Liverpool–Manchester rivalry

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The Liverpool–Manchester rivalry is a rivalry that exists between the English cities of Manchester and Liverpool. The cities have many similarities and differences, which have intensified the rivalry, and both lie at the heart of North West England — the most populated region outside of the Greater London area in the United Kingdom.[1]

The rivalry is generally agreed to have ignited after the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal. Manchester merchants became disenchanted with the level of dues they had to pay to export and import their goods. Consequently the Mancunian merchants decided to construct a ship canal. The Ship Canal would become the largest in the world upon opening in January 1894 and highlighted the length the merchants were prepared to take to avoid paying dues.[2]



The rivalry has its beginnings during the Victorian era, when both cities underwent substantial industrialisation. The Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830 was a key achievement, and was the first inter-city railway in the world.[3]

Manchester Ship Canal[edit]

The rivalry turned bitter after the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894 by Manchester merchants. The Mancunian merchants became disenchanted with the dues they had to pay to import and export goods to and from Manchester. Consequently, they decided to build a ship canal, which was the largest ship canal in the world upon opening in 1894.


Both cities in the 2010s remain rivals, but on a better relationship than the past and some believe a strong Manchester and Liverpool is in the North West's interests. The Financial Times stated that the North West economy, led by the redevelopment of Manchester and Liverpool, is a genuine rival to 'overheated London'.[4]

More recently, Manchester has openly supported Liverpool in its recent bid to become the European Capital of Culture,[5][6] a bid which Liverpool eventually won making it the European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Liverpool–Manchester Megalopolis[edit]

Merseyside and Greater Manchester Railways.svg

Despite being rivals the two cities are connected in many ways with Liverpool and Manchester sometimes being considered parts of a large polynuclear metropolitan area[7][8] or megalopolis.[9] The total population of the area is over 4 million.

The region is separated from the West Yorkshire Urban Area and the Sheffield Urban Area, by the Peak District and is close to the Rossendale Urban area,[10] the Accrington Urban Area near Blackburn and Burnley and the Preston Urban Area. The short distance between the areas make some consider them part of the Liverpool-Manchester megalopolis.


A notable rivalry exists between the football clubs and supporters of Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United, with the rivalry between Liverpool and United supporters being particularly fierce. This is partly due to the fact that Manchester United and Liverpool have dominated the English game and are the country's two most successful clubs. When Manchester City and Liverpool played each other in the 2014 International Champions Cup in the United States, the rivalry took on another sporting angle in the host country due to the ownership of the two clubs; City Football Group's partners in their Major League Soccer team New York City FCYankee Global Enterprises — own the New York Yankees Major League Baseball franchise, who have a strong rivalry with the Boston Red Sox — a subsidiary of Fenway Sports Group, the owners of Liverpool.

Historically both cities were part of Lancashire until 1974, and both share the Lancashire County Cricket Club in county cricket. Matches are primarily played at Old Trafford cricket ground just outside Manchester in Trafford, where the club was formed in 1865. However, matches are played at Aigburth Cricket Ground in Liverpool.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Scouse v Manc". 21 August 2007.
  2. ^ "1 January 1894: Opening of the Manchester ship canal". The Guardian. 1 January 1894. Retrieved 2012-03-13.
  3. ^ "Building the Liverpool and Manchester Railway". Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  4. ^ "Living in the North West". AstraZeneca. Archived from the original on 2011-10-26. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  5. ^ "'Rival' city supports culture bid". BBC. 10 March 2003. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  6. ^ "City sends rival Valentines card". BBC. 14 February 2003. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  7. ^ Bäing, Andreas Schulze. "Shrinking cities and growing regions ? emerging trends of new rural-urban relationships in the UK and Germany".
  8. ^ "World Gazetteer: United Kingdom - largest cities (per geographical en…". 5 January 2013. Archived from the original on 5 January 2013.
  9. ^ Stockdale, David. "Achieving Equality of Service Provision across the North West" (PDF). The MS Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-11-27. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
  10. ^ Census 2001 Key Statistics, Urban areas in England and Wales, See part 8