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Charlton are the least loved club in English football

Though we have a strong feeling that wrangles over its ownership may have a lot to do with it

With the Covid-19 restrictions meaning supporters aren’t allowed in stadiums, football fans have been using the next loudest platform to voice and share their opinion – social media!

Mediaworks, one of the UK’s leading digital marketing agencies, has conducted sentiment analysis across Twitter to unearth which football club is most loved across Britain.

The bad news for fans of Charlton Athletic is that the Addicks are deemed to be the least loved. Off-field legal battles have left fans distraught at the English Football League’s rules on ownership.*

For me, there’s no disputing the findings based on the Twitter evidence. However, I would say my personal experience is that Charlton is one of the friendliest grounds I have visited. When taking my two young sons there years back (they are in their 30s now) I always felt they would be safe (wish I could say the same for Millwall).

Also, a friend tells me he once visited the Valley to see his team – Everton. The Addicks had just got back into the top flight and were welcoming the Toffees for the first time in many years. The stadium announcer commented on this fact and asked the crowd to put their hands together to welcome back the visitors – “and they did”, my friend said, scarcely concealing the surprise in his voice. As my friend added, at most football grounds the opposition are greeted with hoots of derision, or worse. Not so at the Valley.

The Britain’s Most Loved Football Club analysis explored the most recent 1,000 tweets, across several club-specific hashtags. Artificial intelligence (AI) technology attributed a score to each Twitter post from zero to 100, then the Mediaworks’ team compiled the averages to provide a final sentiment score for each of the 104 football clubs across the four English leagues and the Scottish Premiership.

So, what were the results?

Fallen giants Nottingham Forest have been crowned as Britain’s Most Loved Football Club. They sit top of the pile with the highest sentiment score (74.32out of 100).Despite a catastrophic end to the 2019/20 season that saw their 20-yearPremier League exodus extended, Forest’s late ’70s heroics under Brian Clough and Peter Taylor in the European Cup sees them remain in the hearts of the British public.

Mediaworks’ chief executive Brett Jacobson said: “Football fans the length and breadth of the country will always argue that their club is the most loved and with Covid-19 preventing fans from attending matches, the debate rages on through digital channels.

“With sentiment analysis tools at our disposal, we felt it was a good time to explore which clubs were actually at the top of the pile for the British public’s affection. Forest might have been outside the Premier League for a long time now, but they are a club that people still want to see do well.”

Scottish Premiership side Hamilton Academical and Swindon Town of EFL League Two were second and third on 71.37 and 71.06 respectively.

The analysis shows that North London is officially red, with Arsenal the most loved Premier League club, ranking them 26th in the overall table, with arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur trailing far behind – 91st of 104 clubs. London’s most loved club, though, is AFC Wimbledon, a club that tugs on the heart-strings after being founded in 2002 after former league club Wimbledon FC moved to Milton Keynes and rebranded as MK Dons.

Chelsea, who usually sit in the Champions League positions, find themselves at the wrong end of the table with football fans, ranking 94th.

*On the 17th of last month Sky Sports reported that the potential takeover of Charlton is on hold after the Court of Appeal blocked the sale of shares in the club ahead of a trial in November.

LeagueClubSentiment Analysis Score 
ChampionshipNottingham Forest74.32
Scottish PremiershipHamilton Academical71.37
League OneSwindon Town71.06
League OneAccrington Stanley70
League TwoBarrow69.51
Scottish PremiershipDundee United69.26
League TwoBradford City67.6
ChampionshipBarnsley67.17
League TwoMorecambe66.53
League TwoForest Green Rovers66.06
League TwoExeter City65.91
League OneAFC Wimbledon64.5
ChampionshipRotherham United64.49
League OneShrewsbury Town64.46
League TwoBolton Wanderers64.12
League TwoCambridge United63.84
League OneDoncaster Rovers63.82
ChampionshipQueens Park Rangers63.71
Scottish PremiershipAberdeen63.66
ChampionshipPreston North End63.22
ChampionshipCardiff City63.15
League OnePeterborough United63.04
League TwoPort Vale62.96
League TwoLeyton Orient62.89
League TwoNewport County62.6
Premier LeagueArsenal62.59
League TwoSouthend United62.53
League OnePlymouth Argyle62.34
League TwoCarlisle United62.32
League OneOxford United62.21
League OneMK Dons62.05
ChampionshipAFC Bournemouth61.87
Scottish PremiershipHibernian61.79
League TwoMansfield Town61.65
Premier LeagueSheffield United61.64
Premier LeagueBrighton and Hove Albion61.49
League OneLincoln City61.43
Premier LeagueFulham61.15
League TwoGrimsby Town61.05
Premier LeagueAston Villa60.87
ChampionshipLuton Town60.85
Premier LeagueBurnley60.81
ChampionshipMillwall60.76
League TwoSalford City60.75
Scottish PremiershipMotherwell60.51
League TwoScunthorpe United60.49
League OneBurton Albion60.4
ChampionshipCoventry City60.4
League TwoColchester United60.2
Premier LeagueManchester United60.15
League OneWigan Athletic59.57
Premier LeagueSouthampton59.24
ChampionshipStoke City59.18
ChampionshipSwansea City59.12
Scottish PremierLivingston58.96
Scottish PremierSt Johnstone58.96
League OneHull City58.94
Premier LeagueLiverpool58.93
League OneGillingham58.92
League TwoCheltenham Town58.88
League OneBlackpool58.79
League TwoWalsall58.67
Premier LeagueWest Bromwich Albion58.51
ChampionshipBrentford58.4
League TwoStevenage Borough58.09
ChampionshipReading58.05
League OneBristol Rovers57.83
League OneRochdale57.79
League TwoHarrogate Town57.7
ChampionshipWatford57.66
Premier LeagueCrystal Palace57.62
Premier LeagueNewcastle United57.37
Premier LeagueLeeds United57.32
Premier LeagueWest Ham United57.26
Scottish PremierCeltic57.25
ChampionshipWycombe Wanderers57.16
League TwoCrawley Town57.03
ChampionshipBlackburn Rovers56.94
Scottish PremiershipRangers56.88
League OneCrewe Alexandra56.69
League OneSunderland56.69
Premier LeagueManchester City56.07
ChampionshipHuddersfield Town56.02
League OnePortsmouth55.95
ChampionshipMiddlesbrough55.32
League OneIpswich54.93
Scottish PremiershipSt Mirren54.92
ChampionshipBirmingham City54.62
Premier LeagueLeicester City54.56
League TwoOldham Athletic54.51
Premier LeagueTottenham Hotspur54.38
ChampionshipDerby County54.28
Premier LeagueWolves53.9
Premier LeagueChelsea53.69
Scottish PremiershipRoss County53.58
Scottish PremiershipKilmarnock53.47
League OneNorthampton Town53.42
ChampionshipBristol City53.41
Premier LeagueEverton53.32
ChampionshipSheffield Wednesday53.1
League TwoTranmere Rovers53.02
League OneFleetwood Town52.87
ChampionshipNorwich City52.85
League OneCharlton Athletic51.75
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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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