Europe's underperforming capitals

Edinburgh will have no side in next season's Scottish Premiership following two relegations in 2013/14: discovers that capitals are not always footballing hotbeds.

Hearts and Hibs' relegation has left Edinburgh without top-flight representation in Scotland
Hearts and Hibs' relegation has left Edinburgh without top-flight representation in Scotland ©Getty Images

The relegation this season of Hibernian FC and Heart of Midlothian FC means the Scottish Premiership no longer has a single representative from Edinburgh. With this in mind, put out its tentacles across the continent to discover how clubs from the rest of Europe's capitals are faring. While most top flights have at least one side in (or recently in) contention for the title, there are anomalies to be found. Below are the member associations to have gone the longest without having a champion from their capital city.

The capital has historically been Belarusian football's stronghold. FC Dinamo Minsk were formerly the country's flagship team but, though still in the Premier League, they have not lifted a title since 2004. They were the only Belarusian outfit to play in the Soviet top flight and were considered one of the best in the 1980s. That has all changed since the turn of the century, however, with FC BATE Borisov now the pre-eminent force. Indeed BATE have been champions since 2006 and once again lead the way.

Berlin has never really been the power base of German football, even allowing for the period of partition. Before and during the war, 1. FC Nürnberg and FC Schalke 04 were dominant and with the advent of the Bundesliga, FC Bayern München soon became the powerhouse they remain today, starting with three championships in a row from 1972 to 1974 and becoming the most titled team in the 1980s. Berlin was however the capital of East German football, with BFC Dynamo Berlin holding sway. Hertha BSC Berlin were the last capital club to claim an all-German or West German championship – albeit in 1931.

Historically, Italian football's power base has been rooted in the richer, more industrialised north, especially in Milan and Turin. Juventus (8), AC Milan (7) and FC Internazionale Milano (5) have taken 20 of the last 22 Serie A titles. The two exceptions involved the two sides from the capital Rome. SS Lazio landed the Scudetto for only the second time in 2000 under Sven-Göran Eriksson and AS Roma collected their third the next year under another man who went on to coach England: Fabio Capello. The Giallorossi were second this term, but 17 points behind champions Juventus.

With Rangers FC still making their way back up the divisions, Celtic FC are Scotland's supreme force, finishing 29 points ahead of nearest rivals Motherwell FC in 2013/14. You have to go back to the 1950s, when Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian picked up four domestic championships, to find a capital club at the top of the pile. The Edinburgh outfits have since been restricted to occasional successes in the domestic cup competitions, yet are both now down to the second tier.

Maribor fans have had plenty to celebrate
Maribor fans have had plenty to celebrate©Getty Images

For the last two decades, NK Maribor have been Slovenia's most successful team. Based in Maribor, the country's second-biggest city, they secured the top-flight title for the first time in 1997 and now have 12 championships. Capital outfit NK Olimpija Ljubljana had won four of the five titles contested prior to 1997, but have not finished at the summit since and have suffered financial difficulties in recent campaign. Maribor, by contrast, are in rude health on and off the pitch, being the only fully-professional club in Slovenia.

Switzerland does not have an official capital, but with the federal government based in Berne, that city has the status de facto. BSC Young Boys, though, are just the fifth most successful Swiss side with 11 titles and none since 1986. Zurich was long considered the Swiss football capital, Grasshopper Club (27), FC Zürich (12) and Anglo-American Club Zürich (1) taking a total of 40 league crowns between them, right back to Grasshoppers winning the inaugural 1898 championship. Yet since 2000 FC Basel 1893 have accumulated nine titles to five combined for Grasshoppers and FCZ.

The big Istanbul clubs – Beşiktaş JK, Galatasaray AŞ and Fenerbahçe SK – were well established by the time Ankara was made capital of the new Republic of Turkey in 1923. Ankara's oldest side MKE Ankaragücü were founded by local munitions workers in 1910 and lifted the national title in 1949 as well as Turkish Cups in 1972 and 1981. Top-flight contenders for 49 seasons, they were relegated in 2012, leaving Gençlerbirliği SK to fly the flag for Ankara alone in the Süper Lig. Set up by local high school students in 1923, Gençlerbirliği claimed the 1987 and 2001 Turkish Cups, with their best league showing a third place in 2002/03.

No club from Cardiff has won the Welsh Premier League since it was formed in 1992 – and, like Scotland, the capital does not have top-flight representation. Cardiff Grange Quins FC were the last flag-bearer before relegation in 2006, while Inter Cardiff were runners-up four times between 1992/93 and 1998/99. South Wales, the rugby union heartland, is underrepresented in the top flight as a whole with just two teams, although Cardiff City AFC are one of six Welsh sides that play in the English pyramid. The New Saints FC, champions in seven of the last ten years, are based in mid-Wales.