The Premier League and Football League are littered with special stadiums.
Whether it’s your local ground where you cheer on the team of your heart or the away day that you look forward to the most every season, each fan has arenas that mean the most to them.
So, when we decided to rank all 92 stadiums within England’s top four divisions for the 2021/22 season, we knew that it was going to be a monumental undertaking.
Premier League and Football League stadiums
Each stadium has its fans and detractors with every single one of them being somebody’s favourite, so rest assured that we’re not proclaiming to have produced some sort of scientific, factual answer.
But alas, courtesy of the trusty medium of Tiermaker, we’ve given it our best shot by ranking each and every stadium from worst to best in categories ranging from ‘Rock Bottom’ to ‘Cathedral’.
The placements of the arenas will be based upon the personal experiences of yours truly as well as the opinions of other fans and influencers who know their way around an away day in England.
Everything from the stadium’s architecture and history to the food, amenities and fan atmosphere will be taken into consideration with all those elements proving crucial in building the perfect ground.
Ranking all 92 stadiums
So, sure, there will be personal biases and unconscious favouritism, but that’s the nature of the beast when what makes the ideal stadium and away day such a subjective matter.
However, we’re not going to bore you all day long with disclaimers and housekeeping, so let’s jump right into the action with our own ranking of every Premier League and Football League stadium:
Abbey Stadium, Broadfield Stadium, London Stadium and the Lamex Stadium
I know, I know, I know, we’re sorry, but every race has to have its stragglers and we take no pride in kicking Cambridge United, Crawley Town, West Ham United and Stevenage fans in the shins.
Nevertheless, the London Stadium will forever be a massive bugbear of ours because despite the best efforts of Hammers fans, it’s simply not a football stadium and the stands feel like they’re in a different postcode to the pitch.
Similarly, our other wooden spoon winners marked low on atmosphere, facilities, architecture and refreshments, but they’re not without their charms even if they regularly rank amongst some of the country’s lesser away days.
Needs some TLC
Spotland Stadium, St. James’ Park (Exeter City), Wham Stadium, Rodney Parade, Kassam Stadium, Turf Moor, London Road, Field Mill, Glandord Park, Oakwell, Priestfield Stadium, Pirelli Stadium, Memorial Stadium, Kenilworth Road, Victoria Park, Globe Arena and Whaddon Road
Look, this title isn’t pointing fingers at clubs or fans because money can often be tight in the Football League and there are plenty of supporter-led efforts to give their stadiums some extra love.
However, we’re simply saying that in an ideal world these stadiums would be given a little more TLC to really bring them up to date and elevate the fan experience.
Don’t think we’re slating traditional and characterful grounds either because we love the through-a-house entrance at Luton Town and old-fashioned vibes at Exeter City, Accrington Stanley and beyond.
But whether it’s through brutally little legroom, roofless away ends or dastardly view obstructions, then anyone who has visited these grounds will agree that a quick nip and tuck wouldn’t do them any harm.
Oh, and call us harsh, but we felt obliged to put Field Mill and the Kassam Stadium in this category because the TLC that they need in their lives happens to be an entire fourth stand.
Middle of the road
Vitality Stadium, St. Mary’s Stadium, Loftus Road, Madejski Stadium, University of Bolton Stadium, Selhurst Park, KCOM Stadium, Vicarage Road, Banks’s Stadium, DW Stadium, Boundary Park, AJ Bell Stadium, Sixfields Stadium, Brisbane Road, Gander Green Lane, JobServe Community Stadium, Plough Lane, New Meadow, Brunton Park, The New York Stadium, Wetherby Road, Highbury Stadium, Prenton Park, Holker Street and The New Lawn Stadium
Ah yes, welcome to the land of ready-salted, vanilla and PH 7 stadiums where we don’t really have anything shocking to say about them, but they don’t exactly get us giddy with excitement either.
Grounds like St. Mary’s and the Madejski leave us cold with their uniform, bowl-like designs, while stadiums such as Sixfields and Brisbane Road just feel distinctly plain with average acoustics and architecture.
Meanwhile, Selhurst Park occupies somewhat of a unique position because there’s no denying that their facilities could do with an upgrade, but their epic atmosphere saved them from dropping into the tier below.
And yes, maybe we’ve been generous to the homes of Sutton United, Barrow and Harrogate Town, but to brand their throwback-to-a-lost-era stadiums into ‘Needs some TLC’ felt a bit premature given their non-league stints.
It’s good, but…
Cardiff City Stadium, Etihad Stadium, Stadium MK, Pride Park, Liberty Stadium, Emirates Stadium, Ricoh Arena and Keepmoat Stadium
Look, we like these stadiums, we do, but the title speaks for itself because each one has a catch that holds back our admiration for the ground evolving and flowering into unabashed adoration.
The Etihad, Stadium MK, Emirates and Ricoh Arena all have top-class facilities that give an extra layer of comfort to an away day with top-notch seats and food, but the atmosphere lacks too much for us to truly fall in love with them.
Meanwhile, there’s nothing more that we hate than modern stadiums with soulless designs or, in the case of Cardiff, mismatching seats with Pride Park and the Liberty both knocked down a peg as a result despite great acoustics.
County Ground, Vale Park, Gresty Road and Carrow Road
Is this section pervaded by underlining, personal bias more than the others? Ok maybe, but sue us because we don’t hear love for Swindon Town, Port Vale, Crewe Alexandra and Norwich City’s homes enough.
Vale Park is one of the quirkiest and homeliest arenas in the country, the County Ground has cracking food plus under-appreciated architecture and Gresty Road packs plenty of old-fashioned character into its 10,153 capacity.
And how often do you hear the idiosyncratic, homey and welcoming brilliance of Carrow Road praised amongst Premier League stadia? Not enough, that’s how often.
Cracking day out
Adams Park, Sincil Bank, Deepdale, Hawthorns, Valley Parade, The Valley, Hillsborough Stadium, Home Park, King Power Stadium, The Den, Bramall Lane, The John Smith’s Stadium, City Ground, Bet365 Stadium, Ewood Park, Bloomfield Road, Portman Road, Brentford Community Stadium, Riverside Stadium, Ashton Gate, Amex Stadium and St. Andrew’s
Now we’re talking. While, yes, there are still faults that you could pick in most of these stadiums, our notes are overwhelmingly positive to the extent that they are all away days that we look forward to.
From the scenic setting of Adams Park to the epic architecture of Valley Parade and the underrated acoustics of the King Power to the characterful addition of Brentford’s new home, there’s something for everyone here.
Throw in the tasty and affordable grub at Huddersfield Town, the classy new renovations at Ashton Gate and the pure definition of a ‘cracking day out’ in a trip to Blackpool and what’s not to love?
Oh, and yes, I’m from Lincoln, but I’ll happily die on the hill that Sincil Bank has one of the liveliest atmospheres of any stadium in the Premier League or Football League.
Old Trafford, Craven Cottage, Elland Road, Fratton Park, Goodison Park, Villa Park, Stamford Bridge, Stadium of Light, Molineux and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
English footballing royalty wherever you look. They might just have missed out on ‘cathedral’ status, which is occupied by just two legendary grounds, but make no mistake that these are top-class arenas.
We’ll be sad to see Goodison Park go because few stadiums in the country have quite so much character, though Craven Cottage – complete with said cottage – gives it a quirky and endearing run for its money.
Elland Road and Fratton Park are absolute cauldrons of noise with beautifully classic architecture to boot, while Villa Park finished just a nose hair shy of the top shelf as one of the world’s most underrated grounds.
And criticise Old Trafford until you’re blue in the face, but despite the fact it’s not one of the loudest stadiums in England, you’re simply not human if it doesn’t first take your breath away when you first walk out on to its stands.
St. James’ Park and Anfield
The best of the best. Call them a ‘cathedral’, call them a ‘palace’, whatever you fancy because the simple fact of the matter is that Liverpool and Newcastle United’s homes tower above the rest.
Not only is St. James’ Park home to one of the most epic away ends in the world, but it’s thoroughly unique architecture and thundering atmosphere make it an absolute-must on any self-respecting football fan’s bucket list.
And what’s there to say about Anfield that hasn’t been said before? There’s just no place like it in football when your body is covered in goosebumps and your spine tingles at the sound of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
Marry that to an absolute masterclass in how to combine classic and modern elements in stadium design and if we had to choose a winner, then we’d pick Anfield as the best stadium of the entire 92.
Every stadium has its fans
We’ve angered half the country, haven’t we?
Now, look, it’s important to reiterate that we don’t mean any disrespect to any of these stadiums because each one of them will hold special memories for supporters that should never be forgotten.
A stadium could be completely outdated, bereft of transport links and serving gritty burgers, but if it’s the place where you’ve gone to seek the beautiful distraction that is football, then power to you.
So, sure, the Abbey Stadium, London Stadium and so forth might not float the boats of the majority, but it would be great to see their defenders making some noise across our various social channels.
“Rangnick is struggling at Man Utd” (Football Terrace)
Although there’s no ‘right’ answer to the best stadium in the Premier League and Football League, we’d love to find out which stadium feels like the best selection for you.