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Doncaster Rovers – England’s biggest achievers

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Doncaster Rovers have achieved more than any other team in the English leagues since the Premiership began in 1992 – and that’s a fact, according to “major statistical analysis” in The Achievers Report 2008.

And who are we to argue with Rovers’ rating in a survey of all the 92 League clubs which established free-spending football clubs tend to be amongst the game’s biggest under-achievers.

An extensive study executed by the New Football Pools, which examined thousands of results, league tables and club records, the Achievers Report 2008 found Doncaster Rovers had trumped everyone.

Conversely, Manchester City – the world’s richest club – are currently English football’s fifth worst under-achievers.  Arsenal, in 27th position, were the best placed in the Premiership, Manchester United managed 29th, Chelsea 33rd, and Liverpool lagged behind on 45.

But the biggest under-achievers of all are fallen Yorkshire giants Sheffield Wednesday, closely followed by Wolverhampton Wanderers, Nottingham Forest and Coventry City.

Doncaster Rovers have risen phoenix-like since the late 1990s, when they spent five seasons in the Conference and saw crowds crumble to less than 2,000 while Belle Vue’s main stand was badly damaged by fire.

And, given that the club’s former chairman Ken Richardson was jailed for conspiracy to commit arson following that Belle Vue fire, the fact Doncaster Rovers are now competing at any level, let alone the Championship, is pretty remarkable.

The New Football Pools marketing director John Sheehy said: “We’ve created a level playing field going back 16 years to take into account a series of factors which we believe achievement could be judged against.”

“As fans we all talk about so-called ‘big’ clubs and perceived inequalities, but that doesn’t carry much weight when your team is not living up to its billing on the pitch.”

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund


  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball
  • SD Europe