4 September 17

There’s a UK-based football club that attracts over 1 million views for its YouTube videos and has hundreds of thousands of followers across social media. That’s pretty impressive for a club that was founded in 2016 but even more impressive given it’s a club made up of amateurs, not professional players.

The club is called Hashtag United and was set up by football YouTuber Spencer Owen. With an online reach that rivals many of the major UK professional football teams, the club’s online success shines a light on the changing expectations of sports fans.

One of the reasons the videos posted Hashtag United are so engaging is because they follow the journey of everyday amateur players. Players that have a passion for the sport but also juggle full-time jobs and family life. That’s a far cry from many of the UK football stars – some of whom fill social media with posts from glamorous parties and holidays.

Although it’s too early to tell whether the glamorous lives of professional football players has caused everyday fans to become disengaged with the game in a significant way, major brands aren’t willing to place all their focus on the big end of town. Coca-Cola and Umbro are just some of the names that have sponsored Hashtag United.

In many ways, the online success of Hashtag United shouldn’t be a surprise. We know people like connecting to and engaging with people that are like them or do the same things as them. The latter certainly explains why celeb gossip sites are filled with famous faces filling their cars with petrol and shopping in the supermarket.

Maybe there’s a lesson there for more professional football players. While images of fast cars and houses might get the eye-balls online perhaps what fans really want from their players is content they can relate to. Content that shows a passion for sport, their banter with team mates and anything else that shows deep down the players are not that different to the fans that follow them.