1970–71 in English football

The 1970–71 season was the 91st season of competitive football in England.

Football League

First Division

Arsenal won the league championship at the end of a season which would soon be followed by their FA Cup final tie with Liverpool. Arsenal secured the league title at White Hart Lane, the home of bitter rivals Tottenham. They narrowly overcame Leeds to win the league, with a 12-point gap separating Leeds from third-placed Tottenham. Wolves and Liverpool joined these two teams in the UEFA Cup. Chelsea missed out on the top five on goal average but compensated for this shortcoming by achieving European Cup Winners' Cup glory over Real Madrid.

Burnley and Blackpool (who won this year's Anglo-Italian Cup) were relegated to the Second Division. Burnley returned from 1973–74 to 1975–76 but Blackpool had to wait 39 years to regain their top flight status for the 2010–11 season.

Wilf McGuinness was sacked at the end of 1970 after 18 unsuccessful months as manager of Manchester United. Sir Matt Busby was re-appointed as manager on a temporary basis, but never considered returning to his old job on a permanent basis. Leicester City manager Frank O'Farrell was appointed at the end of the season, ahead of more reputable candidates including Jock Stein and Don Revie.

Qualification or relegation
1 Arsenal (C) 42 29 7 6 71 292.448 65 1971–72 European Cup
2 Leeds United 42 27 10 5 72 302.4 64 01971–72 UEFA Cup0
3 Tottenham Hotspur 42 19 14 9 54 331.636 52
4 Wolverhampton Wanderers 42 22 8 12 64 541.185 52
5 Liverpool 42 17 17 8 42 241.75 51 01971–72 European Cup Winners' Cup0
6 Chelsea 42 18 15 9 52 421.238 51
7 Southampton 42 17 12 13 56 441.273 46 01971–72 UEFA Cup0
8 Manchester United 42 16 11 15 65 660.985 43
9 Derby County 42 16 10 16 56 541.037 42
10 Coventry City 42 16 10 16 37 380.974 42
11 Manchester City 42 12 17 13 47 421.119 41
12 Newcastle United 42 14 13 15 44 460.957 41
13 Stoke City 42 12 13 17 44 480.917 37
14 Everton 42 12 13 17 54 600.9 37
15 Huddersfield Town 42 11 14 17 40 490.816 36
16 Nottingham Forest 42 14 8 20 42 610.689 36
17 West Bromwich Albion 42 10 15 17 58 750.773 35
18 Crystal Palace 42 12 11 19 39 570.684 35
19 Ipswich Town 42 12 10 20 42 480.875 34
20 West Ham United 42 10 14 18 47 600.783 34
21 Burnley (R) 42 7 13 22 29 630.46 27 Relegation to 1971–72 Second Division
22 Blackpool (R) 42 4 15 23 34 660.515 23

Source: rsssf.com
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored
(C) = Champion; (R) = Relegated; (P) = Promoted; (E) = Eliminated; (O) = Play-off winner; (A) = Advances to a further round.
Only applicable when the season is not finished:
(Q) = Qualified to the phase of tournament indicated; (TQ) = Qualified to tournament, but not yet to the particular phase indicated; (RQ) = Qualified to the relegation tournament indicated; (DQ) = Disqualified from tournament.

Second Division

Leicester City and Sheffield United were promoted to the First Division. Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers, two of the most famous and historic names in English football, were relegated to the Third Division.

1Leicester City422313657301.90059
2Sheffield United422114773391.87256
3Cardiff City422013964411.56153
4Carlisle United422013965431.51253
5Hull City4219131054411.31751
6Luton Town4218131162431.44249
9Birmingham City4217121358481.20846
10Norwich City4215141354521.03844
11Queens Park Rangers4216111558531.09443
12Swindon Town4215121561511.19642
14Oxford United4214141441480.85442
15Sheffield Wednesday4212121851690.73936
19Bristol City4210112146640.71931
20Charlton Athletic428142041650.63130
21Blackburn Rovers426152137690.53627
22Bolton Wanderers427102535740.47324

Third Division

Preston North End and Fulham finally had something to shout about by getting promoted to the Second Division. Reading, Bury, Doncaster Rovers and Gillingham slid into the Fourth Division.

1Preston North End462217763391.61561
3Halifax Town4622121274551.34556
4Aston Villa4619151254461.17453
6Bristol Rovers4619131469501.38051
7Mansfield Town4618151364621.03251
8Rotherham United4617161364601.06750
10Torquay United4619111654570.94749
11Swansea City4615161559561.05446
13Shrewsbury Town4616131758620.93545
14Brighton & Hove Albion4614161650471.06444
15Plymouth Argyle4612191563631.00043
17Port Vale4615121952590.88142
18Tranmere Rovers4610221445550.81842
19Bradford City4613141949620.79040
23Doncaster Rovers461392445660.68235

Fourth Division

Notts County, Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic, Oldham Athletic and York City were promoted to the Third Division. Newport County set a new Football League record by not winning any of their first 25 matches. The Football League voted for the league's four bottom clubs to maintain their status.

1Notts County46309789362.47269
2Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic4624121081461.76160
3Oldham Athletic4624111188631.39759
4York City4623101378541.44456
6Colchester United4621121370541.29654
7Northampton Town4619131463591.06851
9Exeter City4617141567680.98548
11Stockport County4616141649650.75446
15Crewe Alexandra461882075760.98744
16Peterborough United461872170710.98643
17Scunthorpe United4615131856610.91843
18Southend United4614151753660.80343
19Grimsby Town461872157710.80343
20Cambridge United4615131851660.77343
21Lincoln City4613132070710.98639
22Newport County461082855850.64728

P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GA = Goal average; Pts = Points

FA Cup

Main article: 1970–71 FA Cup

The 1971 FA Cup Final saw Arsenal beat Liverpool 2–1 to become only the fourth club in history and the second club this century to have won the league championship and FA Cup double.

Stoke City beat Everton 3–2 at Selhurst Park in a third-place playoff, held the day before the final. The biggest FA Cup shock, however, was Fourth Division Colchester United's 3–2 victory over Don Revie's Leeds United at Layer Road in the fifth round.

Barnet equalled the record for the biggest win by a non-league team over a Football League team by beating Newport County 6–1 in the First Round.

League Cup

The final was held at Wembley Stadium, London. Tottenham Hotspur beat Aston Villa to win the 1971 Football League Cup Final and add to their list of trophies won under the management of Bill Nicholson.

European football

Leeds United won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup against Juventus in the two leg Final and also took part in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Trophy Play-Off which they lost 2–1 to Barcelona.

There was also success in London for Chelsea, who beat Real Madrid in the European Cup Winners Cup final to win their first ever European trophy.


Ford Sporting League

The Ford Sporting League was a short-lived reward scheme sponsored by the Ford Motor Company. Its only season was that of 1970–71. Clubs were awarded a point for every goal scored at home and two points for every goal scored away, but lost 5 points if a player was booked and 10 points if a player was sent off.[1]

Points could be earned over the first 42 league games (it did not apply to cup ties) only, so that the First and Second divisions were on an equal footing with the Third and Fourth.

Oldham Athletic won the competition, winning a pot of £70,000. League rules stipulated the prize money be used on stadium improvements, so the money went to build a stand in the stadium.[2]

The £70,000 prize fund was made up of 8 monthly prizes of £2,500 and then a final prize of £50,000. The points total was cumulative, which resulted in Oldham winning each prize available, as they picked up only four bookings and no red cards over the 42 game period.

Ford's sponsorship of the competition is notable, with the 1970–71 season marking a watershed for sponsorship in English football. In addition to the Ford Sporting League, the season saw the first Watney Cup and first Texaco Cup, although The Football League itself turned down an offer of £600,000 to sponsor the Football League Cup.

Star players

Frank McLintock was credited for his key role in Arsenal's double triumph with the FWA Footballer of the Year award.

Star Managers

Events of the season


First DivisionArsenal (8*)Leeds United
Second DivisionLeicester CitySheffield United
Third DivisionPreston North EndFulham
Fourth DivisionNotts CountyBournemouth & Boscombe Athletic
FA CupArsenal (4)Liverpool
League CupTottenham Hotspur (1)Aston Villa
Charity ShieldEvertonChelsea
Home Championship England Northern Ireland

Notes = Number in parentheses is the times that club has won that honour. * indicates new record for competition


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  2. "Stadium sponsor sought". Oldham Athletic A.F.C.
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  18. Manchester United FC News – United Mad. Manchesterunited-mad.co.uk (1971-191904-1924). Retrieved on 2011-191903-1923.
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  20. "Archived copy". Retrieved 2011-03-06.
  21. 1971 European Cup-Winners' Cup final replay Chelsea 2–1 Real Madrid: unseen pictures of Peter Osgood, John Dempsey, Peter Bonetti and co, plus original Daily Mirror match reports and features from the time – Archive. MirrorFootball.co.uk. Retrieved on 2011-191903-1923.
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