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STATS: United vs City – The Best Supported Club Since The 1940′s and Before Premiership?

Manchester United vs Manchester City attendance graphYesterday, Manchester City still hadn’t sold all their tickets for the League Cup semi-final which was due to be played the following day. On the Monday, it was announced that any season ticket holder or membership holder could purchase an additional two tickets.

Given that City haven’t played in the semi-final for 28 years I thought it was odd that the game wasn’t a sell out. Now that the game has been postponed due to the snow, it of course almost certainly will be a sell out.

Me commenting on this brought flocks of City fans to the blog, all trying to justify the reasons behind it. The excuses ranged from the more understandable, citing the proximity to Christmas, to the insane, claiming that we just weren’t a big draw for them anymore.

The discussion went along it’s usual path that it does with City fans, with them talking about our debt, claiming that we don’t have fans in Manchester, and along the way, me having to ban posters and delete comments mocking us for Munich. Same ol’, same ol’.

United have yet to sell all their tickets for the return leg of the semi-final, although have sold 10,000+ more than City had the day before the supposed kick-off, despite us having a further two weeks until our game (now a further three weeks). This got me thinking about the relative support of our two clubs, with City fans always banging on about being so great and claiming that all our fans are day-trippers.

So, let’s take a walk down memory lane and get to the truth behind the deluded City lies…

I came across a brilliant website, European Football Statistics, which gives the average attendances for English football since the 1947-1948 season.

Is it true that City have the best support in Manchester? Is it true that our fanbase is full of glory supporters who only starting coming once we’d won trophies? What is clear is that Manchester has two very well supported teams, particularly compared to the rest of the country, and that support isn’t necessarily totally dependent on the success of the club.

The data is shown at the bottom of the page for those of you that are really keen, showing their position in the league, the average attendance for that season, what ranking that places them amongst the top flight and which team had the highest average attendance that season.

Otherwise, here is a summary…

Interesting facts
- United have had a higher average attendance than City EVERY SINGLE SEASON since 1947.
- When City won the league in the 1968, they had the 6th highest attendance in the country. United had the highest average attendance of 57,552, more than 10,000 higher than any club that season.
- When United were playing in Division 2 during the 1974-1975 season, they still had the highest average attendance of any club in the country, including Division 1.
- City have had a higher average attendance ranking than they have average league position every decade.
- Between 1946 and 1949 United played at Maine Road whilst reconstruction work was being done on Old Trafford after the bombings in the war. In the first season, when City won the league, United had an average attendance of 4,662 more than City at their own stadium. In the second season, United had an average attendance of 12,165 more than City at their own stadium. In the third season, United had an average attendance of 10,109 more than City at their own stadium.
- United have a higher average attendance than City for every decade since the 1940′s.
- Between 1947 and the year before the Munich Air Disaster, there was an average of almost 7,000 more United fans attending games than City.
- City were a more successful club on the pitch than United in the 1970s, yet there was a difference of over 13,000 in our average attendances, with United the best supported club of the decade.

In the 1950s…
City’s average league position: 15th
City’s average attendance position: 10th (1 year in Div 2 – position not included)
City’s average attendance: 30,028

United’s average league position: 3rd
United’s average attendance position: 4th
United’s average attendance: 35,667

In the 1960s…
City’s average league position: 18th
City’s average attendance position: 13th (3 years in Div 2 – positions not included)
City’s average attendance: 27,823

United’s average league position: 7th
United’s average attendance position: 2nd
United’s average attendance: 45,199

In the 1970s…
City’s average league position: 9th
City’s average attendance position: 6th
City’s average attendance: 35,178

United’s average league position: 11th
United’s average attendance position: 1st (1 year in Div 2 – position not included)
United’s average attendance: 48,328

In the 1980s…
City’s average league position: 20th
City’s average attendance position: 5th (4 years in Div 2 – positions not included)
City’s average attendance: 26,866

United’s average league position: 5th
United’s average attendance position: 1st
United’s average attendance: 43,090

In the 1990s pre Premiership/Sky…
City’s average league position: 8th
City’s average attendance position: 6th
City’s average attendance: 27,846

United’s average league position: 7th
United’s average attendance position: 1st
United’s average attendance: 42,654

After the Munich Air Disaster, people from outside of Manchester started to follow the club after sharing in our loss (even City fans used to be compassionate back then!). City fans have claimed that the sympathy that followed Munich is one of the reasons we have a larger fan base.

Looking at data from ’46 to the season before Munich, we can see what support was like in Manchester.

City’s average league position: 15th
City’s average attendance position: 12th (3 years in Div 2 – positions not included)
City’s average attendance: 35,913

United’s average league position: 3rd
United’s average attendance position: 5th
United’s average attendance: 42,632

Average attendances: United vs City 1946-1992

1946-1947: Liverpool 45,732 (1st)
City – 1st (Div 2)
Average attendance: 39,283

United – 2nd
Average attendance: 43,945 (3rd)

1947-1948: Arsenal 54,892 (1st)
City – 10th
Average attendance: 42,725 (7th)

United – 2nd, FA Cup winners
Average attendance: 54,890 (2nd)

1948-1949: Newcastle 53,839 (1st)
City – 7th
Average attendance: 38,699 (11th)

United – 2nd
Average attendance: 48,808 (3rd)

1949-1950: Arsenal 49,001 (1st)
City – 21st
Average attendance: 39,381 (10th)

United – 4th
Average attendance: 43,282 (7th)

1950-1951: Spurs 55,509 (1st)
City – 2nd (Div 2)
Average attendance: 35,016

United – 2nd
Average attendance: 39,008 (9th)

1951-1952: Spurs 51,134 (1st)
City – 15th
Average attendance: 38,302 (8th)

United – 1st
Average attendance: 42,916 (4th)

1952-1953: Arsenal 49,141 (1st)
City – 20th
Average attendance: 34,058 (11th)

United – 8th
Average attendance: 37,571 (9th)

1953-1954: Chelsea 46,944 (1st)
City – 17th
Average attendance: 30,155 (15th)

United – 4th
Average attendance: 36,887 (8th)

1954-1955: Chelsea 48,260 (1st)
City – 7th
Average attendance: 35,217 (9th)

United – 5th
Average attendance: 36,911 (7th)

1955-1956: Everton 42,768 (1st)
City – 4th, FA Cup winners
Average attendance: 32,198 (10th)

United – 1st
Average attendance: 39,254 (3rd)

1956-1957: United
City – 18th
Average attendance: 30,005 (12th)

United – 1st
Average attendance: 45,481 (1st)

1957-1958: United
City – 5th
Average attendance: 32,756 (9th)

United – 9th
Average attendance: 46,073 (1st)

1958-1959: United
City – 20th
Average attendance: 32,568 (9th)

United – 2nd
Average attendance: 53,258 (1st)

1959-1960: Spurs 47,948 (1st)
City – 16th
Average attendance: 35,637 (8th)

United – 7th
Average attendance: 47,288 (2nd)

1960-1961: Spurs 53,124 (1st)
City – 13th
Average attendance: 29,409 (8th)

United – 7th
Average attendance: 38,888 (3rd)

1961-1962: Spurs 45,576 (1st)
City – 12th
Average attendance: 25,626 (10th)

United – 15th
Average attendance: 33,491 (4th)

1962-1963: Everton 51,603 (1st)
City – 21st
Average attendance: 24,683 (11th)

United – 19th, FA Cup
Average attendance: 40,329 (4th)

1963-1964: Everton 49,401 (1st)
City – 6th (Div 2)
Average attendance: 18,201

United – 2nd
Average attendance: 44,125 (3rd)

1964-1965: United
City – 11th (Div 2)
Average attendance: 14,753

United – 1st
Average attendance: 46,521 (1st)

1965-1966: Liverpool 46,344 (1st)
City – 1st (Div 2)
Average attendance: 27,739

United – 4th
Average attendance: 38,769 (2nd)

1966-1967: United
City – 15th
Average attendance: 31,208 (11th)

United – 1st
Average attendance: 53,854 (1st)

1967-1968: United
City – 1st
Average attendance: 37,223 (6th)

United – 2nd
Average attendance: 57,552 (1st)

City – 13th, FA Cup
Average attendance: 33,750 (9th)

United – 11th
Average attendance: 51,169 (1st)

1969-1970: United
City – 10th, League Cup
Average attendance: 33,930 (10th)

United – 8th
Average attendance: 49,862 (1st)

1970-1971: Liverpool 45,459 (1st)
City – 11th
Average attendance: 31,041 (9th)

United – 8th
Average attendance: 43,945 (2nd)

1971-1972: Liverpool 47,687 (1st)
City – 4th
Average attendance: 38,573 (6th)

United – 8th
Average attendance: 45,999 (2nd)

1972-1973: United
City – 11th
Average attendance: 32,351 (7th)

United – 18th
Average attendance: 48,623 (1st)

1973-1974: United
City – 14th
Average attendance: 30,756 (7th)

United – 21
Average attendance: 42,712 (1st)

1974-1975: United. (Liverpool top of Div 1 45,966)
City – 8th
Average attendance: 32,898 (5th)

United – 1st (Div 2)
Average attendance: 48,389 (1st)

1975-1976: United
City – 8th, League Cup
Average attendance: 34,280 (4th)

United – 3rd
Average attendance: 54,750 (1st)

1976-1977: United
City – 2nd
Average attendance: 40,058 (3rd)

United – 6th, FA Cup
Average attendance: 53,710 (1st)

1977-1978: United
City – 4th
Average attendance: 41,687 (3rd)

United – 10th
Average attendance: 51,860 (1st)

1978-1979: United
City – 15th
Average attendance: 36,203 (4th)

United – 9th
Average attendance: 46,430 (1st)

1979-1980: United
City – 17th
Average attendance: 35,272 (3rd)

United – 2nd
Average attendance: 51,608 (1st)

1980-1981: United
City – 12th
Average attendance: 33,587 (4th)

United – 8th
Average attendance: 45,071 (1st)

1981-1982: United
City – 10th
Average attendance: 34,063 (4th)

United – 3rd
Average attendance: 44,571 (1st)

1982-1983: United
City – 20th
Average attendance: 26,789 (4th)

United – 3rd, FA Cup
Average attendance: 41,695 (1st)

1983-1984: United
City – 4th (Div 2)
Average attendance: 25,604

United – 4th
Average attendance: 42,534 (1st)

1984-1985: United
City – 3rd (Div 2)
Average attendance: 24,220

United – 4th, FA Cup
Average attendance: 42,881 (1st)

1985-1986: United
City – 15th
Average attendance: 24,229 (4th)

United – 4th
Average attendance: 46,321 (1st)

1986-1987: United
City – 21st
Average attendance: 21,922 (8th)

United – 11th
Average attendance: 40,594 (1st)

1987-1988: Liverpool 39,582 (1st)
City – 9th (Div 2)
Average attendance: 19,472

United – 2nd
Average attendance: 39,152 (2nd)

1988-1989: Liverpool 38,706 (1st)
City – 2nd (Div 2)
Average attendance: 23,500

United – 11th
Average attendance: 36,474 (2nd)

1989-1990: United
City – 14th
Average attendance: 27,975 (4th)

United – 13th
Average attendance: 39,331 (1st)

1990-1991: United
City – 5th
Average attendance: 27,874 (6th)

United – 6th
Average attendance: 43,242 (1st)

1991-1992: United
City – 5th
Average attendance: 27,688 (7th)

United – 2nd
Average attendance: 45,389 (1st)

Manchester United vs Manchester City attendance 1946-2009 graph created by RoM reader SITS.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. maqcs says:

    Should really use percentages of ground capacity to compare, as old trafford has a much high capacity so will more than likey to be on top, otherwise it’s like comparing apples and oranges, i.e. meaningless


    $h!+y you will never win any thing

  3. ted says:

    The difference between man utd and man city is like heaven and hell. Man utd is a club with tradition and history. Its a club coated and molded with pride, love and affection. That love and affection can be seen in the way SAF and the players celebrate every goal scored. It most be painful to be prawns and play things to mansour and his ilks .imagine the kind of fun and joke those arabs will be having in their arabs penthouses in manchester and in their desert homes. I prefer american alliance than the arabs who might have a dagger in their cloak ready to slash every blue throat in manchester for the fun of it they can’t get their money worth of success. I can imagine all the pains and jealousy that resides inside every blue fans towards their much rich and illustrous neigbhours in red shirts. But what I can’t understand is to be so poor and desperate as to pitch tent with mansour. Who told man city fans that they are rich? The money belong to mansour and his family and they can take it with them any time they are tired of having fun or waiting for the trophy. Money cannot buy the premiership else west brom would have bought it ahead of chelsea and man city. Its undoutably known that man utd has the biggest, highest and supporters and fan base than man city will have in another life time. So I suggest to citeh fans to join ‘em if you can’t beat ‘em.

  4. kippaxboy says:

    very interesting comments,just one note of caution the attendance stats dont take into account the number of City fans who attended both matches at Maine Rd
    during 1946-1949 period-my father and his brothers went every week to the ground which was a stones throw from Upper lloyd st where we lived and many other fans did the same

  5. Dunc says:

    Kippaxboy good comment, except you seem to have missed the fact that many United fans, including my dad his mates who were reds also attended all the games at Maine Rd while our ground was being rebuilt. My dad put his name on the season ticket waiting list as soon as he could after the war and eventually got 2 season tickets in 1965. Although in those days season tickets were restricted to 13,000 I doubt there’s ever been a City fan who waited the best part of 20 years for a season ticket. (The rest of this isn’t a reply to anyone in particular it’s just an opinion I’d like to state.)

    I’ve never been a red who’ll say that City aren’t a very well supported club and I’ll never say that they’re not a big club, but in my opinion anyone who believes that City have or ever have had more fans born and raised in the Greater Manchester area than United have is either daft or one of the bitter format of blues.

    When I was at school and for a long time after the City fans I knew used used to go on about how United fans came mainly from Salford and how it wasn’t even in Manchester. I used to say “neither is Middleton or Chadderton or Oldham, they’re in Lancashire, which is where we were all from. Now that’s changed and all they go on about is how most of our supporters are from London etc. But it’s basically just the same bull spun a different way.

    United do have a massive fan base from all around the country and from all around the world, and it’s true that fan base mainly arose from the Munich disaster when people who weren’t even interested in football became so, (although the European Cup even before that had started to grow the fanbase outside of Manchester) so there is massively more demand for tickets and therefore there is bound to be a higher percentage of Manchester born fans at City games than United games, but it is silly to confuse that with the amount of fans who either can’t go or choose not to who are from Manchester.

    The attendances posted here don’t lie, and if they don’t tell you a story then you don’t want to listen.

  6. Colin. B.M. Rising says:

    An interesting view but flawed. In the early years fans attended the club who was playing at home . Also trafford park in those days was a hive of activity ,where workers would attend old trafford just by its conveniece. A study has been carried out in manchester and proved that the city is 50/50 red and blue.

  7. Sewerez says:

    Q.What is the pinnacle of ‘Manchester City’s History’ (Perfect Oxymoron)

    A. Cup Winners Cup

    Q. What was the attendance?


    Please think up a feasible lie before answering and not the usual bullshit
    By the way the game was of such importance that it was not televised live!!!!

    Big Club ha!ha! Same history as Portsmouth and less league titles than Huddersfield!!!!

  8. Teddie5000 says:


    If “Manchester City’s History” is an oxymoron, how can City’s history be the same as Portsmouth’s history? City have a rich history dating back to the 1870s when Ms G Connell proposed forming a club to stop the men of Beswick, Openshaw and Gorton fighting on their days off. Just because you are ignorant of it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    - 1904 City were the first club from Manchester to win a major domestic trophy
    - 1970 City were the first club to lift a domestic and European trophy in the same season
    - 1934 Record Attendance for an English Club, City v Stoke, 84,569
    - Which was the last Manchester team to win the FA Cup? – Currently City
    - Which was the last Manchester team to win the League? – Currently City

    Cup Winners Cup

    The game was due to be shown live, however the FA Cup Final was drawn a few weeks earlier and the replay was played the same night. The BBC could only show one game and elected to show the FA Cup Final instead because it had two English teams in it and would therefore get better viewing figures. ITV on the other hand couldn’t show the game live, but instead beamed highlights afterwards.

    The crowd was poor in Austria for the final for a few reasons. Firstly Gornik Zabradze were from Eastern Europe and during the cold war, their fans could not travel abroad and so there were no Polish fans at the game. Secondly even for Western countries international travel was still expensive and Austria was a long way away from Manchester. So the bulk of the crowd would be made up of fans from Vienna. The stadium did not have a roof and with torrential rain, fewer than half the tickets sold for the match were actually used.

    The actual attendance at the game is unknown and has been reported at anything from 8,000 – 12,000. City had knocked out Schalke two weeks before. IN such a short space of time, an estimated 5,000 City fans made the trip, which is a phenomenal amount of fans considering the circumstances.

    As a result City actually lost money on the tournament and threatened to pull out of the competition the following year.

    When City won the FA Cup to qualify for the Cup Winners Cup in 1969, the match against Leicester sold out with 100,000 in attendance.

    Compare this to United’s match against Benfica at Wembley in 1968. A relatively short trip to London, the biggest prize in European football on offer and the chance to be the first English team to lift the trophy. With United massive support base, the fairy tale of Matt Busby creating his second great team, winning this final was United’s greatest ever achievement and they were almost at home…..

    If the game was of such importance for the best supported team in the universe, why didn’t it sell out?

    Please think up a feasible lie before answering and not the usual bullshit

  9. phealens tash says:

    united in ‘far better support than city’ shocker

  10. TheTruth says:

    Well played Teddie5000 you really pulled Seweredz pants down & gave him a good hiding there.

  11. CTID12 says:

    1) Scott the Red…I’m pressuming your ‘a red’ and so what position are you really in to be creating articles and blogs or whatever on something which you support one side of? Straight away, your point is lost on me because your a fan of one of the teams. Being a United fan also kind of comes with a free pair of rose tinted specs so a little difficult to take seriously in a debate.

    2) United may have had higher average attendances. I can’t remember many City fans saying they didn’t. I think what City fans refer to is that they have always had a big following. Perhaps not big in terms of some clubs, but big in terms of football. They have also had very loyal fans, supporting them when they won…….and also when they lost.

    3) City’s fans were mainly from Manchester, whereas Uniteds were from many random countries around the world, a lot of which most probably couldn’t name three players.

    4) You are basing these attendances on averages. Forgetting the obvious word known as…capacity. A capacity percentage I think is what your looking for to be fair. United seat more and therefore are naturally unlikely to attract 12 fans a week. Although there is talk of course that Citys ground will be dramatically upgraded in the not too distant future.

    5) Attendances in general…are they really relavant? Whether City bring in one fan a week and United bring in millions, isn’t it winning games and trophies that count. Something which are managing perfectly well with our…”20,000 empty seats”. But thanks for your concern enough to sing about it.

    6) United fans common words…City aren’t a big club, they aren’t our main rival, where are all their fans….I would say, I think you know were a big club, if we wern’t, you wouldn’t be talking about us as much as you are (not that its for United to decide whose a big club). I think you know that were you main rivals because were your neighbours and your biggest threat.

    People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones which United have done for years. Perhaps a bad idea.

    United are known for excuses, known for changing the subject, known for being bitter. How do you excuse 6-1 at home? Thats a start.

    I wouldn’t be suprised if my comment isn’t accepted onto the page because it might harm the red opinion and they might need to think of some facts and figures from 1930 when nobody was around to care about who won what. Live in the present.

    United…not arrogant, just better?
    United…not arrogant, just second.

    See you in December.

  12. BurnageRed says:

    Funny how you mention all the hardships faced by fans trying to reach the 69 cup winners cup final,yet fail to state where the away team(Benfica) were from in the 68 european cup final.
    Portugal was and still is one of the poorest countries in europe.Add to that it was under communist rule at the time,maybe that explains the unsold tickets?.I know for a fact it does as UTD sold out theirs.
    Funny you don’t mention that.

    Attendances and winning games and trophies are all relevant-We’re miles ahead on all counts.
    Why would capacity percentages be more fair? You never sell your (council) stadium out and capacity percentages would only work if we had the same size stadiums.Too thick to figure that out?
    Even if percetages were used,we’d still be miles ahead-your early to mid 60′s,all of the 80′s and most of the 90′s averages are laughable
    And if city had more fans from Manchester,why the results on this page? Surely you’re not saying we had glory hunters in the 40′s and 50′s?

    Face facts Berties,we have(by a distance) the most Manchester based fans.After all,we were born first and the facts don’t lie.City fans do though,hence you being known as ‘The Liars’

  13. BarryForrester says:

    A study has been carried out in manchester and proved that the city is 50/50 red and blue.

    Which study is this Colin?
    Every study I have ever seen shows a lot more reds than blues in Manchester.


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