Bath has been named as the Greatest Sporting City in the South West for the first time, according to newly released research from ESPN and the University of Bath.
The accolade for the city comes in the third year of leading sport site ESPN.co.uk’s original research project to discover the UK’s top city in which to be a fan.
The city of Bath secured further accolades as the biggest climber in the national list, rising 23 places from 41st to 18th and coming out as the best city for Value for Money.
In addition Bath has supplanted Cardiff to be named the best place to be a Rugby Union fan in the UK.
The cities were ranked on 12 factors which fans identified as key to a great sporting city. Among the categories, there were value for money, success, atmosphere, history, venues and transport links.
Bristol fell from top spot in the South West for the first time, dropping seven places to 23rd overall, whilst Exeter rose to second in the South West after scoring the second highest for Participation nationally.
ESPN also divided the research into individual sports to reveal the best places to be a fan of football, cricket, rugby union and rugby league.
Liverpool claimed the title of best city to be a football fan, and Leeds maintained its position as the best city for both cricket and rugby league fans, while Bath has overtaken Cardiff as the top town for rugby union lovers.
As part of the research, ESPN asked fans to rank 12 factors that help make up a great sporting city. Those factors were then each given respective weightings to apply to each city’s results.
This year, fans ranked Value for Money as the most important factor, with 20 percent of fans saying it was the most important factor, while 17 percent of fans said a city’s Matchday Atmosphere was the most important. Club Success for a city’s professional teams received 15% of fan votes.
Commenting on the research, Assistant Professor Thomas Curran from the University of Bath, said: “We are now in our third year of research and it continues to provide fascinating insights for both professional clubs and cities to consider.
“The factors range from classic sporting themes, such as success and history, to more consumer-focused concerns, such as value for money and venues, which shows that it is possible for cities to improve their rankings if they focus on the right areas.”
Steven Saunders, Senior Editor of ESPN.co.uk, said: “ESPN’s aim is to put the fan first, and that approach underpins this research. The study canvases the opinions of thousands of fans across the country and is combined with third party data from hundreds of sources.
“One of the results has remained consistent over the years – fans continue to rank Value for Money as the most important factor, which is an important consideration for everyone involved in professional sport in the UK.”