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A Football Fan’s Etiquette Guide

“Surely we will not be judged on manners in the stands?” you might ask. Yes you will, both because a gentleman must behave as such in all circumstances and because hooliganism is a disease of the past. In fact, the average age of a Premier League adult fan is now upwards of 40 and football crowds have become so well behaved that going to a game is both a fun family activity and a suitably posh experience depending on how much you are willing to spend. In any case, although some shouting, chanting and even booing may be appropriate, you will still want to keep your wilder instincts under control and we will give you all the tips on how to go about it.

The ultimate checklist of showing good manners when attending a football match

1. Prioritise
The only people who are allowed to think that football is the most important thing in the world are 12-year-olds. Everyone older than that needs to get to grips with reality and put things in perspective.

2. Don’t just show up
If you are going with a large group of friends, book early to find adjacent seats. Otherwise, ask them if they are happy to split up. At this stage, and especially if you are new to the sport or the specific stadium, do some research about the stands and where loyal (as in quarrelsome) fans tend to sit, as you may want to avoid trouble. On the day, the area around the stadium is bound to be congested so allow plenty of time to arrive.

3. Dress code
Fans usually wear the colours of the team they support and, if you don’t want to do that, at least avoid the opponent’s colours. Needless to say, this is one occasion where comfort and warmth are more important than style as, in case you didn’t realise, you will be exposed to the elements. If you happen to get your hands on hospitality tickets, do note that they often come with a dress code so you may want to check out our men’s suits collection for some inspiration.

4. Sit down
Would you take someone else’s, more expensive, seat at the theatre because the view is better? No. Well don’t do it here either. Find your allocated seat and try to avoid walking in and out of the stands constantly in search of food, toilets etc. as some people may actually want to watch the game. If you’re not sure whether to sit or stand during nail-biting moments, observe what people around you are doing.

5. Be a sport
There’s a time to boo and have a laugh but that’s not when national anthems are playing. A gentleman believes in fair play and awkward moments, e.g. injuries on the field, your team suffering a humiliating defeat and someone scoring an own goal, are the time to prove it. Needless to say, the latest abomination of vile abuse towards players because of their race, is not a matter of etiquette but a matter for the courts.

6. Save your questions
Celebrity players and top-notch clubs attract tourists who have always dreamed of watching a Premier League match. As lovely as it is to share our national treasures, we may not be disposed to answer questions during a penalty shootout. Do a bit of reading in advance and avoid interrupting our hard-earned agony at crucial moments.

7. The referee doesn’t care
Now might be a good time to state the obvious. Never in the history of referee decisions has a referee changed their decision because the crowds were screaming. Save your vocal cords and dignity.

8. Can I bring a date?
This is not the 1800s and yes, you can. You may want to warn them though if you plan to have a pitch-side meltdown when things don’t go your way.

9. Beware of tiny people
Kids come in various capacities during a football game. They may be fans or players but, in any case, football is not a child-free setting. Avoid behaving like a mindless hooligan in front of them because they will grow up to mirror those behaviours and you will then be too old to do something about it.

10. Clean up after yourself
Remember that news story about Japanese fans at the World Cup and how they cleaned the stands before leaving at the end of a game? Learn from them.

Football is fun but it also brings out our tribal instincts, which is probably what makes it so therapeutic to watch. It is no wonder really that, for the 7th season in a row, Premier League stadiums were 95% full. As with most social occasions, some basic common rules make everyone’s life easier and this is why our style and etiquette blog section includes smart and easy tips to help you navigate all sorts of situations, such as the tube ride home from the game. Make sure to sign up to our newsletter for new collection updates, offers and a weekly delivery of the latest blog!