Brian Clough

Clubs That *Should* Be In The Premier League

Okay, to clear things up, I’m by no means suggesting that the following seven clubs get automatic admission to the top-flight. In fact, the teams that are in the Premier League, deserve to be there… obviously. So to the likes of Hull City, Swansea City, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace and beyond, congratulations you merit your position. This is just, if I had to start the Premier League from scratch, who I would choose to be the additional founding members.

Leeds United

Current league: Sky Bet Championship
Years in exile: 9

Marching on together… Leeds United are a sleeping giant.

The lilywhites of West Yorkshire are simply one of the most famous clubs in the country. They’ve experienced great success in the past and have a fanbase to much, despite their now dwindling numbers at home. Leeds would bring a great deal of atmosphere to the Premier League with their passionate away support and would ignite the ‘Roses derby’ with Manchester United that the neutral has been robbed of for so many years.

Ipswich Town

Current league: Sky Bet Championship
Years in exile: 11

Unchanged… Portman Road has experienced more than a decade of stability.

The former UEFA Cup champions from Suffolk are certainly unsung when this debate ever arouses. Despite spending the last 11 years rooted in the second tier, Town are still, in my humble opinion, a bigger club than their East Anglian rivals, Norwich City. The Tractor boys may not have the fanbase to match other clubs in this list but they are certainly worthy of gracing the top flight, having finished fifth as recently as the 2000-01 season.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Current league: Sky Bet League One
Years in exile: 2

Underachieving… Wolves will spend the 2013-14 season in the third tier.

Woeful Wolves have only spent two seasons outside of the top-flight but now find themselves two promotions from returning. The West Midlands club have been in free fall since 2011 and should never have hit the low they’re at now. Wolves remain a club with a sizeable fanbase and a glittering history, certainly worthy of returning to the Premier League sooner rather than later.

Sheffield Wednesday

Current league: Sky Bet Championship
Years in exile: 13

Invasion… Fans celebrate 2012’s promotion to the Championship

If we’re talking underachievers, you can’t look much further than Sheffield Wednesday. Historically, the club can boast eight major trophies and a huge fanbase in a city that shares two fairly big clubs. The Owls ought to reach the Premier League just to spare their long-suffering fans who have seen the third tier nearly as much as the second in the last decade.

Leicester City

Current league: Sky Bet Championship
Years in exile: 9

Geared… City’s impressive ‘new’ home has only seen one season of top-flight football.

I may be biased here but the Foxes are more than worthy of a place in the big time. Despite being steeped in a history of nearlies, Leicester City have always been slugging it out in the top two tiers, in fact, they have spent less time outside the top two divisions than any other club on this list. City have been knocking on the Premier League door since 2009 and have had several excruciating close calls, the fans of one of the Championship’s four biggest fanbase deserve a return to the lucrative 90s.

Nottingham Forest

Current league: Sky Bet Championship
Years in exile: 15

‘World famous’… The City Ground has been more attuned to League One football than the Premier League in recent years.

A painful inclusion to say the least, but one I’d struggle to argue against. The once well-known Reds are former European champions, not that they like anyone to know and have a fair history even without the legendary Brian Clough’s contribution. Forest also boast one of the best fanbases outside the top-flight with Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds and local ‘non-rivals’, Leicester City.

Derby County

Current league: Sky Bet Championship
Years in exile: 5

Blind loyalty… Derby fans sold out nearly every home game of the record-breaking 2008-09 season.

It would be nice to see all of the East Midlands big three back in the top-flight meaning the Rams needed a place on the list. A club that boasts a good history and a recent calamitous foray in the Premier League that I’m sure they would like to rectify. Recognition has to be given to Rams’ fans for their loyalty at home during the dire 2008-09 season and beyond, even if their fans do share a travel sickness.

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The Dying Derby With Derby

The perception among many neutrals and every member of the Sky Sports fixture selection team is that Derby County vs. Leicester City is a passionate, hearty and eagerly anticipated derby match and while that may have once been the case, it’s importance has been dwindling for years.

Hyped... A souvenir sold in Tenerife.

Hyped… A souvenir sold in Tenerife.

Just 24 miles separates the cities of Derby and Leicester and with heavily populated towns lying on the borders of Derbyshire and Leicestershire, there would be no real surprise if there was a huge rivalry between the two clubs. In truth, the rivalry has ebbed and flowed for many decades. The Rams first met the Foxes in February 1894, making it the oldest of Leicester’s rivalries. It is also the most contested of the three East Midlands derbies with 104 meetings in the last 119 years. There have been several controversial matches between the two with most, admittedly coming in the last 20 or so years. Leicester defeated Derby in the 1994 Division One play-off final in a game that would become known as the ‘Silence of the Rams’. The two clubs then battled during the late nineties and early noughties in the top flight as both’s preferred rivals, Nottingham Forest were nowhere to be seen. Leicester, in fact hold an impressive record over Derby in recent times with six wins in the last seven meetings. Although, Derby hold the greater record overall with 46 wins to Leicester’s 31.

History… Leicester once scored four headed goals at Derby in the opening 15 minutes.

Ironically, Derby fans bemoan the lack of history involved in this rivalry citing Nottingham Forest and Leeds United as rivalries for them with greater historical importance due to the switching sides of Brian Clough and his rivalry with Leeds’ Don Revie back in the 1970s. As I’m sure most fans are aware, Derby like to emulate their Red rivals in dismissing Leicester with claims that they “don’t care” about them. Funnily enough, their fans haven’t seemed to have grasped the irony of that statement given their unrequited dislike of Leeds. Leicester see Forest as bigger rivals too due to greater connections in historical and geographical senses. In recent times, City have too begun to see West Midlands, Coventry as rivals. In my rivalry survey from the 2012–13 season, Derby listed Leicester as their third biggest rivals behind Forest and Leeds and Leicester listed Derby as their second biggest rivals, only just beating Coventry. In comparison to Leicester placing as Derby’s second biggest rivals in a similar survey ten years earlier, we can see the decreasing feeling of disdain between the two.

In all honesty, a casual reader of The Sun’s ‘Super Goals’ could be forgiven for not noticing the apparent rivalry between the two clubs, as attendances barely increase when they meet. However, this could be due to Sky Sports influence who have screened 4 of the last 5 meetings between the two, not to mention the rising costs of tickets.

Recent home attendances

Home side / Season 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14
Derby 26,142 28,205 23,123 23,437
Leicester 25,930 22,496 20,806   –

Recent away attendances

Away side / Season 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14
Derby 1,324 883   –
Leicester 1,848 1,901 2,794

It’ll probably tell you all you need to know that when the two clubs were drawn to face each other last week in the third round of the Capital One Cup, a third of fans were excited, a third were indifferent and a third were legitimately disappointed at playing just a divisional rival.

How the Foxes see it

Uninspired… Poor attendances have the Foxes disinterested.

“In my opinion, it isn’t as big as it was – as with many derby games. The intensity of the “derby” has reduced in many years, with the emphasis by clubs on “family friendly atmospheres”, but they are still guilty of trying to talk up a dying act. With Derby, I believe many Leicester fans focus mainly on Forest & Coventry, leaving Derby in the rough – forgotten about in a way.

Of course, those that live in areas like Donington, Coalville, and even Loughborough to some extent, will beg to differ, as there’s a wide mix of both Leicester & Derby fans, sparking local rivalries, but nothing on a wide scale. With Derby running down the order, not really challenging for the title, like Leicester and Forest, the competition for “we’re higher than you” hasn’t really been much of a talking point – Such as the dramatic and tight ending of last season, we can all predict who will be up there and who won’t.

As for atmosphere, I can’t really comment about Pride Park, as I haven’t been able to visit in a few years. But at the King Power, it’s a little like a normal fixture, with the cringe-worthy bigging-up by either club, trying to spark a rivalry with ticket promotions and e-newsletters for “The East Midlands Derby”.” – @SamJohnson23

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“Is it a rivalry? Of course it is. Even though, as all of us Leicester fans know – “we’re all on our own”.
 Back in the early to mid 90s, when I first started following Leicester, the rivalry was a lot bigger especially if you compare it with today. That 3-3 draw at Filbert Street when Iwan Roberts scored that hat-trick. That was intense, local rivalry at its very best.
 Compare that to how the atmosphere and games between both clubs has been in the last few seasons and it doesn’t even come close for me. Even the teams hated each other back then. It just isn’t like that anymore.
Sadly, the new stadia has played a part in the demise of the rivalry. Higher ticket prices and the fans not being as close to each other at games due to segregation means the atmosphere in games is nowhere near what it used to be.
 Of course, we Leicester fans know that Forest and Derby hate each other more than they do us. Boo hoo. But for seperate sets of fans to say there is no rivalry is ludicrous. Maybe Derby say that because we seem to get a good return out of them each season and it’s an easy way out?
Certainly amongst Leicester fans, where you live, work or what era you were brought up in generally defines which club out of forest or derby we see as our main rivals. But certainly in my opinion there’s no denying that when Leicester play derby there’s always that extra bit of edgy nervousness compared to that of what we feel against a team like Burnley that we have no real ties to. ” – @BertLCFC
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“I have never really seen Derby as a major rivalry. I do a bit more these days, but I’ve never seen them as even close to being as big rivals to us as Forest are, and at one stage, even Coventry too.Coventry is a bit of a mismatch and it’s good to have more than one big game – so I do view the Derby games as being a bit bigger due to their absence but I don’t feel a serious sense of hatred when we play Derby. I see them as being quite a similar club to Leicester, if I’m being totally honest.There hasn’t really been a derby-day feel when playing them either. Whether it’s the crowds (or lack of them) or the lack of competition, I don’t know, but I don’t tend to feel hatred towards Derby, although I do view them as a side I enjoy beating.” – @DanLCFC93

The Rams’ view

Priorities… Derby fans are distracted by other rivals.

“It’s not really dead, it is dying though. Mainly because of the connections between derby and forest fans, the connections of the clubs as a whole. We know each other, we work with each other, the clubs, particularly at the moment have ex staff at their rivals club.

Nobody knows a Leicester fan, we don’t share anything, there’s no real history, plus we wind you up by pretending you don’t matter which is having a negative effect on the rivalry.

Leicester will always be a rival to me” – BlackNWhites, Rams Talk

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Leicester and Derby are both cities in the East Midlands with football clubs attracting similar levels of support. Leicester is a far larger city population wise, but does have competition from its Rugby team in attracting paying customers. Fans of both sides see Nottingham Forest as their main rivals. Only fifteen miles of ‘Brian Clough Way’ separates Derby and Nottingham, whereas its a much further distance to Leicester. It’s no secret that Derby and Forest both regard each other as their main rivals.
I have been a Derby supporter since 1969 and I think that nowadays there is so much more passion in local Derbies. It was there in the 70’s, but it’s taken far more serious nowadays. It sometimes boils over onto the pitch. Just look at the controversy on the pitch during Derby v Forest games and the lack of it when we play Leicester. Derby were successful in the 70’s. as a young lad I saw them champions twice and despite the lack of our red neighbours playing in the same division the Leicester game as I remember didn’t have the buzz about it. It was more atmospheric than now, but back then, unlike today, Leicester didn’t have the beating of us.
A rivalry can be stemmed by an incident or history much more than geographical location.  There has never been any real bitter feelings between Leicester and Derby. You get odd supporters spats, but search the social media and its not ongoing like with other clubs. When we lost to Leicester in the play off final at Wembley that could have been a spark to ignite the flame, however nothing much has changed. A disputed equaliser and the fact that a former Derby player played a role in the winning goal failed to ignite any real long term rivalry. If a play off final fails to do it then what can?
I am a little frustrated that our wins over the Foxes have been few and far between in recent years. I sincerely hope that we can put one over our ‘Friendly Rivals’ this time around.” – @BuckTaylor64
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“I hate Leicester pal, don’t worry about it. Really wish most our our fans, and some of your’s, would be less apathetic about our fixtures. It doesn’t have to be as fierce as both our games v Forest but rivalry games make football and it would be a shame to lose the needle completely.” – Badlands, Rams Talk
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Basically, Derby and Leicester aren’t the greatest of rivals. The sad state of affairs is that Leicester probably get more disdain from Peterborough and Derby probably get the same from Burton Albion these days. Okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration but the point remains that the fierce rivalry I grew up with in the 1990s no longer exists. Maybe it’s because of Sky, maybe it’s because of ticket prices or maybe it’s because Derby fans like to dismiss Leicester as beneath them, in line with Forest’s superiority complex. Whatever the reason, the meetings of these two clubs will always stir up a bit of interest and excitement but to put it plainly this rivalry is at death’s door.

Banter or Bile? : The Ugly Face of Homophobia in Football

In recent weeks, both Brighton & Hove Albion and now retired-footballer, Robbie Rogers have sparked up debates over the existence of homophobia in football. For decades, campaigners have tried to kick racism and sexism out of the game with noticeable progress but still in 2013, no openly gay footballers in England exist. Begging the question; are the exchanges between the terraces harmless banter or malevolent bigotry?

Targeted… Football fans from the UK’s gay capital have complained to the FA.

Football is a game synonymous with hearty yet edgy banter. Fans are renowned for their sharp passion filled exchanges in the stands with barely anything off limits. Racism, sexism and homophobia are the three main targets for discrimination that organisations such as Kick It Out and The Justin Campaign have sought to eliminate, but to little avail. Since the 1970s and 1980s when football hooliganism and discriminative chanting were at their peaks, only racist chanting has come close to disappearing from the English banter arsenal. Homophobia and sexism has remained rife in the stands. Sian Massey has made huge strides towards gender equality in the sport but an openly gay active player has yet to the same for LGBT equality.

Pioneer… Robbie Rogers is only English football’s 2nd openly gay player

The reason for this imbalance in success, is that racism has been combatted with rigorous campaigning both on and off the pitch. Whereas, the issue of homophobia, which too is discrimination for an innate disposition, is targeted less. Kick It Out should rightly be commended for their work against racism in football but when it comes to tackling homophobia, you wouldn’t be wrong in saying that they’ve tried a little less. With this video campaign (below) coming under fire for almost promoting homophobia by treating the issue in a mocking fashion.

It’s a well-known fact that there are currently no openly gay professional footballers. Justin Fashanu was the first footballer in England to come out as gay.  After coming out in 1990, that’s just 23 years ago, many of his former team-mates spoke out in anger against him, stating that gays had no place in team sports. Legendary manager, Brian Clough also labelled him a ‘bloody poof’, a statement he revealed he later regretted. But due to the horrific torment he received, Fashanu took his own life. Following Fashanu’s suicide in 1998, it would take some 15 years for the next player to out themselves. US international, Robbie Rogers came out in a blog post in February 2013 and although the overall reaction of fans was generally positive, he felt he had to retire from the game as a result. Begging the question, has any progress been made at all?

‘Role model’… Brian Clough publicly vented homophobic views

Brighton’s FA report this month condemns fans of nearly every Championship club,9* for homophobic chants from “We can see you holding hands” to “You’re from a town, full of gays. We hope you all die of AIDs”. A sizeable portion of gay football fans would dismiss a lot of these chants as banter but on occasions, the line is crossed. Initially the seriousness  of the issue, highlighted by this report, had been picked up on, with fans of Leicester City being warned by their club that their season ticket would be confiscated should they unleash any homophobic chanting during an away match at the AMEX stadium in April 2013. However, some have argued that Brighton fans are not the ones that should be concerned, given that the majority of them are not gay. While this may be true, stadiums around the country are filled with gay fans every week and none of them should have to feel like an unwelcome minority. No doubt, there will be a few fans who condemn the changing landscape of terrace chanting, drawing reference to the good old days where everyone was fair game for a cheap dig. But what was so great about vitriolic bigotry in the first place?

Progressive... Less than a third of clubs are currently making a stand against homophobia.

Progressive few… Less than a third of clubs are currently making a stand against homophobia.

Chanting itself is not the only problem. Many football fans will be able to confirm the commonality of homophobic heckling to players and officials. It’s probably true to say that the  fans that make these comments are unaware of the effect they have and the possibility that their sick prejudice will be ingrained in the mind of the small children in attendance, pushing gay rights progress back years. Remarkably only 29 of the 92 top clubs in English football support the “Football vs Homophobia” campaign, a surprising stat given the more ‘family friendly’ nature of sport in the 21st century.

In actuality, the real damage of homophobia in football isn’t done to the fans of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, it isn’t done to the fearful closeted players of the English leagues. The damage is done to every conflicted young boy or girl, discovering the love of their football club only to be met with hateful comments simply for being who they are.

Fans views

The only way to gain a true insight in to Homophobia in football is to ask the fans. Here are some of their comments on the issue.

“In a nutshell, homophobia isn’t acceptable, but players “coming out” won’t make a difference. I’ve never seen any incidents at football.” – Kate (@bantamskatee), Bradford City fan

“(on Robbie Rogers) I have the utmost respect for having the balls to come out and say it, but if anything a massive shame that he’s retired as a result. I’ve got a good mate who’s gay also, and he says the one thing that scares him most about coming out is the way gays are perceived in the media, seeing as people who act especially camp such as Gok Wan & Louis Spence couldn’t represent his personality less. In-fact, him admitting to me he’s gay stunned me and I’d say it’s changed my opinion on gays and how I see them, I can fully see his side of it.” – Dan Turner (@DanLCFC93), Leicester City fan

“Well, I have never actually heard any homophobic abuse at Rovers or an away game and it is something I would never want to hear at a game… it is something to be stamped out along with racism…I feel like it shouldn’t be a bad thing to be gay and a football fan/player but I feel people are scared of the backlash from it.” – Lucy Ford (@LucyRovers), Bristol Rovers fan

“In modern day football, it’s unacceptable to be homophobic. The society away from football doesn’t accept homophobia, being a football fan doesn’t make you immune to the rules. There’s having a joke and then there’s intent to insult which I believe should lead to a ban in football.” – Jess Beasley, (@nffcjessx), Nottingham Forest fan

“When Rogers came out and retired it made big news here (United States). Many MLS teams said they’d welcome him. I think that he should’ve kept playing. But on the other hand I can understand why he retired. No gay professional athletes here either. Also, there haven’t been ANY homophobic abuses here stateside in football. (on whether a San Francisco franchise would receive homophobic abuse) That’s never been an issue here with other sports that have a team in San Fran, so I’d think it wouldn’t be an issue in football” – Kyle Debelak, Manchester City fan 

 

The Apathy Derby : Coventry vs. Leicester

 

M69 rivals Leicester and Coventry are separated by just 19.1 miles. The cities’ populations are almost identical with Coventry’s at 303,475 and Leicester’s just eclipsing that with 330,574 inhabitants and with these two similar cities separated by a single road it would make sense for the two to be the greatest of rivals. But that just isn’t the case.

Battle in blue… Leicester and Coventry are M69 rivals

Historically, the two clubs have set their hateful eyes on those within their own regions. Leicester seeing East Midlands’ clubs Nottingham Forest and Derby County as the enemy with Coventry viewing Brummie neighbours Villa and Birmingham City as their main West Midlands foes. This viewpoint was picked up on in the 2003 Football fans census. Pre-Brian Clough, the main rivalry in the

Unrequited… Coventry viewed Aston Villa as their main rivals.

East Midlands had been between Leicester and Forest,  a hostility that is currently rejuvenating between the two clubs. However, excluding the dwellers of Loughborough, Melton Mowbray and yesteryear. The tricky trees attention has been firmly on the Rams since the 1970s. In fact, Leicester had had a rivalry with Derby themselves stemming from a 1994 play-off final win by the Foxes  and several shared seasons in the Premier League during the late 1990s. Sharing a division could also be attributed to the birth of the Coventry-Villa feud, two clubs who shared the top flight for more than 30 years.

However, following Coventry’s and Leicester’s relegations from the Premier League in 2001 and 2004 respectively, the attention of the fans began to turn elsewhere. Coventry were under a massive disillusion that Villa and Birmingham still saw them as rivals. Unfortunately for them, they only had eyes for each other and as early as 2003, neither club saw them as one of their main three rivals. Leicester’s branch of supporters in the south west Leicestershire town of Hinckley became more vocal of their hatred for neighbouring Coventry. Whereas, Foxes elsewhere retained their disdain for Forest and Derby who remained rooted in the 2nd tier with them. Within, the following seasons the media began to pick up on the ‘rivalry’ between the two clubs dubbing it the ‘M69 derby’ after the extensive piece of tarmac connecting the two clubs. The rivalry began to increase in intensity particularly for the Coventry fans who had nowhere else to turn in the sense of a rivals culminating in Leicester’s first ever relegation to the third tier in 2008 with the subsequent repreival of Coventry.

As the rivalry between the two clubs grew, rivalries between Leicester & Forest and Leicester & Derby seemed to diminish with neither

Indifferent… Forest don’t hate Leicester anymore

of them claiming to ‘care’ about the Foxes. A similar mantra that has since been adopted by some of the Sky Blues faithful in an effort to stamp a footballing superiority complex on Leicester. Although, it is fair to say that Leicester fans have in turn voiced their apathy towards Coventry with many of the Leicester followers still seeing Forest as the enemy, often chanting “We hate Forest! We hate Derby! Who the f**k are Coventry!” at home and away fixtures.

Evidence that the rivalry between the two had been growing up until 2011-12 with Coventry’s relegation to League One is apparent through the attendance figures;

English: Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England, durin...

English: Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England, during a football match. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Empty seats… Although attendances increase. The M69 derby is never a sell-out

Coventry2011/12Average league attendance : 15, 118    Attendance vs. Leicester – 21,102
2010/11 – Average league attendance : 16, 409    Attendance vs. Leicester – 20,06o
2009/10 – Average league attendance : 17,305    Attendance vs. Leicester – 22,209

Leicester2011/12 Average league attendance: 23,036     Attendance vs. Coventry 25,487
2010/11 Average league attendance: 23,666  Attendance vs. Coventry –  25,356
2009/10 Average league attendance: 24,542  Attendance vs. Coventry –  23,093

These figures show that in the last 3 seasons Coventry’s home attendance increases by around 5,000 every time Leicester come to town. The Foxes home gate has increased by 1,500 for the Sky Blues visit and has even been a higher attended fixture in the 2011/12 then either of the visits by Derby or Forest. However, Leicester did take 8,000 fans to the City Ground in the FA Cup.

However, a smaller survey I carried out in March 2012 revealed that nowadays, Coventry City fans do view Leicester as their main rivals. Whereas, Leicester still only view Coventry as their 3rd greatest enemies with Derby in 2nd and Forest in 1st. Neither, Aston Villa nor Birmingham reciprocated any sort of rivalry towards the Sky Blues but Forest and Derby both placed Leicester among their top 3 rivals in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Sky Blue view – @_CharlieHarris 

Rivals… Coventry have nowhere to turn after their relegation from the top-flight

“I hate the M69 derby. In fact I despise it. We never win and the match just turns into contest of “We hate you less than you hate us”, frankly it gets a little embarrassing. Before long the cringe-worthy, and nonsensical ‘interbred’ chant is started by the Coventry fans and Leicester respond with the equally poor “Who the f*ck are Coventry”. If the matches played between Algeria and Egypt are known as the “Match of Hate” they the M69 derby should be known as the “Match of mild discontentment” or the match of “We hate someone else more than you anyway”.

With Coventry the rivalry is very much a generational thing. As of recent times, Leicester have been seen as the biggest rival, mainly due to being the most local team in the the same divisions as Coventry for prolonged amount of times. Most  younger Sky Blues recognise Leicester as the “enemy” and are those responsible for the cringey afore mentioned ‘interbred’ chant. For the younger fan base, the M69 derby was always the first game to look out for upon release of the new fixture lists, and voted at 26th in a list compiled of the fiercest derbies suggests that it’s not only those few Coventry and Leicester fans that see this game as a rivalry.

There is a group of more senior Coventry fans who have a similar approach to the match as the majority of Leicester fans, to them Leicester are simply a third rate rival behind the likes of Birmingham and Villa, in the same trail of thought as those Leicester fans who see Coventry as third rate behind Nottingham Forest an Derby. The Coventry fans whom posses this mindset tend to be those who were brought up believing that Leicester where smaller club during the time in which Coventry where Premier League mainstays and FA Cup winners, while Leicester where more commonly found in Division Two.

For a derby that is constantly downplayed by both sets of fans – albeit more from Leicester than Coventry – the tie has a history of recent violence. In 2008 fights broke out on Earlsdon High Street , Coventry, before a 2-0 Coventry victory. Violence also occurred before a 2004 meeting in Coventry when missiles where launched at the police. Even this is relatively frequent occurrence for a rivalry in which the two teams apparently  don’t care about each other.

Personally, I grew up being taught that Leicester were the rivals. I despised them until around the age of 12, mainly because I was told too. Growing up and hearing older City fans opinions on the rivalry and the opinions of Leicester fans made me realise it wasn’t as big a deal. Nowadays the only time I’ve properly hated Leicester was when they first got their investment and their fans were giving it the big’un over social networking about how they would walk the league etc. Obviously now it would be a bit hypocritical of me to think this way seeing the way some of our slightly less educated fans have acted upon or relegation to League One. Social network has allowed me to connect with more Leicester fans than previously and after meeting some decent people it hard to adopt the same hatred as felt before. The same reason I don’t feel the same any hatred towards Villa like many City fans, and also a reason I don’t particularly hate Birmingham either. Hooray for social networking and all that. ”

Through a Fox’s eyes– @deangoodsell

Underrated… Leicester fans play down the rivalry with the Sky Blues

The M69 derby may not be one held in such high regards as Nottingham Forest and Derby are; however, it is not one that should be dismissed completely. Bordering many neighbours, all at a similar footballing standard does mean that Coventry get overlooked more often than they should. One of the biggest aspects of football rivalry for fans is having bragging rights over your colleagues, your friends and your neighbours. Living in Melton Mowbray, I have interaction with Forest fans on a daily basis, therefore I have always considered Forest to be our ‘main’ rivalry but that all depends on where you reside in Leicestershire. More often that not, you’ll find people closer to the Coventry border, such as Hinckley, will regard them as our biggest rivals.
Leicester and Coventry fans have always had a rivalry, the friction between the two is often higher than it is with both Forest and Derby. As a regular tweeter, I witness the mocking and taunting between both fans quite regularly. However, the history between both sets of fans goes a bit further than a few mean words. Back in 2008, fans from both sides took to the streets to participate in a brawl. Up to 100 fans clashed on the streets outside a Coventry pub after a recent football match. Eleven men ended up arrested with knives and other weaponry being confiscated by officers, one man suffered head injuries in the fight. It was the biggest scene of violence that Leicester fans have been involved in over the past few years.
Personally, I have always considered Coventry as the rivalry it deserves to be. Whilst it may not be up to El Clasico standard, it is certainly a rivalry that makes an otherwise dull game more interesting. Up until this season, Forest, Derby and Coventry were all games I looked for first upon the release of the fixture lists each season. It was a few years before I actually experienced an M69 derby, the history of violence between both sets of fans meant that, when I was younger, my parents would refuse to let me go. Ever since, I’ve considered Coventry as our second biggest rivalry. One moment I will certainly never forget about our rivalry with Coventry, is watching a video shortly after our relegation to League One with Coventry fans chanting: ‘Leicester’s going down!’ For me, that left more of a sour taste in my mouth than relegation itself.
Overall, the M69 derby is certainly one that will be missed by most fans this season. Although it is not the biggest, the most talked about or most attended derby game, it can certainly be ranked up there with the best East Midlands derbies.

Speaking strictly from a Leicester perspective; the Foxes faithful will moan and begrudge the Trees and Sheep for downplaying our rivalry with claims of apathy when it is painfully clear that despite not being their main rivals, there is a mutual dislike among our supporters. It’s a defence mechanism that aims to protect the stature of one club as more prestigious than the other, an almost belittling viewpoint. So maybe, Leicester don’t see Coventry as important as games against Forest or Derby but does that mean that M69 derby wins don’t mean more than beating the likes of Watford? We can sing our ‘Who the f**k are Coventry’ chants long in to the night just as long as you’re aware that really all we’re doing is emulating the red scum to the north in their pathetic tirade of superiority. And as far as Coventry fans go, if you ever find yourself disillusioned with who your rivals are; look east.