And our survey says...
Chris Burton takes a sideways glance at the results of Sky Sports Magazine's Great Football Survey.
Last Updated: 25/07/08 11:13am
It's official, Derby County supporters are the most loyal in England.
That may be hard to believe considering the club have just endured the most disastrous season in Premier League history, but you cannot argue with facts.
A survey conducted by Sky Sports Magazine earlier this year proves that the aptly named Pride Park is home to the most hardy souls this country has to offer.
However, move north of the border and the 53% of Rams fans who watch 15-plus games a season surrounded by like-minded individuals pales into insignificance when compared to the mammoth 71% of Hibernian followers who turn up week-in week-out, regardless of the inclement Scottish weather, to cheer on their boys.
It is statistics like this which just go to prove what many have expected all along, the supposed 'big boys' may have the quantity but it is those who shy away from the spotlight who have the quality.
Honourable mentions must also go to the Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Birmingham die-hards who displayed an impressive, or foolish depending on your stand point, display of loyalty last season - with each club able to boast a fan base which seems prepared to forgive the unforgivable.
With that said, it hardly comes as a surprise to hear that the North East like their football, while Birmingham's 2007/08 campaign saw them back in the top flight after a 12-month absence.
Moving on from terrace talk, though, and we get to another topic of much debate.
Club v country
When asked 'What is more important to you, your club or your country?' a surprising 37% of respondents put national pride ahead of domestic bliss.
The recent resurgences enjoyed by Scotland, Northern Ireland, and to a lesser extent Wales, may be the reason for this, but the fact that Euro 2008 was a home nation free-zone this summer would have been expected to alter supporter perspectives.
It is also important to take into account at this point that 44% of women, as opposed to 36% of men, said they put their country first, which has undoubtedly affected the result - but more on the fairer sex later.
Encouragingly for the pessimists who continue to curse media intrusion into sport for the empty seats scattered around their stadia, 60% of supporters clamber off their sofa at least five times a season to take in the 'live' experience.
It is also apparent that the football-bug does not constrict your average fan to just following the fortunes of his chosen troops, with 81% of people watching at least two games a week on the box - a statistic which would suggest that many people are prepared to go to extreme lengths in an attempt to avoid the prospect of having to actually hold a mature conversation with their wife/husband/dog etc.
A further finding to emerge from the Sky Sports Magazine survey which will have people up and down the country proudly telling anybody who strolls into ear shot, 'I told you so', is the fact that the younger generation are now less likely to support their local club than they were in the past.
While there has not been a drastic dip in the number of youngsters choosing to ignore the club on their doorstep, there can be no doubt that the 54% of U18s who look further afield for their sporting heroes have been swayed by the growing trend of 'glory supporting'.
Fully aware that this is a contentious issue, of which no-one ever admits to, does it come as a surprise to hear that women are more likely to support Manchester United then men? The very same Manchester United who lifted the Premier League title and UEFA Champions League last season. Thought not.
For fear of being lynched, I think it's best to move swiftly on and turn our attention to those topics which get people all riled up on a Friday night down the local watering hole.
We have all been there, a few turbo-shandies and everyone's an expert, putting the world to rights safe in the knowledge that we know best.
A few examples of the many issues which regularly get people hot under the collar include players incapable of staying on their feet, a lack of home-grown talent in this country and the need for a return to the good old days of terraces at grounds.
Keen to find out if people really do want to be packed back into the sweat boxes of yesteryear, or have a limit on overseas talent, Sky Sports Magazine took up the investigation.
Despite Sepp Blatter seemingly banging his head against a brick wall in his attempts to introduce a quota system, a massive 75% supported the eccentric Fifa president's plans to limit the influx of foreign talent into European football.
A more realistic proposal which has long been touted is that of goal-line technology, and 86% of you are desperate to know if the ball really did cross the line.
'Simulation' is another issue which is widely lambasted and three-quarters of respondents want to see culprits punished for their treachery, with many of you calling for the authorities to implement a retrospective punishment system which would see offenders dealt with after the game.
Players diving around all over the place is obviously a problem which gets supporters on their feet, but imagine if you could heckle those concerned without the effort of having to get off your seat.
The Hillsborough disaster of 1989 saw all-seater stadiums quickly implemented, but there are increasing calls for clubs to open up areas where standing is actively encouraged.
Germany have led the way in this field, with the introduction of sections of terracing where tickets are cheaper and the atmosphere is more akin to those willing to sing themselves hoarse.
A substantial 80% of Sky Sports respondents want to see a similar scheme implemented over here, although it appears doubtful that the FA will grant them their wish any time soon.
Right, that's about it from the 2008 Great Football Survey but I will leave you with one final revelation - and you had better sit down for this one as it is probably the most shocking yet.
I can confirm, once and for all, no questions asked, that men watch more football than women. Shocking, I know!
A full summary of the results from the survey plus exclusive interviews and competitions will appear in the August issue of Sky Sports Magazine.