English Football’s Biggest Clubs : REVEALED!

It’s probably the biggest argument among football fans today; who is bigger than who? Rival clubs across the country will claim to be a greater presence in the game than their mortal enemies but who really stands above the rest? Southampton or Portsmouth? Newcastle or Sunderland? Liverpool or Manchester United?

The rankings below are determined by points allocated based on historical success and support – the two main contributors to a club’s stature.

Point system

Bridesmaids… Yo-yo clubs, Leicester and Birmingham are rewarded for their near misses and consistency in league position.

  • Seasons – 4 points for top flight season, 3 points for 2nd tier season, 1 point for 3rd tier season, 0 points for 4th tier or lower, 4 additional points for Champion’s League season and 3 additional points for Europa League season.
  • Trophies – 10 points for top flight championship, 6 points for FA Cup win, 4 points for League Cup win, 12 points for Champion’s League win, 7 points for Europa League win, 4 points for 2nd tier title, 1 point for lower league title.
  • “Nearlies” – 4 points for FA Cup final appearance, 2 points for FA Cup semi-final appearance, 2 points for League Cup final appearance, 1 point for League Cup semi-final appearance, 7 points for Champion’s League second place.
  • Fanbase- Average home attendances have been taken for every club since their inception. A combined attendance has been found to which each club’s record has been converted to a percentage. To ensure that history and support were measured equally; each club was allocated their percentage of 23,574 points (the total number of success points of all clubs).

Non-league clubs are not included in the ranking.


*all data correct as of 28th May 2014

1 Manchester United 1879
2 Liverpool 1826
3 Arsenal 1603
4 Everton 1400
5 Aston Villa 1387
6 Chelsea 1352
7 Tottenham Hotspur 1325
8 Newcastle United 1282
9 Manchester City 1257
10 Sunderland 1094
11 Leeds United 1023
12 Wolverhampton Wand. 1002
13 West Bromwich Albion 979
14 Sheffield Wednesday 970
15 Blackburn Rovers 914
16 Nottingham Forest 909
17 West Ham United 883
18 Derby County 871
19 Leicester City 868
20 Birmingham City 863
21 Sheffield United 860
22 Bolton Wanderers 851
23 Middlesbrough 819
24= Preston North End 730
24= Stoke City 730
26 Burnley 725
27 Portsmouth 690
28 Southampton 687
29 Ipswich Town 655
30 Coventry City 629
31 Fulham 617
32 Norwich City 616
33 Huddersfield Town 607
34 Charlton Athletic 593
35 Cardiff City 546
36 Crystal Palace 545
37 Blackpool 542
38 Queens Park Rangers 514
39 Notts County 513
40 Bristol City 511
41 Luton Town 469
42 Hull City 452
43 Barnsley 449
44 Millwall 435
45= Bury 419
45= Plymouth Argyle 419
47 Oldham Athletic 412
48 Watford 404
49 Bradford City 399
50 Swansea City 385
51 Brighton & Hove Alb. 372
52 Leyton Orient 343
53 Reading 337
54 Swindon Town 328
55 Port Vale 321
56 Brentford 317
57 Rotherham United 288
58 Chesterfield 262
59 Walsall 246
60 Oxford United 241
61 Doncaster Rovers 236
62 AFC Bournemouth 230
63 Carlisle United 229
64 Tranmere Rovers 228
65= AFC Wimbledon 220
65= Southend United 220
67 Gillingham 205
68 Wigan Athletic 204
69 Northampton Town 203
70 Shrewsbury Town 175
71 Crewe Alexandra 173
72 Mansfield Town 163
73= Newport County 161
73= Peterborough United 161
75 Exeter City 157
76 MK Dons 156
77 York City 149
78 Scunthorpe United 148
79 Colchester United 139
80 Yeovil Town 136
81 Accrington Stanley 134
82 Hartlepool United 128
83 Wycombe Wanderers 123
84 Rochdale 121
85 Cambridge United 118
86 Cheltenham Town 86
87 Morecambe 58
88 Stevenage 51
89 Dag & Red 42
90 Burton Albion 38
91 Crawley Town 36
92 Fleetwood Town 28


  • Liverpool just pip Manchester United to the title of ‘most successful club’ in English football, accumulating 1155 points, ten more than United.
  • The least successful clubs in the Football League are Burton Albion and Morecambe who didn’t tally a single point.
  • Everton have spent more time in the top flight than any other club – 111 seasons.
  • Eight clubs have never fallen out of the top two tiers of English football; Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.
  • The biggest club to have never won the top flight is West Ham United.
  • The biggest club to have dropped as low as the third tier is Aston Villa.
  • The biggest club to have never won the FA Cup is Leicester City.
  • The best supported club in England based on average attendance is Manchester United.
  • Plymouth Argyle are the biggest club to have never graced the top flight.
  • Whereas, Devon rivals, Exeter City are the biggest club to not have played in either of the top two divisions.
  • The biggest clubs in each of the top four divisions are Manchester United, Leeds United, Sheffield United and Portsmouth.
  • The smallest are Swansea City, Wigan Athletic, Fleetwood Town and Burton Albion respectively.
  • The biggest English club to have never won the Champion’s League or European cup is Arsenal. The smallest club to do so is Nottingham Forest.
  • The biggest underachievers in the Football League currently are Portsmouth who are two divisions below their ‘natural level’.
  • The biggest overachievers are Swansea City who are competing two divisions above their ‘natural level’.
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  1. That’s really interesting. I know Sheffield Wednesday are on a slump at the moment but i’d have been sure they’d feature higher. I wonder what the league table would look like if it took into account administrations, points deductions, etc? Like Fantasy Football with negative points.

    1. You’d then have to factor in those who escaped in the ‘pre-deduction’ days – and then how could you decide what deduction would be arbitrated. The Football league seems to have made it up as they go along with -10 (multiple!), -15, -17 (x2) and -30 points all issued within the space of 5 seasons. Leeds United for example, still achieved 5th place starting from -15 points back in 2009, at one point, even topping the table!!

  2. Might be interesting to see this weighted based on timing, so for example all points gained last year are worth full value, and any others would be 1% less per year since they were earned. This would obviously benefit teams like Wigan whereas Preston and Huddersfield would go the opposite way. Anyway, interesting piece

    1. Or even better – PRE Premiership….before money and Marketing took over football.

      That would be MUCH more interesting!

  3. QPR are bigger than Fulham… on only seven ocassions has a club other than Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs finished as the highest placed London team in the league, QPR have achieved the feat six times, QPR has a major trophy and Fulham used to get 3,000 in the 80’s

    1. But what about all the other years? That just means they were above them for 6 years, but if the other 100+ Fulham finished higher surely they’re the bigger club? I know that’s not the case but finishing the highest London club may just be a sign that the other teams had a bad year

    2. Admittedly QPR were a bigger club than Fulham but they’re not anymore. 12 years straight in the premiership, larger attendances for that length of time. Of course without Al Fayed’s money this would of never been possible, but it is what it is. QPR fans need to accept that times have changed and if Fulham keep running the club the way they have been in the last 10 years they’re only going to get bigger. Fulham’s academy is the best in the country, watch this space.

      1. Umm, who exactly have Fulham brought through of note in the last few years? They’ve had a couple of average players but noone special. Winning academy matches doesn’t make for a good academy – turning youngsters into good professional players does that

      2. I cannot believe you just said fulham have the best academy in the country.. I am genuinely wondering if you are joking..

  4. If you’re trying to say the smallest club to win a European cup is Forest then that is not correct…
    Ipswich won the UEFA cup in 81 and I’m sure there may be a couple of others…. but other than that a good read

  5. Also – why points for FA and League Cup SEMI-final appearances – but not Champions League Semi-final?!?!?!?! And of the FA and League Cup Runners-up?

    Also – which clubs have spent the LEAST seasons outside the top flight?

    Finally – this BELOW expert made for interesting reading. No real surprises – has anything changed at all in the last 100 years or so?!?!?!?! It appears not!!

    “Then there’s Arsenal. They were promoted from the old Second Division in 1919 and have never been away since. But, predictably, seeing as they hold the record for current top-flight longevity, the nature of their promotion that year is controversial, to say the least.
    In 1919, the First Division was extended from 20 to 22 clubs. During previous expansions, the relegated clubs from the previous season were re-elected, while the top Second Division sides were promoted as usual.
    So Derby and Preston, the two top Second Division sides in 1915 – there had been a break for the War – did indeed move on up. And Chelsea, who had finished 19th that season, were, as expected, re-elected.
    But the reason for Chelsea’s escape were somewhat arbitrary. In 1915, Manchester United had, to avoid relegation, fixed their last game (against Liverpool of all people). They won 2-0 and sent Chelsea into the relegation places instead, but Liverpool chairman John McKenna must have felt some guilt, because at the League’s AGM in 1919 he gave a speech insisting on the continued presence in the top flight of the Stamford Bridge club.
    For some reason however, he also suggested that lowly Arsenal, who had finished fifth in the Second, should be rewarded for their long service to the League. They should replace the team which came 20th in 1915, he argued.
    And so it came to pass. The unfairly relegated club? Tottenham Hotspur.”

  6. I think points for top 6 finishes should be put in place. How can narrowly missing out on a league title be worse than a domestic cup semi final? Something like 5 for 2nd place; 4 for 3rd; 3 for 4th; 2 for 5th and 1 for 6th.

  7. Bonus points for us for being the only team to have scored 1000 goals in every division. I would interested to know who is closest to equalling this feat and what the likelihood of it happening! Thanks

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