Nigerian EPL Football Fans Pick Manchester United As Favourite To Win The 2016/17 EPL Trophy

Abuja, Nigeria. September 13th, 2016 –Latest public opinion poll results released by NOIPolls Limited has revealed that the Red Devils (Manchester United) were picked as the favourite to win the 2016/2017 EPL trophy; although, the Blues (Chelsea FC) recorded the highest fan base in Nigeria (35 percent). This choice by fans could have been influenced by the new signing of popular players like Zlatan Ibrahimović, Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly and most especially Jose Mourinho as their head coach. Most notably, Leicester City FC found its way onto the Nigerian EPL fan base prediction chart as one of the least favorite to win the 2016/2017 EPL season after having a tremendous outing last season winning the EPL title in the process.

More findings revealed that almost half (49 percent) of Nigerians watch or follow football out of which the larger share (72 percent) admitted following the English Premier League because they believe mostly that the EPL clubs play good football amongst other reasons. Residents from the South-South zone represent the largest proportion of Nigerians in this category. It is not surprising as the English premier league brings along high hopes, expectations and admirations from various ages and races across the world.[1]  Poll results also revealed that a larger proportion of Nigerian football fans (59 percent) consider ‘John Obi Mikel’, who has been with the Blues since June 2006 and survived 22 transfer windows to be the most valuable Nigerian player in the EPL. Other Nigerian players that topped the chart are ‘Ahmed Musa’ (17 percent), ‘Kelechi Iheanacho’ (8 percent), ‘Odion Ighalo’ (5 percent) and ‘Alex Iwobi’ (5 percent) among others.

Also, the poll revealed that 33 percent of Nigerian football fans follow the Nigerian Premier League mainly because of patriotism and allegiance; evidently, polling experiences revealed that most respondents are fans of a football club from their states of origin. While those who do not follow the league primarily reported that it is not entertaining enough for them, a reflection that it does not have the ambience or hype of other contemporary league across the globe in terms of officiating, broadcasting, quality stadia e.t.c. Enyimba FC has the largest fan base in Nigerian and the club was also picked to win the 2016 Nigerian Premier League title.

Finally, in other to improve on the current standards of the Nigerian domestic league, most Nigerians suggested that the league managers should seek for better private partnership and sponsorship deals, create better publicity and branding, improve the officiating and most of all ensure that the NPL matches are televised on local TV stations in Nigeria to attract more followership for the League. These are the key findings from the Football Pollconducted by NOIPolls in partnership in the week of August 22nd 2016.

Brief Background

The 25th Season (2016/2017) of the English Premier League began on the 13th of August 2016 and ends on the 21ST of May 2017. With this new season, once again hopes, fears and expectations are widespread in the hearts and conversations of football fans far and wide. Leicester City is the defending champion. Burnley, Middleborough and Hull City have entered as the three promoted teams from the (2015/2016) Football League Championship. While, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Aston Villa were relegated to the Championship League.

As the 2016/2017 English Premier League season progresses, the table will definitely reflect which club has brought the best standards to the competition. While the 2016/2017 EPL season is still young with 35 matches to play out, it is note-worthy to state that the set of matches already played, have proven to be unpredictable especially for the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea football clubs.Manchester City rode their luck against Sunderland and had to fend off comebacks from Stoke and West Ham; Chelsea relied on late goals to beat West Ham and Watford; and United were a tad fortunate to overcome Hull last time out.[2] The fact that they have each won their first three matches have set the tone of what promises to be an exciting season. Given that the trio of clubs haven’t yet reached their peak level of performance yet still winning their matches is exactly why they should be feared and this summer some of the best football managers in the world such as, José Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte are joining the Barclays Premier League. Likewise, many Premier League signings and transfers such as Zlatan Ibrahimović, Sadio Mané, among others will contribute to turning this once again into one of the best and most followed sporting competitions in the world.[3] it will be interesting however to see what ensues at the end of season, if it would be a total dominance by the trio or surprises springing up as was experienced last season. 

On the other hand, the 45th season of the Nigerian Professional Football League which began in February 2016 and is scheduled to end sometime in November 2016, welcomed the Kano Pillars as the defending champions of the 2014 season.The newly promoted teams are Ikorodu United FC, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Football Club (MFM FC), Niger Tornadoes and Plateau United FC. While Taraba United, Kwara United and Bayelsa United and Sharks of Port Harcourt FC, were all relegated to the lower division league.[4] Rangers FC are currently topping the table with 54 points after playing 32 matches. The league table is likely to witness changes as the competition reaches its conclusion in a few months’ time, given that Rangers FC is closely trailed by Rivers United FC, Wikki Tourists FC and others Clubs in NPL.[5]

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

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Survey Findings

The first question served as a screener as respondents who do not watch or follow football were terminated at this point. Out of the 49 percent who showed interest in football, 72 percent acknowledged following the English Premier League. More analysis across geo-political zones revealed that the South-South zone had the largest proportion (89 percent) of respondents in this category, while the North-East zone had the lowest portion (65 percent) of respondents in this category.

In determining the EPL Fan base in Nigeria, survey results revealed that Chelsea Football Club has the highest (35 percent) fan base in Nigeria, this is closely followed by Manchester United Football Club (31 percent) while 19 percent of Nigerian EPL fans revealed their support for Arsenal Football Club.

Yearly trend analysis from 2012 to 2016 revealed that the highest support (33 percent) for Manchester United FC by the Nigerian football fan base was obtained in 2013 when they won the EPL trophy. However, the club currently has about 31 percent of Nigerian EPL fan base, representing a significant 8-points increase when compared to 2015 and this likely connected to the appointment of Jose Mourinho as the head Coach of the club in May 2016.  This increase in the club’s fan base shows that there is a renewed optimism among fans of the club.

Similarly, Chelsea FC experienced its highest support (42 percent) by the Nigerian fans in 2014 when Jose Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge as the head coach. Though the club hired a new coach in July 2016, it has had no effect on the proportion of its fan base in Nigeria as it remained the same as 2016.  Also, Arsenal FC recorded its maximum support in 2015 when Pete Cech was hired as the new goal keeper and also possibly due to its winning of the 2015 Community Shield Cup on the 1st August 2015.

Furthermore, in ascertaining the opinion of Nigerians on the most valuable Nigerian player in the EPL, the poll results revealed that majority of Nigerian EPL fans surveyed (59 percent) considered ‘John Obi Mikel’ as the most valuable Nigerian player in the EPL. Mikel has been with Chelsea FC since June 2006 till date as a midfielder and has survived 22 transfer window.  This was closely followed by ‘Ahmed Musa’ (17 percent) and ‘Kelechi Iheanacho’ (8 percent) among others.

Season, results showed that most Nigerians (45 percent) chose Manchester United Football Club as the favorite to  win the EPL title for the 2016/2017 season. This could be attributed to their new manager, Jose Mourinho popularly known as ‘the special one’. This is also followed by Chelsea FC (28 percent), Arsenal FC (14 percent) and Manchester City FC (10 percent) amongst others.

Most notably, Leicester City FC found its way on the Nigerian EPL fan base prediction chart as one of the least favorite to win the 2016/2017 EPL season after having a tremendous outing last season winning the EPL title in the process.

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 54 percent in 2014. However, there is a retreat from this trend as 45 percent of EPL fan base in Nigeria currently think that Manchester United FC  will lift the EPL trophy for the 2016/2017 Season.  This standing represents 21-points increase when compared to 2015.

Chelsea FC, notwithstanding, is currently second in line to win the 2016/2017 EPL season, relinquishing their position as favorites after having maintained it for the last three years. Chelsea FC fell short of the 2016/2017 season prediction ratings by 11-points. Arsenal FC has always been third on the prediction chart and has maintained the position from (2013 to 2016), the club however suffered its first downward slip on the prediction chart in 2016 as it represents a 14-points decline from 2015.

The poll also sought to gauge the percentage of Nigerian football fans that follow the Nigerian Premier League (NPL), findings revealed that only 33 percent of Nigerian fans admitted that they follow the NPL and residents from the South-West zone (39 percent) had the highest percentage in this category.

The yearly trend analysis from 2012 to 2016 show that the NPL enjoyed its highest (51 percent) followership in 2013, while its lowest (24 percent) followership was recorded in 2014. Currently, the followership of the NPL stands at 33 percent representing a 3-point increase from the previous year.

Subsequently, most NPL fans (34 percent) picked Enyimba FC to win the 2016 and residents from the South-West had the largest proportion of Nigerians with this view. This is followed by 27 percent who chose Kano Pillars, whereas another 18 percent think Enugu Rangers who are currently topping the NPL table would win the 2016 title.

Yearly trend analysis shows that Enyimba FC remained the people’s choice to win the NPL trophy for the second consecutive year, though a significant 6-points decline was observed. It is also worthy to note that Enyimba FC was crowned as the 2015 NPL winners. While Kano Pillars also suffered a 3-points decline, Enugu Rangers increased by a huge 12-points in 2016.

In conclusion, this poll has revealed that almost half (49 percent) of Nigerians either watch or follow football out of which the majority (72 percent) follow the EPL, mainly because they believe the EPL clubs play good football and the clubs have good football players. Though Chelsea FC has the largest fan base in Nigeria, Manchester United was picked as the favorite club to win this season’s title. Also, John Obi Mikel, was considered to be the most valuable Nigerian player in the English Premier League.

Furthermore, only 33 percent of Nigerian football fans follow the NPL because of patriotism and those who do not follow the league mainly reported that it is not entertaining enough for them. Enyimba FC has the largest fan base in Nigeria and the club was also picked to win the 2016 Nigerian Premier League title. Finally, most NPL followers are advocating for the NPL to engage private sponsors, create better publicity and branding, improve the officiating and most of all ensure that the NPL games are televised on local TV stations in Nigeria so as to attract more followership for the League.

Survey Methods

The opinion poll was conducted in the week of June 22nd 2016. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country, were interviewed. 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 is the 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://www.skysports.com/football/news/11095/10291127/when-does-the-201617-season-start-

[2] http://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/7-things-weve-learned-so-far-premier-league-season

[3]https://netivist.org/debate/who-will-win-the-premier-league-2017

[4] http://www.premiumtimesng.com/sports/football/193218-nigeria-premier-league-sharks-relegated-enyimba-crowned-champions.html

[5] http://www.sportstats.com/soccer/nigeria/premier-league