2012-13 Football Rivalry Survey Results

The survey was carried out between August 2012 and February 2013 and was answered by just under 2,100 football fans.

Rivalry… English football’s hate stakes revealed

Headline statistics

  • 17 clubs’ main rivals have changed since 2003.
  • Leeds United  have the most teams considering them as main rivals with four. Manchester United and Nottingham Forest are joint second with three each.
  • Gillingham  have the fewest rivals, appearing in no club’s top three rivalries.
  • 52.2% of fans believe that geographical proximity is the cause of their main rivalry. 34.7% blame it on history whereas 8.2% think it’s down to league position.
  • 73.9% of football fans claim they would miss their rivals if they ceased to exist.

Changing rivalries

Since 2003, 17 club’s main rivals have changed. They are as follows;

Team Old Rival New Rival
AFC Bournemouth Reading Southampton
Arsenal Manchester United Tottenham Hotspur
Bolton Wanderers Manchester United Wigan Athletic
Brentford Queens Park Rangers Fulham
Carlisle United Middlesbrough Preston North End
Chelsea Arsenal Tottenham Hotspur
Colchester United Wycombe Wanderers Southend United
Coventry City Aston Villa Leicester City
Crewe Alexandra Stoke City Port Vale
Doncaster Rovers Rotherham United Leeds United
Fulham Chelsea Queens Park Rangers
Huddersfield Town Bradford City Leeds United
Oldham Athletic Manchester City Rochdale
Reading Swindon Town Aldershot Town
Torquay United Exeter City Plymouth Argyle
Tranmere Rovers Bolton Wanderers Oldham Athletic

Clubs with the most rivals

With 3 points allocated for having one main rival and two for having a secondary rival etc., here is a ranking of clubs with the most rivals in the Football League.

Rank Club Points
1 Leeds 25
2 Chelsea 15
Manchester United 15
4 Bolton 14
Swindon 14
Wolves 14
7 Burnley 12
Millwall 12
Sheff Wed 12
10 Crystal Palace 11
Leicester 11
MK Dons 11
13 Aston Villa 10
Blackburn 10
Brighton 10
16 Bristol Rovers 9
Liverpool 9
Nott’m Forest 9
Oxford 9
Reading 9
West Brom 9
West Ham 9
23 Arsenal 8
Preston 8
Tottenham Hotspur 8
26 Birmingham 7
Bristol City 7
Cardiff 7
Colchester 7
Derby 7
Exeter 7
Port Vale 7
Sheff Utd 7
Southampton 7
35 Huddersfield 6
Hull 6
Morecambe 6
Newcastle 6
Peterborough 6
Plymouth 6
Portsmouth 6
Southend 6
Stoke 6
45 Accrington 5
AFC Wimbledon 5
Barnet 5
Barnsley 5
Chesterfield 5
Dag & Red 5
Fulham 5
Middlesbrough 5
Northampton 5
Oldham 5
Rochdale 5
Sunderland 5
Wigan 5
58 Blackpool 4
Bradford 4
Brentford 4
Charlton 4
Doncaster 4
Everton 4
Ipswich 4
Leyton Orient 4
Torquay 4
67 Aldershot 3
Bury 3
Carlisle 3
Manchester City 3
Norwich 3
Rotherham 3
Stevenage 3
Swansea 3
Walsall 3
Wycombe 3
77 Crewe 2
Hartlepool 2
Shrewsbury 2
80 Bournemouth 1
Coventry 1
Crawley 1
Notts County 1
Scunthorpe 1
Yeovil 1
86 Burton 0
Cheltenham 0
Fleetwood 0
Gillingham 0
Tranmere 0
Watford 0
York 0

Rivalries – Who are they?

Here is a complete list of the 92 Premier League and Football League clubs’ top three rivalries;

Team Main rivals Second rivals Third rivals
Accrington Stanley Morecambe Blackburn Rovers Burnley
AFC Bournemouth Southampton Reading Brighton & Hove Albion
AFC Wimbledon Milton Keynes Dons Crystal Palace Crawley Town
Aldershot Town Reading Woking Swindon Town
Arsenal Tottenham Hotspur Chelsea Manchester United
Aston Villa Birmingham City West Bromwich Albion Wolves
Barnet Stevenage Dagenham & Redbridge Northampton Town / Carlisle United
Barnsley Sheffield Wednesday Sheffield United Leeds United / Huddersfield Town
Birmingham City Aston Villa Wolves West Bromwich Albion
Blackburn Rovers Burnley Bolton Wanderers Manchester United
Blackpool Preston North End Bolton Wanderers Burnley
Bolton Wanderers Wigan Athletic Burnley Blackburn Rovers
Bradford City Huddersfield Town Leeds United Rotherham United
Brentford Fulham Queens Park Rangers Chelsea
Brighton & Hove Albion Crystal Palace Portsmouth Southampton
Bristol City Bristol Rovers Cardiff City Swindon Town
Bristol Rovers Bristol City Swindon Town Cardiff City
Burnley Blackburn Rovers Bolton Wanderers Blackpool / Preston North End
Burton Albion Chesterfield Derby County Notts County
Bury Bolton Wanderers Rochdale Oldham Athletic
Cardiff City Swansea City Bristol City Leeds United
Carlisle United Preston North End Hartlepool United Middlesbrough
Charlton Athletic Crystal Palace Millwall West Ham United
Chelsea Tottenham Hotspur Arsenal Manchester United
Cheltenham Town Swindon Town Oxford United Shrewsbury Town / Kidderminster Harriers
Chesterfield Mansfield Town Rotherham United Sheffield Wednesday
Colchester United Southend United Wycombe Wanderers Ipswich Town
Coventry City Leicester City Aston Villa Birmingham City
Crawley Town AFC Wimbledon Brighton & Hove Albion Swindon Town
Crewe Alexandra Port Vale Stoke City
Crystal Palace Brighton & Hove Albion Millwall Charlton Athletic
Dagenham & Redbridge Barnet Leyton Orient Brentford
Derby County Nottingham Forest Leeds United Leicester City
Doncaster Rovers Leeds United Barnsley Sheffield United / Sheffield Wednesday
Everton Liverpool Manchester United Manchester City
Exeter City Plymouth Argyle Torquay United Bristol Rovers / Yeovil Town
Fleetwood Town Morecambe Accrington Stanley Barrow
Fulham Queens Park Rangers Chelsea Brentford
Gillingham Millwall Charlton Athletic Swindon Town
Hartlepool United Darlington Carlisle United Sheffield Wednesday
Huddersfield Town Leeds United Bradford City Sheffield Wednesday
Hull City Leeds United Leicester City Scunthorpe United / Grimsby Town
Ipswich Town Norwich City West Ham United Colchester United
Leeds United Manchester United Chelsea Huddersfield Town / Millwall
Leicester City Nottingham Forest Derby County Coventry City
Leyton Orient Southend United Brentford Dagenham & Redbridge / West Ham United
Liverpool Manchester United Everton Chelsea
Manchester City Manchester United Liverpool Everton
Manchester United Liverpool Manchester City Chelsea
Middlesbrough Newcastle United Sunderland Leeds United
Millwall West Ham United Crystal Palace Charlton Athletic
Milton Keynes Dons Peterborough United AFC Wimbledon Northampton Town
Morecambe Accrington Stanley Burnley Bradford City
Newcastle United Sunderland Middlesbrough Manchester United
Northampton Town Peterborough United Milton Keynes Dons Leicester City / Oxford United
Norwich City Ipswich Town Wolves Leeds United
Nottingham Forest Derby County Leicester City Sheffield United
Notts County Nottingham Forest Mansfield Town Chesterfield
Oldham Athletic Rochdale Wigan Athletic Huddersfield Town
Oxford United Swindon Town Reading Wycombe Wanderers
Peterborough United Northampton Town Cambridge United Leicester City / Milton Keynes Dons
Plymouth Argyle Exeter City Torquay United Portsmouth
Port Vale Stoke City Crewe Alexandra Shrewsbury Town
Portsmouth Southampton Brighton & Hove Albion Millwall / Leicester City
Preston North End Blackpool Blackburn Rovers Burnley
Queens Park Rangers Chelsea Fulham Cardiff City / Stoke City
Reading Aldershot Town Swindon Town Oxford United
Rochdale Bury Burnley Oldham Athletic
Rotherham United Doncaster Rovers Sheffield Wednesday Chesterfield
Scunthorpe United Hull City Grimsby Town Doncaster Rovers
Sheffield United Sheffield Wednesday Leeds United Barnsley / West Ham United
Sheffield Wednesday Sheffield United Barnsley Leeds United
Shrewsbury Town Walsall Wolves Port Vale
Southampton Portsmouth Brighton & Hove Albion Bournemouth
Southend United Colchester United Leyton Orient Dagenham & Redbridge
Stevenage Milton Keynes Dons Barnet Dagenham & Redbridge
Stoke City Port Vale West Bromwich Albion Wolves
Sunderland Newcastle United Middlesbrough Leeds United
Swansea City Cardiff City Reading Bristol City
Swindon Town Oxford United Reading Bristol City / Bristol Rovers
Torquay United Plymouth Argyle Exeter City Bristol Rovers
Tottenham Hotspur Arsenal Chelsea West Ham United
Tranmere Rovers Oldham Athletic Bolton Wanderers Everton / Liverpool
Walsall Wolves Aston Villa West Bromwich Albion
Watford Luton Town Leeds United Crystal Palace / Queens Park Rangers
West Bromwich Albion Wolves Aston Villa Birmingham City
West Ham United Millwall Tottenham Hotspur Arsenal / Chelsea
Wigan Athletic Bolton Wanderers Blackburn Rovers Preston North End
Wolves West Bromwich Albion Birmingham City Aston Villa
Wycombe Wanderers Colchester United Milton Keynes Dons Oxford United
Yeovil Town Bristol Rovers Exeter City
York City Hull City Leeds United Bradford City

Neutral opinion

The 20 most offensive clubs to the neutral football fan;

  1. Manchester United

    Hated… Manchester United are the most disliked English football club

  2. Liverpool
  3. Leeds United
  4. Chelsea
  5. West Ham United
  6. Stoke City
  7. Millwall
  8. Milton Keynes Dons
  9. Cardiff City
  10. Queens Park Rangers
  11. Manchester City
  12. Arsenal
  13. Tottenham Hotspur
  14. Crawley Town
  15. Birmingham City
  16. Aston Villa
  17. Hull City
  18. Nottingham Forest
  19. Reading
  20. Portsmouth

The 20 least offensive clubs to the neutral football fan were;

  1. Brentford

    Buzzing… The Bees are the Football League’s least offensive club

  2. Aldershot Town
  3. Burton Albion
  4. Bury
  5. Yeovil Town
  6. Cheltenham Town
  7. Dagenham & Redbridge
  8. Exeter City
  9. Torquay United
  10. Fulham
  11. Bournemouth
  12. Colchester United
  13. Leyton Orient
  14. Rochdale
  15. York City
  16. Carlisle United
  17. Crewe Alexandra
  18. Hartlepool United
  19. Tranmere Rovers
  20. Accrington Stanley

All stats compared with 2003 Football Fans Census : Rivalry Uncovered. However, this survey is not affiliated with the Football Fans Survey.


  1. And the source for this information is where?
    Who conducted it?
    How was it conducted?
    On what basis were non-league clubs excluded to avoid fraud?
    What defines a neutral fan?

    Without answers to those questions, this is merely a list without context, nor any value.

  2. Historically, Villa have been West Brom’s main rivals since the late 19th century. Wolves only became thought of as WBA’s main rivals due to the fact that we were at a similar levels in the league for much of the 1980’s, 90’s and 2000’s.

  3. Wigan bloody wish they were our main rivals. We couldn’t give two fucks about Wigan. United is the big one for us, but I’d put Burnley, Blackburn, Preston, Blackpool, Bury and Tranmere all before Wigan. I don;t know a single Bolton fan who would even rank Wigan in the top 5, let alone main rivals. Just bizarre

    1. haha! I like the irony in your post! You say Wigan wish to be Bolton’s rivals? Then pronounce Man United are your rivals as if you’d even be in their top 10, you’re a funny guy.

  4. You still havent explained HOW including non league clubs would open it up to fraud? If anything the survey is “fraudulent” by not including them…hence some very odd results

    1. I can’t explain that. The survey provider has to. It’s ‘Kwik Surveys’ if you want to enquire. Unfortunately, this was just a bit of fun and I think you’re taking it far too seriously.

  5. Well done Chris a good piece of fun to get us all into a discussion. rlton still including us in thei Nice to see Palace who don’t care about Charlton including us in their top three

  6. Some really strange results here. Seems to me that it was only male fans of a certain age group were asked the questions.
    Think you would get a different result if more older or female fans were asked.
    How the hell can Hull and Stoke say that Leicester are one of their traditional rivals??

    1. Not being arsey mate, but where does it say Stoke consider Leicester? (Vale, West Brom and Wolves on the list above!)

      The point on the age group is right though – if you went back to 2002 many Stokies would consider Cardiff as a rival, and back in the grim 90s even Stockport County – heady days in the lower leagues indeed!

      As a 40 year old (well nearly), I’ve seen lots of new teams come and go as rivals due to league position, with a lot of acrimony etc

      Based where we are, we have lots of local-ish games v Manchester clubs, East Midlands clubs, West Midlands clubs, all of which are big games (as you will know proportions of their fan base through work and social lives!)

      But traditionally Stoke v Port Vale (Potteries derby), Stoke v Wolves (Staffs derby of old) and probably over the last 30 years Stoke v West Brom given vicinity and the two teams following each other up and down the leagues – I was at a Div 2 game in about 1991 when 30k turned up to watch a Baggies v Stoke game (inc 9000 Stoke) – was epic!

      So the 3 listed are probably about right, Wolves prob a bigger/feistier event than WBA though. I kinda like West Brom! (and we generally win lol)

      Stoke v Derby & Brum has always been a lively affair, Crewe/Shrewsbury only really relevant when in similar leagues, and for a lot of older Stokies they see Man Utd & City, and Arsenal as ‘rivals’ from the 70s. The Arsenal one nearly coming back under Pulis!

      Good conversation points though!

  7. just a bit concerned that sample size is on the small size, without getting out the calculator we’re talking approx 13 fans per club which is small enought to get a false result as clearly for some clubs you will have had even less responses….. sponsorship opportunity here for someone to help you do it in a bit more depth? 😉

  8. I’m just surprised that Sheff Wed’s top 3 rivals aren’t Man Utd, Chelsea and Man City given their perceived “massiveness” and delusional support.

  9. Yeah but who wins and how? is it based on who can wave their scarves the hardest and is there a scarf off when it’s a draw. Taking the piss…

  10. Blackpool hate wanky wanderers almost as much as PNE cause in the 70’s/80’s a bolton fan stabbed a Blackpool fan to death outside the stadium… bolton will be forever scummy murderers

  11. I’m a Leeds United fan and in no particular order I would say our rivals are every team which isn’t Leeds United. Only Leeds United fans love Leeds United and I’m proud to say that’s millions all over the world, we are a 1 club city, we have been through hell and back both nationally and internationally but the fans still support the club. An awesome club we are despite our current time outside the PL.

    But if I was to mention a few, basically any other Yorkshire team as they are local derbies, any Lancashire team due to Yorkshire vs Lancashire, then you look at history, some teams we have cup history with, and then just the clubs who we hate the fans of, I’d like to mention galatasary as their fans killed 2 of ours, someone mentioned how Bolton fans killed some of another, we know how you feel, football should be about the love of the club and the sport, not about which fans can kick the crap out of another clubs fans and in some cases killing them. A quick mention for the sick group from the millwall fans who love chanting horrible crap relating to the stabbings in Turkey, you ain’t proper football fans, back off and stay away, you’re lucky the Leeds United fans haven’t come looking for you, coz if they had, you would be appearing in dog meat tin cans!

    I have to say I was a bit surprised with a few of the results in the above list but it’s not every fan in the country voting so there’s bound to be some inaccuracies, not to worry, just something to read about and comment on, it’s that simple, some on here have taken it really seriously! Lol

  12. what a load of old tosh… everybody hates everybody….its just the way it is….the softest of football fan will get involved in violence given the right circumstances, its the game, its the fans. take away the rivalry and there is no football no point, no nothing.

  13. What this list really brings out is just how delusional and despised Leeds are; Manchester United and Liverpool can always expect hate given their overwhelming and admittedly annoying levels of success, but Leeds are in the Nottingham Forest bracket of previously massive clubs that aren’t competing at the very top anymore, yet Leeds remain despised. Plus I don’t think the likes of Chelsea really give 2 figs about them. Or even Man Utd now they’ve got City to concentrate on.

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