London is home to fabulous historical landmarks, large urban parks and 13 top professional football clubs, more than any other city in the world. It comes as no surprise that football is the city’s most popular sport. The growth in popularity of the sport has resulted in strong local allegiances to London football clubs, provoking some fierce rivalries amongst fans and players alike. These rivalries continue today and some of the London derbies are still passionately-fought events. Club supporters can often be found clustered in the areas around the stadium, but the influence of some clubs extends across the capital, the UK and even the world. We’ve taken a look at the five London football clubs currently playing in the top division and four playing in the Championship League.
London Premier League football clubs
In 1893, Arsenal were the first southern club to enter the Football League and the first London football club to turn professional in 1891. Today it stands as the sixth richest club in the world. In 2006, the Gunners relocated from the historic Highbury ground, which had been the club’s home since 1913, moving the short distance across Islington to the Emirates Stadium.
Based in Hammersmith and Fulham are the high flying Chelsea F.C. In 1904, businessman Gus Mears acquired Stamford Bridge Athletics Stadium and planned to use it to home a new football club. As Fulham were already playing in the borough, the team was named after the adjacent borough of Chelsea. Fast forward around 100 years to the takeover of the club by Russian business tycoon Roman Abramovich. His investment has seen the club shoot into the realms of the European heavyweights.
Crystal Palace have had their fair share of ups and downs, having been promoted and relegated from the Premier League on four separate occasions. The club was formed in 1905 by workers at the nearby exhibition venue, Crystal Palace. Since 1924, all home games have been played at Selhurst Park in South Norwood, South London.
London’s oldest and longest serving club is Fulham, which was founded in 1879 by church goers from West Kensington. The team have played at their current ground, Craven Cottage, since 1896. The stadium can be found in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, on the banks of the River Thames. Fulham have recently returned to the Premier League, having been promoted from the Championship League in 2018 for the 2018/19 season.
Arsenal’s close North London rivals Spurs were founded in 1882 and became the first English club to win a European trophy in 1963. They have remained as one of the most popular London football clubs, with a reputation for playing an exciting style of football. From 1899 to 2017, Spurs played at White Hart Lane in Tottenham, which was originally a disused nursery owned by local brewery chain, Charringtons. In 2017, their White Hart Lane stadium was demolished in order to build a new stadium so Spurs played at Wembley Stadium for the 2017/18 season. The new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium opened in 2019, allowing Spurs to return home.
West Ham United
West Ham were accepted as a professional team in the early 1900’s. However, five years prior to this, the team existed as Thames Ironworks, comprising workers from a ship building company of the same name. The Hammers have also yo-yoed between the top two divisions in recent years. West Ham moved from the Boleyn Ground (Upton Park) to the London Stadium in 2016.
London Championship League football clubs
Brentford football club was founded in 1889 and have played at Griffin Park since 1904 but will be moving to the new Brentford Community Stadium near Kew Bridge when construction is completed. The Bees have been long time rivals with other London football clubs Fulham and Queens Park Rangers.
Millwall FC (The Lions) are another of London’s oldest football clubs having been founded in 1885 as the Millwall Rovers. The club has played at The Den in Bermondsey, south-east London since 1993. Millwall’s main rivals are West Ham United but due to them now playing in different leagues have not played each other in recent years.
Queens Park Rangers
Founded in 1886, QPR have played at different grounds over the years but have been based at Loftus Road since 1963. In 1981 this stadium became the first British professional stadium to have an artificial pitch installed which lasted until 1988 when it returned to grass. QPR play in the West London Derbies against rivals Chelsea, Fulham and Brentford.
Mapping London football clubs
Also, check out this football fan’s stadium map showing the location of all Premier League stadiums.