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Why Are Soccer Teams Called United?

Why Are Soccer Teams Called United?

Naming is an indispensable part of human reality, have you ever imagined a world where names don’t exist? It will be chaotic, to say the least, and might even be an impossible scenario if you seriously ponder on it.

In soccer, naming teams appropriately is a crucial culture because it embodies the values and aspirations of a team. Team names can be influenced by factors such as cultural inclinations, political affiliations, geographical factors, and even religious beliefs.

a soccer team is taking pictures together

Some teams can also be named after their major sponsor or use the insignia of their sole owner. Due to the global nature of the sport and being invented in Britain, most teams prefer English names to names in their native languages.

Indorsed team names often contain conjunctions and prepositions to further inflate their identity. It is common to see globally recognized teams in Europe being named after famous towns or cities for example Liverpool F.C and Manchester United.

Many professional soccer teams often end with words like City, Rovers, Wanderers, and most popular of all being United which has got many inquisitive soccer fans asking why so many soccer teams are called United.

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We conducted a lot of research to discover the reason(s) why soccer teams often have united in their official names which is our major purpose for writing this article.

Does it mean that other soccer clubs without ‘united’ in their names have some form of unresolvable internal squabble? If you have been guessing, you will finally get your answers below.

Why are soccer teams called united?

Since the inception of soccer, many soccer teams have been formed and dislodged as the years progressed. Some have had to change ownership a couple of times to avoid going down that path.

Do you know that the first soccer team to familiarize itself with the name United is Sheffield United FC which joined the Professional Soccer League in the year 1892? Before 1889 Sheffield United FC was just a cricket team called Sheffield United Cricket Club founded in 1854.

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Other soccer clubs like Leeds United, Newcastle United, and Manchester United all got their names after Sheffield United. It sounds cool on soccer team names if you come to think of it.

The popular belief that soccer teams called United are created from the amalgamation of two or more soccer teams is not completely true because Manchester United was named in 1902 after being formerly called Newton Heath LYR Football Team.

In the American MLS, some teams currently have united suffixed to their names, they include Minnesota United FC, Atlanta United, and D.C. United. Inheriting the first part of its name from Washington D.C., DC United was a very successful team with numerous championship titles won between 1986 and 1998.

D.C. United Academy Day

The English soccer star Wayne Rooney played for them from the year 2018 to 2020 before turning to coaching. Minnesota United are also very successful in their own right after debuting professionally in the year 2017.

With outstanding records like that, it is starting to seem like every soccer team with the name United affixed to their official names tends to always set and break records. Maybe that is among the common reasons why the name is very popular among soccer teams.

It is also possible that United might just be a preferable team’s name without any special significance or meanings attached.

A soccer team is celebrating their championship

We had to do personal research because the human mind is naturally logical and may find it very difficult to believe that the name United has no hidden meaning. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word united means to combine or a harmonious agreement.

Since it is not always true that soccer teams are named United because of an amalgamation like the case of Newcastle West End and Newcastle East End merging to form a team presently known as Newcastle United FC.

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When the first set of independent soccer clubs started emanating in Britain in the early 18th century, they didn’t have any similarities in their names like we have in modern soccer. Early soccer team names were mostly names of prominent universities or native English towns or people.

When Sheffield FC (the oldest independent soccer club to date) was affixed with the name United, the soccer community believed that it signifies the united board members of the soccer club or a commemoration of the passionately united Sheffield fan base.

Existing and emerging soccer teams then were fascinated by the name which brought about its early adoption even when its several meanings didn’t resonate with the origin and formation of some of the soccer teams.

The soccer team is preparing before the match

The name United sounds professional in soccer and capable of attracting better sponsorships as in the case of an Indian club formerly known as Eveready Association which had to change to United FC to gain prominence and acceptance.

Manchester United has grown to become the first team that pops to mind when the name United is called in any soccer scenario not just in the Manchester area of Britain but globally.

Fourteen soccer teams in Europe currently have the word “united” affixed to their names. Outside Europe, the name United is not frequently used among soccer teams, some teams choose to go for names with deeper meaning and significance.

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Below are some of the reasons we were able to gather concerning why soccer teams are often called interesting names ending with United.

Joint Venture

We know most of you reading this article right now would be wondering how the business term Joint Venture found its way into this sports article. Here is the reason why.

A joint venture can be expressed as a situation where two or more people or businesses combine resources and expertise towards building or purchasing another business. In such an agreement, the rewards and risks are shared across all partnering members.

In the formative years of soccer in England, wealthy business individuals who found a prospect in soccer often combined their resources to either start new soccer teams or purchase already existing ones.

When such a venture is accomplished, the newly formed or bought team is often affixed with the name United, in honor of the business partnership. A soccer club can be owned by as much as the number of people interested in going into a joint venture.

Enticing Sponsorship

This reason might not sound familiar to most soccer fans but it is valid. Sponsors like investing time and money in popular soccer teams because they can make massive returns.

Without major sponsorships from business brands, many soccer clubs wouldn’t be able to manage adequately because soccer involves a lot of capital to run even though it is very lucrative.

There is a constant clamor for the attention of big brands by soccer teams in the industry, each trying to outshine the other every season because a great performance attracts additional fans and more fans attract better deals with more money.

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Many popular soccer teams around the world often have similar words affixed to their names probably to make them sound and look serious, standard, and professional. Having the right soccer name can do a lot of good for soccer teams.

Imagine having a funny-sounding name as a soccer team, even when the team is playing better than other teams, fans will always make fun of them because of their funny name. Big brands wouldn’t want to be linked with such clubs even when they are winning all the trophies.

Maintaining an impeccable brand image is often the goal of most big business brands. They strictly don’t entertain anything that might corrupt the public perception of the brand.

In summary, having cool soccer team names can increase a team’s chances of easily securing sponsorships even when they are not the best team in the league.

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Encouraging Unity

The term united is a very powerful word because it is characterized by beautiful concepts such as harmony, peace, togetherness, and unity. It is often said that a country that is not united is divided.

Calling a team United is a way of revealing to soccer fans and the entire world that your team is united like a family. Since soccer is a prevailing unification tool among humans, naming soccer teams United is a perfect way to drive home that point.

The players in the soccer team are showing solidarity

Rebranding an Existing Team

Soccer is all about pleasing fans. So, most times, soccer teams are pressured into making major changes to a soccer team to satisfy team fans and also improve on team standards.

A team changing names from its original name simply signifies that it is ready for a fresh start with new upgrades to the initial mode of operation.

The highly famed club currently known as Manchester United was once at the brink of bankruptcy until it was salvaged by outside investors which warranted it changing its name and a few other things.

Leeds United is also a perfect example of a rebranded soccer team. The end of its predecessor Leeds City in 1919 motivated its birth. Since its creation, Leeds United has won numerous trophies such as three English league titles, one League Cup, and two Community Shield cups.

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Club Sale

It is not news that most times, rich business folks buy soccer teams and rename them to their taste. Soccer teams can be bought and sold like every other business and it is the sole responsibility of its owner to manage it as they want to.

Buying and selling of Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs are more rampant in South Africa than in other parts of the world. Oftentimes, richer clubs buy off the less affluent clubs and rename them.

Changing names of clubs after buying them isn’t always a smart move to make because it can dwindle the clubs’ revenue. Before changing a club’s name, its new owner(s) must adequately study situations to know if it is necessary or not.

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Clubs Merge

Clubs don’t merge frequently these days like they used to do in the past. Oftentimes, teams are merged to quench intense rivalry and foster meaningful growth.

Teams join forces when they realize that being together has more benefits than being apart. When such merges occur, the newly formed team is often renamed with the affixation of United to reflect and honor the merger.

Sheffield United F.C is one of such popular examples because it was formed by associates of the Sheffield United Cricket Club which is a collection of many other cricket clubs in the year 1854.


Mimicking Success

Every human wants to be recognized with success and not failure which is why people often imitate successful individuals in society.

It is common though that copying influential people is the easiest way of gaining influence. We guess this is why soccer teams add united to their names because many clubs bearing names with united on them are ranking high on soccer charts and tables.


On a global scale, it may shock you to know that some few thousand soccer clubs you haven’t heard of before, all have united on their names.

It is not yet a common practice in America maybe because the sport isn’t too popular in America like some other famous sports like basketball and American football. Who knows, it may soon be another crazy soccer trend with no logical explanation.