According to research carried out last year by Visit Britain, “foreign tourists spend £2.3 billion a year watching and playing sport”.  Unsurprisingly, football is the main sporting attraction in Britain, with matches throughout the country attracting 1.2 million foreign visitors in 2008 (the most recent year with complete figures).  A percentage of these were from English-speaking countries: 267,000 were Irish, 95,000 were American and 55,000 Australian.  However, a large number of these spectators were from non-English speaking countries: 88,000 Germans, 86,000 Norwegians, 75,000 Spanish, 65,000 Italians, 52,000 Dutch, 46,000 French and 39,000 Swedes.

I decided to have a look at the websites of a few of the top football clubs in the league.  Interestingly, Liverpool only offer their website in English – or if they have a version in another language, it is very difficult to find! Arsenal have three sites in addition to the English version: in Chinese, Korean and Japanese, and Chelsea’s site is also available in Thai, Italian and Russian.  Manchester United offer the most versions of their website: in Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

According to Visit Britain: “The proportion of visitors either watching or playing sport increased from 6% in 2001 to nearly 10% in 2008”.  With this in mind, offering the team website in a variety of languages would surely be beneficial for attracting tourists, both for the football clubs themselves, and also for British tourism as a whole.

It is interesting to note that the languages in which the top clubs offer their sites do not necessarily correspond with the languages spoken by the nationalities featured high in the list of spectators.  I wonder if figures have changed since the websites were translated?  It does remind us of the importance of providing information in a variety of languages, in order to appeal to an international audience, as well as conducting necessary research in order to appeal to those who have previously shown an interest in the subject in question.  Perhaps Liverpool FC would like to get in touch and have their website translated!