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Monday, 18 March, 2002, 02:56 GMT
Southampton top 'singing league'
Southampton's Chris Marsden (right) challenged by Leicester's Muzzy Izzet at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton
Perfect pitch: Southampton fans are in harmony
Southampton have pipped Manchester United to the top of the league - for the quality of their fans' singing.

Research published on Monday reveals the south coast club has the most tuneful supporters.

But Bolton Wanderers have matched their poor form on the pitch with duff notes on the terraces, to take last spot.

Professor David Howard, from the University of York, studied recordings of crowds singing at every Premiership club.
Singing League
1. Southampton
2. Man Utd
3. Derby County
4. Newcastle
5. Liverpool
6. Charlton
7. Blackburn Rovers
8. West Ham United
9. Everton
10. Leicester City
11. Chelsea
12. Sunderland
13. Arsenal
14. Middlesbrough
15. Ipswich Town
16. Leeds United
17. Fulham
18. Aston Villa
19. Tottenham
20. Bolton Wands

He studied the "wall of sound" mustered up by fans to decide how in or out of tune they were.

The best singers started their song at a low pitch to suit the range with which their voices were able to cope, he concluded.

They did not try songs which required them to reach high notes.

By comparing each club, Prof Howard found Southampton supporters stretched their voices the least.

Sing when you're winning?

They were followed in second place by Premiership leaders Manchester United, then Premiership strugglers Derby County.

Prof Howard, head of the Music Technology Research Group at the University of York, said: "All the fans sing with real passion and belief, but in some cases the vocal skills of some fans don't come close to matching the skills of the players that they support.

Liverpool fans
Liverpool were fifth
"Southampton fans have good starting pitch and hold their tuning extremely well to produce a consistently outstanding performance.

"They didn't go for the extreme high pitches, which are hard to reach for most men and women."

At the foot of the table, fans of Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa join Bolton as the worst singers.

The crowd recordings were supplied by FA Premiership sponsors Barclaycard.

The company's sponsorship director, Nic Gault, said: "It's fascinating to finally find out which fans really are the best singers but as our table shows, the quality of the singing is not necessarily reflected by results on the pitch.

"However, everyone knows that strong vocal support can often be worth a goal start.

"If they get in tune too then that has to be music to everyone's ears."

The BBC's Emma Simpson
"They're the most tuneful fans on the terraces"
See also:

11 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Football fans take a stand
04 Jan 02 | England
Fans' guide to football stadiums
27 Feb 01 | Football
Hoey renews terraces call
22 Dec 00 | Football
Football split over terrace return
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