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The famous followers: A rundown of football-loving celebrities and their clubs

Celebrities and football are forever becoming intertwined. Be it to promote a new album or movie, or during a charity event, we are forever seeing the ‘stars’ of our society mixing with the football elite.

Be it on a Saturday morning on Soccer Am or during events such as Soccer Aid, they are forever becoming an interesting aspect of our game.

With a global reach which can be sometimes greater than that of the club themselves, the modern celebrity can have an important role to play in the marketing of football clubs and have a large effect in terms of increasing a fan base in distant corners of the world.

With the Premier League beginning again in August, here is a rundown of which famous faces (some old and some new) that will be donning the terraces across the country for the 2012/2013 campaign.

The Royal Family are certainly split regarding their choice of football team and you can imagine there being some tense afternoons at Buckingham Palace, with third in line to the throne Prince Harry supporting North London side Arsenal, while his elder brother William supports Aston Villa (both pictured).

To throw a spanner in the works once more, fourth in line to the throne Prince Andrew supports Paul Lambert’s Norwich City.

Varied crowd 

The Gunners certainly attract a varied crowd with ex-Sex Pistols front man, Johnny Rotten, along with talk show host Piers Morgan and American film director Spike Lee all paying trips to the Emirates Stadium in the past.

Morgan in particular is one of the more vocal Arsenal fans, regularly using social media to consistently argue with famous Tottenham supporter and multimillionaire Apprentice star, Sir Alan Sugar.

Like Arsenal, Aston Villa has a similarly contrasting fan base and again they feature a royal and a rocker. In Villa’s case they have rock and TV legend Ozzy Osbourne as a supporter after growing up in the Aston area of Birmingham.

They also have current Prime Minister David Cameron behind their club, which cannot be said for former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who swears allegiance to Newcastle United.

European Champions Chelsea head into the 2012/13 season with the backing of Hollywood funny man Will Ferrell, who has previous visited Chelsea players during pre-season training camps in the US. Similarly, ex-World Cup winning England rugby coach, Sir Clive Woodward supports the Blues when not egg-chasing.

Musicians certainly feature heavily in the famous fan listings, with Everton having arguably one of the world’s most famous musicians, Sir Paul McCartney in their ranks. Manchester City similarly has musical heavy-weights in the stands, with the Gallagher brothers of Oasis regularly frequenting the Etihad Stadium.

Pop sensation 

Manchester United also have a famous musician donning the Manchester red, with Richard Ashcroft professing to be a Red Devil’s fan. While the United of the North East, Newcastle, have former Police frontman Sting as a Magpies follower, along with pop sensation and local girl Cheryl Cole.

Likewise, West Bromwich Albion has the pleasure of claiming Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Eric Clapton as a supporter, while Tottenham Hotspur have country musician Shania Twain and Queens Park Rangers have controversial Libertines frontman Pete Doherty as a devotee.

Famous faces from our television screens regularly crop up in the terraces, with Fulham having the support of ladies’ man Hugh Grant, and Liverpool having an array of movie and television regulars as fans such as Daniel Craig, Samuel L Jackson and John Bishop.

The red side of Manchester have British comic Steve Coogan as a follower, whereas they also have Eamonn Holmes who often professes his obsession of Manchester United on the morning news.

Norwich City boast British television great Stephen Fry as a diehard, while newly promoted Reading have comedian Ricky Gervais and Titanic star Kate Winslet as supporters.

Swans enthusiast 

The only Welsh side in the Premier League, Swansea, claim Catherine Zeta-Jones as a Swans enthusiast whereas comedian Frank Skinner regularly visits The Hawthorns to support West Brom.

Premier League new boys Southampton have Page 3 and glamour model Lucy Pinder cheering them on, while West Ham vaunt a whole host of television ‘hard-men’ with Ray Winstone, Danny Dyer, and Ross Kemp all supporting the newly-promoted Hammers.

Comedians seem to regularly set foot inside Premier League stadiums, with Queens Park Rangers having top comic Bill Bailey at Loftus Road, although there will not have been much to laugh at during their recent scrape with relegation.

When not partaking in their own sports, many elite sportsmen also fill their time by following some of the nation’s top sides.

Manchester City boast ex-England cricketer Freddy Flintoff as a fan, while boxer Ricky Hatton could regularly be seen with a City badge on his shorts during his fighting days.

When not winning darts championships Adrian Lewis follows his home team Stoke City, whereas Sunderland boast one of the world’s best middle distance runners in the 1980s, Steve Cram, as a patron.

Popular myth 

Wigan seem to be the only side without a celebrity following, however there is a popular myth dating back to the 1980s which states former Soviet Union president, Mikhail Gorbachev was an avid Latics supporter.

Legend has it that Gorbachev fell in love with the North West side after a friendly between Wigan and Soviet club Metallist Kharkhiv. It was unfortunately purely myth, when more recently a Wigan spokesman announced it was a publicity stunt.

Some go further than just support their team. Television chef Delia Smith currently stands as the majority share-holder of Norwich City and gained much positive media attention after ‘saving’ the club from bankruptcy.

Whereas on the continent ex-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is the owner of Italian giants AC Milan and now features as club president after his resignation from Italian government office earlier this year.

With a busy summer ahead, the marketing of clubs by celebrities on their journeys across the world will no doubt help lure fans towards various clubs, while at the same time proving important for maximising revenue in places such as the United States and the Asia.

By David Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @DaveHarrison43 and click here to read David's blog.

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