Northampton performs poorly in new ESPN survey on sporting towns and cities...but is the report right?

Northampton Saints v London Welsh in the Aviva Premiership at Franklins Gardens.'Samu Manoa NNL-151005-094413009

Northampton Saints v London Welsh in the Aviva Premiership at Franklins Gardens.'Samu Manoa NNL-151005-094413009

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Northampton has been placed 33rd out of 48 sporting towns and cities in a new survey by broadcaster ESPN and the universities of Gloucester and Bath.

Home of Northampton Saints, Northampton Town and Northants County Cricket Club, Northampton is the only town in the country to boast top flight teams in three major sports. Nearby Leicester, which also has three major teams, is a city.

Northampton Town Football Club v Birmingham City - pre-season friendly at Sixfields. NNL-150722-093611009

Northampton Town Football Club v Birmingham City - pre-season friendly at Sixfields. NNL-150722-093611009

But according to the new survey, which ranked towns and cities on 12 factors including value for money, success, atmosphere and transport links.

The survey had more than 5,000 respondents.

Northampton scored highest in the community category with 72 out of 100, which looked at fans’ satisfaction with club community involvement in their town or city.

Its lowest score was for sporting history with just five out of 100.

Northants Steelbacks v Yorkshire Vikings T20 Blast.'Ben Duckett NNL-150718-103408009

Northants Steelbacks v Yorkshire Vikings T20 Blast.'Ben Duckett NNL-150718-103408009

Other results included (all out of 100):

Value for money - 58; Participation - 55; Atmosphere - 44; Local talent - 40; Economic impact - 39; Club success - 27; Venues - 24; Transport accessibility - 18; Social - 15; Choice - 11.

The report has caused much debate already this morning on the Stuart Linnell breakfast show on BBC Radio Northampton, with listeners disputing the results of the survey and former Northampton Saints player, Lennie Newman, arguing the town’s sporting clubs have a much better atmosphere than shown in the results of the survey.

Overall, Manchester topped the table, beating London which came second and Glasgow, which came in third place.

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.”

To view the results in full, visit http://www.espn.co.uk/espn/story/_/id/13368888/manchester-beats-london-top-espn-uk-greatest-sporting-cities-2015-study