Few countries can claim to have a footballing pedigree that can compete with that of England. Some of the world’s biggest and most successful clubs line these shores and with an ever-changing landscape of success a host of clubs have dominated English football at one point or another.
But who is the biggest? It’s one of the most discussed things in football today, so we’re throwing our opinion into the ring and ranking the 20 biggest English football clubs.
20. Huddersfield Town
The 1920s belonged to Huddersfield. The West-Yorkshire outfit dominated the league winning the title three years in a row from 1924-26 – an accomplishment few have replicated since. They would then go onto be runners-up for consecutive seasons in 1927 and 1928. The 1920s also saw Huddersfield play in three FA Cup Finals as they went onto win one. They have struggled more in recent times falling as low as League One but since then they’ve been back in the top tier and are settled in the Championship.
19. Sheffield United
Unlike Huddersfield, Sheffield’s success lies more in the cup than in the league. They’ve won the FA Cup an impressive four times in 1899, 1902, 1915 and 1925 and won the title itself in 1898. Clearly their most successful period was at the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th. The 21st century, meanwhile, has seen then bounce around the leagues but has also seen them return to the top flight.
18. West Brom
West Brom have recently been a name commonly associated with the Premier League having extended periods in the top division this century. The passed yielded more successful times, however, at they won won the title in 1920 as well as five FA Cups the earliest of which came in 1888 and the latest in 1968. 1966 also saw them claim the League Cup for the only time in their history. Their seven trophies are nothing to be scoffed at and they are now clearly a Premier League pedigree club even if they did suffer relegation last season.
17. West Ham
There’s an on-running joke that West Ham won the 1966 World Cup given the key players in England’s triumph that came from the Hammers including the likes of skipper Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and World Cup Final hero Geoff Hurst. The status of those English players provide them with huge pedigree as does their three three FA Cup triumphs and two League Cups. The league itself continues to allude them.
In recent years Wolves have established themselves as a big club again with consecutive top half of the table finishes in the Premier League. That paired with their impressive recruitment has certainly enhanced the size of the club in modern terms. That said they have a successful history too. In the 1950s they won three league titles and have won the FA Cup four times and a pair of League Cups. They also played in a European final in 1972.
Leicester are currently the major threat to the Premier League’s established ‘Big Six.’ After winning the league in 2016 in one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever seen in English football, they’ve established themselves as a force in the top tier and are constantly in and around the top four. The holders of the FA Cup, they simply had to be in this list.
14. Sheffield Wednesday
Like so many we’ve covered on this list so far, Wednesday have a really successful history having won four league titles, three FA Cups and a solitary League Cup. Furthermore, they’re a club who’s played Premiership football in the past and would be well at home if they stopped the rot and found themselves there once again.
As only the second club to win the Premier League, Blackburn certainly have status. The legacy that side left and the names it included – the likes of Alan Shearer – already makes them a big club as does the amount of time they spent in the Premier League. But add to that their previous success – two more league titles, six FA Cups, and a League Cup – and it’s clear they’re one of the biggest.
Sunderland isn’t exactly a name that springs to mind when you’re contemplating football’s biggest but their seven league titles suggests that they certainly belong in this pantheon of clubs. Not only have they achieved success in the league but they’ve also won a pair of FA Cups including a famous victory in 1973. Really, they belong in the Premier League but their recent descent sees them stranded in League One.
Newcastle are the ultimate sleeping giant. Their stadium, fanbase and the stars that have featured in their side all make for a seismic club yet it has nearly been a century since they won the league. You feel they’re one new owner away from being a force once more and adding to their four league titles, six FA Cups and even their one European trophy.
10. Leeds United
League One, however, isn’t always the end for big clubs. Leeds United found themselves there not that long ago but now reside in the big-time amongst England’s biggest clubs and in truth they certainly belong there. Their fan-base fanbase, stadium and success is what grants them status. They’ve claimed both English cup competitions and even played in multiple European finals including the European Cup final in 1975. They were also the last team to win the old Division One in 1992 meaning their top-flight legacy will always remain.
Everton fans will say had English clubs not been banned from European competition halfway through the 80s, they’d have joined the illustrious group of English sides to lift the European Cup. They may well have a point given the success they achieved that decade as they battled out for leagues and cups with their city rivals. They won two league titles and an FA Cup in that period which cemented them as a huge side. Overall they’ve won nine titles and 5 FA Cups and in 1985 added a European trophy – the Cup Winners’ Cup – to their collection.
8. Nottingham Forrest
As one of the two English clubs to win back-to-back European Cups, Forrest had to be in the top 10. In 1979 and 1980 they did the unthinkable beating Malmo and Hamburger to a pair of European titles on the back of winning the league a year earlier. Unfortunately, that golden period dried up soon after but ensures that they’re a household name in both English and European football.
Being the first side to win the double in the 2oth Century earns Spurs status deserving of the top 20. The 1960/61 season will always be remembered by Tottenham fans but was just the peak of a side who won three FA Cups in that period. Since then the silverware has dried up but they’ve become one of the acclaimed ‘Big Six’ and even played in a Champions League Final.
6. Manchester City
A lot is made of City’s recent glory, but before the Premier League and their money-propelled success, the Manchester club had won two league titles, four FA Cups and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970. But it’s fair to say we’re living in City’s best ever period. Since 2010 they’ve won five league titles – two of which were back-to-back – two FA Cups and six League Cups. In fact, City won a record-equalling fourth League Cup in a row last season as well as the league title. The one thing that alludes them is the Champions League and that’s what keeps them out of the top five.
5. Aston Villa
Aston Villa have won the European Cup and did so in 1982 impressively beating Bayern Munich in the final. They qualified for the competition on the back of their seventh league title in 1981. Seven seems to be the magic number for Villa as they’ve also won seven FA Cups. Also, since 1960 they’ve won five League Cups and have featured in the Premier League for most of its existence and appear to be fully established in the topflight once more.
A two-time winner of Europe’s most prestigious trophy, Chelsea’s finest hour came against Bayern Munich in 2012 as they won the Champions League on penalties before they repeated the feat last year against Manchester City. To be fair to the London club, their European success is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what they’ve accomplished in the 21st Century. They’ve won five Premier League titles and five FA Cups in the 2000s becoming one of England’s biggest clubs as well as being considered amongst the European elite.
Yes, Arsenal haven’t won a Champions League but their domestic success takes a lot of topping. The Gunners have won more FA Cups than anyone else and have won a multitude of league titles. 13 have been secured by the North London club including a record-equalling three in a row in the 1930s and an unbeaten season in 2003-04.
2. Manchester United
In terms of league titles, no one tops Manchester United. The Red Devils have won 20 over the course of their history including 13 in the Premier League. They’re also the only side to win three league titles in a row twice doing so from 1999-2002 and again from 2007-09. They’re also accomplished on the European stage winning three European Cups the latest of which came in 2008. What’s more, they’re the only English side to win the league, cup and Champions League in the same season.
England’s most successful club for me had to be top. With 19 league titles they sit just one behind their rivals Man Utd but have won twice as many European Cups as the Red Devils. In fact, Liverpool have six to their name which is the third most across the continent. They themselves won an impressive treble in 1981 which included the league, League Cup and European Cup. The Reds won three European trophies in a row from 1976-78 as they won the UEFA Cup before claiming back-to-back European Cups becoming the first English club to do so. They’re also the most successful side in the League Cup and their recent history has simply added to their status as they won the Champions League and Premier League in back-to-back seasons.