The Premier League, often referred to as the English Premier League (EPL), is the top professional football league in England. It is one of the most popular and competitive football leagues in the world. The league was founded in 1992 when the clubs of the old First Division decided to break away from the Football League to take advantage of lucrative television deals and increase revenue.
The Premier League consists of 20 teams that play a total of 38 matches each during a season, which typically runs from August to May. These teams face each other twice, once at their home stadium and once at their opponent’s. At the end of the season the team with the most points is crowned the champion.
The three teams with the fewest points at the end of the season are relegated to the Championship, the second-tier league in English football. In return, the top three teams from the Championship are promoted to the Premier League for the next season, ensuring a constant turnover of teams.
Over the years, the league has attracted some of the world’s best football talents, making it a showcase for iconic players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney, Sergio Agüero, Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Austin Okocha and Kanu Nwankwo just to mention a few.
Through this, the league has attracted significant sponsorship deals, and its clubs have substantial revenues, thanks in part to lucrative television contracts. This financial power enables clubs to invest heavily in world-class players, managers, and state-of-the-art facilities.
Convincingly, the influx of first-class players to the Premier League has attracted a massive global following. Its matches are broadcast to over 190 countries, allowing fans to watch their favourite teams and players regardless of their location. The Premier League’s combination of high-quality football, intense competition, global stars, and passionate fan base has contributed to its immense popularity and status as one of the most-watched and followed football leagues in the world.
Africa is not an exception. The Premier League is popular in Africa with most fanatical fans you can find anywhere around the world. Fierce rivalries between clubs add an extra level of excitement to matches. In Africa, some notable rivalries include Manchester United vs. Manchester City (the Manchester Derby), Liverpool vs. Everton (the Merseyside Derby), and Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur (the North London Derby.) These matches are always watched with enthusiasm, betting and arguments leading to fight at times. Matches like Chelsea vs. Arsenal, Liverpool vs. Chelsea and many others are also crowed pullers as fans wait patiently for the match days.
Expectedly, the question to ask is why do Africans like Premier League more than their leagues? Speaking to Dayo Olagunju, a premier league enthusiast in Lagos. He said, “The Premier League has a significant cultural impact, not just in England but worldwide. It has become a prominent part of popular culture, generating immense passion and support among fans. The league’s influence extends beyond the pitch, shaping fashion, music, and other aspects of contemporary society.
“Many African countries were former colonies of European nations, including England. As a result, there has been a longstanding cultural and historical connection between Africa and the United Kingdom. Football, being a popular sport in both regions, naturally led to an interest in English football leagues like the Premier League.”
He adds, “The extensive television coverage of the Premier League has also played a crucial role in its popularity in Africa. African viewers have access to live matches, highlights, and analyses through various television networks and streaming platforms, and this exposure has helped develop a dedicated fan base.
“Also, attraction of some of the best prominent football talents from Africa over the years, like Didier Drogba, Nwankwo Kanu, Austin Okocha, Samuel Eto’o, Yaya Touré, and Mohamed Salah, among others, have made the Premier League gained a significant following because their performances inspired young African players and captured the attention of football fans across the continent.”
For Adedotun Muyiwa, a resident of Ibadan and an ardent Premier League fan says, “the Premier League is renowned for its competitiveness, thrilling matches, and high-quality football. The unpredictability of results and the fast-paced nature of the game make it exciting to watch. African football fans appreciate the intensity and skill displayed by the teams, which adds to the appeal and popularity of the league.
“Interestingly so, football has a strong social and communal aspect in African culture. Watching and discussing football matches is a shared experience that brings people together. The Premier League’s popularity in Africa has created a sense of community among fans, allowing them to connect and engage in conversations about their favourite teams and players.”
Other sports marketing experts have said that marketing and sponsorship of the Premier League are all top notch. They said, the Premier League and its clubs have actively pursued marketing strategies to expand their fan base in Africa. This they do, by organising pre-season tours, launched promotional campaigns, and established partnerships with African companies and organizations. These efforts have helped increase the league’s visibility and attract more followers than the African leagues themselves.
Sadly, they said, the lukewarm attitude of football administrators in Africa has led to why most Africans do not reckon with their leagues in spite the propinquity of their leagues, as most of the matches in different countries across Africa are played in their backyard, but instead of watching and supporting, what they do is to support different football clubs in The Premier League.
They said that many years of football maladministration, poor marketing strategies and lack of strong sponsorship have made the leagues in Africa unattractive, moribund and fail to attract interest from football followers in Africa.
How To Make African Leagues Attractive
In proffering solution to this, expert said, to make African football leagues more attractive, several measures could be implemented. One of them is improvement in infrastructure which can help grow the leagues in Africa. For instance, many stadia lack proper facilities, such as quality playing surfaces, modern changing rooms, and seating. Hence, improving infrastructure would create a better match-day experience for fans, enhance player safety, and attract more investment from sponsors.
A football analyst, John Chukwuemeka said, increase funding for African football leagues has a role to play in salvaging football in Africa. According to him, “African football leagues require significant investment to attract top players, coaches, and officials. So, increased funding would enable clubs to improve their facilities, provide better salaries for players and staff, and invest in youth development programmes. Governments, private investors, and international football organizations could also sprovide financial support to help improve the leagues’ competitiveness.”
He adds, “African football leagues could benefit from professionalizing their management structures. This could involve appointing qualified administrators to manage clubs and leagues and implementing systems to ensure transparency and accountability. Improved management could help attract more investment, enhance the quality of football, and increase the leagues’ competitiveness.
“Also, African football leagues need to expand their media coverage to increase their visibility. Increased media coverage would enable more fans to follow the leagues’ matches, create greater awareness about the leagues, and attract more sponsors. Broadcasting partnerships, social media platforms, and streaming services could be used to expand the leagues’ media coverage.
“Developing young talent is also critical to the success of any football league. African football leagues should invest in youth development programmes to identify and nurture young players. This would not only help create a pipeline of talented players for the leagues, but also create a sense of pride and identity among local communities.”
For Tolu Adeyemo, a football lover, “Football leagues should invest in improving the quality of football on display. This could involve attracting top-quality players, implementing better training methods, and adopting modern tactical approaches to the game.”
He adds, “Football is a sport that thrives on fan engagement. African football leagues should implement measures to engage fans, such as creating fan zones, organizing fan events, and encouraging supporter participation. This would help create a sense of community and excitement around the leagues and increase their appeal to fans.
In conclusion, making African football leagues more attractive requires a multi-pronged approach that should involves concerted efforts by all. There should be political will to introduce measures that will improve the standard of football in Africa and by implementing these measures, African football leagues can enhance their competitiveness, increase their appeal to fans, and establish themselves as world-class football leagues.
What is your thought about the story?
Share with your friends.