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Ranked! The 100 best football stadiums in Britain

best football stadiums in Britain
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How do you decide on a list of the best football stadiums?

The perfect ground does not exist. Pubs and good patter can be traded off against handy road access or proximity to a station, while one fan’s trash is another’s beloved treasure (it’s called ‘charm’ – Ed.). But some things grab us all: that feeling as you stroll towards a historical behemoth; the sense of calm in
a unique beauty spot; a special atmosphere unmatched elsewhere. It’s all subjective, of course – but we’ve had a go at running down our favourites anyway. Bicker afterwards... 

List compiled and written with Gary Parkinson, Nige Tassell, Mark White, Richard Jolly, Joe Brewin, Gregg Davies, Kenny Millar and James Andrew

100 best football stadiums in Britain

100-81

100. Plough Lane

AFC Wimbledon, Plough Lane, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

AFC Wimbledon

Capacity 9,215

Opened 2021

Wimbledon’s new stadium may have opened less than 12 months ago, but there's more than 100 years of history at Plough Lane, the club’s spiritual home since 1912. The Dons left the old Plough Lane in 1991 – this one was built just 200 yards away, and is altogether smarter.

BEST FEATURE Not situated in Milton Keynes or Kingston.

99. Recreation Ground

Aldershot Town, recreation Ground, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Aldershot

Capacity 7,100

Opened 1927

The Shots’ ground is situated in a public park, with a distinctive downhill stroll through woodland required to access the away turnstiles of this traditional lower-league favourite.

BEST FEATURE Home and away fans are segregated in the barrel-roofed East Bank terrace behind one of the goals, which often makes for a cracking atmosphere. Don’t forget your drum.

98. MKM Stadium

Hull City, MKM Stadium, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hull City

Capacity 25,400

Opened 2002

A statement of ambition, rising above the surrounding houses, shops and parks on the skyline of the city. Hull waited a century to play top-flight football – it was no coincidence they did in their new ground.

WEIRDEST MOMENT Phil Brown belting out a verse of the Beach Boys’ Sloop John B to celebrate the Tigers retaining their Premier League status in 2009.

97. Edgeley Park

Stockport County, Edgeley Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stockport County

Capacity 10,841

Opened 1901

Over 120 years old, Edgeley Park is a relic of English football – but to traditionalists, it still carries certain charms of bygone years. With the town centre nearby, there’s plenty going for it as a solid non-league away day. 

BEST FEATURE The Railway End: a former terrace converted to an uncovered seating area, it’s generally only used for the biggest games these days. Scruffy fun.  

96. Sandygate

Hallam FC, Sandygate, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hallam FC

Capacity 700

Opened 1860

Football fans with a taste for time travel have often made pilgrimages to Sandygate. Located on Sheffield’s western fringes, it hosted its first match as far back as the mid-19th century, making it the world’s oldest football stadium. And that’s Guinness official. 

DID YOU KNOW? Sandygate was the final home ground of one Christopher Roland Waddle, who then coached Hallam’s Sunday team.

95. Wham Stadium

Accrington Stanley, Wham Stadium, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Accrington Stanley

Capacity 5,450

Opened 1968

Seamlessly and stylishly expanded and improved as Accrington rose up the divisions, but retaining its homely feel. There are views of nearby hills, but wherever you’re sat or stood it’s pleasingly near the pitch to feel involved.

WEIRDEST MOMENT Accrington found a pair of false teeth which a fan had lost while watching their 2018 win over AFC Wimbledon.

94. Seel Park

Seel Park, Mossley, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Mossley)

Mossley

Capacity 4,000 

Opened 1952

Tucked on the north-westerly edge of the Peak District in Greater Manchester, Seel Park is accompanied by some of the best views in non-league. It’s been modernised in recent years too, and now features various viewing points: standing terraces, seats… even a garden bench.

BEST FEATURE Beyond the obvious scenery, Seel Park also has its own beer garden serving local brew – a nice touch on matchdays.

93. Maes Tegid

Maes Tegid, Bala Town, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Bala Town)

Bala Town 

Capacity 3,000

Opened 1950

Is it possible to look at Maes Tegid without a feeling of complete serenity? With the rolling hills of Snowdonia National Park for company, it’s one of the most pleasant grounds on these shores. Aaaand breathe...

DID YOU KNOW? Bala have played seven seasons’ worth of Europa/Conference League qualifiers – but never at home. UEFA regulations mean they have to use Rhyl’s Belle Vue instead. Boooooo. 

92. The Saffrons

Eastbourne Town,The Saffrons, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Eastbourne Town)

Eastbourne Town

Capacity 3,000

Opened 1884

Home to the oldest club in Sussex, Town’s home for 135 years is tucked neatly on the edge of town behind stone walls and cricket sight screens. It’s a leafy cracker, spied upon by the clock tower of Eastbourne’s heritage museum. 

DID YOU KNOW? Since 1947, fires have destroyed the Saffrons’ cricket pavilion, its replacement, a wooden grandstand (arson) and main turnstile. Cursed.

91. Highbury

Fleetwood, Highbury, best football stadiums

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Fleetwood Town 

Capacity 5,327

Opened 1939

Named after nearby Highbury Avenue rather than Arsenal’s old ground (although they suspiciously borrowed the Gunners’ club colours too), Fleetwood brightened up their home as they neared the EFL. There’s an arcing main stand and a smaller seating area opposite, which curiously still sits directly in front of the rickety old stand it replaced.

BEST FEATURE Every time Fleetwood score, they play the theme tune to Captain Pugwash

90. Vicarage Road

Watford, Vicarage Road, best football stadiums

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Watford

Capacity 21,577

Opened 1922

There might be nowhere to park, but this is another terrific crucible for night-time football. Pre-match entertainment comes courtesy of away team drivers attempting to reverse their luxury coaches down the narrow lane to the player’s entrance. 

DID YOU KNOW? Vicarage Road doubled as the home ground of Dunmore United in ’80s ITV kids caper Murphy’s Mob.

89. Cappielow

Greenock Morton, Cappielow, best football stadiums

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Greenock Morton

Capacity 11,589

Opened 1879

An unashamed throwback full of character. Upgrades haven’t been a priority for a club that has survived some tough times, meaning Cappielow sits rough and ready by the docks, whose famous Titan Crane dominates the skyline. A five-minute walk from Cartsdyke train station.

BEST FEATURE We’re big fans of the three-tier dugouts, which will hopefully be back to full capacity soon enough.

88. Penydarren Park

Merthyr, Penydarren Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Merthyr)

Merthyr Town

Capacity 4,500

Opened 1908

Plonked atop a hill, the ground occupies the site of a Roman military settlement – and while showing its age in places, is a rustic gem that recently benefited from development work costing £3m.   

DID YOU KNOW? Merthyr stunned Atalanta here in the first round of the 1987-88 European Cup Winners’ Cup, in one of Welsh football’s most memorable nights.

87. The Football Pitch

ERiskay AFC, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Eriskay AFC)

Eriskay AFC

Population 143 (at last count)

OK, so it’s more ‘pitch’ than ‘ground’… but just look at it. Locals on this Outer Hebrides island have their beach, community hall, pub, shop… and football pitch. It’s uneven, on a slope, completely exposed to the elements and wildlife – but it’s beautiful.

DID YOU KNOW? In 2015, FIFA picked it as one of the eight most remarkable places to play football.

86. The Wellesley

Great Yarmouth, The Wellesley, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Great Yarmouth)

Great Yarmouth

Capacity 3,600

Opened 1888

The main reason to visit one of the UK’s most easterly grounds isn’t to observe its 10th-tier Eastern Counties League side’s prowess – it’s to gaze upon, and sit within, the grandeur of its Victorian grandstand. Built in 1892, it’s the oldest in the country. 

BEST FEATURE What else? That grandstand was given Grade II-listed status in 2002.

85. Brunton Park

Carlisle, Brunton Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: PA)

Carlisle United

Capacity 17,949

Opened 1909

A trip there represents a slog for most fans, being so close to Scotland, but <i>is worth it thanks to a lopsided mix of seated stands and terraced paddocks. Crammed with character.

WEIRDEST MOMENT Magno Vieira's madcap winner against Halifax in 2005: a quick free-kick after goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin mistakenly thought the referee was calling him over, but was then penalised for handball outside his box.

84. The Valley

Charlton, The Valley, best football stadiums

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Charlton Athletic

Capacity 27,111

Opened 1919

Evocative name, evocative place. Those of long tooth will recall the repurposed chalkpit’s post-war glory years; others The Who’s record-breakingly loud gig there. After the Addicks’ seven-year absence, ended in 1992 by the fans’ organisation and determination, came The Valley’s subsequent triumphant rebuild. 

BEST FEATURE When the DJ strikes up The Skids’ Into The Valley, only a stone heart remains unstirred.

83. Beveree

Hampton and Richmond, Beveree, best football stadiums

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Hampton & Richmond

Capacity 3,500

Opened 1959

The splendour of Hampton Court Palace may only be a mile and a half down the road, but you’ll find none of that pomp and pageantry at the Bev: a cosy ramshackle hodgepodge hidden in leafy suburbia.

DID YOU KNOW? Last season’s WSL winners and Champions League runners-up Chelsea called it their home for several campaigns during the mid-noughties.

82. Blundell Park

Grimsby, Blundell Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: PA)

Grimsby Town

Capacity 9,052

Opened 1899

Take your big coat, if not your galoshes: Grimsby’s Cleethorpes home is hard by the North Sea. It’s also a historical layer cake. Roughly half of the 1939 away end is restricted view, but the 1961 Pontoon End makes a fine racket. Like the two ends, the pillar-filled 1901 Main Stand is dwarfed by the 1982 two-tier job opposite, from which you can watch the weather closing in. 

BEST FEATURE The black-and-white floodlights.

81. The Abbey Stadium

Cambridge, The Abbey, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cambridge United

Capacity 8,127

Opened 1932

The neighbouring Barnwell Lake provides a scenic backdrop to one of the most distinct grounds in the lower leagues. The North Terrace may be a throwback but the nostalgic ought to like it. 

WEIRDEST MOMENT Notorious former boss John Beck moved the opposition’s dugout to near the corner flag, to stop the visiting manager from having a good view. That’s the spirit.

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80. St James Park

Exeter, St James Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Exeter City

Capacity 8,696

Opened 1904 

Framed by elegant houses, packed in by roads and the railway, it combines the throwback of a large open terrace with more modern features – including the £3.4m Stagecoach Adam Stansfield Stand, which was completed in 2018.

WEIRDEST MOMENT Pop god Michael Jackson visited in 2002 with magician David Blaine and his friend Uri Geller, who was then Exeter’s joint chairman.

79. Liberty Stadium

Swansea, Liberty, best football stadiums

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Swansea City

Capacity 21,088

Opened 2005

The Liberty sways when Swansea are winning. Tucked away in picturesque surroundings, the Swans’ sphere is somewhat identikit – but it’s had classic moments and huge scalps since opening in 2005. 

WEIRDEST MOMENT An elderly lady giving two fingers to protestors at a UKIP rally, staged at the Liberty in 2014. Still less aggro than when Cardiff visit, mind.

78. Cardiff City Stadium

Cardiff City

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cardiff City

Capacity 33,280

Opened 2009 

Despite having the dullest of names, Cardiff City’s current home – built on a site adjacent to their old Ninian Park ground – is a terrifically noisy place when filled with passionate Bluebirds. But it takes on an extra dimension when homeboy Gareth Bale leads out the national side here. 

DID YOU KNOW? Jay Bothroyd scored the first goal at the stadium, in a pre-season friendly against non-league Chasetown.

77. Gayfield Park

Arbroath, Gayfield Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: PA)

Arbroath

Capacity 6,600

Opened 1880

Bring a coat... and your appetite. Arbroath is famous for its ‘smokies’ – a local delicacy made from haddock. The fish is salted overnight before being tied in pairs to dry, then hung in a special barrel.

DID YOU KNOW? Gayfield is believed to be the closest ground to the sea in Europe, meaning a howling wind from the North Sea. Brrrrrr!

76. Ashton Gate

Bristol City, Ashton Gate, best football stadiums

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Bristol City

Capacity 27,000

Opened 1887

Situated in the foreground of rolling Bristolian hills and the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Ashton Gate is a sleeping giant. Its 27,000-capacity is rarely full but the acoustics are excellent – often amplifying dedicated chants to drinking cider. 

WEIRDEST FEATURE When you’re a first-time visitor and realise that at full-time, yes, that is the Wurzels that they’re playing. 

75. Twerton Park

Bath City, Twerton Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: PA)

Bath City

Capacity 3,528

Opened 1909 

If you like character, you’ll probably like Twerton Park, with its combination of open terraces, main stand in a faded shade of green and backdrop of rolling hills. They don’t build ’em like this anymore. 

WEIRDEST MOMENT Bath offered the naming rights via a £50 raffle in 2012, raising some £8,350 for the club… and a few ‘unsuitable’ suggestions. Luckily, charity The Mayday Trust won.  

74. Balmoor Stadium

Peterhead, Balmoor, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Peterhead
Capacity 4,000
Opened 1997
Balmoor’s a great away day, but best take your car – the nearest station is 32 miles away. Fish pie is a staple in this notorious port town, though fans had better huddle up: the North Sea wind is a bit nippy...
DID YOU KNOW? Long-serving midfielder Simon Ferry has become an attraction in his own right thanks to his exploits on the popular Open Goal YouTube channel.

73. Vitality Stadium

Bournemouth, Vitality, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bournemouth

Capacity 11,364

Opened 2001

Dean Court was rebuilt two decades ago and has seen Bournemouth from bottom to top – and with fans so close to the action, it’s had a huge part to play in their rise.

WEIRDEST MOMENT 20 minutes of serenading new signings Juan Iturbe and Benik Afobe against West Ham in January 2016, set to ‘La Bamba’ and split into two choral sections.

72. Riverside

Middlesbrough, Riverside, best football stadiums

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Middlesbrough

Capacity 35,742

Opened 1995 

Its side is a nod to Middlesbrough’s industrial past. Perhaps the Riverside looks best at night, the lights reflecting in the water – and it surely shone brightest in the evenings of Boro’s run to the 2006 UEFA Cup Final.

BEST FEATURE The gates from the old Ayresome Park, flanked by the statues of Boro greats Wilf Mannion and George Hardwick. 

71. Memorial Stadium

Bristol Rovers, Memorial, 100 best football stadiums in Britain

(Image credit: PA)

Bristol Rovers

Capacity 12,300

Opened 1921

Many grounds don’t have one memorable stand. The Memorial has two. The blue East Stand rises high above the rest of the ground, while the lighter West Stand looks more like a cricket pavilion

DID YOU KNOW? It’s built on Buffalo Bill’s Field, where William Cody – one of the legends of the Wild West – once staged a show.

70. Caledonian Stadium

Inverness Caledonian Thistle, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Capacity 7,512

Opened 1996
It’s a long old poke for pitiful pub options, but… that view. Caley’s stadium lies on the banks of the picturesque Moray Firth, well known for its population of dolphins, while the away end offers a glimpse of the Kessock Bridge.

DID YOU KNOW? The stadium doubled up as a drive-in cinema during the pandemic – with screenings of Braveheart, Grease, Joker and Toy Story. 

69. New Manor Ground

Ilkeston, New Manor, best football stadiums

(Image credit: PA)

Ilkeston

Capacity 3,029

Opened 1991
The New Manor Ground is getting newer, with a £2m revamp. It should be one of the plushest stadia outside the Football League – while retaining its lovely Clock Tower.

DID YOU KNOW? Ilkeston Town are the second Ilkeston Town to play here. The first folded in 2010, to be followed by Ilkeston FC and now another Ilkeston Town. Right.

68. Loftus Road

QPR< Loftus Road, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

QPR

Capacity 18,181

Opened 1904

The nearby BBC’s default ground for football filming is so tight it’s claustrophobic, with four steep stands shoulder-to-shoulder and looming close over the pitch. That’s not always good for the legroom but it’s great for the atmosphere: the single-tier Ellerslie Road is small but vociferous, while the two-tier Loft end sucks the ball in. 

BEST FEATURE That it’s now officially named after the Kiyan Prince charity.

67. Turf Moor

Burnley, Turf Moor, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Burnley

Capacity 21,944

Opened 1883

Travel back in time to a ground older than the Football League, boxed in by terraced houses and with views of industrial chimneys and Pennine hills. The noise can be a reminder of earlier eras, too.

DID YOU KNOW? The cameras were banned from Turf Moor by dictatorial former chairman Bob Lord, who thought television coverage was bad for football.

66. Crabble

Dover Athletic, Crabble, best football stadiums

(Image credit: PA)

Dover Athletic

Capacity 5,745

Opened 1931

Carved into the side of a hill, its idyllic ‘upper pitch’ setting offers attractive views of the village River below... once you’ve finally got your breath back after a hike up to the turnstiles.

DID YOU KNOW? The adjoining ‘lower pitch’, now used by Dover Rugby Club, hosted more than 100 first-class cricket matches for Kent between 1907 and 1976.

65. Broadhurst Park

FC United, Broadhurst, best football stadiums

(Image credit: PA)

FC United of Manchester

Capacity 4,700

Opened 2015

After a long-term ground-share with Bury, FC United moved into their own gaff six years ago. From the outside, it resembles a new-build tertiary college, but inside it’s a brilliantly atmospheric crucible, aided by the inclusion of terraces that replicate the feel of the old pens at Old Trafford.

DID YOU KNOW? The first official match here was between FC United and Benfica B, on the anniversary of the 1968 European Cup Final.

64. Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace, Selhurst Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Crystal Palace

Capacity 25,486

Opened 1924

Nobody could claim Selhurst is a beauty – not even the home fans who pack it out and threaten its ageing rafters with songs and drumbeats every fortnight. Certainly not the away fans in the 1969 Arthur Wait Stand, which is far from fabulous at 50. But the heady atmosphere and urban setting contribute to a stirringly different type of matchday.

BEST FEATURE England’s best tifosi.  

63. Princes Park

Dartford, Princes Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: PA)

Dartford

Capacity 4,100

Opened 2006

Modern? Yes. Dull and conventional? Absolutely not. Dartford boast one of Britain’s most eco-friendly grounds, featuring solar panels, a water recycling system, grassy ‘living roof’ and timber beams. Surely the gold standard for new non-league ground design.

BEST FEATURE Dartford were never crowdless amid COVID – their towering Oak Man in the stands is always there lending his support.

62. St Andrew's

Birmingham City, St Andrew's, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Birmingham City

Capacity 29,409

Opened 1906

A ground to suit the club. Shinier and newer stadia have more pretensions of grandeur, but St Andrew’s is in the heart of a community and a working-class fanbase can produce a rousing atmosphere.

WEIRDEST MOMENT Former Birmingham manager Barry Fry urinated on all four corner flags to lift a gypsy’s curse on the ground. Or that was his excuse, anyway.

61. Oakwell

Barnsley, oakwell, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Barnsley

Capacity 23,287

Opened 1888

An extra layer is advised to ward off those sharp-toothed winds at this classic cathedral of South Yorkshire football. And do keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of the club’s former poet-in-residence – the season-ticket-holding broadcaster Ian McMillan – waxing lyrical in the tea queue come half-time. 

DID YOU KNOW? In 2008, Manchester City played a home UEFA Cup tie at Oakwell because their new pitch wasn’t ready.

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60. Claggan Park

Fort William, Claggan Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: PA)

Fort William 

Capacity 1,800

Opened 1985

Few, if any, British football grounds can boast such a dramatic backdrop. The local Highland Football League side play in the direct shadow of one of Ben Nevis’s foothills, with the peak itself – almost invariably snow-capped – visible beyond in all its cloud-scraping glory. 

DID YOU KNOW? For several years, this was the home ground of future Premier League star John McGinlay, who scored 61 goals in 92 appearances for Fort William.

59. Pride Park

Derby, Pride Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Derby County

Capacity 33,597

Opened 1997

One of the most stylish and classy of the modern stadia, aided by the black and white colours. The bust of Steve Bloomer, next to the dugouts, is a nice nod to Derby’s rich history.

DID YOU KNOW? The first goal and first competitive goal at Pride Park were both scored by Italians – Vincenzo Montella and Stefano Eranio.

58. Causeway Lane

Matlock Causeway Lane, best football stadiums

(Image credit: PA)

Matlock Town

Capacity 2,400

With trees framing the appropriately named Twigg Stand, one of the most picturesque grounds in non-league is on the edge of the Peak District. The scenery extends to Matlock’s football club: even the Gladiators’ badge looks unique and appealing.

BEST FEATURE The views of Riber Castle, the 19th-century stately home, on a hill overlooking the town and ground.

57. Bellsea Park

Fraserburgh, Bellsea Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fraserburgh

Capacity 3,000

Opened 1909
In the far north-eastern corner of Aberdeenshire, Fraserburgh is one of the biggest shellfish ports in Europe. It also takes a great deal of pride in its local team, whose cracking ground is overlooked by Fraserburgh South Kirk.

DID YOU KNOW? In January 2018, The Broch became the first Highland League side to appear live on Sky Sports when hosting Rangers in the Scottish Cup. 

56. Meadow Lane

Notts County, Meadow Lane, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Notts County

Capacity 19,841

Opened 1910

A wonderful location, near the city centre and just across the river Trent from Nottingham Forest, which serve as a reminder of County’s past. Meadow Lane’s size shows they really shouldn’t be a non-league club now.

DID YOU KNOW? County used to play at Trent Bridge – although they had to find other venues when Nottinghamshire were playing cricket there.

55. Home Park

Plymouth, Home Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images )

Plymouth

Capacity 16,388

Opened 1893

The ‘Theatre of Greens’ – nicknames don’t get much better – was heavily bombed in the Second World War but still has its lovely 1930s art-deco façade to complement plenty of far more modern facilities.

DID YOU KNOW? Manchester United faced Saint-Etienne in the Cup Winners’ Cup at Home Park in 1977 – it had to be staged more than 200km from Old Trafford after rioting.

54. Glebe Park

Brechin, Glebe Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: PA)

Brechin City

Capacity 4,123

Opened 1919

Brechin have fallen on hard times with relegation to The Highland League, but their stadium remains one of the most distinctive in Scotland – largely due to the unmistakable (and well-tended) hedge that borders the length of one flank.

DID YOU KNOW? Glebe Park’s iconic topiary was under threat in 2009 because UEFA deemed Brechin’s pitch dimensions too small to meet their requirements. 

53. The New Lawn

Forest Green Rovers, New Lawn, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Forest Green Rovers

Capacity 5,147

Opened 2006

No other league ground is located at the top of such a lung-sappingly steep hill as the New Lawn is. Those with tickets for the main stand can enjoy the fine fare of the all-vegan restaurant, along with views of the local cattle on the hill opposite. 

WEIRDEST FEATURE The dressing rooms are situated in what looks like a toilet block in the far corner of the pitch.

52. Recreation Park

Alloa, Recreation Park, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Alloa Athletic

Capacity 3,100

Opened 1895

Alloa are widely regarded as one of the best-run part-time clubs in Scotland – extending to the maintenance of their tidy stadium. The 3G surface isn’t to everyone’s liking, but those glorious views of the Ochil Hills from the Railway End wash all concerns away.

BEST FEATURE You haven’t had the full Scottish football experience until you’ve tried Alloa’s famous pie in a roll. 

51. Kenilworth Road

Luton, Kenilworth, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Luton Town

Capacity 10,356 

Opened 1905

That row of ground-level executive boxes along one touchline has always been a weird anomaly among stadiums, but there are few more flavoursome places to watch a midweek Championship game than in this tight, distinctly old-school stadium. 

BEST FEATURE The decidedly quirky entrance to the Oak Stand, which takes away fans up and over neighbouring back gardens. 

50. Brentford Community Stadium

Brentford, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Brentford

Capacity 17,250

Opened 2020

Sadly gone are the pubs on every corner, but the buzz of the Bees’ new hive remains. Brentford’s new arena is fresh with an atmosphere of old – as fans proved when they practically took their new sloped roof off against Arsenal on their Premier League debut.

BEST FEATURE Just how impressively 17,000 seats have been squeezed into a tiny square of London land. The enclosed design means the sound stays in, too. 

49. St Mary's

Southampton, St Mary's, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Southampton

Capacity 32,384

Opened 2001

An enclosed bowl gives it a complete feel, and the symmetry of it makes it the opposite of their cramped former home, The Dell. The front façade has plenty of glass and plenty of class.

WEIRDEST MOMENT The statue of club legend Ted Bates was removed after a few days in 2007 – because it looked more like former Pompey owner Milan Mandaric.

48. University of Bolton

Bolton, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bolton Wanderers

Capacity 28,018

Opened 1997

To most, it’s still the Reebok. Supercharging Huddersfield’s template, its roomy two-tier stands offer excellent customer comfort below those yearning floodlights whose points pierce the often-glowering Lancastrian sky. Hard by the motorway, served by trains and surrounded by shopping, it’s arguably the country’s finest ‘new’ stadium for those who count most – the supporters. 

BEST FEATURE The legroom, so often forgotten in the race to milk wallets.

47. Edgar Street

Hereford, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hereford

Capacity 4,913

Opened 1924

Little has changed since Ronnie, Ricky & Co sparked parka-clad pitch invasions in the ’70s, but to many that remains part of the appeal of visiting an old classic with its towering floodlights – among the first to be installed in England.

BEST FEATURE The Bulls’ mascot – an actual one – is paraded around the ground before high-profile games.

46. Cae Clyd

Blenau Ffestiniog, Cae Clyd, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Blaenau Ffestiniog

Capacity 550

Opened 1956

We’d imagine the locals were fairly chuffed when their former rubbish tip was transformed into one of Wales’ greatest-looking football grounds in the mid-50s. Set in the heart of Snowdonia, it’s now a gorgeous sprawl of hillsides, housing and greenery. Phwoar indeed.

DID YOU KNOW? In July, Wales’ slate landscape – including Blaenau Ffestiniog – was named as the UK’s 33rd UNESCO World Heritage Site.

45. Bet365 Stadium

Stoke, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stoke City

Capacity 30,089

Opened 1997

Yes, the former Britannia Stadium sits on top of a big hill and every third match seems to be played in some sort of hurricane, but it hasn’t stopped the atmosphere being one of Britain’s best over the years. Stoke fans have broken decibel records – they were officially as loud as a jumbo jet taking off.

DID YOU KNOW? When Stanley Matthews died in 2000, his ashes were buried beneath the centre circle.

44. Deepdale

Preston, Deepdale, best football stadiums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Preston North End

Capacity 23,404

Opened 1875

Though drenched in history and brilliantly named, Deepdale desperately needed an update. It got one, superbly modelled on Sampdoria’s four-square Luigi Ferraris. The faces of Tom Finney, Bill Shankly and Alan Kelly (ask a local) gaze on from steep-raked single-tier stands affording excellent views, not least of the Invincibles Pavilion honouring those formative unconquerables.

BEST FEATURE The ‘Splash’ Tom Finney statue.

43. Dumbarton

Dumbarton, best football stadiums

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Dumbarton

Capacity 2,020

Opened 2000

A scenic favourite, Dumbarton’s ground sits under Castle Rock. It’s a shame that the seats in their one stand face away from the landmark, but regardless, it makes for a pretty picture and is only a five-minute walk from the train station.

BEST FEATURE The dugouts – at least the coaching staff and subs get to enjoy one of the best views in Scottish football. 

42. Stadium of Light

Sunderland, Stadium of Light, best football stadiums

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Sunderland

Capacity 49,000

Opened 1997

Spectacularly overlooking the River Wear, this hulking arena shouldn’t be hosting League One football – it’s previously staged England matches, back when the atmosphere for Sunderland games could be absolutely electric.

BEST FEATURE The deafening pre-match rendition of Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knights, later nicked by the BBC as the theme tune for The Apprentice. Brief attempts to replace it with ’90s trance didn’t go down well.

41. Earls Orchard

Richmond Town, Earls Orchard, best football stadiums

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Richmond Town

Capacity 500 (est.)

Voted England’s most scenic non-league ground in 2019... and it’s easy to see why. By the river Swale in the Yorkshire Dales, beneath the shadow of trees, it’s unique – even if Richmond are moving to get a 5G pitch elsewhere.

BEST FEATURE The imposing Richmond Castle, which dates back almost 1,000 years to Norman times, towers over the ground.

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40. Cwm Nant-y-Groes

Abertillery Bluebirds, Cwm Nant-y-groes, best football stadiums

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Abertillery Bluebirds

Capacity N/a

Opened 1989

This might look like a scene from The Sound of Music, but no – behold the beauty of Welsh village Six Bells and its stunning ground of third-tier side Abertillery. Drainage issues forced them to play on a 3G surface elsewhere until this year, when local grafters improved the pitch to ensure a return home. We’re very glad they did.

BEST FEATURE A conifer valley overhead – that’s quite nice, isn’t it?   

39. John Smith's Stadium

Huddersfield, John Smith's Stadium, best football stadiums

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Huddersfield Town

Capacity 24,329

Opened 1994

Leeds Road was the archetypal mid-century English football ground; the new place up the road pointed to the future. All graceful arcs and fan-led architecture, the new Kirklees Stadium opened with just the two side stands, the ends following in due course. Not many grounds get voted the RIBA’s Building of the Year; this did, in 1995. 

BEST FEATURE Those roof-supporting ‘banana trusses’.

38. Pittodrie

Aberdeen, Pittodrie, best football stadiums

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Aberdeen

Capacity 20,866

Opened 1899

There’s no shortage of folks pleased to hear that a proposed stadium move has stalled. The distinctive old floodlights and granite façade of the Merkland Stand are eye-catching, while the club have done a great job revamping their vibrant Red Shed area.  

DID YOU KNOW? Pittodrie was the first football stadium to feature a dugout, thanks to trainer Donald Coleman in the 1920s.

37. Mill Road

Arundel, Mill Road, best football stadiums

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Arundel

Capacity 2,200 

A view that belongs on a picture postcard, with greenery and history. The Mullets – a nickname that sadly has nothing to do with 1980s footballers – have quite a sight. 

BEST FEATURE The views of the magnificent Arundel Castle, built by an ally of William the Conqueror, home to the Dukes of Norfolk for 400 years and stylishly restructured in the 19th century.

36. Etihad Stadium

Manchester City, Eithad, best football stadiums

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Manchester City

Capacity 55,017

Opened 2003

Proof that an athletics stadium can be transformed into a top-quality football ground. Outstanding facilities and some brilliant football have made the Etihad a byword for big games, though a struggle to fill it for smaller ones doesn’t always lend itself to a raucous atmosphere.

WEIRDEST MOMENT Phil Brown’s half-time team talk on the pitch when his Hull side were 4-0 down in 2008. Final score: 5-1.

35. Bloomfield Road

Blackpool, Bloomfield Road, best football stadiums

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Blackpool

Capacity 16,616

Opened 1899

Blackpool’s home is a tangerine butterfly from a very ugly caterpillar. That the rotting Kop, dingy Scratching Shed, low-slung main stand and shallow South Stand have gradually been replaced by shiny new stands (even the ‘temporary’ East is an upgrade) is all the more remarkable given the club’s ownership affairs. And it’s still a great town for an away day. 

BEST FEATURE The statue of the universally loved Jimmy Armfield.

34. Victoria Park

Ross County, best football stadiums

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Ross County

Capacity 6,541

Opened 1929

OK, so it’s a trek for most – but a worthwhile one to a beautiful part of Scotland. Dingwall’s train station couldn’t be handier and also boasts a welcoming pub, The Mallard, whether you’re looking to celebrate or commiserate. Victoria Park’s haggis and venison pie is almost worth the trip itself.

DID YOU KNOW? Victoria Park has a greater capacity than the population of Dingwall.

33. Huish Park

Yeovil

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Yeovil

Capacity 9,565

Opened 1990

It doesn’t have the famous slope of the old Huish, indelibly associated with the FA Cup shock of Sunderland in 1949, but the elegant, distinctive Tamburino Stand and open terraces make it the model for many lower-league grounds.

WEIRDEST MOMENT Four Yeovil fans staged a pitch invasion in 2018 and tried to escape by climbing over the away end – but got trapped on a roof.

32. Blandy Park

Stadiums

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Garw S.B.G.C

Opened 1920

What is it about Wales and rubbish tips? It’s a minor miracle this pitch in the village of Pontycyme, south Wales, even exists. Once a coal waste dumping ground, it was eventually transformed by local miners who dug out the bank to ensure a flat piece of playable land in terrain that’s anything but. And what results.

BEST FEATURE A two-storey cottage that also serves as the club’s changing rooms. Obviously.

31. Amex Stadium

Stadiums

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Brighton & Hove Albion

Capacity 31,780

Opened 2011

Home is sweeter for absence, and Brighton slept rough longer than most. After 14 sofa-surfing years, the Falmer opened a new era. It’s well-equipped and modern, to the point that ticket holders get free public transport – not, in truth, ideal for car-driving away fans.

BEST FEATURE The hawks that, without irony, scare away seagulls.

30. The Enclosed Ground

Stadiums

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Whitehawk

Capacity 2,000

Opened 1954

Sunk into East Sussex’s South Downs, the Brighton-based ground is easily one of non-league’s most picturesque. Occasionally visited by an actual hawk in club regalia for special occasions, it’s pretty from pitchside – or higher…  

BEST FEATURE Cheapskates rejoice: you can watch games for free if you fancy trekking up the hill, with glorious views thrown in for good measure. 

29. Molineux

Stadiums

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Wolverhampton Wanderers

Capacity 32,050

Opened 1889

If you like old gold, this is the stadium for you. Handily located near Wolverhampton city centre, it’s been expanded in recent years after a major overhaul in the 1990s. The atmosphere is usually decent.

WEIRDEST MOMENT The bomb squad arriving to conduct a controlled explosion on a suspicious foil package before an England U21 game in 1996 – it turned out to be a cheese sandwich.

28. Hampden Park

Stadiums

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Scotland

Capacity 51,866

Opened 1903

Some of the views are poor and the stands too far from the pitch, but Hampden remains iconic. If you need convincing, dig out the footage of Leigh Griffiths scoring a second free-kick against England in 2017. We also recommend its fine museum.

DID YOU KNOW? Liverpool’s Andy Robertson worked in the office when he was a part-time player at Queen’s Park.

27. The Den

Stadiums

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Millwall

Capacity 20,146

Opened 1993

The oldest of the ‘new’ all-seater stadiums built following the Taylor Report – and also the closest to central London. There’s a great atmosphere for the big games… particularly when West Ham or Leeds are in town. 

DID YOU KNOW? The Den also doubled up as the home ground for Sky One’s fictional team Harchester United in Sky One hit Dream Team.

26. King Power Stadium

Leicester City

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Leicester City

Capacity 32,261

Opened 2002

Moulded from the same bowl that had popped out Southampton’s St Mary’s a year earlier, the Foxes’ Filbert Street replacement was eventually sprinkled with magic dust to create the kind of party atmosphere that could only accompany the club’s wild magic carpet ride. Plans to expand it to 40,000 look highly impressive. 

WEIRDEST MOMENT Leicester fans created a minor earthquake celebrating Leo Ulloa’s last-minute winner against Norwich in March 2016.  

25. Adams Park

Stadiums

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Wycombe Wanderers

Capacity 10,137 

Opened 1990 

Although the approach to Adams Park is through an ugly industrial estate, the ground is flanked on its remaining three sides by open countryside and woodland. If the on-field action gets dull, simply gaze skywards to watch the resident red kites circle overhead.

DID YOU KNOW? Adams Park’s first-ever match saw Wycombe manager Martin O’Neill up against former club Nottingham Forest – and former boss Brian Clough.

24. Hillsborough

Hillsborough

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Sheffield Wednesday

Capacity 39,732

Opened 1899 

Only the bang-central Villa Park has hosted more FA Cup semi-finals than the Owlerton behemoth, with its history-defining stands. The 1915 main stand with its clock face and finial; the 1961 North Stand with the country’s first full-length cantilever roof; the huge Kop symbolising the terrace era, and the haunting Leppings Lane that ended it.

BEST FEATURE The North Stand’s graceful space-age curves. 

23. The City Ground

Stadiums

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Nottingham Forest

Capacity 30,445

Opened 1898

Notts County’s Meadow Lane is closer to the city centre, but Forest’s Trentside home was the centre of Europe for two seasons. Brian Clough’s success built the expensive stand that (after remodelling) bears his name, and history hangs heavy around a ground awaiting a comparable hero that may never come. 

BEST FEATURE The Bridgford End’s bent roof, which keeps nearby houses in sunlight. 

22. Champion Hill

Stadiums

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Dulwich Hamlet

Capacity 3,000

Opened 1992

The local manor of these south London cult favourites recently evaded the property developer’s wrecking ball. Mix with the band of mild-mannered ultras known as The Rabble… and keep an eye out for former player turned newly appointed director Peter Crouch.

WEIRDEST MOMENT Champion Hill was once the location for a terraces-cleaning task on The Apprentice.

21. Valley Parade

Stadiums

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Bradford City

Capacity 25,136

Opened 1886 

Stubbornly clinging to a Pennine slope, Valley Parade wears its cantilever technology proudly, like a Yorkshire version of the Pompidou. Its mismatched stands – the main one ends abruptly to accommodate the street that names the stadium – create a winningly unique ground of two halves.