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Historical Ranking: ENGLAND

A historical ranking of football clubs competing in England since organised competitive football began on a nationwide basis with the inaugural FA Cup in the 1871-72 season.

[Updated to: end of 2012-2013 season]

Rank

Club

Points
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
Liverpool
Manchester United
Arsenal
Aston Villa
Everton
Chelsea
Manchester City
Tottenham Hotspur
Newcastle United
Sunderland
Blackburn Rovers
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Shefield Wednesday
West Bromwich Albion
Nottingham Forest
Derby County
Bolton Wanderers
Leeds United
Sheffield United
Birmingham City
564
543
424
365
357
322
290
289
286
281
254
244
243
239
236
214
209
201
200
182
Rank Second Tier Clubs Points
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
Burnley
Leicester City
Preston North End
Middlesbrough
West Ham United
Stoke City
Portsmouth
Huddersfield Town
Ipswich Town
Southampton
Notts County
Blackpool
Coventry City
Charlton Athletic
Fulham
Bury
Norwich City
Barnsley
Cardiff City
Queens Park Rangers
Bristol City
Crystal Palace
Oldham Athletic
Bradford City
182
181
179
176
176
166
144
134
120
119
117
113
108
106
106
100
97
83
83
80
71
70
65
64
Rank Third Tier Clubs Points
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
Hull City
Swansea City
Millwall
Watford
Leyton Orient
Plymouth Argyle
Port Vale
MK Dons
Reading
Brighton and Hove Albion
Rotherham United
Oxford United
Brentford
Swindon Town
Wigan Athletic
Chesterfield
Doncaster Rovers
Bristol Rovers
Carlisle United
Walsall
Crewe Alexandra
Shrewsbury Town
Tranmere Rovers
Scunthorpe United
63
52
49
46
45
45
44
42
35
33
33
32
28
26
26
25
25
20
20
17
12
12
12
11
Rank Fourth Tier Clubs Points
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
Southend United
Gillingham
Northampton Town
Peterborough United
Bournemouth
Mansfield Town
York City
Colchester United
Newport County
Exeter City
Yeovil Town
Accrington Stanley
AFC Wimbledon
Burton Albion
Cheltenham Town
Crawley Town
Dagenham and Redbridge
Fleetwood Town
Hartlepool United
Morecambe
Rochdale
Stevenage
Torquay United
Wycombe Wanderers
9
7
7
7
4
3
3
2
2
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Rank Non-league & Defunct Clubs
Points
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
Grimsby Town
Luton Town
Lincoln City
The Wanderers
Bradford Park Avenue
Stockport County
Burton United
Glossop North End
Gainsborough Trinity
Old Etonians
Accrington
Cambridge United
Darwen
Leeds City
Blackburn Olympic
Clapham Rovers
Old Carthusians
Oxford University
Royal Engineers
Loughborough
Wrexham
Darlington
New Brighton Tower
Hereford
Nelson
Bootle
Middlesbrough Ironopolis
Rushden and Diamonds
Southport
86
75
38
30
29
29
18
18
16
12
10
10
10
10
6
6
6
6
6
5
5
4
3
2
2
1
1
1
1

Click here to discuss this ranking on our forum


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The About a Ball Ranking is a points scoring system devised our statisticians to grade each league club according to their historical achievements since the beginning of organised football in this country. We felt the need for such a ranking after hearing numerous lower division chairmen claiming that their club is one of the biggest in the country and should rightfully be in the top division. However, there are only 20 places in the Premier League and therefore only 20 clubs deserve to occupy them, so we decided to find out which clubs really are sleeping giants and which are currently flying well above their historical status.

How it works

Points awarded as follows:

Champions Cup Win +15
Other European Trophy Win +10
League Championship +10
FA Cup Win +6
League Cup Win +3
Second Level Division Win +3
Lower Division Win +1
Season in top division +2
Season in 2nd division +1
Bonuses: Super Cup; Club Cup; Double +1

Notes: The scores include any points scored by a club under a former name. In cases where clubs have merged or re-formed, the new club has been awarded the points accumulated by its previous incarnations wherever there is a continuation or substantial link between the old and new clubs.

Criticisms and Improvements

There is no account taken of when the points were scored, so a team (e.g. Sunderland) could have scored a large portion of their points a long time ago in a very different era. The teams did not all join the league at the same time so founder members such as Burnley have scored their points over a much longer period of time than “new” clubs such as MK Dons. The system takes account only of on the pitch successes and not off the pitch factors such as attendance and annual budget which could indicate a big club. The About a Ball ranking could be improved (and also complicated) by including points for average attendances and annual budget/profit, dividing points totals by the number of years clubs have been in the league, or by giving less weight to points scored a long time ago. However, we are satisfied that our system accurately ranks the 92 league clubs based on historical success and identifies clubs currently under or over achieving.

Conclusions

It is clear that Liverpool are by far the most successful English football club ever, which was the expected result. However, their lead has been drastically reduced by Manchester United over the past two decades. There is a considerable gap to third placed Arsenal, who themselves have a comfortable margin over Aston Villa and Everton, separated by only a few points in fourth and fifth respectively. Chelsea have recently risen several places to sixth, and lead the rest of the chasing pack followed by Manchester City, who have recently overtaken Spurs, Newcastle and Sunderland.

Of the 20 clubs contesting the 2013-2014 Premier League, only 11 are historically among the top 20 English teams and are therefore competing at their correct historical level. These are the top ten in our ranking, plus West Brom. All of the historic top ten being in the current top division shows that there is a strong correlation between historic success and current strength. The other nine current Premier League members have risen above their traditional status. Seven should expect to be in the Championship and two of them, Hull City and Swansea City are currently two levels above their historical status, making them the smallest teams in the Premier League. Bournemouth and Yeovil Town in the Championship are also playing at two levels above their historical status, making them, Hull and Swansea the most over achieving teams in the league at the moment.

When we turn to underachievement, we can see a couple of big clubs in the third level of English football. Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United are both fairly comfortably inside the top twenty in our ranking but have sunk to League One in recent years. There are two other clubs who are also now playing at two levels below their historical status - Bury and Portsmouth. They now find themselves in League Two, having earned enough ranking points to warrant a place in the Championship. That makes these four clubs the biggest current under achievers in the league. 

All the other 29 clubs that have ever scored points under this system have been included in the study in case they ever return to league football. Of course, there’s no chance of that ever happening for many of them because they have been dissolved or disbanded over the years. Grimsby Town, Luton Town and Lincoln City, however, will be hopeful of making it back in the not too distant future. Their scores would put them in the second and third tiers of English football. It’s interesting to note that teams such as The Wanderers and Bradford Park Avenue are still statistically among the top sixty achievers in the country.

It is strictly forbidden to copy or reproduce these tables without permission. Any breach of copyright may lead to prosecution. The tables will be updated annually and any feedback on the results/corrections to data is welcome.

aboutaball.com 2013

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6 Responses to “Historical Ranking: ENGLAND”

  • FuriousFox46:

    Great list!

    Please consider making a list including home and away support. As that surely is part of the make-up of a ‘big club’ and will definitely help my Leicester boys on the way!

  • [...] of the 24 second tier teams. Peterborough United are the Championship’s minnows. (source: http://www.aboutaball.co.uk/aboutaball-historical-football-rankings/historical-ranking-of-english-fo…) Historic… Blackburn Rovers won the 1994/95 Premier [...]

  • [...] Football Historical Rankings | Aboutaball :: About World Football 29 Sep English Football Historical Rankings | Aboutaball :: About World Football. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  • Andrew MCFC:

    An interesting read. Thanks for this.
    My one criticism of the points scoring here is that although league wins and time spent in upper divisions have points allocated, cup runner-up places don’t. I’d add 3 points for European Cup runners up, 2 points for FA/other European trophy, and 1 for League Cup runners up (possibly also award 1 point as a bonus for finishing in the top 3 of the top flight).
    Also, are Fairs Cup wins given 10 points, or are these excluded from the list? I feel either answer is wrong, and a score somewhere between the two (3 points, in my opinion) would be a fairer representation of the trophy’s importance. I know the ‘one team per city’ rule was held on to in the early years of the UEFA Cup, but weighting for this in the competition’s early years over-complicates things…

  • Adam:

    Sorry but it’s extremely flawed.

    If a team had spent 90 years in the top flight, coming 2nd every season, coming runners up in every cup competition but never winning anything – you seriously suggest that they don’t deserve their place in the premier league?

    The winning of trophies is not everything. Wigan won the FA Cup last season for goodness sake. You have to take into account the all time league table of results, using the 3 points for a game for the whole of history and divide the totals by the number of games placed. A weighting should be given for games played in different divisions.

  • Kevin Greene:

    Adam, are you a Southampton supporter?

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