Defending Champions Chelsea Suffer 7-Points Decline In Nigerian Fan Base; Prediction To Win EPL 2015/2016 Still In Its Favour

Abuja, Nigeria. August 11th, 2015The Annual Football Special Edition poll results released by NOIPolls revealed that there has been a decline in the Nigerian fan base of Chelsea FC, the defending champions of the English Premier League (EPL) by 7-points from 2014 to 2015; although it still records the highest support (35 percent) from Nigerian football fans in 2015, followed by ‘Arsenal FC’ (27 percent) and ‘Manchester United’ (23 percent).  There was also a slight 1-point decline in the Nigerian fan base of Manchester United FC from 2014 to 2015, with a corresponding 3-point increase in the fan base of Arsenal FC within the same period; an increase that has steadily risen within the period 2012 to 2015.

Likely reasons for the decline in the fan base of Chelsea FC could be attributed to the sale of Pete Cech to Arsenal (which could also have been a reason for the increase in the fan base of this club) and the move of Didier Drogba (top striker and fan favorite) to Canadian Club – Montreal Impact. Similarly, the increase in the fan base of Arsenal may be as a result of the shift in the fan base of Chelsea and Manchester United FCs, also possibly because it won the 2015 Community Shield Cup on the 1st of August, 2015.  Moreover, ‘Chelsea FC’ (39 percent) topped the prediction chart as the FC selected to win the 2015/2016 EPL. This club has consistently been the top choice for Nigerian EPL fans over three years (2013 to 2015); although this vote was highest in 2014 with 54 percent. In addition, ‘Arsenal FC’ (28 percent) and ‘Manchester United FC’ (24 percent) came second and third on the prediction chart.

Furthermore, an assessment of the Nigerian Premier League (NPL) revealed a lower followership compared with the EPL as only 30 percent of Nigerian football fans, especially from the South-East zone confirmed they follow the NPL; although this figure becomes encouraging with a 5-point increase in the followership in 2015 from 25 percent in 2014. Still on the NPL, poll results revealed that ‘Enyimba’ (26 percent) records the largest fan base in the Nigerian Premier League and closely followed by ‘Kano Pillars’ with 22 percent. Moreover the NPL fans tip Enyimba (30 percent) to win the 2015 Nigerian Premier League title. 

Brief Background

The 24th Season (2015/2016) of the English Premier League began on the 8th of August 2015 and ends on the 15th of May 2016. With this new season, once again hopes, fears and expectations are widespread in the hearts and conversations of football fans far and wide. Bournemouth, Watford, and Norwich City entered as the three newly promoted teams from the 2014/2015 Football League Championship, while Hull City, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers were relegated to the Championship League.

As the 2015/2016 English Premier League season progresses, the table will definitely reflect which club has brought the best standards to the competition. While the 2015/2016 EPL season is still young with  37 matches to play out, it is noteworthy to state that the first set of matches have proven to be unpredictable and have set the tone of what promises to be an exciting season. Nonetheless, the current league table is likely to change when the season reaches its finale in May 2016.[1]

On the other hand, the 44th season of Nigerian Premier League which started on the 7th of March 2015 and is scheduled to end on the 15th of November 2015, welcomed the Kano Pillars as the defending champions of the 2014 season. The Shooting Stars, Garbros, Wikki Tourists and Kwara United entered the NPL as the newly promoted teams, while Gombe United, Crown, Kaduna United and Nembe City were all relegated to the lower division league.[2] Enyimba is currently topping the table with 41 points after playing 22 matches. The league table is likely to witness changes as the competition reaches its conclusions in a few months’ time.[3]

Against this background, NOIPolls conducted its yearly Football Special Edition Poll to gauge the perceptions of Nigerians regarding the English Premier League (EPL) and the Nigerian Premier League (NPL). The poll was conducted before the commencement of the season. The first annual Football Special Edition Poll was conducted in August 2012.

The key objectives of the survey were to determine football fan base in Nigeria, measure the proportion of Nigerian football fans who follow the English Premier League, ascertain the support of Nigerians for the English Premier League clubs and assess the prediction(s) on the EPL club to win the 2015/2016 EPL. The poll also sought to measure the Nigerian Premier League (NPL) followership and rationale for followership, gauge the support for NPL clubs and assess the prediction(s) of the NPL club to win the 2015 title

Key Findings

Respondents were asked nine specific questions and 5 of these questions would be discussed in this release. 

To ascertain the proportion of Nigerians who follow the English Premier League, respondents were asked: Do you follow the English Premier Football League? Findings revealed that Nigeria has a very large proportion (74 percent) of football lovers who follow the English Premier League, while 26 percent who watch football do not follow the EPL league.

Analysis based on geo-political zones revealed that the South-West zone (81 percent) has the highest proportion of respondents who follow the English Premier League, while analysis by gender revealed that more male (85 percent) than female (63 percent) football fans follow the EPL. In addition, the largest proportion of respondents who follow the EPL were aged between 26 – 35 years.

Comparing current results with the poll conducted in 2014 revealed an increased followership of the EPL in Nigeria in 2015 when compared to 2014. This is evident in the 4-point increase in the proportion of football fans that follow the EPL. This increase may be attributed to the participation of Nigerians on social media where various topics such as football are discussed especially among teenagers and young adults. In order words, football fans who do not have access to watching live matches may as well follow the live updates on social media. In addition, the EPL experienced its highest followership in Nigeria in 2013 and experienced a huge decline of 19 points in 2014.

 

In order to determine the current fan base of the EPL clubs, respondents were asked: Which Premier League club do you support? ‘Chelsea FC’ records the highest support by Nigerian football fans as indicated by 35 percent of the respondents. This is followed by ‘Arsenal FC’ and ‘Manchester United’ with 27 percent and 23 percent respectively.

Analysis across geo-political zones revealed that the South-East zone accounted for the highest proportion (45 percent) of respondents who support Chelsea FC. The North-West zone and the South-South zone accounted for the larger share of respondents who support Arsenal FC and Manchester United FC with 37 percent and 33 percent respectively. Also, evaluation based on gender revealed that more female than male football fans support Chelsea FC (40 percent) and Arsenal FC (28 percent) than Manchester United FC. 

Yearly trend analysis from 2012 to 2015 revealed that the highest support (33 percent) for Manchester United FC from the Nigerian football fan base was obtained in 2013 when they won the EPL. Chelsea FC experienced its highest support (42 percent) from the Nigerian fan base in 2014 when Jose Mourinho returned to the club as head coach, while Arsenal FC recorded its highest support in 2015, probably due to the addition of new players to the team most notable Pete Cech as the new goal keeper and also possibly due to its winning of the 2015 Community Shield Cup on the 1st August 2015.

Furthermore, there has been a decline in the fan base of Chelsea FC by 7-points and Manchester United FC slightly by 1-point from 2014 to 2015, with a corresponding 3-point increase in the fan base of Arsenal FC within the same period; an increase that has steadily risen within the period 2012 to 2015. This increase in the fan base of Arsenal may be as a result of the shift in the fan base of Chelsea and Manchester United FCs or the club may have just attracted new fans. 

Subsequently, respondents were asked: Which English Premiership club would you pick to win the 2014/2015 season? ‘Chelsea FC’ topped the prediction chart as the FC selected to win the 2015/2016 EPL as disclosed by 39 percent of the EPL followers. This finding therefore suggests that some supporters of other clubs also share this same view given the fact that Chelsea has 35 percent support from the total EPL followers.  Furthermore, Chelsea FC supporters also hope that Jose Mourinho will lead “the Blues” to victory as he did in 2005 and 2006. In addition, ‘Arsenal FC’ and ‘Manchester United FC’ came second and third on the prediction chart with 28 percent and 24 percent respectively.

Yearly trend analysis revealed that Chelsea has consistently been the top choice for Nigerian EPL fans selected over other EPL clubs to win the EPL title for three years (2013 to 2015) despite a 15 point decline from it's 54 percent in 2014. Furthermore, Manchester United which held the second position in this vote both in 2013 (35 percent) and 2014 (21 percent) became the third choice in 2015, while Arsenal which was the third choice in 2013 (17 percent) and 2014 (19 percent) is currently the second choice the Nigerian EPL fans selected to win the 2015/2016 EPL season.

Most notably, there was a significant 15-point drop in the proportion of Nigerian EPL fans who selected Chelsea FC to win the season from 2014 to 2015; this is surprising considering the club’s title as defending champions of the EPL.

 

To determine the percentage of Nigerians who follow the Nigerian Premier League (NPL), respondents were asked: Do you follow the Nigerian Premier League? The outcome revealed that 70 percent of Nigerian football fans surveyed claimed that they do not follow the NPL whereas; only 30 percent confirmed that they follow the NPL.

Analysis by geo-political zone revealed that the South-East zone has the highest followership (42 percent) of the Nigerian Premier League. In addition, more male (40 percent) than female (20 percent) football fans follow the NPL.

Yearly trend evaluation revealed a significant 5-points increase in the number of Nigerians who follow the NPL in 2015 compared with  2014, although this is low compared to previous years where about half (2012: 48 percent; 2013: 51 percent) of Nigerian football fans were followers of the NPL. In 2012, the Nigerian telecommunication company Globacom signed a 3 years sponsorship contract with the Nigeria Premier League.[1] Hence, bringing more excitement to the NPL therefore, resulting in a 3-points increase in 2013.

Conversely, in 2014, there was a drastic 26-points decline in the proportion of Nigerians who followed the NPL. This may be linked to the ‘win-at-home' Syndrome and bad officiating which rocked the NPL within this period. Statistics revealed that in the 2012/2013 NPL season, out of 380 matches played, only 18 away wins were recorded which is less than 5 percent.[2] 

Respondents who follow the NPL (30 percent of the total Nigerian football fan base) were further asked: Which Nigerian Premier League club do you support? The result disclosed that ‘Enyimba’ (26 percent) has the largest fanbase in the Nigerian Premier League, closely followed by ‘Kano Pillars’ with 22 percent. 16 percent of respondents indicated that they do not follow any of the NPL clubs.

Analysis by geo-political zone revealed that the larger proportion of Enyimba fans are residents of  South-West zone (50 percent), while the North-West zone accounted for the larger proportion of football fans who support Kano Pillars (51 percent). The South-East zone accounted for the largest proportion of respondents who support Enugu Rangers FC (25 percent) and Heartland FC (23 percent).

Trend analysis indicates a 5-point increase in the proportion of Nigerians who support Enyimba in 2015 when compared to 2014. On the other hand, Kano Pillars suffered a huge 18-point decline in its fan base in 2015 from 2014 (40 percent) even though it won the 2014 Nigerian Premier League.

In conclusion, more than 7 in 10 Nigerians follow the English Premier League. More findings revealed that Chelsea FC’ records the highest support by Nigerian football fans as indicated by 35 percent of the respondents. This is followed by ‘Arsenal FC’ and ‘Manchester United’ with 27 percent and 23 percent respectively.  Moreover EPL fans picked ‘Chelsea FC’ to win the 2015/2016, while ‘Arsenal FC’ came second on the prediction chart with 28 percent, and ‘Manchester United FC’ came third (24 percent). Furthermore, only 3 in 10 Nigerians indicated that they follow the Nigerian Premier League; and this is mainly  due to ‘Patriotism’ (65 percent), while other fans (23 percent) admitted  “they enjoy it” and that the ‘players play well’ (8 percent) amongst other reasons. Additionally, ‘Enyimba’ (26 percent) has the largest fan base in the Nigerian Premier League followed by ‘Kano Pillars’ with 22 percent. Finally, most Nigerians (30 percent) picked Enyimba to win the 2015 Nigerian Premier League                             

Survey Methods

The opinion poll was conducted in the week of 3rd of August 2015. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample of 1000 phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country. With a sample of this size, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise - within a range of plus or minus 3%.

NOIPolls Limited, No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa.  We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published.

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

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[1] http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2538196-complete-a-to-z-of-the-201516-premier-league-season

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigeria_Premier_League

[3] http://www.flashscore.com/soccer/nigeria/premier-league/

[3]

[1] http://nairabrains.com/2015/07/globacoms-nigeria-football-league-sponsorship-to-end-in-2015-what-next-for-the-npfl/

[2] http://thepointernewsonline.com/?p=33678

[3] http://cheeronnigeria.blogspot.com/2014/03/super-sports-34-million-broadcast-right.html