Exeter better than Arsenal? All 92 league clubs ranked by fan engagement

Exeter City finish first in the Fan Engagement Index
(Image credit: Getty Images)

How good is your club at engaging with the fanbase? Can you believe your billionaire owner when they say that the fans mean everything, or are your rivals better placed to lay claim as a club of the people? 

Think Fan Engagement has released the Fan Engagement Index for the 2021/22 season, and Exeter City have beaten all other clubs in the top four tiers of English football to come out on top once again.

Ranking all 92 clubs to ascertain the side which is best for their dialogue, governance and transparency with fans, Think Fan Engagement collates data each year from publicly available sources, with all clubs sent a copy for comment.

Carlisle United finished in second place for the second year in a row, while teams such as Manchester United and Arsenal could only manage 56th and 62nd, respectively. 

Think Fan Engagement owner, Kevin Rye, said: "The Fan Engagement Index was created as a positive way to make clubs take Fan Engagement more seriously, with an ambition to place it at the centre of everything they do. I’m not convinced we’re there yet, as can be seen by too many clubs still not - publicly at least - meeting fairly basic standards of engagement with their fans.

“But we know huge change is possible. You only have to look at Swindon Town under Clem Morfuni and Rob Angus to see it can be done. It’s not a matter of size, it’s a matter of willingness. They chose to embrace Fan Engagement at the heart of their business model, and it’s paying off. 

"The same can be said of clubs like Bradford City and Bristol Rovers. Both were languishing towards the bottom of the table in 2018/2019, but now they’re comfortably amongst the best twenty clubs in the country.”

Seeing Exeter City, majority owned by the Exeter City Supporters' Trust, top the table comes as no surprise to Rye.

“Once again, Exeter City have won, and I’m not surprised. The question is always: can they keep delivering, and the answer so far is yes.”

At the opposite end of the scale are Hartlepool United, finishing the worst of all 92 clubs in the Premier League and EFL. Indeed, they are the first side to score zero in the Fan Engagement Index since its inception for the 2018/19 season. 

Most Premier League clubs are outside of the top 30, with only Everton and Brentford (of the current sides in the top flight) making it into the top-third of teams - at 23rd and 25th.

Three Premier League clubs actually sit within the bottom seven of the Index, with Chelsea in 86th, Leeds United 89th and lowly Newcastle, the worst scoring side from the top tier, in 90th. 

Fan Engagement Index: 2021/22 full table

1. Exeter City
2. Carlisle United
3. AFC Wimbledon
4. Cambridge United
5. Lincoln City
6. Doncaster Rovers
7. Newport County
8. Norwich City
9. Bradford City
10. Reading
11. Bristol Rovers
12. Rochdale
13. Plymouth Argyle
14. Swansea City
15. Luton Town
16. Portsmouth
17. Tranmere Rovers
18. Walsall
19. Millwall
20. Swindon Town
21. Barrow
22. Bristol City
23. Everton
24. Northampton Town
25. Brentford
26. Ipswich Town
27. Leyton Orient
28. Crewe Alexandra
29. AFC Bournemouth
30. Cheltenham Town
31. Shrewsbury Town
32. Sunderland
33. Morecambe
34. Oldham Athletic
35. Mansfield Town
36. Huddersfield Town
37. Crawley Town
38. Barnsley
39. Scunthorpe United
40. Preston North End
41. Cardiff City
42. Accrington Stanley
43. Fulham
44. Brighton & Hove Albion
45. Queens Park Rangers
46. Peterborough United
47. Aston Villa
48. Stevenage
49. Stoke City
50. Blackburn Rovers
51. Wolverhampton Wanderers
52. Milton Keynes Dons
53. Bolton Wanderers
54. Burnley
55. Sutton United
56. Manchester United
57. West Bromwich Albion
58. Leicester City
59. Forest Green Rovers
60. Wycombe Wanderers
61. Crystal Palace
62. Arsenal
63. Middlesbrough
64. Sheffield Wednesday
65. West Ham United
66. Watford
67. Coventry City
68. Fleetwood Town
69. Charlton Athletic
70. Southampton
71. Manchester City
72. Derby County
73. Liverpool
74. Nottingham Forest
75. Birmingham City
76. Blackpool
77. Hull City
78. Burton Albion
79. Salford City
80. Oxford United
81. Tottenham Hotspur
82. Harrogate Town
83. Colchester United
84. Sheffield United
85. Port Vale
86. Chelsea
87. Wigan Athletic
88. Gillingham
89. Leeds United
90. Newcastle United
91. Rotherham United
92. Hartlepool United

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.