The British enjoy a wide variety of live sporting events, with the national obsession for football rivaled by Formula 1, cricket, golf, rugby and tennis. Home to some iconic and prestigious competitions, the four nations take pride in having the eyes of the sporting world on the UK’s world-class tournaments that include The Ashes, The British Open and the F.A. Cup.
However, some events, more than others, pique the nation’s interest.
Premier League football
With an estimated global audience of 4.7 billion people, the Premier League is the most watched football competition in the world and is hugely popular in the UK. It has a keen following by punters by whom the bookmakers are kept busy throughout the season. Fans are kept up to date with player and team form by informative sites like Stakers, where betting odds are displayed, bets can be placed on final results, goal scorers, number of red-cards and half-time scores.
A total of 38 matches are played by 20 teams from the middle of August to the middle of May and the internationally famous clubs that include Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal battle for the trophy each year.
At the halfway point of the 2017-2018 season, the league is being led by Manchester City who are undefeated so far with more than a ten-point lead over local rivals Manchester United.
Football has a natural home in Britain and fans range from those drawn to the quality of the football to those who sport a club’s colours based on family and location loyalties. Derby matches are of great interest to football fans when cities like Manchester, London and Liverpool take local club rivalry onto the pitch.
Ties at the top (and bottom) of the table also generate great interest, especially as the close of the season looms and teams battle to avoid relegation or fight to lift the league trophy.
The All England Club is famous as the home of the only grand slam tennis championship held on a grass playing surface. Originally founded in 1868 as a croquet club, Wimbledon entertains crowds of sports fan within the grounds (on Centre Court and Murray Mound), as well as those watching the live coverage on the BBC and other franchised channels.
Every year, the games of British hopefuls are followed with enthusiasm, and 2016 finally brought a home champion when Andy Murray lifted the coveted trophy.
2018 looks set to be another exciting year with all eyes on the British player, Johanna Konta, who is currently ranked 9th in the world. She represents the country’s best hope for a female champion. If successful, she will emulate the Bournemouth born Virginia Wade OBE who lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish back in 1977.
The championships are played over the first fortnight of July (2nd to 15th July 2018). The tournament is guaranteed to attract the usual media attention, and the hard-fought games are bound to provide the crowd with plenty of entertainment.
The Grand National
Horse racing is a sport the appeal of which crosses class divides, and few events attract such global attention as The Grand National. Held at Aintree since 1839, the Grand National is a testing steeplechase over four and a half miles with a field of some 40 horses. It’s a challenging course for the horses and riders and is the richest jump race in Europe with a £1million prize purse.
The Grand National is a thrilling spectator event and is one that sometimes produces a surprising winner. In fact, in the last 70-years (post-war), the favourite has only won the event nine times. No other race offers such a great chance of backing a horse at long odds; in 2009, Mon Mome won the title at 100-1. For that reason, the British tend to go betting mad for the race with an estimated £250million being gambled on the outcome.
Formula 1 Grand Prix
One for the petrolheads; the UK leg of the Formula 1 Grand Prix is held at the iconic racing circuit at Silverstone.
Known for being ‘insanely fast’ by the drivers, the track is the oldest venue in the F1 calendar. Silverstone is a challenging circuit and is the third longest in the Formula 1 championship.
Due to be held 6-8 July 2018, Lewis Hamilton will be hoping to make history by becoming the first driver to win the event six times. However, no-one can ignore the competition of the Ferrari Team with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen looking to bring victory for the Italians.
Record crowds visit Silverstone for the Grand Prix each year with millions more watching the televised event worldwide. Some are ardent motorsport fans while others simply enjoy the excitement of this prestigious event.
The British people don’t need much of an excuse to enjoy their sport, and as well as attending them live, television coverage across terrestrial and satellite channels is extensive. Most pubs and clubs now screen the most significant events for customers to enjoy.