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The Debate
  1. Football
  2. Premier League

The Debate: Is it ever acceptable to want your team to lose?

It's a scenario that seems to pop up every year at some point.

A team has a fixture whereby winning would be huge for their rivals, and fans can be torn as to whether or not they want their own team to win.

It's an unenviable situation where you can hand a boost to your rivals by your own team winning, and it's the situation Tottenham find themselves in ahead of their clash with Manchester City, knowing a win will put the title on a plate for their rivals... but is it ever acceptable to want your team to lose?

The bet365 News team debate.

Supporting your team comes before wanting rivals to lose

The only supporters who can actively cheer against their own team are the ones not in the ground. I can't wrap my head around being in the ground, likely a season ticket holder, and suddenly switching your allegiance for 90 minutes.

Having been a similar position for a match years ago where I genuinely didn’t know whether I wanted my team to win, when that first whistle goes, all that goes out the window and for 90 minutes you forget the permutations. At the end of the day, it’s your team; it’s who you’ve supported all your life, it’s whose results affect your mood for 50 days of the year, and it’s not something you can just turn on and off like a tap.

I fully understand the reasoning fans are inclined to say there are occasions when they want their team to lose. It’s the final day of the season and you’ve got nothing to play for; you’re against a team who can win and relegate your biggest rivals, or deny them promotion, or deny them a title, but if you’re that way inclined, don’t go to the game.

It appears that’s the stance Tottenham fans have taken ahead of their clash with Manchester City.

Admittedly, it’s an awful position to be in; Tottenham could still qualify for the Champions League – and would have a decent chance if they beat City – but do so and they’re handing the title on a plate to Arsenal. Even with the carrot of Champions League football, many Spurs fans would rather finish fifth than see the Gunners win the title.

It appears - rightly so - that there are plenty of Tottenham fans who recognise that they don’t want their team to win tonight and will refuse to go, selling their tickets (or at least attempting to).

It’s the best approach to take. If you’re unsure about whether or not you want your team to win, you probably shouldn’t be in the ground.

But actively wanting your team to lose? Not for me, Clive.

The pain of your insufferable rivals gloating far outweighs the pain of one forgettable defeat

Your local rivals are on the brink of a Premier League title.

Take a deep breath, close your eyes and imagine how insufferable it would be as rival supporters gloat in your face for the next few weeks, months and – if they’re that intolerable – years.

Tottenham fans currently find themselves in that position. Arsenal can secure their first league success in 20 years on Sunday BUT, Spurs have the opportunity to prevent that.

Yes, it would involve them losing to Manchester City. Yes, it would involve them relinquishing any chance of securing Champions League football next term.

But without sacrifice, there can be no victory.

Arsenal not winning the league would be deemed a success in the eyes of nearly all Tottenham supporters.

Two decades ago, Arsenal won the league at White Hart Lane and their fans have never let Spurs forget it. The sheer thought that Tottenham could potentially gift-wrap the title to their rivals is a terrifying prospect.

As a Birmingham City fan, if I knew that losing a fixture would prevent Aston Villa from winning a title, I would turn a blind eye. I wouldn’t celebrate the opposition team winning but I would be happy in the knowledge that defeat has served a greater good. It would provide a great sense of relief, more than anything else.

Obviously the point alters depending on the circumstances your own club finds themselves in; you’re not going to want your team to lose if it consequentially ends in relegation.

But if they have nothing to play for, then wanting your team to lose is a necessary evil if it negatively impacts your local rivals, and if watching my own team suffer defeat caused heartbreak for our rival fans, best believe I will savour every tear.

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