The Definitive Ranking Of English Football’s Biggest Clubs

20 Jan, 2024
written by AD Hammer
 

The Definitive Ranking Of English Football’s Biggest Clubs

 

Who the biggest clubs in England are, and what order they fall in, is the subject of much debate and this analysis sets out to dispel the myths and settle the argument for once and for all. Generally speaking, supporters look to find the argument that best suits their club to claim the bragging rights, which include who’s won the most trophies, attendances, squad value and recent achievements.

Therefore, we have taken what are clearly the current ten biggest clubs in the country and ranked them in various categories. There are some clubs that may argue they should be in this list; Nottingham Forest have won two European Cups, Leeds have won 3 titles and Brighton are a team on the up, but they simply don’t rank highly across all categories. The ten included are the only ones watched by an average of over 39,000 fans every league game.

Our categories include; Honours, Attendances, Revenue, Squad Value, European Rankings, The Past Five Seasons, Consecutive Top Flight Seasons and Years Since Winning A Major Trophy. In every category the best performing team gets 10 points, the second 9 points, all the way down to the last, who get 1 point. To determine the Big Club order we simply added up all the points.

So, let’s get into the rankings.

HISTORY – THE HONOURS BOARD

A major argument from many would be the honours board. We’ve just focused on how many times the clubs have been Champions of Europe or England. Liverpool came out on top, despite winning one less title than United. The only clash was Chelsea and Villa, where we felt Chelsea’s 2 Champions League wins gave them the edge. Maybe we should have awarded the 10 points to West Ham for winning the 66 world cup?

ATTENDANCES

Average attendances and stadium capacity has always been an area that has been argued for or against the size of a club. We have taken the official average attendances for the current season to date to rank this category. Man United are out on their own with over 70,000 fans attending home games and West Ham came in second, many would say that’s thanks to the taxpayers.

REVENUE

Like any business, revenue plays a part in determining size. This obviously lags a season but the Deloitte Top 20 is published every year and is the goto football money list for establishing who the biggest earners are in European football. The most recent list is 2023 and of our ten clubs, Aston Villa didn’t make it but we are sure they will do next year. Both City & Liverpool have overtaken United.

CURRENT SQUAD VALUE

While the previous three categories have been statements of fact, the squad value is our first and only category that is based on conjecture. For the purposes of this important section, we have taken the current figures from transfermrkt.com. Of course, this does open an element of debate on specific values, but when you look at the running order it is not going to be far from the truth.

CURRENT EUROPEAN RANKINGS

How could we omit the only method of ranking teams on the European stage – the UEFA coefficient rankings. Every team is ranked based on their performances in Europe over the past five seasons. Of course they have to qualify first, and performances in the Champions league yield more points than the Europa League, which in turn provides more points than the Conference League. The current top three are City, Bayern & Real Madrid. 

CONSECUTIVE YEARS IN THE TOP FLIGHT

One category that money cannot buy. Arsenal’s 97 year history of remaining in English football’s top flight has got to count for something, right? City were playing in the third tier of British football not so long ago and Newcastle were very near to being there themselves in the 90’s. Now backed by super-wealthy Middle Eastern owners and respectively flying high, to some degree this category reflects where they both were.

PREMIER LEAGUE LAST FIVE SEASONS

Recent history also has to count for something, and that’s reflected in the last two categories. To continue to be a big club you need to adapt to the times. Every club’s average Premier League finish for the past five years seems to be a fair way of reflecting recent history. United would have stormed this up to 10 years ago, but they have fallen away and City have now won the league in four of these five seasons. 

SEASONS SINCE LAST TROPHY

Our final category also reflects more recent history, demonstrating the years since each of the ten clubs won a major trophy. Where two clubs haven’t won a trophy for the same amount of seasons, we have ranked the trophy they won to split them. Chelsea won the Champions League 2 seasons ago, which is determined to be better than Liverpool winning the  FA Cup that same season.

AND THE WINNER IS…..

It’s official – Manchester City are now the biggest English club and the Northwest teams dominate the top three spots. With it being so close at the top, United and Liverpool fans will no doubt argue this assessment until they are  ‘sky-blue’ in the face.

The next four spots go to teams from the capital, with Arsenal leading that pack. Interestingly, Spurs are nearer to falling out of the big six, than they are to Chelsea in fifth place.

Newcastle are expected to climb up that table in the next couple of seasons and perhaps Villa can turn recent form into something more sustainable over the coming years. However, have West Ham reached their ceiling as the seventh biggest club in the country?

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