Who is Leeds United’s biggest rival?

The club has rivalries with Manchester United and Chelsea. The team’s traditional kit colors are white shirts, white shorts, and white socks. Their badge features the White Rose of York, which is a symbol of Yorkshire.

The answer is, of course, football, and can be traced back to two men: Matt Busby and Don Revie.

In the 1960s, both clubs were really taking off with iconic managers in their respective history and they were on a collision course. A 1965 FA Cup semi-final descended into a punch-up between Jack Charlton and Denis Law, with the Yorkshire Post reporting: “Both sides behaved like a pack of dogs snapping and snarling at each other over a bone.”

Leeds won the Cup semi-final but Man Utd won the League that year – pinching it from Leeds on goal difference.

That was the start of the football rivalry, but not the end. They fought bitterly intermittently from there on. In 1991/92, for example, the last season before the Premier League began, Leeds and Man Utd were battling it out for the title. Leeds won it, Man Utd took their title the following year.

Then there have been the individual player battles too, with Roy Keane and Alf-Inge Haaland springing immediately to mind.

Alan Smith didn’t help much either. Smith was asked at the height of Leeds’ modern era in 2002 if there was one team he would never play for: “Yes,” he said. “Man Utd.”

Smith was Leeds born and bred, and following their relegation in 2004, he had vowed to remain at the club to help rebuild it. Within weeks, he had signed for Man Utd, and the anger and sense of betrayal is still palpable today.

So, the reason Man City and Leeds are not rivals is essentially down to football alone, and from a Leeds point of view there is a definite ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ kind of situation going on there. The red color of Man Utd’s kit is also a factor given the history.

Scroll to Top