London, a city full of history and culture, is a must-visit destination for football enthusiasts. While it’s renowned for its iconic landmarks and rich heritage, London is also home to a vibrant football scene that’s as diverse as the city itself. In the 2023/24 season, a staggering 13 clubs based in London are participating in the English professional leagues, ranging from the illustrious Premier League to the gritty battles of League Two.
Let’s kick things off with a visit to the iconic Emirates Stadium, home to Arsenal, one of London’s most storied clubs. Nestled in the northern part of the city, Arsenal’s modern arena replaced the legendary Highbury in 2006, which has since been transformed into residential condominiums.
As we move across North London, we come across the magnificent Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the new fortress of Tottenham Hotspur. This state-of-the-art stadium was built upon the hallowed grounds of White Hart Lane, showcasing the club’s commitment to excellence.
Stamford Bridge, located to the west of the city, is the home of Chelsea. Unlike some of their counterparts, Chelsea has stuck with their traditional stadium and stands as the only London club to clinch the coveted UEFA Champions League not just once but twice.
A glance across the Thames reveals Craven Cottage, the beloved home ground of Fulham. Founded in 1879, Fulham was the first professional team to join the Football League.
Further west, we encounter Brentford, a club that recently made its Premier League debut. Their home matches are hosted at the Brentford Community Stadium, boasting 18,000 seats and ranking as the smallest facility among London’s top-flight teams.
To the east of the city, West Ham United has had a rich history. They once graced the Boleyn Ground (also known as Upton Park), which was demolished in 2016. They’ve since moved even further east to the London Olympic Stadium, originally constructed for the 2012 Games and now their modern home.
In the southern outskirts of London lies Selhurst, home to Crystal Palace. The club derives its name from the Crystal Palace, built for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Their matches take place at Selhurst Park.
Representing the eastern part of the city in the Championship is Millwall, a historic rival of West Ham. Millwall’s matches unfold at The Den, which replaced the old Lions facility in 1993.
On the western front, Queens Park Rangers have made Loftus Road their sanctuary since 1917. Notably, their stadium was the first in British professional football to feature artificial turf, a pioneering move in 1981.
Moving down to League One, we find two more London clubs. Charlton Athletic, with a rich history, won the FA Cup back in 1947 and even secured second place in the old First Division during the 1936/37 season. Their home is The Valley, which was constructed in the 1920s and later underwent renovations.
Leyton Orient, founded in 1881, has recently returned to the professional ranks after financial difficulties saw them exit the Football League. Their stadium, Brisbane Road, has stood for over 130 years since its construction in 1890.
AFC Wimbledon, a club borne from the passion of old Wimbledon’s fans, found a home at Plow Lane, rebuilt on the site of its namesake. This is where the Crazy Gang famously conquered Liverpool in the FA Cup final in 1988.
Sutton United is the latest addition to the Football League, joining in the 2021/22 season. Their modest Gander Green Lane stadium, with 5,000 seats, is the smallest among all London stadiums hosting the top four divisions.
Amidst this bustling football landscape, it’s fascinating to ponder how many London clubs have competed in the top-flight league simultaneously. The answer takes us back to the 1989/90 season when a staggering eight London clubs, constituting 40% of the participating teams, graced the First Division. The likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Wimbledon, Crystal Palace, Charlton, Millwall, and QPR vied for the title, with Liverpool eventually emerging as the victor.
In summary, London boasts a diverse and rich football heritage. Despite the abundance of football clubs in the city, the capital’s haul of top-tier titles might not be as extensive as one would expect. However, with 21 top-flight titles and 35 FA Cups among them, London clubs certainly make their presence felt on the national football stage. This goes to show that, in football, quality often trumps quantity.