Football and London. London and Football. The way in which the two complement each other and flow so seamlessly is almost unrivalled. Despite football’s global popularity and profound ties to countless communities, the capital city of London unequivocally possesses a history with the sport, richer than any other. Prior to its global dispersion, the game which we have all come to know and love was birthed and initially codified in London in 1863. Football runs deeply through the city’s veins and pumps life into its impassioned fan bases.
Recently conceived in January 2017 to serve these zealous fanatics, football.london is a blogging site that covers the capital’s clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham, and Crystal Palace. Through its niche market of London football clubs, the site has grown rather successfully, garnering roughly 1.6 million users since January and growing 40% month-over-month since its inception (Sherman, 2017). The platform primarily caters to fans of the aforementioned clubs but is also fitting for the casual Premiership supporter wishing to follow the latest news surrounding Londonian football. If you’re a fan of any of the above teams, the site is perfect: it provides EVERYTHING you want and need to know about the club you so fervently follow. But if you wish to involve yourself in more global conversations about football, this site is probably not the place for you. You may gain some insight into other leagues, teams, players, and managers, but only if there is some interaction between them and Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham, or Crystal Palace. Nonetheless, if the capital’s squads are of interest, you will undoubtedly know every nuanced detail there is to know as soon as the news breaks.
Through a compelling group of writers in its main editor Greg Johnson, deputy editor Kevin Beirne, and Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottehnham, West Ham, and Crystal Palace writers Charles Watts, Oliver Harbord, Alasdiar Gold, and Sam Inkersole, respectively, football.london does an excellent job of keeping its audiences current on broad team news as well as nitty gritty player-specific news, transfer news, and results and fixtures. It serves as multifaceted news outlet featuring articles, videos, podcasts, live-streams, and reactions coupled with other innovative means such as interactive games and quizzes embedded within articles that keep its followers engaged and informed.
But, what truly differentiates football.london from other football blogs is being the first 24/7 fan-led resource for London’s premiership clubs. The site is extremely unique in the sense that it strongly encourages the participation of passionate fans. As a rapidly expanding company, they urge freelance writers who identify with the following clubs to pitch original and inventive stories that they wish to write, film, or make. But, while football.london mainly focusses on Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham, and Crystal Palace, they make it abundantly clear that they welcome all stories as long as they’re about football and London. This makes for an interesting variety of coverage, including pieces ranging from implications of certain referee announcements, to upcoming stadium renovations and naming rights, to gambling opportunities, to premiership promotion possibilities, to the implications of Brexit, and this list continues. But, the primary function of the site is, of course, not just eccentric pieces such as these. Football.london thrives off of their in-depth coverage of the five Londonian football clubs in all facets imaginable. Although categorizing each team in terms of team news, player news, transfer news, and results and fixtures, their stories cover so much more and truly appeal to the quintessential fanatic who obsesses over all things that embody his team.
For instance, as a Chelsea supporter, one specific article that truly peaked my interest is football.london’s coverage of the team’s loanees. Most casual fans are probably only familiar with the players currently rostered on Chelsea. But, the die-hards may know of the thirty-eight players currently being loaned out elsewhere, may want an update on how their team’s investments are currently performing, and, more importantly, may which of these developing talents can help the Blues in their upcoming seasons in their quest for another title. Chelsea writer Oliver Harbord does exactly that by providing easily understood, punctual, and extremely pertinent analyses of Chelseas’s top loanees such as Mason Mount, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy Abraham, Kurt Zouma, Michy Barshuayi, and Charly Musonda.
Another prime feature of the site is its live coverage of transfer news and rumors. The section of the site incessantly delivers succinct updates with everything you need to know about impending moves and buzzing rumors. Each update contains a timestamp and allows readers to delve further into the story with a convenient “read more” tab if peaks their interest. Keeping up with this section is a great way for soccer fans to stay in the loop and get the latest scoop on what’s heating up around the league.
Football.london is also very keen when it comes to keeping its audiences involved and connected with their favorite London football clubs. The site greatly facilitates football fandom by providing a plethora of mediums and avenues to get the information you direly need. As you begin reading any article about your respective Londonian squad, football.london conveniently offers its readers – above the beginning of the article – the option to sign up for an email subscription option that will directly shoot all the latest reports from your club straight to your inbox. But, they don’t stop there: if you’re not totally into reading articles directly off the internet, and you’re more the tech-savvy type of reader who likes to explore the differences among various platforms, football.london is accessible via their Facebook and Twitter pages. More broadly, you can follow their generalist pages and get the low-down on all London clubs, but if you could care less about the larger Londonian soccer landscape and instead only want insight into the team you so feverishly follow, football.london also has team-specific Facebook and Twitter pages for every team they cover.
Although football.london contributes to the larger London football scene, the site actually garners most of its success in its team-specific sections. While providing the general football.soccer Facebook and Twitter pages, it has gathered its largest followings on the branch-off Facebook and Twitter pages it has made for each respective club. In its first few months, the five pages had a combined following of 150,000 compared to the consolidated page which had around 2,500. “Traffic [skews] toward the individual club pages rather than the homepage because people just bookmark their own clubs…they don’t want to really hear from the other clubs” (Sherman, 2017). In this respect, despite not being a “team blog,” football.london draws its success from its club pages because it provides an unbiased account of the most important events surrounding the clubs. The problem with many team blogs is that they are saturated with the biased perspectives of their fans, but because football.london covers Londonian football more broadly and also features the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham, and Crystal Palace, they report on them objectively and give their fans everything they need to know about their respective teams.
Sherman, David. “How Trinity Mirror’s digital-Only football vertical differentiates.” Digiday, 27 June 2017, digiday.com/uk/trinity-mirrors-digital-football-vertical-differentiates/.