London's Football Stadiums
You’ll Find Plenty to Cheer About
Bryn Lennon, Getty Images
If you're a fan of English football (soccer to Americans), then London is your football heaven. Some of the most successful and historic English teams have their home ground (stadium) here. Of the teams that play in the Premier League, the top professional division in England, 3 have won 83 titles in domestic and European competitions. Nine London clubs play in lower pro leagues, and 27 amateur clubs are also based in London. The England national football team’s home stadium, Wembley, is also based in London. So whether you’re in London to catch the FA Cup Final, a knockout competition of all adult teams in England or here to root for your favorite team, you’ll find plenty to cheer about.
Wembley Stadium is the second-largest stadium in Europe (after Camp Nou in Barcelona). The 90,000-seat arena opened in 2007 after a $1.5 billion investment, and in 2012, it hosts the football finals of the London Olympics. England plays all its home games in qualifying for the World Cup and the European championships at Wembley. Take a tour of Wembley Stadium and sit in the same changing room seat that some of the top English players have used, and see England’s 1966 World Cup trophy.
Arsenal is one of the most successful football clubs in English history, with 10 FA Cup wins. The club also went unbeaten during the 2003-04 season -- only the second time in history this has happened.. The club moved to the 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium in 2006.Take the stadium tour and you’ll see all the areas crucial to the players on match day, including the dressing room and the players’ tunnel. You can also visit a team museum.
Chelsea Football Club is nicknamed “Blues,” a reference to its royal blue and white colors. The club’s home ground is Stamford Bridge stadium, located on Fulham Road in southwest London. A stadium tour will teach you about the history of the football club, which has used Stamford Bridge stadium since 1905, and will show you where players hang out before a match. You can also access areas normally closed to the public, such as the pressroom and director’s box. Inside the stadium museum watch a documentary about match-day preparations, visit the team’s Hall of Fame and learn ball skills with a video lesson from a Chelsea Academy coach. Fulham has been one of Chelsea’s main rivals, although fans are increasingly citing Arsenal as the club’s nemesis.
Also known as the Spurs, the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club has been around since the 1880s. The football club’s home ground is White Hart Lane stadium in the north London area of Tottenham, where they have been located since 1899. The Spurs basic uniform is a white shirt and navy short, which has earned them the nickname “Lilywhites.” Tour the stadium to walk in the footsteps of such Spurs legends as Gary Lineker, Teddy Sheringham and Paul Gascoigne. Lineker's record of scoring 10 goals for England in a World Cup remains unbroken. Sheringham was popular with Tottenham fans as one of the Premiership's best strikers, while Gascoigne was instrumental in helping Spurs win the 1991 FA Cup.
London’s oldest professional football club, Fulham FC, was formed in 1879 and moved to its current ground, Craven Cottage, in 1896. This is London’s most picturesque stadium, housed behind a 19th-century red-brick facade on a bank of the Thames River in south London. With a capacity of just 25,000, watching a game here is an intimate experience. Turn up on a Sunday and you can take a stadium tour followed by lunch at one of the club’s Riverside Restaurant. The most surprising thing you’ll see on the tour is a giant statue of singer Michael Jackson, which the club’s owner Mohammed Al Fayed erected after the singer’s death. The club is rivals with its neighbor, Chelsea.
The English football season runs from August through the first few weeks of May, so if you happen to be in London during this time, make sure you catch a match at any one of these stadiums.