1972–73 in English football

The 1972–73 season was the 93rd season of competitive football in England.


The Football League announced that a three-up, three-down system would operate between the top two divisions from the following season, rather than the traditional two-up, two-down system. The four-up, four-down system between the Third and Fourth Divisions would continue, as would the re-election system between the league's bottom four clubs.

First Division

Liverpool won the championship (their first in 7 years) in Bill Shankly's penultimate season as manager despite competition from Arsenal, Leeds United, Ipswich Town and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Manchester United sacked manager Frank O'Farrell after 18 months in charge. He had been unable to mount a title challenge. Tommy Docherty, the 44-year-old Scottish national coach and former Aston Villa manager, was appointed as his successor.

Second Division

Burnley and Queens Park Rangers won promotion to the First Division. Huddersfield Town's decline continued as they slid into the Third Division, where they were joined by Brighton & Hove Albion.

Third Division

Bolton Wanderers and Notts County occupied the two promotion places in the Third Division. Rotherham United, Brentford, Swansea City and Scunthorpe United were relegated to the Fourth Division.

Fourth Division

Hereford United were promoted from the Fourth Division in their first season as a Football League club. They had been elected to the Football League a year earlier after finishing as runners-up to Chelmsford City in the Southern League and achieving a shock win over Newcastle United in the FA Cup. They were joined in the promotion zone by champions Southport, Cambridge United and Aldershot. Newport County missed promotion only on goal average. There were no arrivals or departures in the league for 1973.

FA Cup

An Ian Porterfield goal saw Sunderland achieve a famous 1–0 win over Leeds United in the FA Cup final.[1] Sunderland, managed by Bob Stokoe, did not contain any full internationals, whereas Don Revie's Leeds side were all internationals. Sunderland goalkeeper Jim Montgomery also received plaudits after a good performance featuring a noted double-save from Peter Lorimer.

Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Arsenal 3-1 at Highbury in a third-place playoff, held three months after the final.

League Cup

Tottenham Hotspur's Bill Nicholson guided his club to a League Cup triumph, beating Norwich City 1-0 in the final, and in the process added another trophy to the club's ever-growing list of honours.

European Football

Liverpool won the UEFA Cup beating Borussia Monchengladbach to add to their league championship win under Bill Shankly, the first time an English side had won the League and a European trophy in the same season. Leeds United lost a controversial European Cup Winners Cup Final against AC Milan.

Star players

Star managers

Domestic Honours

First DivisionLiverpool (8*)Arsenal
Second DivisionBurnleyQueens Park Rangers
Third DivisionBolton WanderersNotts County
Fourth DivisionSouthportHereford United
FA CupSunderland (2)Leeds United
League CupTottenham Hotspur (2*)Norwich City
Charity ShieldManchester CityAston Villa
Home Championship England Northern Ireland

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

League table

First Division

3Leeds United4221111071451.57853
4Ipswich Town4217141155451.22248
5Wolverhampton Wanderers4218111366541.22247
6West Ham United4217121367531.26446
7Derby County421981556541.03746
8Tottenham Hotspur4216131358481.20845
9Newcastle United4216131360511.17645
10Birmingham City4215121553540.98142
11Manchester City4215111657600.95041
14Sheffield United4215101751590.86440
15Stoke City4214101861561.08938
16Leicester City4210171540460.87037
18Manchester United4212131744600.73337
19Coventry City421392040550.72735
20Norwich City4211102136630.57132
21Crystal Palace429122141580.70730
22West Bromwich Albion429102338620.61328

Second Division

2Queens Park Rangers422413581372.18961
3Aston Villa4218141051471.08550
5Bristol City4217121363511.23546
8Oxford United421971652431.20945
10Sheffield Wednesday4217101559551.07344
12Luton Town4215111644530.83041
13Hull City4214121664591.08540
14Nottingham Forest4214121647520.90440
16Swindon Town4210161646600.76736
18Carlisle United4211121950520.96234
19Preston North End4211121937640.57834
20Cardiff City4211112043580.74133
21Huddersfield Town428171736560.64333
22Brighton & Hove Albion428132146830.55429

Third Division

1Bolton Wanderers4625111073391.87261
2Notts County4623111267471.42657
3Blackburn Rovers4620151157471.21355
4Oldham Athletic4619161172541.33354
5Bristol Rovers4620131377561.37553
6Port Vale4621111456690.81253
8Plymouth Argyle4620101674661.12150
9Grimsby Town462081867611.09848
10Tranmere Rovers4615161556521.07746
11Charlton Athletic4617111869671.03045
14Southend United4617101961541.13044
15Shrewsbury Town4615141746540.85244
18York City4613151842460.91341
20Halifax Town4613151843530.81141
21Rotherham United461772251650.78541
23Swansea City461492351730.69937
24Scunthorpe United4610102633720.45830

Fourth Division

2Hereford United4623121156381.47458
3Cambridge United462017967571.17557
5Newport County4622121264441.45556
6Mansfield Town4620141278511.52954
8Exeter City4618141457511.11850
10Lincoln City4616161464571.12348
11Stockport County4618121653531.00048
16Bradford City4616111961650.93843
17Doncaster Rovers4615121949580.84542
18Torquay United4612171744470.93641
19Peterborough United4614131971760.93441
21Crewe Alexandra469181938610.62336
22Colchester United4610112548760.63231
23Northampton Town4610112540730.54831

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


  1. The FA (2008). "Cup Final Statistics". Find out the result of every each and every Cup Final, as well as venue records, most wins and most appearances... Past FA Cup Finals. The Football Association. Archived from the original (web) on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2008.
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