England Football Online
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England Football Online World Rankings

1966-1978 1978-1990 1990-2002 2002-2014 2014-2026
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Number Ones 1966-94 Number Ones 1994-

Back in 1995, I decided to create my own retrospective world rankings. My idea was to make them straightforward, so not based on complex mathematical algorithms or coefficients. It was similar to a squash ladder. To progress up the rankings you had to beat a team that was above you. Simple as that. The only real indication that one team is better than another. Forget earning points beating lesser teams in meaningless friendlies, or accumulating lots of points in qualifiers and then flopping when it comes to the major tournaments. As long as you've earned the right to be ranked within a few places of a team, and you then beat them, you take their place.

This is not the same as the Unofficial World Championship, where anybody can take a shot at the number one and win with a 'lucky punch'. The teams are in groups of four, so that only those in the same group and those in the group below can challenge a team above them.

Hopefully, this eliminates the possibilities of the likes of Angola, Georgia and Zimbabwe becoming number one (as they were in the Unofficial Championship) and Norway, USA, Cape Verde Islands and England rising to unnatural levels, or indeed, Brazil slipping to twenty-second (as they had been in the FIFA Rankings), purely because they were not playing in any qualifiers for two years.

The basic rule is that the top-eight rankings are reset every time that there is a World Cup, because a World Cup should surely rewrite any rankings that went before it. It's the only way to prove that you are, actually, the best.

I've created groups of four teams, because four is a small enough number to restrict teams from rising too quickly (though they always have the World Cup option every four years to establish a higher ranking), but large enough to allow for a choice of opponents to play and beat. Some lower groups end up with more, or less, than four teams. This is caused by varying numbers of teams dropping out of the top placings after a disappointing World Cup.

Teams that have been eliminated from the World Cup cannot challenge any of the World Cup qualifiers from the top two groups (as they are already destined to remain outside of the top eight) until the tournament has been completed.

One drawback may be that you have to have reached, at least, the last eight of the World Cup, to appear in these rankings, but I seriously doubt that there is much relevance to the FIFA rankings beyond the top fifty. If a team hardly ever competes against teams from other confederations, how can you realistically compare them?

Anyway, follow the links above to see how these rules were reflected in world rankings, beginning with 1966, because it marks a point where football was about to become more of a global game (and also to see England start at the top!).

GI