?We’ve ranked the ?50 best players in the world, we’ve ranked the ?50 best Premier League strikers of all time, but now the 90min masochist crew are back to bring the 50 biggest clubs in Britain. All of it. All of them.
We could’ve tried to create some kind of objective ranking looking at number of trophies, weighting those trophies for importance, individual award winners, stadium, money, World Cup winners and all that, but…being a big club isn’t just about the raw figures.
It’s about gut feel. It’s about looking at Sheffield Wednesday and going ‘I don’t know why they’re a big club, but I know instinctively that they are’.
While this was a semi-democratic process, hate and whinging can be directed ?here. And yes, if your club is lower than you think they should be (or god forbid, not mentioned) then it is a personal slight against you and you should take it as such.
Shall we begin?
50. Hull City
Honours: FA Cup runners-up (2014)
Hull had never (never!) made it into the English top flight until the perma-tanned Phil Brown took them up in 2008 with a playoff final win over Bristol City. Since then, they’ve had three separate spells in the Premier League – none of them lasting more than two seasons.
Little tidbit: the Tigers’ all-time leading top flight goalscorer is
49. Wigan Athletic
Honours: FA Cup (2013), Football League Trophy (1985, ’99)
‘But Wigan’s a rugby town!’
‘But Wigan only became a Football League club in 1978!’
‘But Wigan only just stayed out of League One last season!’
All of these things are true(ish), but they’ve also had an eight-year Premier League run in this century and won an FA Cup within the last decade. Wigan didn’t start out as a big club, but they are one now.
Honours: FA Cup runners-up (2004)
It’s Millwall. You know about Millwall. They’re Millwall.
Honours: Scottish League (1902-03, ’47-48, ’50-51, ’51-52), Scottish Cup (1887, 1902, 2016), Scottish League Cup (1973, ’92, 2007)
One of Edinburgh’s ‘Big Two’, Hibs have only spent seven years outside the Scottish top flight (in its own various incarnations) in the last century. During their longest absence (three seasons between 2014 and 2017) they went and won the Scottish Cup, because why let things like ‘not being good enough for the Scottish Premiership’ stop you?
46. Coventry City
Honours: FA Cup (1987)
Not so much a fallen giant, more a fallen…6’2 bloke? A 30+ year run in the top division of English football capped by a win in one of the finest FA Cup finals in history had Coventry’s place at the top table pretty well established in the minds of pretty much all English football fans over the age of 30.
Then they went down to the Championship. Then League One. Then, briefly, League Two. Administration, losing ‘their’ ground, playing their 2019/20 season at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s stadium…Coventry are sliding.
45. Huddersfield Town
Honours: English First Division (1923-24, ’24-25, ’25-26), FA Cup (1922)
History! So much history! The Terriers won three consecutive league titles back in the 1920s, and finished in the top two for five consecutive seasons.
Of course, they haven’t won a league title for the best part of a century now and have only spent four of the last 60-odd seasons in the top flight. Still. History!
Honours: Scottish League (1894-95, ’96-97, 1957-58, ’59-60), Scottish Cup (eight times), Scottish League Cup (1954, ’58, ’59, ’62)
Hearts are pretty good at winning the Scottish Cup; with three wins and five runners-up spots since they last won the league title – which, by the way, is way too long ago.
Edinburgh’s biggest club have finished in the top three 13 times since they last won the Scottish league title, including five second place finishes. How on earth they haven’t turned one of those into a title in the last nearly 60 years is mind-boggling.
Anyway, being the biggest club in a capital city? Big club.
43. Charlton Athletic
Honours: FA Cup (1947)
It’s time to be honest about something here. Location…really matters. If Charlton were a club of exactly the same history whose stadium was in deepest Durham, they probably wouldn’t have made it into the top 50.
But they’re in London, and people like them, so they are. Sometimes it’s that simple.
42. (AFC) Wimbledon
Honours: FA Cup (1988) [as Wimbledon FC]
AFC Wimbledon have lost some of the kudos that would’ve come with being – y’know – actual Wimbledon FC, but they’ve retained more of it that MK Dons have.
The Wimbledon of old were a cult club, the ‘Crazy Gang’ of the 80s and 90s regularly finishing in the top ten of the old First Division and winning a famous FA Cup final against Liverpool. The AFC Wimbledon of now are struggling in League One after rising through the lower leagues as a phoenix club. Just as good.
Honours: English First Division (1888-89, ’89-90), FA Cup (1889, 1938)
England’s first league champions haven’t been in the top flight since 1961, but also: they’re England’s first league champions.
Reasonably but not extravagantly well-supported, reasonably regular fixtures in the second tier, Preston are just ‘another club’ now, albeit one with a rare history.
Honours: Football League Trophy (1984)
Ah, the lowest of our current Premier League sides. This is the Cherries’ fifth consecutive season in the top flight – and just in case you needed a nudge on just how quick their rise was, they’ve only spent five seasons in the second tier in their history.
They’ve got a tiny wee little stadium, but they’re not a million miles off of being an established Premier League club now.
39. Swansea City
Honours: League Cup (2013), Football League Trophy (1994, 2006)
Did you know that you used to get a place in the Cup Winners’ Cup for winning the Welsh Cup? Swansea do – they made it into one of the most-missed European competitions seven times for their exploits in a limited pool before clubs playing in English competitions were told firmly but politely that they were no longer welcome to enter.
“Fine then,” said Swansea. “We’ll just win this new ‘FAW Premier Cup’ thing instea—what do you mean we can’t qualify for Europe that way? Sod it, we’ll just get promoted to the Premier League, spend seven exciting years there, win the League Cup and get into Europe that way. You awkward buggers.”
Honours: League Cup (1967)
Pros: London. Lots of years in the top flight. Good name recognition.
Cons: Have barely won a thing, and picked up their only League Cup while playing in the third tier?
37. Stoke City
Honours: League Cup (1972), Football League Trophy (1992, 2000)
They’ve fallen off a cliff in the last couple of seasons, but the Potters have a long history of top-flight…well, not ‘success’ exactly, but…presence?
They certainly had ‘presence’ under Tony Pulis, bombarding teams with long balls and strong tackles in a decade-long Premier League run between 2008 and 2018. People didn’t like it, but it happened.
36. Brighton & Hove Albion
Honours: FA Cup runners-up (1983)
Brighton are in here above Bournemouth because…dot dot dot question mark? The only reasonable explanation is their four-year stay in the First Division in the early 80s, which…alright, fair enough.
Amex is a nice stadium, mind.
35. Cardiff City
Honours: FA Cup (1927)
Wales’ biggest club (sorry Swansea, we already knew it was true but now it’s in list form too) have had a reputation for travelling with a troublesome fan base and not being that good at football. Neither of those things are especially unfair – but we do miss Ninian Park.
34. Ipswich Town
Honours: English First Division (1962), FA Cup (1978), UEFA Cup (1981)
It’s hard to know whether to treat Ipswich as a fallen/sleeping/slumbering/dozing giant or a medium-sized team who have had a couple of brief, unsustainable peaks.
On the one hand, an FA Cup win and three top-three league finishes in a five-year span. On the other, just five seasons out of 28 in the Premier League since its formation in 1992.
33. Bolton Wanderers
Honours: FA Cup (1923, ’26, ’29, ’58)
This is much more like it. The club of
32. Birmingham City
Honours: FA Cup runners-up (1931, ’56), League Cup (1963, 2011)
If you’re the club carrying the name of Britain’s second biggest city, it behooves you to be quite good and, y’know, rep the name. Rep the area. Win a sodding league title at least once in your history. Or at least the national cup competition.
They haven’t. Obviously. But they’re still a big club in a big city, for all that they don’t have the silverware to show for it.
Honours: English First Division (1948-49, ’49-50), FA Cup (1939, 2008)
Portsmouth’s two post-war league titles get forgotten quite often when discussing the south coast side (although not by their fans), but it’s their 2008 FA Cup win that’s freshest in the memory of the modern football fan…Obviously…Because it happened the best part of 60 years later.
Pompey’s side of that era, with Nwankwo Kanu, Sol Campbell,
30. Norwich City
Honours: League Cup (1962, ’85)
But for a run of four defeats in six games at the business end of the season, Norwich City could have been the very first Premier League champions. As it was, the relegation-tipped side – with the likes of Ruel Fox, Efan Ekoku and Chris Sutton in their squad – fell to third behind Aston Villa and winners Manchester United.
They’ve been a yo-yo club ever since, never finishing in the top half of the Premier League in the several years hence.
Honours: English First Division (1920-21, ’59-60), FA Cup (1914)
Did you know that Burnley have spent more time in the English top flight than at any other level of the football pyramid? It’s well over 50 years at the top table for the Clarets, even if they were 30 years absent by the time they made their Premier League debut in 2009.
Modern iterations of the club have been almost as dour as the Lancashire town itself, but their 1960 league title came when playing one of English football’s first attempts at Total Football, playing a young squad with not a single player over the age of 30 at the start of the season. And now…Sean Dyche.
Honours: Scottish League (1954-55, ’79-80, ’83-84, ’84-85), Scottish Cup (seven times), Scottish League Cup (six times), UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1983)
It is, really, a bit of a shame that Aberdeen are best known among the younger generation of football fans for being ‘the club that Fergie started winning stuff at’, because holy Jesus that team was brilliant.
Alright, so Ferguson brought three out of their four league titles, their only European success, more than half of their Scottish Cup wins and…okay, he was quite important to their history. But they’ve also been in the top flight for more than a century and were the de facto ‘second team’ in Scotland when Rangers disappeared off the radar.
Honours: FA Cup runners-up (1984, 2019)
And just above a side who won a big European competition – Watford! Y’know, that team who have never won a major trophy and made it to the third round of the UEFA Cup.
Is there something about a club who haven’t finished in the top half of the Premier League, and who have been relegated in two of their six completed PL seasons? Yes, there is. It’s that they’re close to London and have some money right now.
Honours: League Cup (2004)
Middlesbrough went through the late 90s and early 2000s picking up cult heroes left, right and centre. Fabrizio Ravanelli? Check. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink? Yep. Mark Viduka, Alen Boksic, YAKUBU? Yes, yes and yes.
Boro have only spent one of the last ten seasons in the top flight after a long unbroken run, but they’ve got a good fanbase and a lot of nostalgia behind them.
Honours: FA Cup runners-up (1975), Intertoto Cup (2002)
The holy trinity of inflating a club’s size before their tangible achievements: a nice stadium, recency bias (until their 2001-14 run in the Premier League, Fulham weren’t a top flight team for 33 years) and most importantly, being in London.
But this isn’t a list of ‘clubs who won trophies and have spent the most time in the top flight’, things like location and perception matter. And they had Louis Saha.
Honours: FA Cup (1976)
Southampton are a big club. Remember the shock when they went down – and then down again – in the mid-late noughties?
The Saints might not have a bulging trophy cabinet, but they’ve got a good stadium, the fanbase to fill it and a history of giving those fans a decent standard of football to watch. They’re established.
23. Sheffield United
Honours: English First Division (1897-98), FA Cup (1899, 1902, ’15, ’25)
It’s not that nobody remembers Sheffield United being really good, but their highest post-war finish in the league came in 1962. When they finished fifth.
Why are Sheffield United a big club? It’s not really because they’ve just made it back into the top flight, it’s not because they’ve won a load of stuff, it’s just because…they are. Sometimes you’re a big club because you’re a big club.
22. West Bromwich Albion
Honours: English First Division (1919-20), FA Cup (1888, ’92, 1931, ’54, ’68), League Cup (1966)
This season is the 100th anniversary of West Brom’s single league title, and the Baggies might actually win some silverware to commemorate it. Only the Championship though – they were relegated at the end of the 2017/18 season and still have to work their way back up to the top flight.
Somehow, this is only the 41st season the club have spent outside the top flight, compared to a whopping 81 in it.
21. Crystal Palace
Honours: FA Cup runners-up (1990, 2016)
The case for: One of the best stadium atmospheres in British football, on a seven-year run in the Premier League, London club.
The case against: No trophies, THAT Alan Pardew dance at Wembley.
20. Derby County
Honours: English First Division (1971-72, ’74-75), FA Cup (1946)
Derby are a club for two distinct generations of English football fans – those who remember their successes in the 70s; the First Division titles, the European Cup semi-final and such, and those who remember Mart Poom, Deon Burton, Dean Sturridge and the rest of the squad from the turn of the century.
Unfortunately, the only season they’ve spent in the Premier League since 2002 was the worst season any club has ever had in the decision. Four playoff appearances since then haven’t brought them back up. Oops.
19. Blackburn Rovers
Honours: English First Division (1911-12, ’13-14, ’94-95), FA Cup (six times), League Cup (2002)
They won the Premier League. They might’ve dropped down (briefly) to League One a couple of years ago, but they won the Premier League. A handful of European trips followed in the early 2000s too, with players like Damien Duff, Tugay, good David Bentley AND a full season of Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke being reunited. That was nice.
18. Sheffield Wednesday
Honours: English First Division (1902-03, ’03-04, ’28-29, ’29-30), FA Cup (1896, 1906, ’35), League Cup (1991)
Maybe the peak of the ‘intangibles’ club. Wednesday haven’t won a league title for the best part of 90 years, or the FA Cup for about 85. They haven’t been in the Premier League since the turn of the century. They’ve never been top-flight mainstays, spending way more time out of the club than in it since the Second World War.
But they’re a big club. There’s not a simple reason on the face of it (little bit of ‘history’, little bit of not having a city too crowded with other clubs, little bit of who knows what) but it’s true.
17. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Honours: English First Division (1953-54, ’57-58, ’58-59), FA Cup (1893, 1908, ’49, ’60), League Cup (1974, ’80)
Molineux’s a decent stadium with a lot of history, Wolves have won most domestic titles a few times, and they’re back in the top flight and looking strong now. Put all of that together plus the fact that wolves are cool animals? Get them on the plane.
Honours: English First Division (six times), FA Cup (1937, ’73)
Sunderland had been outside the top two divisions for a single season in their entire history until they were relegated to the third tier in 2018. So this sucks.
The Stadium of Light is huge, and has a hardcore fanbase filling it. Sunderland have a history of being a really good football team – and have one of the country’s best rivalries to boot. The future is uncertain, but the sheer weight of the club’s name could carry them through.
15. Leicester City
Honours: English First Division (2015-16), League Cup (1964, ’97, 2000)
Leicester City won the Premier League in 2016. Nothing else matters, frankly. Leicester City – after spending 19 consecutive matchdays dead bottom of the table the previous season – won the freaking Premier League.
Alright, so they’ve also been in the top two divisions for all but one season of their history, and they’ve got to four FA Cup finals and won the League Cup a handful of times and Muzzy Izzet used to play for them and all of that fades into the background because they won the freaking Premier League in 20-freaking-16.
14. Nottingham Forest
Honours: English First Division (1977-78), FA Cup (1898, 1959), League Cup (1978, ’79, ’89, ’90), European Cup (1979, 1980)
Brian Clough’s Forest side won the English league title, three League Cups and TWO EUROPEAN CUPS…within three years of getting promoted from the Second Division in 1977. That’s absurd. It is a ridiculous thing to have happened.
This century hasn’t been as kind to the club, spending a total of zero seasons in the Premier League and seeing the likes of Stan Collymore,
Honours: Scottish League (54 times), Scottish Cup (33 times), Scottish League Cup (27 times), European Cup Winners’ Cup (1972) [All before liquidation and subsequent revival]
50% of the Old Firm. A 50,000-seater stadium in Glasgow. The most league titles in Scottish history. A European trophy. Nine Scottish titles in a row.
Liquidation. Starting again in the fourth tier. Eight years without a major trophy. ‘SevCo’.
The first list matters. The second one doesn’t.
12. West Ham United
Honours: FA Cup (1964, ’75, ’80), European Cup Winners’ Cup (1965)
The biggest club to never win a top flight title, and it’s not even close. Despite being in the biggest city, having a cracking fan base, a great stadium (…for most of their existence) and attracting top players for decades, the Hammers have never finished in the top two in the top flight.
Of course, you could credit them with England’s 1966 World Cup win. There’s a certain amount of kudos that goes with that.
11. Newcastle United
Honours: English First Division (1904-05, ’06-07, ’08-09, ’26-27), FA Cup (six times), Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (1969)
Bless Newcastle’s poor, poor fans. No trophies for half a century despite a near-constant presence in the top flight – the Magpies have always been good. They just keep not being quite good enough.
However. St. James’ Park, Alan Shearer, back-to-back second place finishes in the 90s, length of top-flight service, the Toon Army. Those are very, very helpful assets. If it wasn’t for Mike Ashley, maybe they’d even have cracked the top ten.
10. Leeds United
Honours: English First Division (1968-69, ’73-74, ’91-92), FA Cup (1972), League Cup (1968), Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (1968, ’71)
When talking about Leeds, it’s more or less obligatory to call them a ‘huge club’ and lament the fact that they’ve been absent from the top flight for 15 years. It’s properly cliched at this point, but that doesn’t stop it being completely true.
Leeds is a big one-club city, the club have some serious success in their recent past, and got to the semi-finals of the Champions League in this century. People love Leeds. Bring them home.
9. Aston Villa
Honours: English First Division (seven times), FA Cup (seven times), League Cup (five times), European Cup (1982)
The most successful club in the Midlands, European champions, have spent the best part of 90% of their Football League life in the top flight.
Even their stadium absolutely slaps – no venue has hosted more than its 55 FA Cup semi-finals, you can still pack 42,000 people in there and it’s…well, it’s good.
Aston Villa survived Tim Sherwood. Aston Villa can survive anything.
Honours: English First Division (nine times), FA Cup (five times), European Cup Winners’ Cup (1985)
Only three clubs have won more English league titles than Everton. The Toffees have 13 FA Cup final appearances – also topped by just the three clubs. Their trophy cabinet is absolutely inarguable, and they’ve got one of the very best fanbases in the country.
They’ve not added silverware in a little while, but have spent all of that time being one of just six Premier League ever-presents. Everton are massive. Get out of the way.
7. Manchester City
Honours: English First Division (six times), FA Cup (six times), League Cup (six times), UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1970)
Reigning Premier League champions. FA Cup and League Cup holders. Arguably the British club with the biggest South American presence, with Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Ederson and crowd-pleaser (?) Fernandinho winning them fans galore in a region where fans are hella up for grabs. Being a global club? Big.
The fact that they’ve won half of the last eight Premier League titles helps too. After a huge and sustained investment of cash, City have now become the standard by which other teams’ qualities are judged. That’s a big deal.
6. Tottenham Hotspur
Honours: English First Division (1950-51, ’60-61), FA Cup (eight times), League Cup (1971, ’73, ’99, 2008), UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1963), UEFA Cup (1972, 1984)
Did you know that Spurs have only finished outside the top half of the Premier League three times this century? This CENTURY! They’ve only spent one of the last 70 seasons outside of the top flight.
For all of the jibes about their life as north London’s second club, Tottenham Hotspur have been staggeringly consistent (and sometimes straight-up brilliant) for the best part of three quarters of a century – and now they’ve got the best stadium in the country.
Honours: Scottish League (50 times), Scottish Cup (39 times), Scottish League Cup (18 times), European Cup (1967)
Look at your masters and weep, Scottish football. Celtic fans are notorious for being among the best in Europe, and the club had one of the dozen highest average attendances in Europe when they started their current eight-title stretch.
You want more than the fans? Alright, half a ton of league titles is quite good. Being the first British club to win the European Cup is more than handy.
Honours: English First Division (six times), FA Cup (eight times), League Cup (five times), European Cup (2012), Europa League (2013, ’19), UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1971, ’98)
It’s easy to mock a couple of certain Premier League teams for their lack of success before the arrival of foreign investment…but in Chelsea’s case, it doesn’t really hold up. They won six trophies in the seven seasons before they were bought by Roman Abramovich, for crying out loud.
Then they finished in the top two for seven of the next eight seasons, winning the title three times, with a genuine super-team.
Like Spurs though, the Blues have a long and sustained history of being a good football team. Just nine years outside the top flight since the Second World War, European forays, all that kinda thing. And they’re a big London club.
Honours: English First Division (13 times), FA Cup (13 times), League Cup (1987, ’93), UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1994)
London’s most successful club, London’s biggest club, the team with the most FA Cup titles every and a side who dominated British football at a formative time in the lives of a number of current fans. Not the time they won five titles in eight years in the 1930s, but the eight-year run at the turn of the century when they finished in the top two for eight years in a row, won four FA Cups and four League Cups.
They’ve also had the Premier League’s only unbeaten season, and the best part of a decade of the Premier League’s greatest ever striker. Did we mention that they’re the capital’s most decorated club?
Honours: English First Division (18 times), FA Cup (seven times), League Cup (eight times), European Cup (six times), UEFA Cup (1973, ’76, 2001)
Take this however you want – but the fact that Liverpool have managed to go almost thirty years without a top flight title and are still only two behind Manchester United in second place all-time shows how staggeringly good the Reds have been since their first league trophy in 1901.
Even in their current league drought, the Merseysiders have won three FA Cups, four League Cups and – oh – two Champions Leagues, the same number as all other British clubs in that time. One more European title, and the Anfield side will have 50% of all European Cups won by English sides ever. The fans are iconic. The club is iconic. There’s nobody like Liverpool.
1. Manchester United
Honours: English First Division (20 times), FA Cup (12 times), League Cup (five times), European Cup (1968, ’99, 2008), UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1991), Europa League (2017), FIFA Cup World Cup (2008)
To be the biggest club though – truly, inarguably, unanimously-voted the biggest – you need more than just the raw success and the local fanbase. Fortunately, there’s a club who have the raw success (most league titles, second most FA Cups, most of the European trophies) and all of the support they could ask for outside of their own city.
United aren’t just the biggest club in Britain, they – alongside Real Madrid – have a claim to be the biggest football club in the world. They’ve got the success, the names, the history, the stadium, the fans, the profile, the money. The size. Congrats lads, now don’t let Ed Woodward blow it.