DCFC

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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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 had 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. However, several people have complained that past attendances are now irrelevant and the only accurate measure of fanbase is current home attendance. As such the same method has been used but with average home attendances from the 2014–15 season. 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.

Rankings

*all data correct as of 20th June 2016

 

Rank Change from 2015 Club Pts
1 Manchester United 2506
2 Arsenal 2057
3 Liverpool 1950
4 +1 Manchester City 1669
5 +1 Newcastle United 1551
6 -2 Chelsea 1492
7 Everton 1466
8 Aston Villa 1436
9 +1 Sunderland 1370
10 -1 Tottenham Hotspur 1308
11 +1 Leicester City 1074
12 +1 Derby County 1066
13 -2 West Bromwich Albion 1043
14 West Ham United 1038
15 Wolverhampton Wand. 957
16 +1 Sheffield Wednesday 951
17 +1 Leeds United 912
18 -2 Nottingham Forest 910
19 Stoke City 906
20 Southampton 902
21 +4 Middlesbrough 865
22 -1 Blackburn Rovers 849
23 -1 Sheffield United 834
24 +2 Birmingham City 786
25 -2 Bolton Wanderers 778
26 +1 Norwich City 765
27 -3 Burnley 753
28 Preston North End 697
29 Crystal Palace 685
30 Ipswich Town 641
31 +3 Portsmouth 632
32 Fulham 627
33 +2 Brighton & Hove Alb. 612
34 +2 Huddersfield Town 573
35 +6 Watford 569
36 +1 Charlton Athletic 564
37 +2 Swansea City 560
38 -5 Cardiff City 554
39 -8 Hull City 540
40 -2 Queens Park Rangers 539
41 +1 Bristol City 524
42 +4 Bradford City 518
43 +2 Coventry City 493
44 -1 Reading 462
45 -5 Blackpool 445
46 -2 Barnsley 439
47 Luton Town 401
48 Notts County 391
49 Millwall 350
50 Bury 330
51 n/a Grimsby Town 326
52 -1 Rotherham United 324
53 +2 Plymouth Argyle 323
54 -2 Brentford 309
55 -1 Oldham Athletic 298
56 +1 AFC Bournemouth 297
57 -1 Swindon Town 273
58 +1 Leyton Orient 267
59 +2 Bristol Rovers 266
60 -2 Port Vale 262
61 -8 Wigan Athletic 258
62 -2 Chesterfield 254
63 +4 MK Dons 248
64 -1 Oxford United 226
65 -1 Walsall 217
66 -4 Doncaster Rovers 211
67 -2 Southend United 208
68 -2 Gillingham 190
69 -1 Carlisle United 181
70 Shrewsbury Town 168
71 AFC Wimbledon 163
72 -3 Crewe Alexandra 162
73 Northampton Town 159
74 -2 Peterborough United 138
75 -1 Cambridge United 129
76 Scunthorpe United 122
77 -2 Exeter City 120
78 -1 Colchester United 118
79 Hartlepool United 113
80 +2 Mansfield Town 108
81 -1 Rochdale 102
82 -1 Newport County 94
83 +1 Wycombe Wanderers 87
84 -1 Yeovil Town 83
85 +3 Burton Albion 78
86 Accrington Stanley 65
87 Stevenage 63
88 -3 Fleetwood Town 62
89 n/a Cheltenham Town 58
90 -1 Crawley Town 46
91 Barnet 43
92 -1 Morecambe 28

Statistics

  • Liverpool just pip Manchester United to the title of ‘most successful club’ in English football, accumulating 1165 points, five more than United.
  • The least successful club in the Football League is Morecambe who didn’t tally a single success 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 was Leicester City but is now 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.
  • Rotherham United are the biggest club to have never graced the top flight.
  • Whereas, 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, Newcastle United, Sheffield United and Portsmouth.
  • The smallest are Bournemouth, Burton Albion, Fleetwood Town and Morecambe 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 Burton Albion and Bournemouth who are competing two divisions above their ‘natural level’.

2013–14 Football League Championship Fans’ Preview (Part 1)

With little time left before the clubs of the 2nd tier return to their hallowed turf. The fans of all 24 clubs have a chance to voice their dreams, opinions and concerns for the 10-month battle that lies ahead.

Barnsley
@MattBFC93

Home… No club has spent more time in the 2nd tier than the Tykes.

Home ground: Oakwell (Capacity: 23,009)
Nickname: The Tykes
Rivals: Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Leeds United, Doncaster Rovers
Last season: 21st
Odds: 125/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Continue from the second half of last season so that we don’t have to endure another season in a relegation battle.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Fans get overexcited about the second half of last season, the team don’t perform as we’re all hoping and we are relegated.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We conceded a lot of goals from set pieces, and we are yet to address that. 1 or 2 centre halves are needed.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Sheffield Wednesday, especially after losing twice to them last season.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
New signing from Bayern Munich, Dale Jennings. Could be a huge player for us this season after learning from the likes of Arjen Ribben, Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller. Could also be a big season for Jacob Mellis after his first full season last year, and goals are expected from O’Grady after his loan move was made permanent.

6. Who will win the league?
Sneaky suspicion Reading could do well. Most of team kept together, adding to it with Wayne Bridge and Royston Drenthe. All that along with a top manager in Nigel Adkins.

7. Who will go down?
Doncaster, Yeovil and Huddersfield.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
 Hopefully ourselves. If not, maybe Charlton.

9. Where will you finish?
11th.

Birmingham City
@_RMurray

Money talks… Brum fans fear for their finances.

Home ground: St. Andrew’s (Capacity: 31,079)
Nickname: The Blues
Rivals: Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion
Last season: 12th
Odds: 28/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
 To get taken over.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
To go into administration.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
If Curtis goes, the back four.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Ipswich, Forest, and maybe Leicester.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Nathan Redmond, and Marlon King.

6. Who will win the league?
Bolton or QPR.

7. Who will go down?
Huddersfield, Sheffield Wed, Yeovil.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Charlton.

9. Where will you finish?
13th.

Blackburn Rovers
@CarlyBrownn

Home ground: Ewood Park (Capacity: 31,154)

Rebound… Rovers fans are hoping for improvement.

Nickname: Rovers
Rivals: Burnley, Bolton Wanderers
Last season: 17th
Odds: 20/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Promotion.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Having a repeat of last season, where there is no stability..and not getting near play-offs.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Generally midfield.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Burnley, of course.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Jordan Rhodes?

6. Who will win the league?
Reading.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Barnsley and Bournemouth.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Er, Sheff Wednesday?

9. Where will you finish?
7th, proper optimism there.

Blackpool
@RobC1887

Wobbly… The Seasiders are fearing the drop once more.

Home ground: Bloomfield Road (Capacity: 17,338)
Nickname: The Seasiders
Rivals: Preston North End, Burnley, Bolton Wanderers
Last season: 15th
Odds: 40/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To avoid relegation, this summer has been very worrying.
Greatest hope is a top half finish, somehow.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation, obviously.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We need to strenghten our midfield and attacking options. Ince, Phillips
and probably Gary Taylor-Fletcher going leaves us with pretty much nothing.
Plus we only have Basham and Fergy still in midfield.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Bolton. Our last two games against them were brilliant too.
Preston in the cup would be a nice win. Also Burnley and Blackburn.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
I’ll be boring and say Matty Phillips, his development has slowed a bit though.
Bob Harris or Basham might stand out too.

6. Who will win the league?
Not a clue. Bolton have impressed me a bit in the transfer window.
Watford won’t come anywhere near, new rules have cornered them.
QPR won’t be as good as people are expecting, unless Redknapp
clashes a few heads together.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, maybe Birmingham, maybe Wednesday, maybe Huddersfield,
Forest, us, Barnsley… Not Doncaster though.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Doncaster, and maybe Yeovil might surprise a few. Doncaster are a good team.

9. Where will you finish?
We’ll finish between 12th and 24th… I’m gonna sit on the fence, sorry.

Bolton Wanderers
@FansBolton

Confident… Bolton fans are optimistic for the season ahead

Home ground: Reebok Stadium (Capacity: 28,100)
Nickname: The Trotters
Rivals: Bury, Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic, Manchester United
Last season: 7th
Odds: 11/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To go up.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
That we lose Holden.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
A new striker.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Wigan or QPR.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Holden.

6. Who will win the league?
Bolton.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Huddersfield, Reading.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Forest.

9. Where will you finish?
2nd.

Bournemouth
@Eloiseee_Gullis

Dark horses… Fans are weary of new boys, Bompey.

Home ground: Dean Court (Capacity: 10,700)
Nickname: The Cherries
Rivals: Southampton, Reading
Last season: 2nd (League One)
Odds: 20/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Realistically the first goal is to stay up, anything better than
that would be fantastic.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Personally Max Demin leaving and us being in financial
trouble.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Probably midfield, as we have skill but lack strength
and experience.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Leeds.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
I’d say Matt Ritchie and Brett Pitman.

6. Who will win the league?
I think potentially Forest.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Millwall and Burnley.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Us!

9. Where will you finish?
Mid-table I reckon if we start off well.

Brighton & Hove Albion


@LiamHollister

Lone seagull… Albion fans will miss their rivalry with Palace.

Home ground: AMEX Stadium (Capacity: 30,750)
Nickname: The Seagulls
Rivals: Crystal Palace, Portsmouth, Southampton
Last season: 4th
Odds: 14/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Promotion. If we get a decent manager (Oscar Garcia) it’s
very possible.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Not sorting the manager situation out soon enough costing us.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Well at the moment we don’t have a left back so we’ll need one of those!
A centre back or two would also be nice.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Now palace are up, we don’t have any rivalries. I don’t like Leeds
or Burnley, so them.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Leo Ulloa, Will Buckley, Andrea Orlandi, Liam Bridcutt if he stays, Kuszczak and
Spanish dave (David lopez) if he signs his new contract.

6. Who will win the league?
I think Reading. They’re really going for it with their signings.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Blackpool and probably Barnsley. I can even see it happening
to QPR, like it did with Wolves.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Charlton and Ipswich. Charlton are in pretty much the same position as we
were last season, it turned out well for us. Mick McCarthy has turned Ipswich around.

9. Where will you finish?
 It’s hard to predict without knowing who the manager is and whether key
players re-sign or leave. If we have Oscar, I’ll say 3rd.

Burnley
@Gav_BFC

Grudge… The Clarets are desperate to beat Blackburn.

Home ground: Turf Moor (Capacity: 22,546)
Nickname: The Clarets
Rivals: Blackburn Rovers, Preston North End, Blackpool
Last season: 11th
Odds: 66/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Beating Blackburn Rovers for the first time in 35 years or reaching a play-off place.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Being dragged into a relegation dogfight.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
All over the place, only have 3 strikers as of yet, Charlie Austin wanted by
several Premier League clubs, Danny Ings wanted by old boss Eddie Howe at Bournemouth
and Martin Paterson, contract is near end and there’s been rumours
he’s not signing a new one.

Midfield – we lack a player with creativity, we have some good wingers in
Ross Wallace and Junior Stanislas but no one in the middle that can pass a ball.
Defence – Conceded one of the most goals last season, need a real leader to help our young lads at the back.
Goalkeeper – Lost our number one Lee Grant to Derby County, our number two Brian Jensen,
whose decided not to stay at the club after 10years and our 3rd choice Stewart, who we never
really saw much of. Was on loan at Alfreton Town, also released. However we’ve signed Tom
Heaton from Bristol City and Cisek from Oldham.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Blackburn Rovers, haven’t beaten them in near 35 years, surely this season is our time?

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Cameron Howieson, teenager, yet to be given a real chance with the first team.
Looked very impressive for the Reserves and the Development squad. Also Danny Ings,
I can see him taking over Charlie Austin’s footsteps and bagging 15-20 goals this season.

6. Who will win the league?
Wigan Athletic if they keep hold of some of their players, got some real gems in
that team and they love to pass it around.

7. Who will go down?
My three that I predict to go down are; Yeovil Town to finish at the bottom,
Doncaster Rovers next up and then Barnsley.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Bournemouth; Eddie Howe has again done wonders at this club for the second time in
his managerial career. I can’t see them getting a play-off place but they’ll be mid table,
considering they were in League Two fighting to stay up not long ago.

9. Where will you finish?
With a manager who loves playing hoof ball football and rumours of us signing Kevin Davies.
No higher than 17th.

Charlton Athletic


@KyleAndrewsCAFC

Tempered… Kyle Andrews isn’t sure what to make of Charlton’s ‘dark horse’ label.

Home ground: The Valley (Capacity: 27,111)
Nickname: The Addicks
Rivals: Crystal Palace, Millwall, West Ham United
Last season: 9th
Odds: 40/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Chris Powell or one of the board members get lucky
and win the Euromillions, the money is invested into
the playing budget and we’re able to compete financially
with some of the bigger teams in the league allowing us to
add strength in depth to the squad and a 20 goal a season
striker. On an equal financial playing field and with a
talented squad, Powell works his magic and leads his
side to the title.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
We’re forced to sell our best players and don’t replace them,
Powell gets frustrated with the lack of financial support and leaves,
we return to League One.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
With only one senior striker at the club at the time of writing, it has to be
up front. It looks as if Jonathan Obika will join, but he isn’t going to be a
20 goal a season striker.  A pacey striker with excellent finishing to
compliment the hard work of Yann Kermorgant would be a dream.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
After the embarrassment of losing at home 2-0 to Millwall last season,
six points against our South East London rivals would be welcomed.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
It’s only a matter of time before Chris Solly is playing in the Premier League,
whether that’s in a Charlton shirt or not. The academy product consistently
performs to a high standard and rarely, if at all, puts a foot wrong. Youngster
Callum Harriott showed promise towards the end of the season, whilst Yann
Kermorgant will continue to terrorise defences.

6. Who will win the league?
As things stand, I can’t look beyond Reading. The signing of Royston Drenthe
has signalled their intentions and Nigel Adkins, an excellent manager in his
own right, has a fantastic squad at his disposal. I also expect Nottingham
Forest, Leicester City and, if they get their house in order, QPR to be up there.

7. Who will go down?
The Championship will be a step to far for Yeovil, who will struggle alongside
a host of mediocre Championship clubs. I predict Huddersfield and Barnsley
to drop down to League One after just surviving last season. 

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
As much as I’d like to say Charlton, I just can’t see it, so I’ll opt for Bournemouth.
Any team with Eddie Howe in charge will be an impressive one.

9. Where will you finish?
Heart says 6th, head says low mid table. Powell’s work in the transfer window will be crucial.

 

Derby County
@RBooth9

Optimism… The Rams are ready to charge for the top 6.

Home ground: Pride Park (Capacity: 33,597)
Nickname: The Rams
Rivals: Nottingham Forest, Leicester City, Leeds United
Last season: 10th
Odds: 33/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
As any football fan will say at the start of the season, I’m hoping for a
promotion push! All signs from around the club are positive and that we’re
set for a big season! So hopefully this will be out year.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is that the long term plan goes pear shape
and we settle for mid table mediocrity again,
or worse get relegated. I personally think if we struggle this year,
the fans will turn against Nigel and the board.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Our Defence. Richard Keogh has been a rock at centre back and Jake Buxton has
also been good cover. Shaun Barker will hopefully return this season but it’ll take
him a while to regain his fitness. So a new Centre back would be a good addition.
But our main concern is finding a left back. Gareth Roberts has left and a deal for
Craig Forsyth from Watford has apparently fell through. A new left back is a must!

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
The obvious one is Forest! We’re unbeaten in the last 4 against them so hopefully
the run continues. There’s no better feeling than beating them, especially at the City
Ground. Another game we always look forward to is the games against Leeds!
Always a great atmosphere when we play them and we’ve enjoyed a lot of success
in this fixture. 9 wins in row I think the record is.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Johnny Russell: signed from Dundee Utd this summer and he’s coming with
quite a good reputation. 20 goals in 38 games in any league is a great record!
Hopefully he’ll be the striker that we’ve desperately needed over recent years.
The second player is Will Hughes. Already got a huge reputation and has fully
deserved it. Brilliant talent, plays with such maturity for someone so young.
Another youth player coming through from the academy is Mason Bennett made his
first team debut aged 15 and impressed so far, hopefully gets a few more starts
this season.

6. Who will win the league?
If the off field dramas at QPR don’t take over, I can see them winning the league
or being a strong force.

7. Who will go down?
I’d like to see Yeovil stay up but I think they’re going to struggle. Doncaster, Millwall and Barnsley I
think will also be down the bottom come the end of the season.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
I think Bournemouth will be the surprise package of the season. Eddie Howe seems to
work wonders down there.

9. Where will you finish?
I’ve got a feeling about this season so hopefully we’ll get in the play-offs . I’m
going with an optimistic 5th.

Doncaster Rovers
@SuperRyanDunphy

Return… Donny are back and here to stay.

Home ground: Keepmoat Stadium (Capacity: 15,231)
Nickname: Donny
Rivals: Leeds United, Barnsley
Last season: 1st (League One)
Odds: 150/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Greatest hope will be to push past 12th, but lets face it, its probably
unlikely, but this club always dreams!

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We have 9 players at the moment… So everywhere! However we do
not have a goalkeeper, so that has to be it.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Brighton. Fans of DRFC and in particular our chairman have hated this
club since Lewis Dunks horror challenge on Billy sharp practically relegated
us last time in the Championship.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Rob Jones, no need to look you cant miss him. 6ft 7 ageing yet quality,
it takes something special to get past him.

6. Who will win the league?
Reading, comfortably.

7. Who will go down?
Millwall, Yeovil, Burnley.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
We may just surprise a few…. However I think Derby will finally pull away
from mid-table and get a play-off spot.

9. Where will you finish?
14th.

Huddersfield Town

@JRTerrier24

Recovery… The Terriers are confident of changing their fortunes.

Home ground: John Smith’s Stadium (Capacity: 24,500)
Nickname: The Terriers
Rivals: Leeds United, Bradford City
Last season: 19th
Odds: 100/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
I think with the right signings, a play-off spot isn’t out of
the question, and following the last 2 days, it’s looking more
promising.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
A sort of Peterborough-esque second season where
we just fall apart and get relegated, and knowing Town as I do,
it’s definitely not impossible.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Definitely strikers, though the acquisitions of Stead and Paterson have been very
welcome, every Town fan wants James Vaughan to return.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Like with every season that we’re in the same division, Leeds is the big one, although
after our drubbings last season, Leicester too.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Jack Hunt is always being touted for his great crossing ability, but if he regains his form,
Oliver Norwood too, especially his free kicks.

6. Who will win the league?
Hard to say. I will say probably either Forest, Leicester or Reading, and if they
get a decent replacement for Poyet, Brighton.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil and Doncaster definitely, the third one will be interesting, but I’m going to
say either Millwall or Barnsley. (Would prefer Leeds though)

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
I see Bournemouth doing well under Eddie Howe, maybe play-offs, and also
Derby County if they can string a good run or two together.

9. Where will you finish?
I would like to say lower top half, but every Town fan would say “As long as it’s
not bottom 3”. Play-off spot would be added bonus.

The East Midlands Derbies

The East Midlands is a funny place to determine local rivalries. Traditionally, a successful area of the country in terms of footballing heritage, being the home of Nottingham Forest, Derby County and of course, Leicester City. However, although there is little room for disputing the legitimacy of the ‘East Midlands Big 3’. There is significantly more doubt over the issue of who hates whom.

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Rivals… Derby, Leicester and Nott’m Forest

There seems to be a significant divide among the supporters of the three clubs as to the extent of each’s rivalry with the other two. In 2003, the Football Fans Census aimed to highlight who football fans considered their clubs biggest rivals and there were no surprises in the East Midlands with all three naming each other as their two biggest rivals;

Derby County Nottingham Forest, Leicester City, Leeds United

Leicester City – Nottingham Forest, Derby County, Coventry City

Nottingham Forest – Derby County, Leicester City, Sheffield United

The evidence of this ‘census’ being accurate is apparent on social networking site, Twitter. With fans often engaging in ‘banter’ with their rival’s supporters. However, although Leicester, Forest and Derby share a frequent and equal need to bash each other over Twitter, a rivalry survey I launched on Twitter and all three clubs’ biggest forum had slightly different results to that of the 2003 census. Forest and Derby remained the fiercest rivalry with each still naming each other as their main rival. Leicester still saw Forest as the enemy and Forest saw Leicester as the next best alternative with Sheffield United still in third. However, the Derby-Leicester rivalry seems to have diluted within the last 9 years with both naming each other as their third biggest rivals. With Leicester behind Leeds United and Derby now behind Coventry City.

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Crunch… Derby County list BOTH Forest and Leicester as rivals.

Attendances are another area of these rivalries where intensity could be disputed. In the 2011/12 season the Derby County vs. Nottingham Forest at Pride Park was the only East Midlands derby to receive no coverage on television. With Derby and Leicester’s two league clashes and Leicester-Forest’s FA Cup replay taking centre stage on the box. It is fair to say over the last few seasons, Leicester City’s games against Forest and Derby are far more likely to be televised than those against each other. Perhaps indicating how the media depicts the intensity of each rivalry. However, Derby-Forest was the only sell-out derby match of last season with 33,010 fans rocking up on the night. Attendances for all three have dropped considerably over the last few seasons.

2009/10
Derby vs. Forest – 32,674

Derby vs. Leicester – 30,259
Leicester vs. Derby – 28,875
Leicester vs. Forest – 31,759
Forest vs. Derby – 28,143
Forest vs. Leicester – 28,626

2010/11
Derby vs. Forest – 33,010
Derby vs. Leicester – 26,142 (5.20 kick-off, televised)
Leicester vs. Derby – 25,930
Leicester vs. Forest – 24,659 (7.45 Monday kick-off, televised)
Forest vs. Derby – 29,490
Forest vs. Leicester – 24,217 (5.20 Good Friday kick-off, televised)

2011/12
Derby vs. Leicester – 28,205 (7.45 Thursday kick-off, televised)
Derby vs. Forest – 33,010 (7.45 Tuesday kick-off)
Leicester vs. Derby – 22,496 (5.20 kick-off, televised)
Leicester vs. Forest – 23,412 (7.45 Tuesday kick-off)
Forest vs. Leicester – 24,426
Forest vs. Derby – 27,356 (12.00 kick-off, televised)

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Sea of Blue… 8,000 Leicester fans storm the City Ground.

Although the fans census and attendance figures may agree that Forest-Derby is the biggest rivalry in East Midlands, the history books would contend this. It is widely accepted among the clubs’ fans that pre-Brian Clough the main rivalry in the East Midlands was between Nottingham Forest and Leicester City due to the size of both cities (both considerably bigger than Derby) and the socio-economic rivalry that has lasted between Nottingham and Leicester for decades. The rivalry seems to transcend football time and time again. Most notably with the East Midlands airport dispute. The airport is closer to Nottingham, which it was originally named after but it had a Derby post code and fell within the Leicestershire border. This intensified the rivalry between the three cities and it has since been rebranded East Midlands Airport : Nottingham – Leicester – Derby.

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Hate… Emotions boil over at Pride Park

Geography is of course another key factor in determining the strength of each rivalry. The cities of Nottingham and Derby are just 13 miles apart, that’s half the distance between either and Leicester. This is likely to cause a more intense local rivalry. However, heavily populated towns in Leicestershire that are much closer to their rivals have been known to host a hostile atmosphere. Most notably, Loughborough and Melton Mowbray towards Nottinghamshire and Coalville towards Derbyshire. Interestingly enough, geography may not be as important in the East Midlands as most other places with only Derby considering their nearest football club their main rivals. Forest’s nearest club are Notts County and Leicester’s is M69 rivals, Coventry.

In my own personal experience, Derby and Forest fans seem to legitimately care about Leicester City. Granted, not as much as each other but the rivalry still exists. I remember the way, the Reds celebrated an injury time equaliser against the Foxes in August in a traditionally controversial clash between the two EM giants. I remember Forest’s chants from late-March – “If you all hate Leicester, clap your hands.”, “Build a bonfire, build a bonfire put the Derby on the top, put the Leicester in the middle and we’ll burn the fucking lot.”, “We’ll never be mastered by you Leicester bastards, we’ll keep the red flag flying high.” I also remember, a Derby fan shouting abuse at me as I walked down the street with a Leicester flag for Sport Relief. The reason, I bring up the word ‘care’ is the now frequented defense mechanism introduced by the Derby-Forest alliance a few years ago. Both clubs claim to not care about the Foxes which is a perfect excuse when Leicester City manage to beat their rivals. Their fans don’t care. However, on the rare occasion they beat Leicester, the story changes and the three become rivals again.

To me, it’s clear. Derby and Forest are the biggest rivals in the East Midlands. I don’t believe the rivalry is as big as their fans make it out to be and I don’t believe Leicester-Forest and Leicester-Derby is as weak as the Rams and Reds claim nor do I feel that it’s the hugest rivalry in existence as some Leicester fans may lead you to believe. For now, all I can say to Leicester fans, is leave Forest and Derby alone to think they’re Real and Barca and when we bump in to our friends of the tree or sheep persuasion, we can remind them where our ‘loyalties’ lie. After all, foxes eat sheep and trees are perfect for pissing on.

We hate Forest! We hate Derby! Who the f**k are Coventry?