FOOTBALL IS, to a large degree, an urban pastime. The sport’s leading clubs generally come from sizeable metropolitan areas. As a game that grew out of the industrial revolution, it was only natural that cities would provide the backdrop for the world’s most intense distraction.
Some football clubs are indelibly linked to the image of their home city – you cannot think about Madrid for too long before bringing Real Madrid into the conversation. Similarly, Barcelona, Munich, Manchester and Liverpool are known for their football clubs almost as much as they are acknowledged for their tourist sights, cultural highlights, gastronomy and personalities. Football clubs can put a town or city on the map, raise its profile and provide an instantly recognisable marker. Some cities have capitalised on this and the economic contribution of a major football club, such as Real Madrid and Liverpool, can be hugely beneficial to the local community.
A football club can provide significant psychological advantages, strengthen community ties and give local GDP a boost. For decades, football’s mass appeal and social importance was overlooked by academics, economists, politicians and commentators. In fact, for many years, thanks to hooliganism and the general behaviour of the sport’s leading figures, football clubs were something of an embarrassment for civic leaders. Today, the commercial and cultural growth of the game has meant that cities and towns are embracing their football clubs as an important element of their identity. Often, a football club can simply make a city more visible.
Judged by the success and standing of their clubs, both at home and abroad, as well as popularity, influence and passion, we have ranked the top 10 football cities in Europe. It is a list that will undoubtedly promote debate and disagreement, and there’s no way it should be considered as anything other than one way to slice and dice the information and data available. One thing to remember is that it is not based on the merits of a single club, so a top performing team can be dragged down by the displays of other local entities.
Top 16 cities by European prizes
To see the GOTP report, Football’s Top 10 European Cities, click here.