With English Premier League set to begin in just a few short weeks, all the eyes of football will be on England. It is by far the most historical place of the sport and it is home to some of the game’s best venues.
Despite one of my favorite venues with Reebok Stadium now no longer a EPL venue, great stadiums like the Madejski and St. Mary’s make their return to the big stage.
Please note that I am not rating the quality of the supporters. My criteria is to assume every stadium is filled to capacity with rabid fans and then judge.
With all that said, here is my ranking of the 20 EPL stadiums. Enjoy
20) Carrow Road – Norwich City
Located near the edge of the River Wensum, the stadium does have some charm but it does feel very dated. It was built in 1935 and has been updated at times. Still it lacks the charm of many of the country’s older stadiums.
19) The Hawthorns – West Bromwich Albion
Another very old stadium built in 1900. It can get very loud but you can’t escape the feeling that it is also a bit dated.
18) The DW Stadium – Wigan Athletic
Built in 1999, the DW Stadium has a bit of a modern edge but it does so at the expense of charm. The simple four-stand model without corner seating is very basic.
17) Upton Park – West Ham
After a year in the Championship, West Ham made a quick return to the EPL. Upton Park’s future in recent years was in jeopardy as the club wanted to move into the new Olympic stadium. That deal eventually fell apart due to legal challenges but it is easy to see why West Ham would want to move on.
16) Loftus Road – Queens Park Rangers
Loftus Road is another older stadium in London that is cramped and has beams and polls that obstruct views. It’s easy to understand why ownership in recent years has begun to explore the idea of building a new stadium.
15) Craven Cottage – Fulham
Staying in London for the third straight stadium of these rankings, Craven Cottage does have a lot of things going for it. It is in a nice neighborhood and it has a lot of charm located right on the edge of the River Thames. The Cottage itself is still in existence and it overlooks the field on the Putney End. That being said, it is cramped and it still has columns obstructing the view for many people. The seats in most places are old and uncomfortable.
Everyone should visit Craven Cottage at least once for the history and the many cool features but it is not an elite venue. As an American, be sure to check out the bar named after Brian McBride who is still legendary at the club.
14) Goodison Park – Everton
An older stadium whose history makes it seem better than it is. Built in 1892 and bombed during World War 2, it is easy to see why there is sentimental attachment to the ground. But Everton are exploring possibilities to relocate to a new stadium and it makes sense. It is nicknamed the The Grand Old Lady but she either needs a lot of work or she needs to retire.
13) The Britannia Stadium – Stoke City FC
For a newer stadium, it is on the smaller side holding less than 30,000. But it does have a nice modern feel. There is talk of expanding in one of the open corners to bring in more capacity.
12) Villa Park – Aston Villa
Villa Park is one of the better known stadiums in the EPL and it is set to expand in the future to bring its capacity to 50,000. Without corner seats, it looks basic but it can get loud and it is a fun place to watch a game.
11) Stamford Bridge – Chelsea
Having Stamford Bridge outside of the top 10 is likely not a popular move but it is more a testament to how good the stadiums are in England. It’s certainly a nice place to see a game but it is hardly the class of venue you would expect for a team that now has won the Champions League. Built in 1877 and expanded several times since then, it has history but I can see Chelsea moving on from The Bridge in the decade ahead.
10) Liberty Stadium – Swansea
Even though Liberty Stadium is small and holds only around 20,000 fans, it is a great place to see a game. Every seat is close to the field and Swansea fans show that it can have an electric atmosphere. Built in 2005, it’s what you want in a modern stadium.
9) St. Mary’s Stadium – Southampton
English fans should be happy that St. Mary’s Stadium is once again an English Premier League stadium. It’s a complete circular venue with a roof covering most of the seats. The view of the game is great.
8 ) Madejski Stadium – Reading FC
I attended one of Reading’s first ever EPL games back in 2006-2007 and I was hoping they were going to stay in the EPL just for Madejski alone. It’s an ideal new venue for teams in England. There is talk that Reading may want to expand if they stabilize in the EPL but I hope not. Leave it alone.
7) Anfield – Liverpool
Some love it, others don’t but there is no denying that you walk into history at Anfield. It probably does need a facelift at some point but it’s good news that new American ownership scrapped plans to build a new stadium. Unlike nearby Goodison Park, Andfield is in much better shape and is still a great place to see a game.
6) City of Manchester Stadium – Manchester City
There is a lot of like about the Etihad, or City of Manchester Stadium. Visually the stadium is brilliant and you can see the game well from every single seat. That is something you don’t have with the older stadiums. That being said, for anyone who has seen a game at Manchester City’s previous stadium, Maine Road, knows that the current venue simply isn’t as much fun. Maine Road offered one of the best atmosphere’s I’ve ever been into in England. The City of Manchester Stadium is a step down in that regard but it still an elite stadium.
5) White Hart Lane – Tottenham Hotspur
While cramped a bit, it is still one of the loudest places to see a game in the world. The layout is optimal for creating an intense atmosphere. It’s the Wrigley Field of England. It’s almost too old but it is everything you envision in a classic English stadium. When Tottenham score, the place shakes to the core and you can feel the excitement. I understand the criticisms of the place but there is something about it that makes it irreplaceable. White Hart Lane appears unlikely to survive the next decade as the club seems intent on building a new stadium. That is a shame.
4) The Emirates – Arsenal
Very modern and very popular, The Emirates Stadium is a good place to see game. Surprisingly, in the times I have been there, the large crowd was not very loud and the atmosphere was as intense as you would expect.
3) St. James’ Park – Newcastle
Technically named Sports Direct Arena, it will always be St. James’ Park to me. The numerous expansions over the years make St. James’ Park an imposing place to play for a visiting team. It’s a must visit for any English Soccer fan and these days with the team playing well, it provides that unforgettable
2) Old Trafford – Manchester United
Perhaps the most famous stadium in the world and it leaves me with little to say about it. It should be a Mecca for every football fan in the world. It’s worth a pilgrimage all by itself. Structurally it’s has aged like fine wine. You can see the game from everywhere and it can be raucous atmosphere.
1) Stadium of Light – Sunderland
Opened in 1997, it is one of the best places to see a game in the world. Some modern and big stadiums lose their charm, this one did not. It is how large stadiums should be built for the future.