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"United" All Over The Shop - Trend OR Reality?

Called it an obsession or mere British influence when it is not uncommon in this part of the world to name a football club as whatsoever "United".

Just look around the region, you already have Buriram United, Bangkok United, and Muangthong United in Thailand where national custodian Hassan Sunny used to play for the dissolved Army United.

Down south in Malaysia, there is a team rebranded as Kuala Lumpur United which is formerly known as Kuala Lumpur FA - the team that once boasted the likes of the Singapore triumvirate of Fandi Ahmad, Malek Awab, and K Kanan in their 1980s heydays.

On the other end of the Causeway in Singapore, names like Farrer Park United and Toa Payoh United were some of those listed in the then-newly formed National Football League (NFL) in the mid-1970s.

Moving into the mid-1990s, these were the names to mark the start of the professional era like Geylang United (which later changed to Geylang International), Tiong Bahru United (later Tanjong Pagar United), Gombak United, Home United (now Lion City Sailors after the privatization) and Hougang United.

Tanjong Pagar United used to be known as Tiong Bahru United

However, having a closer look at things some may be thinking why named "United" when some of these Singapore teams are not amalgamated club, to begin with.

Sit-out club Gombak United traced their roots to that of Redhill Rangers which was founded in the 1980s before their first admission to the S.League in 1998.

In the beginning, they were called International Contract Specialists Football Club (ICSFC) later renamed Geylang International, and based themselves at Geylang Field along Geylang Lorong 12 during the NFL era.

The start of the professionalism, however, saw the club registered as Geylang United in 1996 but reverted to Geylang International in 2013.

Based on the aforementioned, there is no evidence to suggest any form of merging of different entities along the process to see those clubs named "United".

Depending on individual interpretation, when the managing of Police FC, one of the pioneering eight clubs of the S.League, was handed over to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the club was renamed Home United in 1997.

As such, Home United qualified as a "United", not just a club that represented only the police force but included other services under the jurisdiction of MHA like Civil Defence Forces and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

On the other hand, Tiong Bahru United only saw themselves widen up their catchment area to see themselves as a team representing a wider Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency (GRC) which also did not see any merging of clubs along the way.

Perhaps the best example to illustrate the correct use of "United" in local professional football is Hougang United which emerged from the merging of both Sengkang Marine and Paya Lebar Punggol to form Sengkang Punggol before changing to their current name in 2011.

It is widely accepted that Sheffield United is the oldest existing football club in the world to be named "United" even though the club was founded by the cricket club of the same name in 1889.

Clubs like Leeds United and Manchester United showed no traces of combining separate entities that led to the naming of their clubs either.

Leeds United was founded in 1919 to take over the tenancy of Elland Road after the dissolution of Leeds City by the Football League while the name Manchester United was selected from the list that comprised Manchester Central and Manchester Celtic after the club was no longer based in Newton Heath on 26 April 1902.

Jubilant Manchester United fans in 2019 ICC 

Newcastle United, however, is one of the known top-flight clubs being a product of the amalgamated process that witnessed the merger of Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End in 1892.

So it is noteworthy to conclude the name of the team as "United" is not necessary due to a combination of two or more entities but could also be seen as something trendy in the Victorian and Edwardian era in England, although in this part of the world it should be seen as a case of British influence.

Nonetheless, the use of the word "United" was taken to a new level when the Philippines club Ceres-Negros FC changed its name to United City FC which may sound weird to some football purists.


  1. I think putting 'United' behind a city or town name used to mean when more than one team actually come together to form a team.

    For example, i read that Newcastle United was a result of Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End coming together in unity many years ago.

    But recently, the 'united' in a team name seems to be more to invoke the spirit of unity in a team.

    I also suspect the people who love putting 'united' behind a team name could well be Manchester United fans.


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