As a politician, nothing gets you person-on-the-street credibility like being a football fan – witness Tony Blair’s game of head tennis with Kevin Keegan.
So who do today’s lot support? And are they proper football fans? We take a look…
David Cameron – Aston Villa
The PM is an Aston Villa fan, though quite how much his heart is in it is open to question. On the recent appointment of manager Tim Sherwood he said: “I am not going to make any predictions. But I am hoping for a couple of Villa gains to lift us out of the danger zone.” Thankfully, Sherwood helped to halt the club’s gainless run and they are now out of the danger zone.
Cameron, whose uncle Sir William Dugdale was Villa chairman in the 1970s and 80s, also revealed he took his son to a game between QPR and Villa but it was so bad he decided to support Chelsea instead. Perhaps he can go down the bridge with his uncle Gideon.
Ed Miliband – Leeds
Labour leader Miliband spent some of his childhood in Leeds and became a fan of the Elland Road club. He therefore must have known a thing or two about being unpopular even before he was a politician.
Miliband’s big sporting loves lie in America though. He spent two periods living in Boston and is a fan of both the Red Sox and the New England Patriots – he even stayed up to watch the 2013 World Series and tweeted his way through it. That probably doesn’t have quite the same power to connect with the people, though.
Nick Clegg – Arsenal
Traditionally kids tend to support the same club as their parents – in the Clegg household, it’s the other way around. The Deputy PM is a Gunners fan, but only thanks to his children.
Back in 2012, he told the Evening Standard: “I took my two oldest boys to see the north London derby last Saturday and they haven’t stopped talking about it! They have Arsenal shirts with their names on. I’ve been dragged into being a supporter now.”
Nigel Farage – Crystal Palace
Farage isn’t a particularly big football fan, but his team is Crystal Palace. His son is a season ticket holder, so perhaps has enough love of the game for both of them. In a football context, Farage is probably most well-known for comparing Ukip to Millwall, saying the party is “loathed and feared” in Westminster.
His big sporting passion is cricket – like Cameron and Miliband he’s appeared on Test Match Special and apparently has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the game. What could be more British than that?
Natalie Bennett – Nobody
Although Green leader Bennett doesn’t have a team, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t like football – she used to play herself when she was younger, as a goalkeeper, and also turned out for a rugby union team when she was growing up in Australia.
She once said: “We have to stop treating politics like a football game,” though she believes that her sporting background and competitive streak would serve her well in the combative environment of Westminster. “Personally I’d rather enjoy it,” she said.
Nicola Sturgeon – Ayr United
Ayrshire-born Sturgeon was never going to be anything other than an Ayr United fan. The SNP leader’s dad was a big fan and used to take her to games. Henry Templeton was her favourite player while he admired legendary manager Ally MacLeod, the former Scotland boss who inspired the song Ally’s Tartan Army.
“My heart lies with Ayr United,” she said, “and Ally will always be a legend for my dad.”
Leanne Wood – Wales
Wood isn’t a big football fan but, as befits the leader of the Party of Wales, supports the national team in both the round and oval-ball games.
And who wouldn’t enjoy supporting a team that contains Gareth Bale?
Here are a few other political football fans…
George Osborne – Chelsea
Despite this picture of him chewing the fat with Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton, Osborne is actually a Chelsea fan. He was even at the 2012 Champions League final – after which he declared his long-standing fandom that nobody knew about before.
Osborne was there with Wolfgang Schauble, the German finance minister. The Chancellor said: “He is a Bayern Munich supporter. Our teams were both facing formidable Spanish sides in the semis. And we agreed that if we won — which frankly we both thought unlikely — we would have a rendezvous at the Allianz Arena.”
Ed Balls – Norwich
When not accidentally tweeting his name or picking fault in Osborne’s policies, Balls can often be found at Carrow Road – a long way from his Morley and Outwood constituency in Leeds.
Balls was once described by Charles Clarke as having “developed the doctrine of never making a commitment to anything ever at any time other than to support Norwich City Football Club”.
George Galloway – Celtic
Full time establishment irritator and occasional cat impersonator Galloway is a Celtic fan.
The Respect Party leader says: “Celtic is more than just a football club it’s a cultural icon. It’s an emblem of the Irish diaspora which is very important to me.”
Chuka Umunna – Crystal Palace
They might not have much else in common, but the shadow business secretary and Farage do share a football team. Umunna’s father Bennett was on the Palace board before he was killed in a car crash in Nigeria more than 20 years ago.
Umunna retains his passion for the game, saying: “I like football and used to work at the away ticket office at Crystal Palace.” He also sang on the Mr Bean theme tune – that’s got nothing to do with football but it’s a great fact.
Vince Cable – York City
Lib Dem Cable was born into a Conservative family in York. While his politics may have diverged, his footballing loyalties remain firmly rooted in his childhood.
He said: “I was introduced early to the excitements of heaving crowds on the terraces, the crescendos of noise and fierce loyalty to the local football club – York City, then a good side which I followed to a cup semi-final against Jackie Milburn’s Newcastle.”
Boris Johnson – All the London clubs
Boris may not always be the perfect diplomat, but when asked which team he supports recently, the Mayor of London said: “I support all London clubs, I levitate.” He followed that by saying that for “some reason I cannot fathom, my sons support Newcastle United”.
Basically, we don’t think Boris and football really mix…