Leeds United’s reputation of being one of the biggest clubs in England has certainly diminished over the past 20 years.
16 seasons outside of the top-flight will do that to a club, but you don’t realise just how far United have fallen behind the times until you look at the numbers.
LeedsLive recently published a piece about United’s Championship viewing figures and why the Whites are so important to Sky Sports, but the most startling numbers in that report were the huge differences between the audience the EFL attracts compared to the Premier League.
660,436 people watched West Brom vs Leeds on New Year’s day making it the most-watched Championship game of the season, closely followed by United’s game against Preston, which attracted an audience of 573,151.
In comparison, Bournemouth, the least-viewed team in the top flight, average 625,427 viewers per match, a higher tally than Leeds’ second-most-viewed match of the season.
Higher viewership equals more interested sponsors, and of course, that equates to a greater income, but it isn’t just on TV where fans are more engaged with the Premier League.
Social media is more and more ingrained into our daily lives than ever before, and Leeds are falling behind on that front as well.
The Elland Road outfit have a respectable follower count of just over 471k on Twitter, but they’re eclipsed by even the smallest top-flight sides, Bournemouth boast more than 512k, Watford have over 680k and Norwich City have just a touch over 694k.
The metrics show that United are slipping away as one of the top teams in English football. One of the big reasons behind that is Twitter, where the social media generation simply aren’t engaged with a side that have been in the second tier for so long.
The benefits of promotion are there for all to see. Leeds’ kit deal with Adidas is reportedly worth more if they go up, and there’s apparently a clause for them to end their partnership with 32Red upon promotion in order to find a more lucrative deal elsewhere.
If United are to get up to speed with the great financial incentives that are available through sponsorship these days they need to be in the Premier League.
Realistically, there’s no way the likes of Norwich and Bournemouth should be attracting more fans than Leeds either on TV or online, but such is the pull of top-flight football these days.
Luckily, Leeds are in with a chance of going up this season, sitting second, and if Marcelo Bielsa’s style of football takes the Premier League by storm, the Whites will soon be attracting fans from all over the globe.
Just look at pundit reaction to United’s game with Arsenal – they were in awe of how Leeds were playing, and if that is shown off to a global audience on a weekly basis it shouldn’t be long before the Yorkshire club catches up with the current Premier League crop.