ASK DOCTOR DOROTHY PASTENSE FULLSTOP:

You state in the book that saying 'Look at Manchester United! It has scored a goal!' would be a rather odd thing to say. But I have seen many examples from the internet that say differently - involving your beloved Leicester City.

 

And here come the quotes from reports of the team's premier league success.

 

From the Washington Post:

Leicester City is an especially unlikely champion.

 

From the Seattle Times:

Leicester City, which won promotion to the English Premier League a mere two years ago, capped one of the most remarkable seasons in sports history without kicking a soccer ball Monday. It clinched its first Premier League title.

From the New York Times:

Leicester City, a 5,000-to-1 preseason long shot, produced the stylish, energetic display after having spent a week celebrating the clinching of its first top-flight title on Monday.

In all the above examples, British English (and at least in Australian English and Indian English, as I checked examples there) would, for sure, say that in the contexts these sentences have been presented, it is the players that make up the team that is being talked about, rather than the club as one individual unit. For sure, we could say that 'Leicester city is a well-run organisation' or 'It is the players, the trainers, the medical staff, and the directors that make up, what is most people's minds, the club that is Leicester City'. 

But in American English, from the evidence that I have looked at and from the grammar rules that I understand, a collective group of people (the team, the staff, the club, the collective, the organisation, the company, etc) is usually treated as one unit, so when written, it is always treated both physically and grammatically as a singular third person: it.

It is entirely possible that over the next few weeks further evidence will emerge of differences in English language varieties as regards Leicester City, but for the time being, I suppose we may well have to amend the page this example is mentioned in Typical Errors in English (the book).

When I get time, I'll have to check out The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language by Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey Pullam, perhaps the only source likely to cover this entry in its 1860 pages. Dear me, it's a heavy book.

But to say it (Leicester city) has scored a goal still sounds funny for me as I can't quite imagine an entire stadium and administration office physically getting onto its legs and running down the pitch to beat goalkeeper Joe Hart, so I would advise you treat the team as a group of players as regardes any English tests taken in Europe. But what I think and how English is generally, commonly and even regarded as standard are totally different things. Please note this, N M Gwynne and Simon Heffer.

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