Manchester beats London for top spot in ESPN's Greatest Sporting City study


Manchester has beaten out London to be revealed as the greatest sporting city in the UK, according to research from ESPN and the universities of Gloucester and Bath.

Manchester topped the ranking after scoring highly in most of the 12 factors, which included value for money, success, atmosphere and transport links. London, host city for the 2012 Olympics, came in second while Glasgow - which staged the Commonwealth Games last year - finished third.

#ESPNUKCities - Explore the full results

Former Manchester United and England captain Bryan Robson said: "Since the Commonwealth Games, the city has really expanded on the sporting side, helped by the improved transport network.

"With Man United and Man City, and the way they've extended their training facilities and stadiums, it doesn't surprise me that Manchester came out on top.

"It's not just the two football clubs who've tried to expand. The cricket club have expanded really well - Lancashire have got one of the best function rooms in the north west - Sale Sharks have tried to compete with the best rugby teams in the country. Then you've got the velodrome, which came from the Commonwealth Games.

"That all adds to the package of what people were voting on in the ESPN poll and why Manchester came out on top of the list."

Commenting on the research, Professor Andrew Parker from the University of Gloucestershire said: "Manchester has definitely earned its selection as the ESPN Greatest Sporting City in the UK. Our research, over several months, gathered opinions from in-depth focus groups, followed by an online survey of more than 5,000 sports fans across the UK, which was then cross-referenced with third party data from more than 100 different sources. It was thorough, and the results were very interesting."

Among cities that did not fare so well, Blackpool came last, behind Luton in 47th, Stoke-on-Trent in 46th and Bolton in 45th. Despite being the UK's "second city", Birmingham ranked in 17th place. There is also a northern dominance in the top ten, with six of the top ranked cities located in the north of the UK.

Steven Saunders, Senior Editor of ESPN.co.uk, said: "We set out to examine what really makes a great sporting city and we know that begins with fans. The factors they identified range from classic sporting themes, such as success and history, to more consumer-focused concerns, such as value for money and venues.

"A great sporting city has to perform well in a variety of the categories, and Manchester should be proud of its victory. The city's high score for local talent shows that it's not just the big name buys like Sergio Aguero and Wayne Rooney that make Manchester such a great sporting city."