The SSE Airtricity League Premier Division returned to stadia and screen on Friday night on a wave of optimism for what the season ahead holds.

Over the coming weeks we will be looking at a number of metrics to determine how the teams are performing off the pitch across all three divisions of the League.

Today we return to a popular feature we have been running for several years looking at the club’s social media following.

Given the fact that most of the grounds were at or around 90 percent plus capacity on the opening weekend, there is an audience for the League that cannot get to the games but can visibly express their support on the different social media platforms.

We have always used X / Twitter as our baseline because it is the social medium best suited for the immediacy of sport. It has had its challenges over the past year but the follower base for the League continues to grow as can be seen in the tables above.

The average number of followers has risen from 32.3K last season to 34.6K at the start of the 2024 campaign, despite losing last year’s table topper Cork City to relegation. We will look at the impact that has had on the Men’s First Division and the overall League next week.

In the top flight though it has allowed Bohemians to climb to the top of that chart ahead of Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk as a strong Top 3.

In terms of growth, Shelbourne added the biggest number with an 18 percent rise in followers, prompted no doubt by Damien Duff as manager.

The average growth over the past year has been 7.1 percent with Shelbourne, Bohemians, St Pats, Derry City and Galway United all above that line.

This year we have added Instagram to the analysis and that sees Shamrock Rovers ascend to the top with Bohemians once again retaining their place in the top two and Dundalk coming in third.

There is more growth potential here with only those three beating the average number of followers at 30.6K

Interesting as well to note the growth of the official League of Ireland account, up from 52.1K followers on X last year to 62.9K this year and at 55.8K on Instagram.

In 2021 the total number following the ten teams in the Premier Division that season totalled 281K, that figure now is 346K, a slight dip on last year’s 349K with the loss of Cork City but still adding up to an overall X fan base for the Premier Division, including the League of Ireland account of 409K


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