Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal fans have nothing to cry over


As Liverpool close in on their first league title for 24 years, many people claim that they are the neutral’s favourite and that they ‘deserve‘ to win the title for their long-suffering fans.

I made the point on Twitter on Sunday that no team deserves anything when it comes to football, no club is owed more than any other and, as if to reinforce my point, this morning I received some very interesting stats in my inbox.

A new animated football sitcom called Warren United,‘ which chronicles the suffering of a fan of a long-struggling team, is set to air in the UK on ITV4 later this month. In advance of that, the makers commissioned a survey to find out just which fans are the real sufferers when it comes to the success and failure of their team.

The ‘Fan Suffering Index‘ names the football clubs whose fans have had the least to cheer about since the birth of the football league in 1888 and took in to consideration some 22,000 matches.

To formulate the table, different weights were given to different competitions by the English National Football Archive with points allocated as follows:

Premier League (or past equivalent) (10), Championship (6), League One (4), League Two (2), FA Cup (8), League Cup (6), Johnstone’s Paint Trophy (2), Test match wins (used to decide promotion and relegation in the 1890s) (2), play-off wins (4).

Other factors inputted include: average league position; percentage of games won in all domestic competitions; average home attendance; promotion and relegation; and season-by-season record in the FA Cup.

What they found was that the longest suffering fans in all of English football were those who follow Rochdale United.

Table: The 10 Clubs With The Longest-Suffering Fans

Rank Club Fan Suffering Index
1 Rochdale AFC 66.12
2 Hartlepool United 64.72
3 Exeter City 64.08
4 Newport County 65.53
5 Colchester United (top in League One) 63.39
6 Southend United 63.12
7 Torquay United 62.96
8 Mansfield Town 62.90
9 Leyton Orient (top in London) 62.83
10 AFC Wimbledon 62.45

Not surprisingly, not one team which has ever played in the Premier League made the top ten.

In contrast, nine of the top ten clubs in the list of least suffering fans are current Premier League sides.

10 LEAST Long-Suffering Fans, With The Lowest Suffering Index

Rank Club Fan Suffering Index
1 Manchester United 21.31
2 Liverpool 21.97
3 Arsenal 30.22
4 Chelsea 31.46
5 Tottenham Hotspur 32.44
6 Aston Villa 37.11
7 Leeds United 37.75
8 Everton 39.28
9 Manchester City 40.57
10 Newcastle United 41.27


About Warren United:
The first episode of Warren United kicks off on April 22 at 10pm on ITV4.
Co-written by Simon Nye, the writer of Men Behaving Badly, David Quantick and Dominic Holland, the show features the voices of BATFA award-winner Darren Boyd (as Warren), Morgana Robinson, Nitin Ganatra and Johnny Vegas (as Fat Baz, manager of Brainsford United).

“Football is supposed to be the ‘glory game’”, says Simon Nye, lead writer of Warren United. “But for most fans it’s more about grief, pain and chronic disappointment.”

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Lee Hurley

Writer specialising in good football and bad relationships. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.