Football nemesis for Yorkshire?

by Chris Bertram on February 3, 2004

A pub conversation about the current composition of the English Premier League led me to check the regional distribution of teams at the moment. The best represented region is Lancashire (historic boundaries) with 6 teams, followed by London with 5. The West Midlands has 3, the South of England 2, the North East 2, and the East Midland and Yorkshire one each. All of which raises an issue: if Leeds are relegated and Sheffield United are not promoted, will next season be the first season ever without a Yorkshire team in the top division of English football?



Nick 02.03.04 at 7:37 pm

It’ll just be a return to the good old days of the Football League’s founding. Twelve clubs (Accrington, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Wolves) and none of them from Yorkshire, but there’s still a chance for the first Premiership Black Country derby.


Harry Tuttle 02.03.04 at 7:55 pm

Isn’t Middlesbrough in Yorkshire? Or is that Northeast? Damned wireless interweb is no help for the geographically challenged yank, I’ve found sites claiming it for both.

As something of a Wednesday fan – ie, they won the first English soccer game I ever saw so why not – I’ll just say this sucks. Of course, as an Owls fan, everything sucks these days.


Chris Bertram 02.03.04 at 8:02 pm

Well Middlesborough was in Yorkshire, but is now in Cleveland. But since I used “historic borders” for Lancashire, I should probably have done the same.


Andrew | BYTE BACK 02.03.04 at 9:38 pm

Daaaaaaaaamn. You read my mind. I had the very same questions.

Oh, wait ….


Matthew 02.03.04 at 9:44 pm

Simon Kuper in the FT a few weeks ago suggested that only conurbations between 1m and 3m could host football teams. The idea is that smaller ones don’t have the resources, while larger ones haven’t the focus or civic pride in their football team. This conveniently gave him Manchester, Madrid, Munich, Milan, while Liverpool are declining along with their population. Perhaps the same is true of Yorkshire (though not Leeds, I suppose)?


anothernick 02.03.04 at 9:58 pm

Harry: the Tees is the northern border of Yorkshire. The confusion you find online is because when Cleveland was finally abolished in 1996 (at the same time as ‘Avon’ and other mongrel counties) it was quartered up into four unitary authorities.

That means Middlesbrough is administratively without a county, but is post-officially (i.e. to the Post Office) regarded as part of Yorkshire. As it always was: there’s a reason why Yorkshire CC plays one game annually at Acklam Park.

It’s not simply a historical curiosity; the people of Thornaby (south of the Tees, so Yorkshire) still complain about being lumped in administratively with Stockton (north of the Tees, so Durham). And I believe the same applies to those in the East Riding who liberated from ‘Humberside’.

Oh, and Chris: it’s spelt ‘Middlesbrough’. As in ‘Middlesbrough win 3-1 on aggregate.’

Simon Kuper in the FT a few weeks ago suggested that only conurbations between 1m and 3m could host football teams.

That’s a classic consultant’s-eye view: I’m sure the supporters of Feyernood would disagree. Those sorts of comments usually come with arguments for team mergers.


Nick 02.03.04 at 10:25 pm

Actually, the best argument against the 1m-3m idea is from American Football – the Green Bay Packers.

It’s probably true in that no new side is going to come up to a strong position from a small town – Rushden, say, are unlikely to make the Premiership, as they’ll never develop the supporter base – but established sides will have supporters from outside their geographic base. Most Premiership and Division 1 sides in England have supporters clubs in many parts of the country – Wolves, for instance, have a thriving fan base in Scandinavia (including an ex-Swedish PM).


Another Damned Medievalist 02.04.04 at 12:10 am

And, of course, we know what happens when you try to move a team from a metropolis to a small place where it will be “more successful.”

But wait — perhaps Oldham will be promoted a couple of times???

Don’t ask me, I support the ex-Woolwich side, although I have a soft spot for the metropolitan team with their own political party.


Another Damned Medievalist 02.04.04 at 12:17 am

Bugger. Just looked at the Groniad football page. Middlesbrough, paugh! Keown — past it.


chris 02.04.04 at 7:40 am

Well, if Leeds Utd. goes down the pan a lot of people in the rest of Yorkshire will survive the blow, believe you me.


Brian Weatherson 02.04.04 at 8:22 am

Simon Kuper in the FT a few weeks ago suggested that only conurbations between 1m and 3m could host football teams.

It’s really hard to argue for that in an American setting. The Packers aren’t really a good counterexample because of the odd way NFL funding works. (Most revenue is TV generated, and that’s equally shared.) But in all the other American sports, there is remarkably little evidence for there being a cap on how big cities can get and still support successful teams. New York, for instance, is doing reasonably well in baseball (and their failures in basketball and hockey are not for want of spendong), and the LA area seems to do just fine in most sports.


dave heasman 02.04.04 at 11:42 am

Simon Kuper in the FT a few weeks ago suggested that only conurbations between 1m and 3m could host football teams.

I missed that, and I try to read his stuff, I think he’s often on the ball. Surely what’s optimum is for each conurbation to host 2 teams? Which includes the Ms listed above (is there a second Munich team?), and Glasgow, Liverpool and for now Barcelona, but not Leeds.
Leeds’ gates are holding up astonishingly well – 35000 still turn up most weeks.
London suffers from having so many teams – well, the Arse do/did. Wenger noted some years ago that they accrued fewer points than might be expected due to 10 or 12 derby matches per season. I think that’s changed in the last couple of seasons.


Doug 02.04.04 at 3:58 pm

[Eric Idle] Good evening. Tonight on World Forum we are deeply privileged to have with us Karl Marx, the founder of modern socialism and author of the Communist Manifesto, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known to the world as Lenin, leader of the Russian Revolution, writer, statesman, and father of modern socialism, Che Guevara, the Bolivian guerilla leader, and Mao Tse-tung, chairman of the Chinese Communist Party since 1949.

And the first question is for you, Karl Marx. “The Hammers.” “The Hammers” is the nickname of what English football team? “The Hammers.” No? Well, bad luck, Karl. It is, in fact, West Ham United.

Now, Che Guevara. Che… Coventry City last won the English football cup in what year? No? I can tell no further question. Anybody else? Coventry City last won the English Football Cup in what year? No, I’m not surprised you didn’t get that. It is in fact a trick question. Coventry City have never won the English Football Cup.


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