The historic city of Bath has been ranked as the South West’s Greatest Sporting City for 2018, according to research from ESPN and the University of Bath.
The accolade for the city comes after ESPN collaborated with the University of Bath on the fourth annual research project to discover the best place in the country to be a sports fan.
Bath topped the regional ranking for the second year and moved up to its highest ever national rank of 13th.
The city scored second highest in the Value for Money factor, which fans consistently rate as one of the most important elements of a great sporting city, and was also in the top five for Community and Participation.
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, which saw Bath maintaining its status as the best city for Rugby Union fans.
Bristol comes second in ESPN’s Greatest Sporting Cities ranking for the region, and also climbs to 17th in the UK, despite ranking last overall for Transport, and in the bottom five for Local Talent.
The South West’s third placed Swindon is one of the biggest risers nationally, jumping 22 places from 22nd in 2017, to 25th this year.
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 19 percent of fans saying it was the most important factor.
The second ranked factor was Matchday Atmosphere, which 18 percent of fans said was the most important – Blackburn was ranked as the best.
Club Success for a city’s professional teams received 14 percent of fan votes and was unsurprisingly topped by Manchester this year.
Commenting on the research, Assistant Professor Thomas Curran, University of Bath, said: “Now we’re in the fourth year of the research some interesting trends are starting to emerge.
“The impressive performance of Blackburn, and Swansea’s fall to the bottom of the list, show how the performance of a city’s football teams impacts the mood of fans.
“Manchester is blessed with two of the biggest clubs not just in the UK, but the whole of Europe, so City and United’s strong performances last season have helped take them back to the top spot.”
Steven Saunders, Senior Editor of ESPN.co.uk, said: “Bath’s thirteenth position is the best performance for a South West city in recent years, and the city can be proud of its status as the best place to be a rugby union fan.
“At the other end of the table, Bournemouth ranks last in the Value for Money factor, which fans always tell us is a very important consideration. We survey more than 5,000 fans each year, so this offers great insight into the sporting mood across the UK.”