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Big clubs are an unfortunate problem in the modern footballing world. Somewhere in the Sinai desert there exists an absolute ranking of all clubs in the world by order of their 'bigness.' This 'bigness ranking' does bear some resemblance to the more accurate lists of clubs' worth known as 'league tables.' Unfortunately, it is often skewed by strange misconceptions held by legions of deluded supporters or the arrival of new Arab owners with nothing better to spend their money on.

Factors that make a big club[]

  • Lots of devoted fans
  • A big stadium and modern training facilities
  • A long history of winning major trophies
  • Recent success
  • Financial stability and the ability to offer competitive wages

The arrival of new owners (especially foreign ones) typically sparks the belief that a mediocre club will quickly become a big club. This is best achieved by signing as many Brazilian players as possible.

Factors that make a big club in the eyes of a player[]

  • Ability to offer over-the-odds wages and an impressive sounding transfer fee
  • Champions League or (at a stretch) Europa League football
  • Being located in a fashionable area with good housing, bars and shopping.
  • A nice climate

Most players are generally not concerned that the outrageous contract offered to them is well outside the means of the club or puts its very future at risk. Such transfers are justified by the player claiming they are "glad to be joining an ambitious side." Moves to a big club where the player will amount to nothing more than a bench warmer (see Steve Sidwell, Scott Parker or Tal Ben-Haim) are justified by claiming they are "glad to be joining one of the best clubs in the world" or that they "need a new challenge." Players will rarely refuse a move to a big club on the grounds that they won't understand a word of what is being said.

Current Big Clubs[]

Real Madrid and Barcelona are the biggest clubs. No player, no matter how iconic their status at their current club, can resist a move to either of the Spanish giants. David Beckham, Michael Owen, Alexandr Hleb and Kaka were all great players who chose to flush away their careers this way. Thomas Graveson also signed for Real Madrid, but this was the result of a practical joke gone too far.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are the biggest clubs in England. They can usually unsettle any player into a transfer, simply by having their scouts appear at a couple of games. There are very few African or Eastern European teenagers who can resist Abramovich's roubels or the strange charms of Arsene Wenger's leather-like face. There's also the fall back option of bribing a player's parents with a new house, as Spurs famously did to help secure and cripple Paul Gascoigne's talents, but FIFA appears to have put a stop to this.

Inter, AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Porto & Juventus are other big clubs because they're pretty much always in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Turkish giants Fenerbahce and Galatasaray are also considered big clubs by some in the game , though this tends to be a certain kind of person. Usually they are either nearing the end of their career like Roberto Carlos or are trying to salvage their reputation following a string of cockish acts like Nicolas Anelka or Graeme Souness.

Rangers and Celtic are big teams in Scotland, but in the grand scheme of things that's like being the biggest fish in a very small pond with no water in it.

Former Big Clubs[]

  • Leeds United - spent money they didn't have like a student with a credit card. In 2001 Leeds even got to the semi-final of the Champions League. Villainous chairman Peter Risdale was rubbing his greedy fingers having placed a £30m accumulator at Ladbrokes on Leeds wining the tournament, qualifying next season and on Estonia winning the Eurovision song contest. Unfortunately, Leeds lost to Valencia and finished 5th in the league. They were forced to sell Rio Ferdinand to bitter rivals Man Utd to recoup the losses. Leeds were relegated in 2004 and then again in 2007. To add insult to injury, Tanel Padar, Dave Benton & 2XL's "Everybody" had actually won the 2001 Eurovision song contest for the Baltic minnows.
  • Nottingham Forest: Yes they have won two European cups. But are they a massive club that aside? No they are one of several very strong clubs who have season ticket holders around the 20,000 mark like Leicester, Derby, Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Cardiff, Sheffield United etc who on their day would fancy a tilt at the Premiership or are already in it.
  • Tottenham Hotspur

Sides That Were Never Big Clubs Despite Popular Belief To The Contrary[]

  • Newcastle United - won the league in 1927, the FA Cup in 1955 and the Intertoto Cup in 2006. True, they do have a massive following, but Newcastle is a one club town unless you count Gateshead, and there's not a lot else to do there apart from casual violence.
  • Manchester City - one recent league title they bought by virtue of having the biggest chequebook does not mask the fact that they have won less league titles than Newcastle and Sheffield Wednesday, the same number as Huddersfield Town and Wolverhampton Wanderers and have not sold out any of their six Champions League matches despite having played four former winners of the trophy including Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.