Map of London with Pen

How Many Football Teams Are There in London?

Given that it is by far the biggest city in the UK, it should come as little surprise that London hosts more football than anywhere else in the country. The beautiful game is loved by people all over the nation but no place can match London when it comes to the number of football teams. Just how many teams will you find in the English capital though and how are they distributed through the divisions?

Although there is a thriving amateur and semi-professional football scene in London, we are only going to focus on clubs that form part of the Premier League and the Football League (so the top four tiers). We will provide you will all the key information about these sides, including where they play, their main rivals and how successful they have been over the years.

London Clubs: A List of Teams in the Top 5 Divisions

As of the 2021/22 season, there were 17 London based teams in the top five tiers of English football with 13 of them part of the Premier League, the Championship, League One or League Two. This number comfortably beats that of any other city in England and Wales. Manchester is the next closest but they have only nine clubs in the National League or higher, with seven being in the Premier League or Football League divisions.

Club Division Location
AFC Wimbledon League One Merton
Arsenal Premier League Islington
Barnet National League Edgeware
Brentford Premier League Brentford
Bromley National League Bromley
Charlton Athletic League One Charlton
Chelsea Premier League Fulham
Crystal Palace Premier League Selhurst
Dagenham & Redbridge National League Dagenham
Fulham Championship Fulham
Leyton Orient League Two Leyton
Millwall Championship Bermondsey
Queens Park Rangers Championship White City
Sutton United League Two Sutton
Tottenham Hotspur Premier League Tottenham
Wealdstone National League Ruislip
West Ham United Premier League Stratford

What is particularly impressive about the London representation is how many clubs they have in the Premier League. Thanks to Brentford’s promotion in 2021, the number of London top-flight clubs remained at six as Fulham headed back down the other way. There have been as many as seven previously though, something seen during the 1994/95 season (Tottenham, QPR, Wimbledon, Chelsea, Arsenal, West Ham and Crystal Palace), though back then there were 22 teams in the division rather than 20 as it is these days.

If you are prepared to go further back than the creation of the Premier League you can bump this number to eight. The 1989/90 First Division, as it was known then, was the height of London influence at the highest level. As there were 20 teams in the league, this means that 40% of the competition consisted of London based clubs, which is pretty darn impressive.

It has not always been so good for London clubs mind you. Between 1979/80 and 1981/82 they had only three top-flight representatives. Arsenal and Tottenham flew the London flag during this period while Crystal Palace started off there before they were replaced by West Ham for the 1981/82 campaign. Incidentally, this was the same West Ham side that had won the FA Cup a year early, the last non-top-tier side to do so.

London Clubs in the Premier League

Arsenal Emirates Stadium
Image: Peter Sterling, Bigstock Photo

It is now time for a club-by-club analysis and it seems only fair to start at the very top. All information is accurate as of the 2021/22 season so it is liable to change. You may be wondering why Watford do not feature here. Although some (incorrectly) regard them as a London club, they are based in Hertfordshire and thus outside of the Greater London range. It is certainly a very short away trip for any London side but the Hornets are really no more a London side than Liverpool or Newcastle.


Arsenal have been mainstays in the Premier League, playing in every edition of the competition following its introduction in 1992. Their spell in the upper echelons of English football extends much beyond this though as they have been in the top flight ever since the end of World War I. It was in highly controversial fashion that they joined the First Division in 1919 mind you given that they finished sixth in the second tier the season before football was suspended. As the First Division was being expanded at the time, there were two additional spots and the Football League voted to give one to Arsenal thanks to the club’s history. The losers in this arrangement were Tottenham who were subsequently relegated.

Arsenal were the cause of Tottenham misery then and this has repeated itself over history. The term St Totteringham’s Day was established by Arsenal fans as the day it was mathematically impossible for Spurs to overtake them in the league. This happened for 21 consecutive years between 1995/96 and 2015/16 before eventually coming to an end. The tables have turned in more recent years with the rivalry much more competitive than it once was.

  • Nickname – The Gunners
  • Main Club Colours – Red & White
  • Stadium – Emirates Stadium
  • Stadium Capacity – 60,260
  • Founded – 1886
  • Main Rivals – Tottenham
  • Most Appearances (all competitions) – David O’Leary with 724. During this time the Irish defender scored 14 goals.
  • Top Division League Titles – 13 – The 1930s saw the Gunners in their heyday as they won five league titles during this decade. Further titles followed every decade (except the 60s) but there has been a drought since 2004.
  • FA Cups – 14 – True specialists of the competition, no club has lifted the FA Cup more times than Arsenal.
  • League Cups – 2 – Despite their FA Cup pedigree, Arsenal have a strangely poor record in the League Cup that includes six defeats in the final.
  • European Honours – Secured the Fairs Cup in 1970 and the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994.


Brentford’s absence from the top flight was so long that a giant chunk of their fan base had never seen them play in the highest tier of English football before. They dropped out of the first division in 1947 and for so many years they never looked close to a return. In fact, for much of the 1960s and 1970s they languished in Division Four, finishing as low as 19th on one occasion (1973/74). The Londoners eventually dusted themselves off from this dark time in their history though and after a seven-year stint in the Championship, they managed to clinch promotion.

Although Brentford did not secure an automatic promotion spot, you cannot say they did not deserve to go up. Not only did they finish seven points clear of the team in fourth place, and with a +20 superior goal difference, but they had twice been eliminated from the play-offs previously. Key to their return was their highly analytic scouting network which allowed them to identify talented players on the cheap. Ollie Watkins, Said Benrahma and Neal Maupay are three great examples as the trio were all signed for a combined fee of £10m and sold for £70m.

  • Nickname – The Bees
  • Main Club Colours – Red & White (Stripes)
  • Stadium – Brentford Community Stadium
  • Stadium Capacity – 17,250
  • Founded – 1889
  • Main Rivals – Fulham, QPR
  • Most Appearances (all competitions) – Ken Coote who played 559 between 1949 and 1963.
  • Top Division League Titles – 0 – Brentford have never won the biggest prize in English football but they did lift the second tier title once in 1935.
  • FA Cups – 0 – Never close to FA Cup glory, the further they have reached is the quarter-finals.
  • League Cups – 0 – Have fared a little better in the League Cup, reaching the semi-final in 2020/21 as a Championship side but they were knocked out by Tottenham.
  • European Honours – Have never played in Europe.


Chelsea were certainly not a bad team before being taken over by Roman Abramovich. In the summer of the 2003, when the Russian bought the club, Chelsea had just earlier qualified for the Champions League with a fourth-place league finish. They did have debts amounting to £80m at the time though so who knows what might have happened had Abramovich not been around. The Russian, who also explored purchasing Tottenham as an alternative, has ended up putting Chelsea on a completely different course.

Thanks to his financial investment, the Blues won their first league title since 1955 just two years after the takeover. They have been regular title challengers since too, rather than this simply being a freak occurrence. Some people have raised concerns about the source of Abramovich’s fortune but there is no denying it has done Chelsea the world of good. Their success has ended up rather outgrowing their stadium though which is the smallest of any ‘big six’ club. To help them stay competitive long-term, an expansion or replacement of Stamford Bridge is surely needed.

  • Nickname – The Bees
  • Main Club Colours – Blue
  • Stadium – Stamford Bridge
  • Stadium Capacity – 41,837
  • Founded – 1905
  • Main Rivals – Tottenham, Fulham
  • Most Appearances (all competitions) – Ron Harris featured on 795 occasions for Chelsea before finishing his career at Brentford.
  • Top Division League Titles – 6 – Only one of these league titles came prior to the Abramovich-era, really emphasizing his impact.
  • FA Cups – 8 – A very useful side in the FA Cup, their eight wins come from 15 appearances in the final.
  • League Cups – 5 – Only two teams have won this cup competition more than Chelsea thanks to their latest win in 2014-15.
  • European Honours – Unlikely winners of the Champions League in 2012 and also beat English rivals Man City to Europe’s top prize in 2021. Sandwiched between these successes were two wins in Europa League. Earlier than this, the Blues claimed two Cup Winners’ Cups during the 1970s.

Crystal Palace

In the earlier years of the Premier League, Crystal Palace found it incredibly tough to stay in the division. They were demoted during the inaugural 1992/93 season and then on three consecutive occasions they ended up facing relegation as a newly promoted side. Things finally stuck for them when winning the 2012/13 Championship play-offs though as they have not suffered the pain of relegation since nor have they ever been particularly close.

Despite all the clubs based in London, Crystal Palace have adopted a rivalry that extends further than the boundaries of Greater London. In what is a feeling of mutual dislike, the main rivals of Palace are south coast side Brighton. Known as the A23 (or M23) derby, this rivalry only sparked into life from the 1974/75 season onwards, with the clubs having not played each other in the 11 years prior to this.

  • Nickname – The Eagles
  • Main Club Colours – Blue and Red
  • Stadium – Selhurst Park
  • Stadium Capacity – 25,246
  • Founded – 1905
  • Main Rivals – Brighton & Hove Albion
  • Most Appearances (all competitions) – Jim Cannon, who played nearly 200 times more (663) than Terry Long who is next on the list (480).
  • Top Division League Titles – 0 – They did managed to finish third in 1990/91 though, which the closest they have ever been.
  • FA Cups – 0 – Again none but they have been finalists twice, most recently in 2016.
  • League Cups – 0 – Less fruitful for Palace this. Last reached the semis in 2011/12 season in which they lost to Cardiff on penalties.
  • European Honours – Palace’s only appearance in a European competition, the 1998 Intertoto Cup, did not end well as they lost 4-0 on aggregate to Turkish side Samsunspor.

Tottenham Hotspur

Much like Arsenal and Chelsea, Tottenham have been ever-present in the Premier League since its formation. In fact, going all the way back to 1950, they have spent every year but one in the top-flight of English football. Despite so many attempts at top division success, league titles have been extremely hard to come by for Spurs. They did emphatically claim the 1960/61 championship under Bill Nicholson but this is their last domestic title. Even when getting out of Division 2 at the first time of asking the north Londoners only managed to grab the third and final promotion spot on goal difference.

Despite a lack of silverware, Tottenham have made real progress in more recent years, managing (along with Man City) to break the monopoly of the so-called ‘Big Four’. They have done so while spending within their means too, which makes the achievements of Daniel Levy all the more impressive. Moving forwards and Tottenham fans get to enjoy all the facilities offered by their £1bn stadium that opened in 2019. Although it was over-budget and not delivered on time, the large-scale investment should benefit Spurs in the long run.

  • Nickname – Spurs
  • Main Club Colours – White
  • Stadium – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
  • Stadium Capacity – 62,850
  • Founded – 1882
  • Main Rivals – Arsenal, Chelsea
  • Most Appearances (all competitions) – Steve Perryman who during a 17-year stay made 854 appearances.
  • Top Division League Titles – 2 – First in 1950/51 and then again in 1960/61.
  • FA Cups – 8 – Did the league, FA Cup double in 1960/61 but no success in this competition since 1991.
  • League Cups – 4 – The source of Tottenham’s most recent silverware as they claimed a League Cups in the 2007/08 with Juande Ramos at the helm.
  • European Honours – Were 90 minutes from a Champions League title in 2019. They have twice gone all the way in the UEFA Cup (now Europa League) and once in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup though.

West Ham

West Ham and the Premier League are never separated for very long. They enjoyed promotion to the newly re-designed league a year after its formation and have never spent more than two consecutive years out of it despite suffering two relegations. Although they have often been forced to settle for mid-table, times have been good for the Hammers of late. Their sixth-place finish in 2021 was their highest top-flight performance since finishing fifth in 1999.

If you are wondering why West Ham have the third largest-capacity stadium of any English football team (with plans to increase this number to 67,000) this is because their stadium was originally built for the 2012 Olympics. In what turned out to be a controversial deal, because it worked out so well for West Ham rather than the taxpayer, the Irons were able to leave their old Boleyn Ground that only had room for 35,016.

  • Nickname – The Irons, The Hammers
  • Main Club Colours – Claret And Blue
  • Stadium – London Stadium
  • Stadium Capacity – 62,500
  • Founded – 1895
  • Main Rivals – Millwall, Tottenham
  • Most Appearances (all competitions) – Billy Bonds, four-time ‘Hammer of the Year’ who finished one short of 800 appearances.
  • Top Division League Titles – 0 – Have never seriously put up a challenge.
  • FA Cups – 3 – Also the last non top-flight side to win the competition (1980).
  • League Cups – 0 – Twice forced to settle as runners-up.
  • European Honours – Only success came when winning the 1965 Cup Winners’ Cup.

London Clubs in the Championship

Fulham FC Fans
Image: Nick, flickr

It is now time to cast our eyes at the second tier of English football, which despite the extra four teams in the league, has significantly fewer London outfits.


Fulham feature in the list of Championship clubs for now but we would not be at all surprised if they were back in the Premier League before too long. They bounced back immediately from relegations in 2018 and 2020, and a couple more instances of this will give them a reputation of being a yo-yo club. The Fulham faithful will be hoping that their next return will stick though and this is something that has happened before. In fact, Craven Cottage hosted top-flight football between 2001/02 right through to 2013/14.

  • Nickname – The Cottagers
  • Main Club Colours – Black and White
  • Stadium – Craven Cottage
  • Stadium Capacity – 25,700
  • Founded – 1879, making them the oldest professional club in London
  • Main Rivals – Brentford, Chelsea, QPR
  • Most Appearances (all competitions) – Johnny Haynes on 658
  • Top Division League Titles – 0 – And they have never been close
  • FA Cups – 0 – Defeated finalists in 1975
  • League Cups – 0 – Have never made it past the quarter-finals


It is not unfair to say that Millwall are one of the least popular clubs in the country. Dogged by hooliganism problems in the 1970s and 1980s, the east Londoners have not yet been able to fully shake off their bad reputation. Focusing more on action on the pitch though and the club are a fairly well-established Championship outfit these days. They did enjoy one two-year stay at the very highest level across 1988/89 and 1989/90 but despite finishing 10th initially, the Lions wound up rock bottom, 17 points from safety the next year.

  • Nickname – The Lions
  • Main Club Colours – White & Blue
  • Stadium – The Den
  • Stadium Capacity – 20,146
  • Founded – 1885
  • Main Rivals – West Ham
  • Most Appearances (all competitions) – Barry Kitchener (596) of whom a stand is named after at The Den.
  • Top Division League Titles – 0
  • FA Cups – 0 – Reached the final in 2004 which saw them qualify for the UEFA Cup.
  • League Cups – 0 – Never further than the quarters.

Queens Park Rangers

Regularly simply referred to as QPR, this London club were in a dire financial situation a few years back with total debts rising to £177m. At one stage wages accounted for 195% of their turnover but thankfully the situation is getting steadily better despite missing out on Premier League riches. The reason they have two founded years is that QPR was the result of a merger between St Jude’s and Christchurch Rangers. The merger happened in 1886 but Christchurch Rangers, which were half of this newly formed side, were created four years prior.

  • Nickname – The Rs, The Hoops, Rangers
  • Main Club Colours – Blue & White (Stripes)
  • Stadium – Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium
  • Stadium Capacity – 18,439
  • Founded – 1882/1886
  • Main Rivals – Chelsea, Fulham
  • Most Appearances (all competitions) – Tony Ingham who retired from the game having featured 548 times for the club.
  • Top Division League Titles – 0 – Were a mere point from beating Liverpool to the 1975/76 Division One title.
  • FA Cups – 0 – But did manage to reach the final in 1982.
  • League Cups – 1 – Lifted the League Cup in 1966/67, the same season Rodney Marsh scored 44 goals.

London Clubs in League One

Charlton The Valley
Image: foshie, flickr

Moving down to the English third-tier now and there are just the two teams flying the London flag.

AFC Wimbledon

When the old Wimbledon FC was given permission to relocate nearly 50 miles north to Milton Keynes, a group of supporters took it upon themselves to establish a new could that would be based in Wimbledon. Starting in the ninth tier of English football they have done a superb job to move up the leagues so quickly by 2016 they had reached the same division as their bitter rivals. All previous Wimbledon FC records belonged to MK Dons (renounced in 2007) rather than AFC Wimbledon though so this means the club is without any major silverware.

  • Nickname – The Dons
  • Main Club Colours – Blue & Yellow
  • Stadium – Plough Lane
  • Stadium Capacity – 9,215
  • Founded – 2002
  • Main Rivals – MK Dons
  • Most Appearances (all competitions) – Barry Fuller currently holds the record with 233 although this will most likely be broken before too long.

Charlton Athletic

Formerly a stable Premier League side, Charlton have in more recent years been yo-yo-ing between the Championship and League One. It has been a bumpy ride for the club that went from playing Premier League football in 2007 to missing out on automatic League One promotion in 2010. There is hope, however, that a recent change in ownership might turn around the fortunes of the Addicks. The rather loathed Belgian businessman Roland Duchatelet was cheered out in 2019 with new owner Danish entrepreneur, Thomas Sandgaard, providing some cause for optimism.

  • Nickname – The Addicks
  • Main Club Colours – Red & White
  • Stadium – The Valley
  • Stadium Capacity – 27,111
  • Founded – 1905
  • Main Rivals – Crystal Palace, Millwall
  • Most Appearances (all competitions) – Goalkeeper Sam Bartram who featured 623 times during a 22-year stay. Also the oldest player to have played for the club.
  • Top Division League Titles – 0 – Never close.
  • FA Cups – 1 – Went all the way in 1946/47, beating Burnley 1-0 in the final.
  • League Cups – 0 – Best effort was when reaching the quarters in 2006.

London Clubs in League Two

Leyton Orient Brisbane Road Stadium
Image: Spudgun67, Wikimedia Commons

Finally we reach the bottom of the Football League which like League One, has the two London based sides.

Leyton Orient

We may consider Leyton Orient to be a fairly small club but to their credit, they did manage to earn promotion to the top-flight in 1962. Having fought so hard to get here though, their stay was short-lived as Orient finished comfortably bottom, winning just six of their 42 matches. The general trajectory has been downwards since then and silverware of absolutely any kind has been hard to come by. Their only trophy since lifting the London Challenge Cup in 1973 was their recent National League title in 2019.

They do at least have a better FA Cup record than most other teams in their current division as they somehow managed to reach the semi-finals in 1978.

  • Nickname – The O’s, Orient
  • Main Club Colours – Red & White
  • Stadium – Brisbane Road
  • Stadium Capacity – 9,271
  • Founded – 1881
  • Main Rivals – Southend
  • Most Appearances (league) – Peter Allen on 432.

Sutton United

When Sutton won the National League in 2021, they booked their place in the Football League for the first time in their history. Never before had this small, century-old club reached the fourth tier of English football. Given their resources, it is a superb achievement and time will tell if you can continue to punch above their weight. Although brand new clubs to the Football League are often not too familiar, Sutton made headlines in 2017 when drawing Arsenal in the FA Cup. Although they lost the match 2-0, their reserve goalkeeper, Wayne Shaw, was caught up in the much-discussed ‘Piegate’ controversy.

  • Nickname – The U’s
  • Main Club Colours – Amber & Chocolate
  • Stadium – Gander Green Lane
  • Stadium Capacity – 5,013 (765 seated)
  • Founded – 1898
  • Main Rivals – Carshalton Athletic
  • Most Appearances (all competitions) – Larry Pritchard, later a first team manager at the club, played for Sutton 786 times.