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We do support England...but only when they're underdogs

SCOTS do support England in international football matches, but only when they have little or no chance of glory.

They remain less keen on an English victory than Wales and Northern Ireland, a new ­Twitter study shows.

While mainstream and social media were awash with images of Scots supporting Uruguay during England's crucial make-or-break World Cup match, the research shows they may not be wholly representative of the nation's feelings.

Hamish Husband, of the ­Association of Tartan Army Clubs, said the main reason Scottish attitudes to the England national team is different from those of Wales and Northern Ireland is the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

The study by Simon Wibblerley, a PhD computational linguistics student at the University of Sussex, showed the Scots were at their most fervently anti-English in the first World Cup match against Italy, but became very supportive in the final match against Costa Rica, when they had already been eliminated.

Before and after England's defeat to the Italians, for every two tweets backing the Auld Enemy there were three wishing them ill. The opposite applied to Welsh Twitter users, with three tweets backing England for every two against them.

With qualification at stake against Uruguay there was much more support for the English, with support from Wales and Northern Ireland rising to almost 2.5 to one in favour and even the Scots tilting to 1.3 tweets to one in support.

After defeat put England out of the World Cup, however, the support shot up.

When the team faced Costa Rica, Northern Ireland out-cheered even England, with 14 tweets to one in favour, compared to England's 10 tweets to one in support. The Welsh were more than four to one in favour, and the survey shows Scots, "threw caution to the wind and went a bit England daft", cheering five to one in favour of their southern neighbours.

Mr Wibberley, who carried out the study in conjunction with theconversation.com, concluded: "The Scots were certainly less keen on England victory than any other part of the British Isles.

"Yet neither did the Scots want England to be eliminated by Uruguay, even if they cared less than the other home nations.

"And once this came to pass, they definitely didn't want Britain's only representatives to go home empty-handed."

The divide also shows itself in TV coverage of live England internationals, which can be seen on ITV stations in Wales and Northern Ireland but not on STV, which has not bought into the deal.

Mr Husband said the ­relationship Scotland has with England has always been more complicated than with Wales and Northern Ireland. "The hardline Scottish football fan sees England as their natural foe. And this is not reciprocated because they see Germany as their natural foe. It stretches back to Bannockburn.

"The ordinary football fan does not mind England doing well. But the attitude changes when they are doing well, get to a semi final and then it's because they cannot live with the media coverage.

"I find it is actually easier to watch England games now with the commentary turned off."

An Ipsos Mori poll on the eve of the World Cup showed one in five Scots planned to support England while 7% would follow Brazil. A further 5% said they would support "anyone but England".

Mr Wibblerly carried out the study by developing software that can analyse social media posts on a particular issue.

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