Welcome To The Football Rivalries Report 2008

Where would football be if we didn't have rivalries? Those clubs, or even countries, that we most look forward to playing - and defeating.

Even when we're not playing each other, we take great pleasure in seeing those rivals lose. They may not be in the same division, let alone be challenging our club for honours, but that doesn't stop most fans feeling a sense of satisfaction at seeing their rivals fail.

But where does that rivalry come from? Is it simply because they are near-neighbours, or is it jealousy at another club's success? Or are there social or economic reasons that are simply mirrored by the football clubs?

And which are the biggest rivalries in English football?

Here at The New Football Pools we've endeavoured to discover answers to those questions.

Through the Football Fans Census we questioned almost 6,000 passionate football fans across all 92 League clubs, to identify who they thought were their biggest footballing rivals.

Having found out who those rivals were, we then asked why they were their biggest adversaries, to understand whether it was because:

  • they are neighbours
  • they have always been rivals, for whatever reason
  • they're jealous, because their rivals have been more successful
  • they meet regularly in the league
  • or because the rivalry goes much deeper than football


Armed with those answers, our statisticians have put together a league table of the top rivalries using a complex formula based on:

  • the survey responses of both sets of fans
  • the respective league and cup records of the two clubs
  • the regularity of league and cup meetings between the rivals
  • the two clubs' records when playing each other
  • the impact on attendances when they meet
  • transfers between the clubs, and fans' reactions to those transfers
  • off-the-field factors, such as media coverage of the rivalry


Some of the results may surprise you, but we hope you enjoy debating it.

Jon Sheehy
Marketing Director
The New Football Pools
February 2008