A historical ranking of football clubs competing in Spain.
[Updated to: end of 2012-2013 season]
Deportivo La Coruña
|Rank||Second Tier Clubs||Points|
Recreativo de Huelva
Real Madrid B
Real Jaén CF
|Rank||Non-league & Defunct Clubs with 10+||Points|
Real Unión de Irún
Gimnàstic de Tarragona
Arenas de Guecho
Athletic Bilbao B
Atlético Madrid B
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 the Primera Division 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: We have limited this ranking to teams currently competing in the top national divisions to keep it relevant to the modern day. There is no point in saying that a now defunct or amateur club is one of the biggest clubs in the country. This problem is not so much of an issue for Spain as it is for some of the other countries, as the powerhouses of Spanish football have remained remarkably constant.
NOTE: The national championship in Spain dates from the 1928/29 season, when it was contested by 10 clubs. The second division began the same year and the Copa Del Rey dates from the 1901/02 season. There was a short-lived League Cup, running for 4 seasons between 1983 & 1986, but we didn’t feel it merited inclusion in this ranking.
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
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.
Real Madrid‘s long periods of dominance on a national and continental level have predictably given them a large lead over their nearest rivals, Barcelona. The hierarchy is unlikely to change in the near future as the Catalans have an even larger lead over third placed Athletic Bilbao, who themselves enjoy a healthy lead over Atletico Madrid and Valencia. There follows another huge gap between fifth and sixth, distinguishing what could be called a ‘big five’ from the rest who have little to choose between them. The top three were founder members of the league and have never been relegated. Seven of the ten founding members are still in the top division today, which shows that the forces haven’t shifted much over time. The consistency of the top clubs has made it impossible for smaller teams to build up many points, which is why most of them are grouped closely together. Fourteen of our top twenty clubs are currently in the top division. Nouveau riche Malaga have become the lowest ranked club currently in the Spanish top-flight (30th in our ranking), which really goes to show that nobody has risen very far above their historical status. Real Oviedo are comfortably the biggest club outside the top two divisions. Their achievements would put them 13th overall but they are currently struggling down in the regional third level of Spanish football.
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.