Greatest Sporting Cities 2017

Greatest Sporting Cities 2017

ESPN's Greatest
Sporting Cities

In 2015, ESPN set out to answer a question that provokes passionate debate across the land: what is the UK's best city to be a sports fan? ESPN's Greatest Sporting Cities research - in collaboration with the University of Bath - surveys thousands of fans and crunches data from hundreds of different sources each year to produce an answer. In 2015, the answer was Manchester, while in 2016 Leicester was awarded the title. Now the 2017 results can be revealed...

First Place


Liverpool is the UK's Greatest Sporting City, topping North West rivals Manchester in second place, and London in third. After respectable sixth and fourth-place finishes in the first two years of the rankings, the city takes over from last year's winner Leicester. The win follows a year which has seen the city regain its sporting confidence after Liverpool FC qualified for the Champions League for only the second time since 2009, while Everton were resurgent under Ronald Koeman. The city scored top marks for Atmosphere, and ranked in the top five for key factors including Community (4th), Social (4th), Choice (2nd), Venues (3rd), and History (3rd).

Second Place


Inaugural winning city Manchester remains in second place for the second consecutive year. It ranks as the best city for Local talent, regaining the accolade from Leicester. It also moved up to 2nd in the Success factor, from eighth last year, driven by Manchester United's League Cup and Europa League wins.

Third Place


London comes in third for the second year running, and also tops the rankings for History and Success, thanks to Chelsea's Premier League win and Arsenal's FA Cup victory. Perhaps surprisingly, the city ranks third overall for Value for Money.

  • 4: Leeds
  • 5: Sheffield
  • 6: Glasgow
  • 7: Newcastle
  • 8: Brighton
  • 9: Cardiff
  • 10: Edinburgh
  • 11: Birmingham
  • 12: Leicester
  • 13: Reading
  • 14: Nottingham
  • 15: Hull




Alongside Liverpool's overall win, the city has also earned the accolade of the best city for football fans. The triumph follows Leicester also "doing the double" in last year's rankings, when it earned top spot in both categories.

Cricket & Rugby League


Leeds maintains its dual title as the best city both for cricket fans and rugby league fans. The city also moved up in the overall rankings this year to fourth, after placing fifth in both 2015 and 2016.



Bath is the best city for rugby union fans, knocking last year's winner Cardiff into second place. Bath's rise to the top of the rankings was fuelled by an impressive performance in a key factor - it secured the top overall ranking for Value for Money

Money Talks

Cities move up and down the rankings each year, but fans' priorities have stayed the same. The top three factors that fans believe are most important to a great sporting city remain the same as last year. Value for Money tops the list after being ranked by 20% of fans as the most important factor, followed by Atmosphere, which is first choice for 17% of fans, and Success in third, with 15% of the vote.

Northern Powerhouse

The north continues to dominate the top of the list, with four of the top five, and seven northern cities listed in the top ten. East Anglia is the worst-performing region - its highest placing city is Norwich, at 21st in the overall rankings, followed by Peterborough in 41st and Ipswich second last in 48th. Although North West cities occupy the top two spots, the region also props up the list, with Blackpool in 49th - last place for the third consecutive year.

Ups and Downs

The top ten features two new appearances - Sheffield has moved up to 5th from 18th, while Brighton has jumped six places from 14th to 8th. They took the places of Sunderland, which dropped from 10th to 24th, and Leicester whose fall from top spot in 2016 to 12th place this year mirrors Leicester City FC's performance in the Premier League, where they also finished in 12th the season after their shock title win.

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