A historical ranking of football clubs competing in France.
[Updated to: end of 2012-2013 season]
Racing Club de Strasbourg
Stade de Reims
|Rank||Second Tier Clubs||Points|
|Rank||Third Tier Clubs||Points|
Evian Thonon Gaillard
Uzès Pont du Gard
|Rank||Selected non-league clubs||Points|
The About a Ball ranking is a progressive 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 Ligue 1 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.
NOTE: National championships have been contested in France since 1894 but were originally very regional in nature and included only a handful of teams. This ranking takes into account league results since the first proper league in 1932/33 (1933/34 for Division 2). The Coupe de France dates from 1918.
How it works
Points awarded as follows:
|Champions Cup Win||+15|
|Other European Trophy Win||+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. This proved particularly difficult in France because there have been numerous mergers, splits, name changes and reformations over the years. We will continue to investigate the history of several clubs and they may be awarded/deducted points in the future if we find evidence that has previously been overlooked.
Criticisms and Improvements
There is no account taken of when the points were scored, so a team (e.g. Stade de Reims) 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 have had a much longer period of time over which to accumulate points than “new” clubs such as PSG or Auxerre. 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 ranking shows the relative playing merits of the 60 league clubs based on historical success and identifies clubs currently under or over achieving.
Lyon have made great progress up the table in recent years but they are still only fourth in the all-time ranking despite their recent dominance. It’s quite tight at the top, with Marseille and Saint Etienne enjoying a comfortable lead over the evenly matched Monaco and Lyon in third and fourth, with Bordeaux lurking in fifth. Monaco need to win something soon to maintain their lofty position or they will go the same way as Nantes, whose recent slump has seen them drop from fourth to sixth.
Twelve clubs from the historic top twenty are currently in the top division. Evian Thonon Gaillard are the ‘smallest’ top flight club at the moment, as their record places them 54th overall. Monaco and Nantes are the biggest league clubs currently outside the top division as they belong in 3rd and 6th place historically but are currently in Ligue 2. Non-league Racing Club de Strasbourg have had a disastrous few years due to financial difficulties. Their historic status is as a top ten club.
There are of course several other clubs that have scored points under this system over the years but are no longer in the three nationwide divisions. Some of them, such as Racing Club de France, Rouen and Alès have been quite successful and would rank highly. We will look at ways to include them in future updates.
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.