Take a look around most Scandinavian airports early on a Saturday morning any time between August and May and you’ll likely see a group of bleary eyed Nordic lads clutching breakfast cans of Carlsberg, ready to sample the uniquely British delights of an undercooked meat pie, a few pints and a football match. Don’t believe me? Just ask most Scandinavian football fans to name their favourite team and they’ll give you two: their local team and a British one. Still have your doubts? Well spare a thought for poor YNWA (pronounced Yee-NWA), a 7 year old Norwegian girl named after the Anfield anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
This strange love affair began in the 1960s when live English games were first broadcast on Norwegian television every weekend (thus explaining the anachronistic proliferation of Scandinavian Leeds, Derby and Wolves fans). The passion was later boosted by the success of Jan Mølby, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Tomas Brolin in the 1980s & 90s (ok, maybe the last name is a bit of a push).
British teams have a substantial base of Scandinavian support at both ends of the football pyramid. Manchester United’s Norwegian fan club has 41,000 members, while Liverpool’s has over 30,000. On the other side of the footballing tracks, a group of twenty-five Norwegian supporters recently travelled to Wembley for Coventry City’s victorious Checkatrade Trophy final. Even Prestatyn Town, newly crowned champions of something called the Huws Gray Alliance league, can boast a Norwegian supporters club.
Scandinavians account for a quarter of all international football visitors
These aren’t just “likes” on Facebook; we’re talking about paid-up, match-going supporters who think nothing of coming over 9 times a season. In fact, according to figures from VisitBritain, Scandinavians account for nearly 1 in 4 of the 800,000 foreign visitors who attend a British football match.
Of course coming over so frequently, the budget airlines have been a godsend for supporters who previously would have spent three or four days journeying to Old Trafford, Anfield or White Hart Lane via an overnight ferry. What’s more, the Swedish and Norwegian leagues run from March to November, leaving fans ample opportunity to visit their British teams without feeling they’re cheating on their local club.
Foreign football tourists in the UK spend over £200 more than their non-football counterparts
And it’s not just the airlines who benefit. Visitors from abroad who attended a match while in the UK spent an average of £855 per trip, compared to just £628 among those who didn’t (which is either testament to the spending power of foreign football fans or an indictment of Premier League ticket prices).
Furthermore, football fans coming to the UK are more likely than other visitors to look beyond the capital. In good news for the northern economic powerhouses 6% and 11% of respective visits to the North East and North West included a live football game, compared to just over 2% of London trips (although 9% of foreign fans at Arsenal are Swedish, the 2nd best represented nation).
Our own research tells us that roughly a third of Ink’s inflight magazine readers have watched or played football abroad, so whether you’re a club that needs to fill seats in your new, much larger home; a terrace clothes manufacturer; a beer brand seeking to entice foreign visitors to your city with a local brew; or maybe even selling tickets for the NFL games at Wembley (according to the Danish American Football Federation nearly a quarter of the population follows the NFL)….just get in touch and perhaps Norwegian or easyJet can get you into the Champions League.
Contact Par Svalas for more stats on Scandinavian fans.
Sales Director for n by Norwegian