“As a Welshman living in Mali, I’m struck by the contrast in the number of teams based in the capital city playing in the top league,” mails Sean Smith. “Whereas the Cymru Premier has for much of its history not included a club based in the capital city (and currently only has one team based in Cardiff out of 12), 13 of the 18 teams in Mali’s Première Division are based in Bamako. Are there any other national top divisions that have a higher or lower proportion of clubs based in the capital?”
In England it has often been said that the Premier League, or the old Division One, is harder for London teams to win because of the number of derbies. This season, seven of the 20 Premier League sides are based in London. That means 12 London derbies apiece for Arsenal, Brentford, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.
As for answering the actual question, rather than bringing everything back to the Premier League, let’s start with the countries where few, if any, top-flight teams come from the capital. “BSC Young Boys based in Bern are the only capital city club in the 10-team Swiss Super League,” writes Opeyemi Ajala. “Brasília, federal capital of Brazil, has no football club in the Serie A (20 teams).”
Brazil isn’t the only gigantic country without a team from the capital in their top division. “In Major League Soccer (MLS), three of the 28 teams are Canadian – Toronto FC, CF Montreal and Vancouver Whitecaps” notes Thomas Wendt. “However, there is no team based in the capital Ottawa and, likely, never will be.”
“Australia is an example of a country with zero teams from their capital city,” adds Richard Mace. “There is no A-League men’s team from Canberra (although Canberra United do compete in the women’s A-League). However, there is a team from the capital city of another country, as Wellington Phoenix from New Zealand competes in the A-League.”
At the other end of the scale are the hosts of the inaugural World Cup, and the upcoming one. “The Uruguayan Primera can currently match Mali for the number of sides from the capital Montevideo,” writes Gareth Marshall. “There are 13: Peñarol, Nacional, Defensor, Danubio, Fenix, Rentistas, River Plate, Torque, Cerrito, Albion, Wanderers, Boston River and, er, Liverpool. But as it’s only a 16-team division it gives a slightly higher percentage of capital-based sides (81.2% as opposed to Bamoko’s 72.2%).” Joe Stynes also points out that, in the 1998 Primera season, all 12 sides were from Montevideo.
“The current Qatar Stars League has 11 of 12 teams playing in greater Doha – al Wakrah and ar Rayann are technically separate municipalities, but it’s all part of the same urban area,” writes Chris Benedik. “The only team not based in and around Doha is al Shamal, on Qatar’s north coast.”
Footnote: we answered a variation on this question in 2017, if you want even more trivia.
International top scorers at clubs
“The signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang means there are now 10 players who have played for Chelsea who are top scorers for their respective nation: Weah, Gudjohnsen, Mutu, Drogba, Shevchenko, Younghusband (Philippines), Falcao, Lukaku, Eto’o and Aubameyang. Is this a record?” asks Jesse Pajwani.
“No, several clubs have had more,” says Philip in Washington, cutting brusquely to the chase. “By my count, Barcelona (Aubameyang, Eto’o, Hagi, Henry, Ibrahimovic, Lewandowski, Messi, Sanchez, Suárez, Villa, Gudjohnsen, and Keita), Internazionale (Lukaku, Dzeko, Eto’o, Keane, Ibrahimovic, Sukur, Mkhitaryan, Sanchez, Jovetic, Pandev, Mutu, and Kallon), and Monaco (Slimani, Berbatov, Falcao, Koller, Mbokani, Henry, Aubameyang, Gudjohnsen, Weah, Jovetic, Kallon, and Adebayor) have had 12 each.
“The record is, I think, held by Manchester Unitedwho have had 13. They are: Berbatov, Ronaldo, Rooney, Lukaku, Hernández, Van Persie, Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan, Goater, Sánchez, Falcao, Healy, and Law. This was fun.”
“In 1931 Charlton adopted the nickname Robins,” begins Clive Denny. “Swindon Town and Bristol City were also nicknamed Robins. In the 1933-34 and 1934-35 seasons, all three clubs were in the Third Division South. An early example of a ‘Round Robin’ competition? Charlton played Bristol City 12 times from 1931 until they changed their nickname to Valiants in the 1960s, winning every match.”
“In a pre-season friendly between Real Madrid and Milan I noticed that both clubs had the same sponsor. Has this ever happened before?” asked Mark Pucci in 2015.
“The strongest example I’ve ever witnessed is in Argentina,” wrote Mark Turner, “where the indescribably bitter rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors had the same main sponsor in the 2012 seasons. That was the bank BBVA Banco Frances (the local wing of Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria), which has a strong presence in Argentina.”
“South Africa’s mobile phone market is dominated by two providers, MTN and Vodacom,” added Ian Williams. “During the 2008-09 season, MTN sponsored Ajax Cape Town and Golden Arrows, and Vodacom sponsored Bloemfontein Celtic, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.” Cue a lot of same-sponsor derbies, then. Ian’s email inspired a little digging of our own, which unearths the fact that the following season the final of South Africa’s oldest cup competition, then as now known, because of its sponsor, as the MTN 8, was contested by Ajax Cape Town and Golden Arrows, both also sponsored by MTN. This sponsorship triple-whammy must surely be some kind of record.
Can you help?
“Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 in the WSL and all three goals were penalties,” notes Paul Savage. “What’s the highest number of penalties scored in a game and the highest score where all goals have been penalties?”
“I know it’s early doors, but only five points separate the play-off places and relegation in the Championship. What’s been the smallest points gap in any league between promotion and relegation at the end of a season?” asks Crispin Leyser.
“Valencia’s late, great former kit man, Bernardo ‘Españata’ Edo, will have a street in the Spanish city named after him,” notes Niall McVeigh. “Are they any other examples of streets, buildings or stadiums being named after club backroom staff?”
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