If you’re in London for an extended period of time, you will very soon find that the sport of football has a religious cult following.
Yes, football, not soccer like all you yanks say back at home. FOOTBALL (because you use your foot).
There are tons of clubs throughout all of England, and it would be a true shame if you did not allow yourself an opportunity to attend one of these unique matches.
To start with, the atmosphere at European football matches are unlike any sports atmosphere in the states. Imagine an MU/KU basketball game x 100 (I’m serious). Football is not just a sport in Europe, it’s a way of life. And all of the clubs that are spread throughout England each have their own cult following.
“But I don’t follow soccer, should I still go to a match?”
Yes, you absolutely should and PLEASE do not call it soccer. Football in England should seriously be just as important as checking out Big Ben, or the London Eye, or eating Fish and Chips (gross). It’s a must see, and you truly cannot gain the full experience if you do not ATTEND A MATCH.
The leagues in England are divided by competition level. The best level of competition (and arguably the best football league in the world) is the English Premier League. The next leagues in England are the Championship League, League 1, and League 2.
After you read this post and decide that you would like to attend a football match, it is very important to keep these leagues in mind, as they will certainly depend on the price of your tickets. Premier League matches are by far the most expensive, but they contain the best level of competition and the greatest atmosphere. Championship League games can be just as much fun and a little bit cheaper. I would not recommend going to a League 1 or League 2 match, as these teams are not nearly as talented and the atmosphere would not be enough to prove my point of “MU/KU basketball game x 100”. If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest route, it is the best way to go.
For Premier League matches, getting tickets is a bit of an interesting process. Unlike the states, you cannot just go on to the website, pick your game, and buy your tickets. Since these teams have such a huge following and draw so much attention, you MUST be a member of the team’s fan club in order to be able to purchase tickets. This is as easy as typing in your name and address.
“So now that I am a fan of Arsenal, can I get tickets to the Arsenal/Tottenham rivalry match next Saturday?”
No no no, my naive football fan. Just because you signed up to be a part of the fan club does not grant you access to the most sought after matches. These fan clubs each have different levels. For example: If you are a bronze member, it means that you have only bought tickets to two matches in the past and will therefore only be able to purchase less hyped games. You are the bottom feeder. Silver level means you have bought 12 matches in the past, so you have more priority over Bronze. Gold means that you wake up every morning singing your team’s fight song, have oddly colored team blood running through your veins, and have had season tickets for an extended period of time.
If you want to go to a big time match, the only way to get tickets will be through a scalper. This is a terrible idea. Tickets will be extremely expensive, and you would be better off going to a pub to watch a match. But DON’T WEAR A FOOTBALL JERSEY INSIDE THE PUBS. They will kick you out, as wearing football jerseys in pubs have been banned since hooliganism in English football (you are learning so much in this post).
Tickets to these matches cost about 20-50 pounds, depending on where you sit. Seats located behind the goals are less expensive than the sits situated directly at midfield. Aside from me telling you this, it would probably be best if you just compared the ticket prices (I am an expert, but am no psychic).
The Premier League teams that are in London are: Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham (GO SPURS), Fulham, and QPR.
If you want to spend big money and be surrounded by the fancy shmancy posh fans of London, go to an Arsenal match.
If you want to spend big money and go to a “new money” team that buys all of it’s players and fires all of it’s head coaches (fired 9 in the last 10 years), go to a Chelsea match.
If you want to make a good decision with your money and your life, go to a Tottenham match.
If you want to spend little money, but still have a great football experience without seeing the best competition level, go to a Fulham or QPR match (and root on American Clint Dempsey at Fulham!)
If you don’t want to go to a Premier League match, and instead want to check out West Ham, I give you my full vote of support as I have heard nothing but great things about West Ham matches.
If you are still reading this post, just go to a football match. You are truly missing out if you aren’t.
Oh, and be prepared for singing, swearing, heckling, chanting, and drunk people. Lots of drunk people.
by: Brendan Meyer