NFFC

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 2)

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.

Ipswich Town
@S_BaileyITFC

False dawns… Ipswich have remained in the Championship for 12 consecutive seasons.

Home ground: Portman Road (Capacity: 30,309)
Nickname: The Tractor Boys
Rivals: Norwich City, Colchester United
Last season: 14th
Odds: 22/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Greatest hope would have to be going up as Champions. Other than that, just promotion!

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Another mediocre season. Things finally seem on the up for us and it would be typical Ipswich if we had another boring, average season.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We need a couple of wingers, a goalkeeper and a centre back.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
All 23 teams. Twice, haha. QPR maybe. It would be nice to finally see us win at the City Ground, I suppose.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Aaron Cresswell, promising left back with Premier League teams sniffing around. Tommy Smith, young international centre back. Frank Nouble,striker. Has been around the block for someone so young but can really push on next season and will hopefully score a shed load.

6. Who will win the league?
QPR, if they can hold on to a few of their top players and manage to bond as a team they should be unstoppable.

7. Who will go down?
As always, a tough one to call. Yeovil will be on everyone’s list but promoted teams usually surprise. I’ll go with Barnsley, Huddersfield and Millwall.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
It’s the Championship, Yeovil could win the league and QPR could go down. I think Bournemouth might surprise a few people. Maybe a top ten finish.

9. Where will you finish?
Top 6, hopefully. Although we’ve said that for the last 12 years.

 

Leeds United
@AlexMetcalfLUFC

Sleeping giant… Investment will be key for Leeds United

Home ground: Elland Road (Capacity: 39,460)
Nickname: The Lilywhites
Rivals: Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Sheffield Wednesday
Last season: 13th
Odds: 18/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
The dream would be automatic promotion obviously, would settle for playoffs.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Being the same old Leeds, selling best talent and being in a relegation battle.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We’re desperate for wingers, and a creative presence in midfield.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Always nice to beat Yorkshire rivals like Wednesday and Huddersfield, would be nice to beat Reading for Brian.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Sam Byram, best young defender in the league. Chris Dawson is a young lad with a lot of potential if he gets game time. Matt Smith could surprise a few people too.

6. Who will win the league?
I fancy QPR if they keep the majority of their squad.

7. Who will go down?
Barnsley, Yeovil & Huddersfield or Millwall.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Bournemouth will do better than most people fancy I think. Also think Bolton could do quite well.

9. Where will you finish?
10th without a whole lot of investment. 5/6th if we get a couple of decent signings.

Leicester City

@BertLCFC

Vengeful… The Foxes are ready to swat the Hornets.

Home ground: King Power Stadium (Capacity: 32,262)
Nickname: The Foxes
Rivals: Nottingham Forest, Derby County, Coventry City
Last season: 6th
Odds: 11/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
That we get promotion! It’s been too long.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
That our Thai owners pull out. Don’t want us going the same way as Portsmouth.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
I’d say in the midfield area the most, although we need a new centre back to partner big Wes Morgan.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
That’s easy, Watford.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Obviously I’d say Anthony Knockaert, he’ll have a better seen than the last. Matty James & Chris Wood as well.

6. Who will win the league?
A toss-up between Reading and QPR, I’d say Reading. Decent squad for this league and a manager that knows how to get out of the league.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Barnsley And Doncaster. Other than Yeovil it was a tough call.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Ipswich. Finished very strong towards the end of the season and have a good manager.

9. Where will you finish?
Somewhere in the top six, but I’m hoping in the top two.

Middlesbrough
@JackWithoutJill

Bottle… Boro fan Jack Harris fears the Smoggies may be in trouble.

Home ground: Riverside Stadium (Capacity: 34,988)
Nickname: Boro
Rivals: Newcastle United, Sunderland, Leeds United
Last season: 16th
Odds: 33/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Looking back at least season, I’d be happy to get a top half finish. I think it’s going to be difficult for us to stay afloat this year.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation. We aren’t a team that can bounce straight back, if e go down, we will stay down for a long time.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We need a good centre back. A proper captain. Someone who can lead a team week in, week out. A proven goal scorer is always nice though.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Everyone hates Leeds, right? I always love it when we beat them, especially at their place.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
If we keep him and he’s fit, Muzzy Carayol. One of the few players who can actually run at a defender and isn’t scared of a 1-on-1.

6. Who will win the league?
I think it will be between Bolton and Reading. Bolton finished strong last year and Reading just seem to be making the right signings.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Doncaster and Barnsley. Maybe us depending on the first half of the season.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
I think Bournemouth may cause a few upsets.

9. Where will you finish?
18th.

Millwall
@AlfieIrving

Sustainable… Jackett-less Millwall hope they can challenge.

Home ground: The Den (Capacity: 20,146)
Nickname: The Lions
Rivals: West Ham United, Crystal Palace, Charlton Athletic
Last season: 20th
Odds: 80/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To comfortably avoid relegation, and make it in to the top half of the table. As well as finishing above Charlton!

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Fans abusing Lomas, atmosphere turns sour, results begin to go against us and we end up on a manager merry-go-round with no stability.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Striker, strikers and more strikers. Serious lack of goals in 2013, from 5th to 20th, almost relegated.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Got to be Charlton, definitely.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Andy Keogh and Liam Trotter. Both had poor seasons last time round, but I believe Lomas can get the best out of them!

6. Who will win the league?
For me, QPR. Very strong squad, lots of depth and a great manager. Twitch.

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

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

9. Where will you finish?
13th-15th.

Nottingham Forest
@Harry_Martin_14

Fearful… Forest are wary of their East Midlands rivals.

Home ground: City Ground (Capacity: 30,576)
Nickname: The Reds, The Tricky Trees
Rivals: Derby County, Leicester City, Sheffield United, Notts County
Last season: 8th
Odds: 12/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Obviously, like any other fan; promotion.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Derby doing well, as I can see that happening.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
A new striker for sure, a couple of wingers and a goal keeper.

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

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Henri Lansbury, Adlene Guedioura, Simon Cox, Greg Halford and Karl Darlow.

6. Who will win the league?
In my opinion, you can’t predict anything in this league.

7. Who will go down?
Like I said, I have no clue.

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

9. Where will you finish?
1st.

Queens Park Rangers

@Adz_Graham

Favourites… QPR fans are cautiously optimistic

Home ground: Loftus Road (Capacity: 18,360)
Nickname: The Hoops
Rivals: Chelsea, Fulham
Last season: 20th (Premier League)
Odds: 6/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To contend for a top 6 finish giving us a slight hope of promotion.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Biggest fear has to be doing a Wolverhampton.

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

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Leeds United for ruining our last day of the season promotion party!

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Depending on who stays… Taraabt, Andy Johnson.

6. Who will win the league?
I believe this season may be Watford’s.

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

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Once again Watford may be not expected to win the title.

9. Where will you finish?
5th.

Reading
@AdamTucker_

Fancied… The Royals are predicted success.

Home ground: Madejski Stadium (Capacity: 24,224)
Nickname: The Royals
Rivals: Swindon Town, Oxford United, Aldershot Town
Last season: 19th (Premier League)
Odds: 11/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Winning the league title and returning to the Premier League.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Replicating Wolves and suffering successive relegations.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
The midfield, last season in the premier league the service to the frontmen was below par.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Probably Leeds, due to Brian Mcdermott!

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Adam Le Fondre and Hal Robson Kanu, both stand out players last season.

6. Who will win the league?
Nottingham Forest or Reading.

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

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Derby or Ipswich.

9. Where will you finish?
1st/2nd.

Sheffield Wednesday
@AlexandraSWFC

Safety… The Owls have survival on their minds.

Home ground: Hillsborough (Capacity: 39,812)
Nickname: The Owls
Rivals: Sheffield United, Barnsley, Leeds United
Last season: 18th
Odds: 66/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To have a fresh start, get some creativity into the team, cement our place in the league.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
A relegation scrap again, but it’s likely.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Going forward definitely. A prolific goal scorer is needed. Then perhaps a centre back.

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

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Michail Antonio, Lewis Buxton.

6. Who will win the league?
Forest or Wigan.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Huddersfield, and either Bournemouth or Millwall.

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

9. Where will you finish?
Hopefully around 14th-17th.

Watford
@david_wfc

Borrowers… Watford will be impacted by new loan rules.

Home ground: Vicarage Road (Capacity: 17,477)
Nickname: The Hornets
Rivals: Luton Town, QPR, Crystal Palace
Last season: 3rd
Odds: 14/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
That we can get promoted.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Not retaining key players such as Abdi.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We need a CB , CM and ST as an option.

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

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Forestieri and Battocchio.

6. Who will win the league?
Hmm… Reading?

7. Who will go down?
Sheff Wed , Yeovil , Doncaster.

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

9. Where will you finish?
I hate this question… 9th?

Wigan Athletic
@CharleyH91

Distracted… The Latics’ European venture could hinder them

Home ground: DW Stadium (Capacity: 25,133)
Nickname: The Latics
Rivals: Bolton Wanderers
Last season: 18th (Premier League)
Odds: 12/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To go straight back up, or another miracle cup run.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
To take a double drop and get relegated again.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
This is a difficult one because we have a much changed squad but we could definitely use a better defensive record.

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

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Shaun Maloney and Callum McManaman. If we can keep hold of that pairing then I’m confident we’ll do well in this league.

6. Who will win the league?
It’s been quite a few years since I last followed the championship closely and it’s a very competitive and unpredictable league so I really couldn’t say. There’s no stand out teams for me.

7. Who will go down?
Same as above.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
I can see Bournemouth surprising a few people and doing quite well this season.

9. Where will you finish?
This could go either way, dependent on the new manager and which players we keep/sign… anywhere in the top half.

Yeovil Town
@DazRTaylor

Underdogs… The Glovers are desperate to disprove their doubters.

Home ground: Huish Park (Capacity: 9,565)
Nickname: The Glovers
Rivals: Weymouth, Bournemouth
Last season: 4th (League One)
Odds: 250/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Survival! We are being written off already, just like we were for our eight seasons in League One.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation. The club have worked so hard to get where we are, I would like a few years at this level.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
I would say centre back especially. We lost Dan Burn back to his parent club and that is a big hole to fill.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
QPR. Last season, our playing budget for the entire season was £950,000. They have players who earn that in ten weeks.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Marek Stech in goal. Czech Under 21 international and will play in the top flight one day. Paddy Madden up front. Ed Upson in midfield.

6. Who will win the league?
It *should* be QPR, but I think they will crash & burn. So I will go for Leicester City.

7. Who will go down?
Barnsley, Doncaster & Bournemouth.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Ipswich Town. Mick McCarthy has done it all before.

9. Where will you finish?
20th.

El Clasico, me duck

Fester vs. Shottingham, The Bin Dippers vs. The Trees, Leicester vs. Forest

It may not be the biggest rivalry in East Midlands football but a significant rivalry exists nonetheless. The cities of Leicester and Nottingham are the urban heavyweights of the East Midlands and with the eerie alignment of off-field circumstances, next Saturday’s East Midlands derby could prove to be a very interesting one.

Rivals… Leicester City face Nottingham Forest.

History… Leicester have spent many years in Nottingham’s shadow

Even the most die-hard Leicester fans would struggle to argue that Leicester–Forest was the fiercest rivalry in the East Midlands. It’s no secret that Forest hold a much more ferocious disliking of Derby County but that’s not to say that Leicester and Forest don’t have a rivalry of their own. In fact, when it comes to the city rivalry of the region, Derby barely feature. Nottingham is recognised as a major English settlement whereas Leicester is regarded to be an outstanding example of a 21st century city. It’s probably fair to say that the inhabitants of Leicester have long looked at their northern neighbours from Nottingham with some disdain, due to the frequent disregard of their own city. Although, Nottingham is famous for Robin Hood nowadays its surpassed by Leicester in almost every way;  Leicester’s population as of the 2011 census stood at 327,000 compared to Nottingham’s 305,000 inhabitants, Leicester has the stronger economy of the two cities and the life expectancy of Leicesterians is some five years higher at 77 than those living in Nottingham at 72, the city with the highest crime rate per capita in the country.

Deforestation… Leicester have beaten Forest 7 times at their new home

Of course, the rivalry has ultimately transcended in to football. The clubs have met competitively on 102 occasions with Leicester holding the slight upper hand with 39 wins compared to Forest’s 38. To the pain of the Foxes, Forest recorded Leicester City’s biggest ever defeat back in April 1909 when City crashed out 12–0 to the Tricky Trees, in fact the performances by the men in blue were so terrible, the FA launched an inquiry, unearthing that the Leicester players had been hungover from a wedding reception the night before. Both sides seem to have a mutual lack of fortune at the other’s home ground. Since Leicester moved to the King Power Stadium in 2002, Forest have suffered 7 defeats in 9 visits, only scoring one goal in the process back in 2005. Leicester’s travelling woes are even worse with Leicester’s last league victory at the City Ground coming in 1972, a game in which both Keith Weller and Alan Birchenall scored. Although, you only have to travel back to 2007 for Leicester’s last win at the City Ground, a controversial 3–2 league cup win, remembered for Forest’s ‘free goal’, a gesture to represent the scoreline when the game was abandoned the first time around due to Clive Clark’s heart attack.

Comeback… Schmeichel sees red as Forest come back from two goals down at the City Ground

In fact, Leicester and Forest’s meetings haven’t been short of controversy in recent years, particularly at the City Ground. Last season, saw Leicester surrender a two goal lead at the City Ground after a controversial penalty and at best a dubious red card for Kasper Schmeichel. However, the fans of Nottingham Forest would take some heavy criticism following claims of racist chanting during a 0–0 draw during the 3rd round of the FA Cup. But perhaps the most intriguing thing about games between Leicester and Nottingham Forest is the differences in the fans’ attitudes. While, it’s true that the vast majority of Leicester fans consider Forest to be their main rivals the same isn’t true for the fans of the Tricky Trees. Leicester come a distant second to Derby County, a rivalry they seem bizarrely protective over. Actually, the most peculiar aspect of Forest’s approach to the Foxes is their persistence that they ‘don’t care’ about Leicester whilst simultaneously revelling in the Foxes misfortunes. In reality, Leicester are still a main target for Forest’s terrace chants and the Reds’ fans of Loughborough, Melton Mowbray and yesteryear would tell you there is a significant rivalry between the two clubs. What has always puzzled me is Forest’s decision not to embrace a second fierce rivalry to accompany the Derby one. In fact, Forest fans can appear arrogant in their dismissal of City, as if they’re above them when in truth, both clubs are equal nowadays with the Foxes having greater success in recent years. Although as much as Forest downplay the fixture, Leicester fans seem to amplify it when in reality it doesn’t deserve to sit among the fiercest derbies in the country.

On Both Sides… former Forest favourite, Wes Morgan is now captain of Leicester City

On the pitch, the battle between the two East Midlands giants is set to be close. In a bizarre twist of fate, Leicester and Forest seem to have had remarkably similar fortunes in recent seasons. Both reached and were knocked out of the play-off semi-finals in 2009/10, Leicester went on to appoint former England boss, Sven-Goran Eriksson to the manager’s position and Forest followed suit by hiring Steve McClaren. Now, the two are backed by multi-millionaire foreign owners and both expect to be back in the Premier League sooner rather than later. Leicester have lived up to pre-season expectations so far, sitting in the top four, having only lost one game at home this season. Forest travel to the King Power Stadium in great form and are (with Blackburn and Crystal Palace) the toughest team to beat in the league having lost just three times this season and in true competitive spirit, both clubs’ fans are buoyant with confidence, both hoping that this is the year that these two great clubs finally make it back to the big time.

Blue Side of the Trent

King Power Confidence… Leicester boast an impressive home record.

“Our season started out a bit rocky to say the least, good performances that resulted in nothing and we fully deserve to be where we are now if not with a few more points. Recent form has shown we’re capable of being up there with the best in the league. The rivalry is very played up in my opinion. I think it’s a bigger rivalry than Derby but that’s because my uncle supports Forest, they always make a massive thing of the games before they happen as do most Forest fans I’ve ever unfortunately come into contact with. In my eyes the rivalry is the biggest we’ve got but is pretty tame as rivalries go although it’s always nice to beat them. Not being able to go to the game is a real downer for me but in every other way I’m looking forward to a game that should generate a bit of atmosphere everywhere in the ground which will be good not only for fans but for the players too. This could be a fierce game with Forest hovering just outside the play-offs and Leicester in the run with Cardiff for 1st place, with both teams on a good run both with 2 losses in the last 10, the only separation is that Forest have had considerably more draws than Leicester . I predict a good game, few goals a spectacular goal is called for a Gally free kick maybe?” – @YouKnowLily_

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“This could be the match to get the Foxes back on track. After going on a surging run of 7 unbeaten games, which included a 5-match winning streak, Leicester have come unstuck in recent matches vs Crystal Palace and Watford; losing both matches 2-1. You can already sense the anticipation in the Foxes ranks for this match as it is one of the matches that both sets of fans (no matter how much they’d like to hide it) look out for when the fixtures are released in summer. As our home record is fairly strong, coupled with their poor record at the King Power, I’m going in to this game with some confidence.
Not many Leicester fans could complain about how this season has gone so far. From the beginning, it looked like the inconsistencies of not being able to win 2 in a row would continue to haunt us. However, since the departure of a couple of key players, our squad got their act together and starting to win more than 1 game at a time! It set us up for a brief stint at the top of the league which had felt like an eternity to come. However, the past week hasn’t been so rosy which is why I believe beating Forest at home would get us back on the right track and get us back to the top again. It’s refreshing to see some creative players with flair and some entertainment back in the side – Anthony Knockaert especially. Wes Morgan though has been one of Pearson’s best signings. Solid as a rock at the back and would be fitting for him to score and lead the Foxes to a sweet victory over his old club.
Personally, I think Nottingham Forest have been our main rivals ahead of anyone else. I have seen them as a far superior threat than the likes of Derby and Coventry since I’ve supported Leicester. It does give me great pleasure each time we beat them, no doubt about that. And I’m sure it’s the same each time they beat us no matter how much they’d like to deny it. I was surprised to see them lose 4-1 at home to Millwall, but it just emphasises how unpredictable this league can be.
I’d love to give them a right thrashing on home turf. To be honest though, 3 points would be welcome in any particular fashion. I fancy Knockaert and King (should they play) to be on top form. I fully expect Wes Morgan to play the captain’s role once again. He’s been my player of the season so far. Very influential and commanding in central defence. I’ll go for 3-1; Nugent, King and Morgan for us; Billy Sharp for them. ” – @StanLCFC

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“A very positive start to the season at the Kingpower, dominant till The Eagles took flight and capitalised. Away games started very poorly but certainly improved on this. We’ve created enough chances to win every game just that killer hitman would make us (and with no bias) the perfect team. Pearson putting us top of the league with very influential performances home and away has left all of the LCFC faithful feeling very positive, a feeling of satisfaction. Forest under new management and new investment is a very big positive now at the City Ground, will get the fans backing back after an ever so woeful season last campaign for the trees. Billy Sharp and Simon Cox looking strong and Jermaine Jenas being a playmaker on his second bite of the cherry with them, a new and stronger looking team for NFFC in my eyes and very dangerous. The rivalry… My Mum is a city fan, I grew up with that and that is never going to change, my Dad on the other hand a forest fan… Gets very sour with Papa Wainwright. The rivalry means a lot to me due to the family bragging rights. Forest thrashing us by 5 goals to the good left me feeling red faced but our stunning home performances against the Red Army leaving him under the blues quite literally every time. My overall prediction is a win, at all costs. Regaining that mentality to be winning every game will be drilled into the player’s heads by Nige… A challenge, but we will be the one’s winning on the tele, again.” – @_samwainwright

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Red Side of the Trent

Rejuvenated Reds… Forest fans are hoping for a fox hunt.

“Forest vs Leicester is a game I always look forward too despite the fact that I don’t hate them as much as Derby. The games always seem to be memorable. Such as when we beat Leicester 5-1 or when Leicester beat us 4-0. The fact that Wes Morgan is now captain of Leicester makes next Saturday a little emotional for us Forest fans as we all still love that man and I for one will always love him.
The banter between Forest and Leicester fans is brilliant. Because all of us Forest fans go on like we don’t care about Leicester but in fact I think we all do, we just love to annoy the Leicester fans.
The way Leicester have started the season genuinely has surprised me, their squad doesn’t look as impressive as last season but they have got the results. On the other hand our start to the season has been impressive too which gets me so excited for the 10th November as I feel it will be a very close game just like the 0-0 last season. I am praying that next Saturday I will be celebrating our first victory at Leicester’s ground for a very long time rather than having to see all of the Leicester fan’s celebrating and more importantly seeing Wes Morgan celebrating.” – @zackgrundy26

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“Robbie Findley with an incredible chance to score in a cup replay against bitter rivals Leicester City, somehow from no more than a few yards out puts the ball over the bar instead, of tucking away what seemed a certain goal. This was a moment that perfectly defined the 11/12 season for Nottingham Forest, a goal down away from home, again. A meager 1600 fans tucked away in the far corner of the ground, cursing their luck and reminiscing old managers and past seasons as they watch one of their 3 fit forwards squander a chance that seems harder to miss. Stood in the corner of that ground was one of the lowest points of my time following Forest, even down in League One we had some fight about us, passion. People wanted to watch us, 5000 fans travelled to places such as Oldham to watch their team, now, without even half of the allocation received 40 minutes down the road at Leicester, one of our 2 main rivals. A season plagued by tragedy, with the death of Nigel Doughty, injury, over paid primadonnas and sheer bad luck.
A few months down the line and what a difference a summer makes, with the Al-Hasawi family taking over in the summer and heavily investing in the squad, and most importantly the ideals of one Sean o’Driscoll things are looking up again on the red side of the Trent, with 5 games unbeaten (before Millwall at home this weekend) and big wins over title favourites Cardiff and a 4-1 win at a tough side in Barnsley the optimism is back for many Forest fans, along with the away followings, and most importantly the pride and willingness to play for the shirt. On Saturday 10th November, we face one of the sternest tests so far when we once again face bitter rivals Leicester City, who themselves are having a fantastic start to the season.
After a questionable start to the season which has seen media speculation regarding the future of Nigel Pearson (wrongly) Leicester have started to achieve the results that their performances had already been meriting, with some of the strongest teams in the league such as Blackpool being added to the impressive home record at the KP stadium. Fan favorite, and the ever-present David Nugent will be one of many players Forest must keep a keen eye on if they are to achieve any form of result at the KP this November, his pace is a match for any defence, never mind one that has recently been hit with injuries and is also only a few months in the making. A particular area of concern for me is the wide players at Leicester, Anthony Knockaert has shown what he is about with 2 world-class goals, and Lloyd Dyer, although inconsistent always seems to play havoc down the wing against Forest. This is an area which many teams have highlighted as a weak point in our defence with the generally narrow game that Forest play. Reminiscent of Stuart Pearce during the Clough Era the full backs will often over lap the supposed wide midfielder, whilst players such as Chris Cohen and Andy Reid will cut inside rather than hitting the byline like a typical winger. This has had its successes and failures, the most notable being the defeat at the hands of Derby County, and problems caused by two of the most exciting wingers in the league in Zaha and Redmond. In order to get anything out of this game Forest must play the game their own way and if Messer’s Halford or Harding do go on a Pearce style run then we need to make sure cover is available in the full back position . I’m confident that Forest have the ability and goals in the team to cause Leicester are a real problem at the KP, however I think any Forest fan would snatch a hand off for a draw before the game kicks off.” – @ImAshleyyyyyyyy

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?