Ajax falls in popularity below Feyenoord and PSV for first time
For the first time ever, Ajax is the third most popular football club in the Netherlands, falling below Feyenoord and PSV. The Amsterdam club’s disappointing results and a significant hit to its reputation last year left a sour taste in supporters’ mouths, the Hendrik Beerda Brand Consultancy found in its Sports Sector Brand Research.
Feyenoord also narrowly became the favorite club in the Netherlands in 2012 and 2016, but this year is the first time that PSV came out above Ajax. According to the researchers, this happened even before Feyenoord won the national title and PSV the KNVB Cup.
“The prolonged uproar at Ajax is not doing the image any good,” Hendrik Beerda said. “The average Dutch person still praises the club for the best, most creative game in the most beautiful stadium in the country. But in terms of sympathy, Ajax dangles at the bottom of the lists, partly because of the people that work there and the atmosphere during the matches.”
Last year, Marc Overmars stepped down as director of football affairs at Ajax amid a flood of sexual harassment and transgressive behavior accusations. And Ajax matches have been plagued by anti-Semitic chants and incidents. Most recently, a Feyenoord supporter threw a lighter at Ajax player Davy Klaassen’s head, injuring the midfielder.
According to the brand consultant, the Ajax Women could boost the Amsterdam club’s battered image. “The women’s team has a special mix of top quality and sympathy. The club leadership is, therefore, doing well to try to get the Women in the publicity as much as possible. Due to the recently won national championship, this does not seem too difficult,’ Hendrik Beerda said.
Hendrik Beerda surveys thousands of football supporters yearly to measure clubs’ popularity based on name recognition, appreciation, and commitment. Over 66,000 people participated in the survey this year.
The consultancy also found that Willem II has experienced the strongest increase in popularity since it started its research in 2010, jumping from 18th to 8th place. It also said that football is by far the most popular sport in the Netherlands. The first non-football club in the favorite sports club rankings is Hockey Club Bloemendaal, in 29th place. The Utrecht omni-sport association Kampong took 28th place, but many of its members play football.
The most popular sports clubs in 2023 (position in 2022)
- Feyenoord (2)
- PSV (3)
- Ajax (1)
- FC Utrecht (6)
- Sparta Rotterdam (9)
- AZ (4)
- FC Twente (7)
- Willem II (11)
- Vitesse (5)
- FC Groningen (10)