designed and built to a high quality. At 11,364 spectators, Bournemouth’s Vitality Venue (formerly known as Dean Court) has the smallest capacity of any Premier League stadium this season. Even that is bigger than the most popular stadiums in other leagues.
Club Supporters in the Premier League Are World-Class – The fans of clubs in the Premier League are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in the world. According to Statista data for the top five leagues globally from 2011/12 to 2021/22, football games in Germany’s top division drew an average of roughly 43,500 spectators in the 2018/19 season. Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, this was the highest average attendance in the major European soccer leagues. However, with the relaxation of COVID laws, the English Premier League experienced the fastest comeback in terms of attendance, with an average of roughly 40,000 people per game in the 2021/22 season. This demonstrates Premier League football fans’ fervent dedication.
Broader Television Coverage – Because of extensive television coverage, live Premier League matches are the most-watched sports programme on any continent. An estimated 290 million Africans watch the Premier League every year. This makes Africa one of the League’s fastest-growing markets and gives it huge business opportunities. This is because no other football league compares to the EPL in terms of depth, quality, and excitement.
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