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FootballNewsREVEALED: Tottenham’s Gareth Bale is the world’s most in-demand footballer (followed by Chelsea’s Drogba, Newcastle’s Carroll and United’s Rooney)

REVEALED: Tottenham’s Gareth Bale is the world’s most in-demand footballer (followed by Chelsea’s Drogba, Newcastle’s Carroll and United’s Rooney)

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By Nick Harris

1 September 2010

The Premier League’s official fantasy football game has registered more than two million users in more than 200 countries already this season to cement its place as most popular fantasy football (soccer) game in history, according to an analysis of users of the League’s website.

The country with the most fantasy football players on the site is, unsurprisingly, England, with just over 1m registered players, the vast majority of them men. That figures equates to roughly one in 20 adult males in England signed up.

Ireland contributes the next most players (nearly 200,000 at the end of August 2010), followed by Malaysia (112,000), Australia, the USA, Scotland, Wales, India, South Africa and Norway, in that order.

Other countries inside the top 20 by numbers of players deomonstrate the global geographical attraction of the Premier League: Thailand, Sweden, Poland and Indonesia all feature. (For the record, players in the Central African Republic collectively, more than 600 of them, are currently faring best in the game this season, followed by those in Scotland).

Sportingintelligence has examined the numbers as part of our season-long exploration of the global popularity of the Premier League. Two earlier articles in this series considered the value of overseas TV rights in major leagues, and the numbers of shirts sold globally by the world’s most popular clubs (four of them from the Premier League).

Among the world’s other most popular fantasy football leagues are those run by The Sun newspaper (understood to have 700,000 players) and The Daily Telegraph (200,000 players). The Premier League’s game, unlike those two, is free to enter, but the scale of its reach is impressive nonetheless. It is the thought to be the main single driver of traffic to the League’s website.

An analysis of the most popular players in the world’s most popular fantasy league throws up some intriguing findings.

As things stood at 9am this morning, UK time, Tottenham’s Gareth Bale was the most popular player in the world in terms of the number of fantasy managers who had him in their team. The Welsh full-back-cum-winger features in a staggering 46 per cent of all teams.

Chelsea’s Ivorian striker Didier Drogba is the next most popular player, featuring in 41 per cent of teams.

No other players appear in more than 30 per cent of teams, although Newcastle’s local hero Andy Carroll is now in 28 per cent of all teams, as is Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney.

The Premier League’s fantasy game did not surpass the two million player mark last season until much later in the campaign, and the League expects 2010-11 to be the most-played season to date.

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Most popular players in the Premier League’s fantasy football game this season to date

Goalkeepers

Joe Hart (Man City) in 21 per cent of all teams

Paul Robinson (Blackburn) 16 per cent

Heurelho Gomes (Tottenham) 14 per cent

Defenders

Michael Dawson (Tottenham) 24 per cent

John Terry (Chelsea) 24 per cent

Brede Hangeland (Fulham) 21 per cent

Midfielders

Gareth Bale (Tottenham) 46 per cent

Florent Malouda (Chelsea) 23 per cent

Theo Walcott (Arsenal) 23 per cent

Strikers

Didier Drogba (Chelsea) 41 per cent

Andy Carroll (Newcastle) 28 per cent

Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) 28 per cent

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