Rivalry matches and city derbies are arguably the greatest point of a football fan’s season. The first fixture they look for, to claim the bragging rights, the pride of a region.

In many cases, rivalry matches in the UK split a city right down the middle. Two sets of fans, workplaces and families split, with everyone looking forward to the most important matchday.

Now, we take a look at five of the biggest inter-city rivalries within the UK, which divide giant British cities every time derby day comes around.

5. Aston Villa v Birmingham City (The Second City Derby)

The Second City Derby is one of the oldest rivalries in the UK, dating back to 1879. Villa Park and St Andrew’s are only separated by less than 4km, with both sides deemed as the other’s most intense rival.

Across its history, Aston Villa have dominated the derby, winning 57 to Birmingham City’s 38. They also have the biggest victory in the derby’s history (6-0 in 1988) and won the most recent match, a 2019 EFL Championship match at St Andrew’s.

However, in the 21st century, most Second City derbies have been fought between the two club’s women’s sides, playing 13 times since their first meeting back in 2000, with the Blues winning eight of those.

4. Everton v Liverpool (The Merseyside Derby)

Sometimes referred to as ‘the friendly derby’ due to the households that are split on derby day, there is no love lost when these two sides face each other for bragging rights of Liverpool.

Separated by Stanley Park, Anfield and Goodison Park are the two closest grounds in England, apart from Nottingham’s City Ground and Meadow Lane.

The derby has seen more red cards than any other Premier League fixture, with the matches only becoming more intense since the mid-1980s when the two were at the peak of English football, playing in League Cup and FA Cup finals.

3. Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur (The North London Derby)

With many derbies and rivalries across the capital, this is often seen as the fiercest, certainly within the Premier League era.

With a plethora of historic matches, such as Arsenal’s two league-winning victories at White Hart Lane, as well as off-field stories including the transfer of Sol Campbell, these two clubs have a rivalry above and beyond what other London derbies have.

With both clubs within the ‘Big Six’ regularly competing for UEFA Champions League football, North London (and the rest of the country) halts when these elite sides face each other each Premier League season.

2. Manchester City v Manchester United (The Manchester Derby)

While many Manchester United fans consider Liverpool to be their biggest rival, the Manchester Derby is a fixture all football fans look out for at the start of the season.

The city rivalry has only intensified since Manchester City’s 21st-century success, particularly beating Manchester United to the Premier League title in the dying minutes of the 2011-12 season.

With both clubs among the biggest-supported in the world, Manchester as a city is now seen as an elite footballing city among the likes of Milan and Madrid.

The 2023 FA Cup Final was the first between the sides, and while City have had success unparalleled to any side in England, the Manchester Derby forever remains a key match to both sides’ seasons.

1. Celtic v Rangers (The Old Firm)

There was only ever going to be one first place, the game that is not just the peak of Scottish football, but a game that plays such a huge part in Scottish history and culture.

With a dark history of violence due to the fixture’s sectarianism, as well as differences politically, socially and ideologically, Celtic and Rangers decided to ban away supporters in 2023 at both Celtic Park and Ibrox.

Dating back to the influx of Irish immigrants into Glasgow, and the two separated communities creating their representative football club, each Old Firm game can only be described as an almighty clash, with football fans from across the world tuning in to watch.

The clubs have played each other a whopping 437 times, with Celtic having the vast majority of recent success since Rangers’ financial collapse in 2012.

With several Old Firm games played every year, the rivalry shows no signs of dying down, as the game is said to generate £120m each year to the Scottish economy, as well as having a great impact in areas such as Northern Ireland.

Rivalries only help with the rapid growth of the football industry, both in the UK and abroad. And with that rapid growth comes the growth of opportunities within it, such as working in football media, marketing, coaching or business.

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