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Sky Sports Ultimate League 2018/19: Every club's true standing over past 50 years revealed

Liverpool top rankings, with Manchester United in third place behind Arsenal


Which is the top club in the land? Which teams are punching above their weight and which historic powerhouses languish in the lower divisions? This year's Ultimate League has arrived...

The Ultimate League factors each club's average league position over the past 50 years and includes every club that has featured in England's top four tiers for at least 10 seasons during that period.

Liverpool remain England's top club with a remarkable average position of 3.5 over the last half a century, while Arsenal narrowly stave off Manchester United for second spot.

As was the case in the Premier League, Spurs secure the final top-four place - which is exactly where they belong, according to their historic average.

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Everton's continuous top-flight presence during the period, in addition to title-winning campaigns in the early '70s and mid '80s, places the Toffees in fifth spot - edging the more recent success achieved at Chelsea.

Manchester City are closing the gap on sixth place with their average standing after back-to-back title-winning campaigns under Pep Guardiola - but still only rank in seventh after slipping into the third tier in 1998.

Aston Villa are currently in the hunt for promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs and rank eighth in the Ultimate League, but sat 17 places below their rightful place on the final day this season.

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BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 11: Conor Hourihane of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Sky Bet Championship Play-off semi final first leg match between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion at Villa Park on May 11, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)
Image: Aston Villa should be eighth in the Premier League according to their historic league success - but could be challenging in the top flight again next season after beating West Brom 2-1 in the first-leg of the play-offs

Meanwhile, current top-flight clubs Newcastle, West Ham, Southampton and Leicester also rightfully reside in England's top tier, according to their historic league success.

A raft of second-tier sides are among England's top 20 clubs, including Ipswich, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest, play-off competitors Leeds, West Brom and Derby, as well as champions Norwich.

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Finally, Sunderland are the biggest underachievers in the top 20 - finishing the season among the play-off places in League One - some 29 positions below their historic average.

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Biggest underachievers

York are England's biggest underachievers, languishing 42 places below their 50-year average in the National League North.


Notts County suffered relegation from the Football League for the first time in their 157-year history - having been one of the original founding members of the league in 1888 and rank 41 places below their average position.

Other serious underachievers include Oldham (-38), Chesterfield (-35), Stockport (-34), Swindon (-33), Ipswich (-31), Torquay (-30), Coventry and Sunderland (both -29).

Biggest overachievers

In contrast, Bournemouth are punching a chart-topping 37 places above their 50-year average, while Accrington (+36) and Wycombe (+27) are England's next top overachievers - both winning promotion into League One last season.

Morecambe and Accrington finished 93rd and 94th, respectively, in the Ultimate League rankings - the only two clubs to have played 10 or more seasons in the top four divisions but not make the top 92.


A raft of clubs are currently 25 places above their historic rank, including Cardiff and Huddersfield - both suffering relegation from the Premier League this term.

Other notable overachievers who took part in the Premier League this season include Watford, Brighton, Burnley (all +21), Wolves (+19), Fulham (+14) and Crystal Palace (+13).

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