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Liverpool overtake Man United for UK 'title' with eyes on global prize

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While Liverpool may have seen the Premier League title slip through their grasp in 2021, they did at least claim one crown.

The Reds, an English footballing institution whose roots and traditions coarse through the veins of the red half of Merseyside, are now the most popular club in the UK, according to a data survey that collated social media data, Google trends and search terms for the clubs, players and managers.

The data, compiled for the True Colours of Football project from William Hill, showed that Liverpool have overtaken Manchester United across these areas in the UK, putting them at the top of the tree domestically when it comes to popularity, the Reds able to leverage their success on the field during 2019 and 2020, where they won both the Champions League and Premier League, the latter their first English league title in 30 years.

The 2020/21 season was not able to reach the dizzying heights of the previous two and was one of relative struggle for an injury depleted Liverpool side, but even so they managed to nail down a third placed finish on the final day of the season and ensure Champions League qualification for next season, something that had seemed a long shot at the end of January.

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In terms of silverware success, Liverpool lead the way still with 43 compared to Manchester United's haul of 42, the Premier League title taking the Reds clear of their rivals.

Football is a global game and Liverpool are a club with global appeal.

And their appeal makes them the second most popular Premier League club, behind United, topping the list in 87 countries compared to the Red Devils at number one in 93 of the 250 countries recognised by the International Organisation for Standardisation.

Combined the two have the lion's share of the global appeal, topping the rankings in 72 per cent of the 250 nations. For context, the combined clout of Chelsea (19), Manchester City (nine), Arsenal (eight) and Spurs (one) only musters 42.52% of Liverpool’s geographical wins on the international stage.

Liverpool, who have a social media following across platforms of 94.5m, dominate the northernmost region of the African continent, claiming four of the seven countries, while West Africa appears to be very much a Chelsea stronghold. But it is Manchester United who enjoy the freedom of the continent’s south, dominating swathes of territory from Tanzania’s capital Dodoma to Cape Town in South Africa.

The Riyad Mahrez effect helps Manchester City to being by far and away the most popular club in Algeria, with Son Heung-min having a similar impact by helping Tottenham Hotspur pass Manchester United to become the most popular foreign club in his native South Korea.

Liverpool red covers much of Europe, including the UK, the Middle East and the 17.13m km² landmass of Russia, big numbers in Southern Asia spend their time following United.

United are the dominant club in important commercial territories such as China and India and Liverpool will be looking to gain ground among those nations in the coming seasons, something which will be closely linked to success on the pitch.

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Six different Premier League clubs are represented in South America, with Mexico and Brazil most compelled to follow Jurgen Klopp’s side, while the Premier League's sole Mexican, Raúl Jiménez, elevates Wolverhampton Wanderers into the second spot in that particular nation.

The capture of Colombian superstar James Rodriguez see Everton as the biggest UK club in the South American nation, while Miguel Almirón ensures Newcastle enjoys plenty of Paraguayan affection and Argentinian Marcelo Bielsa helps Leeds United into top spot in his homeland, his success with the Whites being reflected in the increased search and engagement in Argentina in what the Yorkshire club do.

Fans in the Nordic region of Europe, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, are all heavily in favour if Liverpool, apart from the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer connection helping United to top spot in Norway.

Liverpool's online popularity around the world through search traffic saw a steady rise from 2009 to 2017, but a number of key events helped drive huge spikes of interest that has seen their popularity increase enormously online.

Major spikes in global traffic arrived through the signing of Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah's record-breaking goalscoring exploits in 2018 and the 2019 Champions League success over Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid.

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