It must be true
According to sports TV network ESPN, the big question that currently “provokes passionate debate across the land” isn’t anything to do with Brexit, Game of Thrones or the Hope & Glory festival. It’s “what is the UK’s best city to be a sports fan?”
It’s Liverpool. And a university was involved in coming up with it, so it must be true.
Our North West neighbours might be getting a fully-fledged connection to the HS2 network and £78 million towards a new arts centre, but they must be feeling sick as a parrot about this one
The UK’s Greatest Sporting City list has been put together by ESPN in conjunction with the University of Bath. After asking sports fans to rank a range of factors including “value for money, success, history and choice”, the list’s creators have decreed that our Liverpool home is the 2017 champion, pipping Manchester to the top spot by “just half a point”.
Our North West neighbours might be getting a fully-fledged connection to the HS2 network and £78 million towards a new arts centre, but they must be feeling sick as a parrot about this one.
Brushing aside the fact that the ESPN website names Liverpool as the UK’s greatest sporting city but then announces that London is the “greatest sporting city on the planet”, this is the first time our city has taken the accolade. Remarkably, it seems there have already been two other such lists since 2015, with Liverpool coming sixth and fourth respectively.
London, meanwhile, has never won it. But it’s still the best - sporting city wise - on the planet apparently. Any prospective students planning on studying statistics at the University of Bath may want to think long and hard about whether it’s such a good move after all.
Commenting on the findings in a manner that suggests he thinks it’s something other than an attempt to garner some valuable social media airtime, assistant professor Thomas Curran said: “We’re now in the third year of the research, and the 2017 rankings offer an interesting set of new results. It’s a deserved victory for Liverpool after it placed fourth last year, and made the leap to top spot this year thanks to strong performances in a variety of factors.”
A surprising number of other commentators have also been eager to add their congratulations.
Steven Saunders, the senior editor of the ESPN.co.uk website, said: “There seems to be a really positive atmosphere for the city at the moment, with Everton and Liverpool looking stronger than they have in years, Tranmere and St Helens doing well, and the bid for the Commonwealth Games gathering momentum.”
Likewise, Brian Barwick who chairs the Liverpool 2022 Commonwealth Games bid, said: “For Liverpool to be recognised as the UK's number one sports city is fantastic news, not only for our Commonwealth Games bid but for our city.”
The list goes on, with the phrases “rich sporting heritage” and “passionate fans” making an entirely expected appearance.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be so churlish. Just because we all thought we were already the UK’s greatest sporting city doesn’t mean everyone else necessarily agreed. But now they have to. Because it’s official.
And with a “London-based editorial team” hard at work “leveraging ESPN’s global reach”, it’s clear these people know what they’re on about.
You can find the full UK’s Greatest Sporting Cities list here.