How do you decide the popularity of a football club? Stadium attendance? Or the sales of jersey? Or the number of twitter followers? Well the answer is not as simple as it seems to be. One has to consider multiple factors before reaching to a conclusion. We have done exactly that. Here is our in-depth analysis to decide whether Kerala Blasters are the most popular football club in ISL:

1) Average Attendance:

#TeamStadiumAverage AttendanceStadium Capacity (ISL)
1.Kerala Blasters FCJawaharlal Nehru Stadium31,76338,086
2.Jamshedpur FCJRD Tata Sports Complex21,37425,424
3.Bengaluru FCSree Kanteerava Stadium19,05325,810
4.FC GoaFatorda Stadium19,05325,000
5.Chennaiyin FCJawaharlal Nehru Stadium15,53820,765
6.ATKSalt Lake Stadium12,66950,500
7.FC Pune CityCS Sports Complex8,71112,000
8.North East UnitedIG Athletic Stadium8,21723,850
9.Delhi DynamosJawaharlal Nehru Stadium6,88614,342
10.FC Mumbai CityMumbai Sports Arena6,4497,960

This is a very straight forward catch – the attendance a club enjoys at the stadium would easily determine the popularity of the club.  In term of average attendance, Kerala Blasters are the undisputed leaders. They had a mean attendance of 31,763, which is 12,662 more than the next club, Jamshedpur FC.

However, average attendance may not entirely represent the fan base a club enjoys. Some factors affecting this statistic are: the popularity the sport of football enjoys in general, the stadium capacity, the location of the stadium. For eg., FC Pune City’s home stadium has a overall capacity of 7,960. In addition, their attendance is affected further, as it is located 15 km away from the main city.

Winners: Kerala Blasters

2) Media Following:

#TeamTwitterFacebookInstagram
1.Kerala Blasters FC1.85 M1.10M661K
2.Chennaiyin FC881K464K148K
3.AT Kolkata463K1.00M128K
4.North East United423K314K85.7K
5.Bengaluru FC246K327K105K
6.FC Pune147K990K83K
7.FC Goa321K444K149K
8.FC Mumbai158K579K79.4K
9.Delhi Dynamos122K673K59.6K
10.Jamshedpur FC11.8K86K42.5K

 

Social Media following that a club receives can also be another marker to suggest the popularity of a club. Here too, Kerala sweep away with the top honours in comparison to their ISL compatriotes. For starters, they have a staggering 1.85 million followers on Twitter, 1.1 million on Facebook and another 6,61,000 on Instagram. The figure on Twitter is 4 times more than their next rival, ATK, who have a following of 4,63,000.

The Blasters are, without a doubt, helped by their generous stadium capacity and the fact that they represent an entire state rather than a city (as most of the other clubs do) also helps. Other factors that affect these numbers are the urban (and literate) population, population having a access to internet etc., of the region represented by the football club. The club’s inception date and its tournament history also matters.

For eg., Jamshedpur FC has the least followers on the list, most probably because Jamshedpur has the least Urban populations among other cities/states. In addition to this, the club was also established only last season, further justifying its modest numbers.

Winners: Kerala Blasters

3) Market Value

#TeamCurrent value (£million)
1.FC Pune City3.69
2.Mumbai City FC3.60
3.FC Goa3.26
4.North East United3.26
5.Chennaiyin FC3.04
6.Delhi Dynamos FC2.97
7.ATK2.72
8.Bengaluru FC2.59
9.Jamshedpur FC2.32
10.Kerala Blasters1.76

One of the rough indicator may be the current market. It is the sum of the market value of the players of a club. Why is it a marker for calculating the popularity of a club? Simple: great market value means a well run club (in terms of revenue) which in turn means reasonable popularity. For reference, Barcelona, the spanish club with the market value of £1.03 billion, is also the most popular club on the planet. (Although that point is a subject of intense dispute.)

As can be seen from the above table, FC Pune city closely edge past Mumbai City FC here. They have a net market value of £ 3.69 million, just £ 0.09 million more than their MAharashtra rivals Mumbai.

Winners: FC Pune City 

4) Sponsorship Value

Sponsorship value is the amount for an organisation to win the sponsorship rights of a club. The most important factors taken into consideration by organisations to determine the value of a club are: fan following of a club, progress of the club in the previous season, deals in past etc.

This season, however, it has been widely reported that many clubs could not sell all their sponsorship rights. Also, upto 3 clubs, including FC Mumbai city, ATK and have failed to yet sign a title sponsor.

#1 Bengaluru FC:

In contrast, Bengaluru FC, were able to sell their sponsorship rights very easily. This was obvious, considering they were the runner ups in their inaugural season itself.

They had sponsorship ties with 17 brands. Kingfisher became the second principal sponsor and four brands – Puma, Sonic Batteries, Epson and Jio Digital became the associate sponsors. Although the principal sponsor, the JSW group stepped down as the title sponsor in nick of the time, they are expected to announce a new sponsor by Thursday.

#2 Chennaiyin FC

Last season’s champions, Chennaiyin FC also did not face problems selling the sponsorship rights. They had deals with Apollo Tyres and Jio Digital Life as Principal Sponsors. In addition, they have 15 brands on the sponsorship roaster. As a result, they appear on the second rank.

#3 FC Pune City

FC PC renewed their existing deal with title sponsorship deal with Suzuki Gixxer by three more years. Along with Suzuki Gixxer, the club has deals with four associate sponsors, and 12 service partnerships. Thus, they are third in the list.

Winner: Bengaluru FC

Ultimate Winner: Kerala Blasters FC

Kerala Blasters KreedOn
Kerala Blasters Image Credit

As a result, after considering all the above points, Kerala Blasters emerge as the most popular ISL team currently. They are backed by a substantial, football crazy fan base, a world class facility and a steady performance over the years among other factors. Next in the list are FC Pune City, Chennaiyin FC and Bangalore FC.

Monish Gadiya is a Pune-based sports author at KreedOn. He is a thorough tech-enthusiast and believes innovation is the answer to the problems prevalent in the society. Monish graduated from University of Pune with a degree in civil engineering before pursuing a post-graduate diploma course in creative writing and intellectual property rights. A die-hard football fan, he has represented his college at various football competitions.

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