Football Teams in London

Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal
Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal (, Najmi Microstockers)

London, the bustling capital of England, is home to a vibrant football scene, boasting numerous teams across various leagues. From the prestigious Premier League down to lower divisions, London accommodates a diverse range of clubs, each with its own unique history and passionate fanbase.

London’s football landscape is teeming with a rich history, fierce rivalries and passionate supporters. From the iconic Arsenal and Chelsea to the likes of Millwall and Queens Park Rangers, each team contributes to the city’s football fabric in its own unique way, with the stadiums often representing the players and supporters perfectly.

Defining London

London skyline, Tower Bridge

Part of the problem with discussing London, of course, is its vastness. Although it is counted as one city, that isn’t really a fair reflection of what it offers. It is, in many ways, numerous different cities stuck together, presenting the rest of the country with a sprawling landscape in which numerous different football clubs can ply their trade without getting in each other’s way. It is important to acknowledge that London’s size alone means that many of the teams that play there aren’t actually based in the city centre, often being located on the outskirts of London itself.

There are also some clubs in London that are not professional, either being amateur or semi-professional enterprises. For the purposes of this article, we are going to ignore the semi-professional and amateur clubs. Instead, we’re going to focus on those that ply their trade within the Premier League and Football League, going down to League Two. The nature of promotion and relegation is such that a team might not be in the league we specific at the time that we write this piece, to say nothing of the fact that others might’ve been promoted, but this will give us at least a sense of football in London.

List of London Football Teams

Stamford Bridge
Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea FC (, ricochet64)

Before we look at the teams in a little more detail, we should first outline those that we consider to be London clubs. Here we will look at not only the team but also the year in which the team was founded as well as the stadium the side plays its football at. We will also mention the league that each of the club was playing its games in for the 2023-2024 campaign, which might have changed by the time you read this:

Team Year Founded Stadium League
AFC Wimbledon 2002 Plough Lane EFL League Two
Arsenal 1886 The Emirates Stadium Premier League
Brentford 1889 Brentford Community Stadium Premier League
Charlton Athletic 1905 The Valley EFL League One
Chelsea 1905 Stamford Bridge Premier League
Crystal Palace 1905 Selhurst Park Premier League
Fulham 1879 Craven Cottage Premier League
Leyton Orient 1881 Brisbane Road EFL League One
Millwall 1885 The Den EFL Championship
Sutton United 1898 Gander Green Lane EFL League Two
Tottenham Hotspur 1882 Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Premier League
Watford 1881 Vicarage Road EFL Championship
West Ham United 1895 London Stadium Premier League
Queens Park Rangers 1882 Loftus Road EFL Championship

AFC Wimbledon

AFC WimbledonThe youngest team on the list, AFC Wimbledon are what is known as a phoenix club, having been founded by Wimbledon Football Club supporters in 2002 after that team relocated to Milton Keynes. They became the Milton Keynes Dons, maintaining the records of Wimbledon whilst AFC Wimbledon started from scratch. It was affiliated to both the London and Surrey Football Associations when it was formed, beginning life in the Premier Division of the Combined Counties League.

Having started out in the ninth tier of English football, AFC Wimbledon made their way up to the third tier, League One, by 2016, which was an incredible achievement for a team that literally didn’t exist 14 years earlier. Whilst AFC Wimbledon haven’t won the sort of trophies that other London teams have over the years, the fact that they have been able to play professional football at all is impressive. That is to say nothing of the fact that they have claimed their way up the divisions at a comparative rate of knots.


ArsenalWhen it comes to London clubs that have achieved success, perhaps only Chelsea can challenge Arsenal’s achievements over the years. The Gunners were formed in South London and were the first club from the south of the country to join the Football League. They’ve only been relegated out of the First Division once, which was in 1913, with Herbert Chapman widely considered to be the man who changes the club’s fortunes forever. That came after the decision to move from Woolwich to North London, which happened in 1913.

Arsenal’s first Fist Division title win came in 1931, with the club’s first Premier League title arriving in 1998. It is the FA Cup where the club has been the most dominant, getting its first on the board in 1930 and adding more than a dozen more in the years that followed. Arguably the club’s greatest ever achievement came during the 2003-2004 season, which was when they became the ‘Invicibles’ thanks to going an entire Premier League campaign without losing a match.


BrentfordAffectionately known as ‘the Bees’, Brentford was formed in 1889 and moved into Griffin Park in 1904. The club played amateur football during its early years, entering the London League in 1896 and moving up to the Southern League two years later. In the years that followed, the Bees slowly made their way up the football league, winning the Third Division South in 1933 and the Second Division in 1935 before finishing fifth in First Division in 1936.

For some clubs, however, what goes up must come down and that was very much the case for Brentford. The Bees struggled to maintain any sort of consistency over the decades that followed and remained out of the top-flight after their relegation at the end of the 1946-1947 season until they won the Championship Play-Off final in 2021. They reached the semi-final of the League Cup that same season, which is their best achievement to date.

Charlton Athletic

Charlton AthleticFounded on the 9th of June 1905, Charlton didn’t turn professional for a further 15 years. They were eventually invited to join the newly-formed Football League Third Division South in 1921. They won it eight years later, showing the rest of London that they weren’t just there to make up the numbers. That isn’t to say that they haven’t had any problems, however. The club recovered from administration in the 1980s.

One of the biggest days in the club’s history came in 1998 when they won the Championship Play-Off final in order to play in the Premier League for the first time. They were relegated the following year, but Alan Curbishley returned them to the top-flight when the won the Championship in 2000. Seven successive seasons in the Premier League followed, before two relegations in three years sent them back down through the divisions.


ChelseaAs far as successful clubs in London are concerned, only Chelsea are able to genuinely rival Arsenal’s claim to the title. Formed in 1905 after Gus Mears acquired the Stamford Bridge athletics stadium, he originally offered it to Fulham but decided to found his own club when they turned him down. Whilst it would be unfair to suggest that the club enjoyed no success prior to the arrival of Roman Abramovich in 2003, there is little question that the Russian’s arrival in West London was crucial to their modern-era success.

Abramovich spent £60 million buying Chelsea from Ken Bates, ploughing huge sums of money into the playing staff over the years that followed to completely change the face of football. Despite having little consistency in terms of management, his approach worked and Chelsea won Premier League and Champions League trophies with their mega-squads over the following two decades. Eventually, his association with Vladimir Putin meant he had to sell the club.

Crystal Palace

Crystal PalaceThere is something about Crystal Palace that means that a lot of people see the Eagles as one of their favourite second-clubs. Formed in 1861 at the Crystal Palace Exhibition building, the club used the FA Cup Final stadium for its home games until 1915. Nine years later and the team moved to Selhurst Park, where it has played its games ever since. Despite not notching up a huge amount of trophies, they club has only twice dropped below the second tier.

When Crystal Palace finished third in the First Division in 1991, it was the highest league finish that they had ever managed and might have resulted in European football if not for the fact that English clubs were banned by UEFA in the aftermath of the Heysel Stadium Disaster. One of the founding members of the Premier League when it was formed in 1992, Palace twice lost in the FA Cup final, first in 1990 and then again in 2016.


FulhamFulham are London’s oldest professional football team, having been founded in 1879. Nineteen years later and the side joined the Southern League, wining the First Division in 1906 and then again in 1907. That was the year that they were elected to the Second Division of the Football League, where they have spent most of their history, drifting between the second and fourth tiers of it for a lot it.

A period of success came after being taken over by Mohamed Al-Fayed in 1997, winning their respective leagues twice in three years to gain promotion to the Premier League. Success in Europe came about thanks to a UEFA Intertoto Cup win in 2002, with future England manager Roy Hodgson getting them to the final of the Europa League eight years later.

Leyton Orient

Leyton OrientVery much a ‘Greater London’ team as opposed to one from London itself, Leyton Orient were founded in 1881 and have been known as ‘the O’s’ virtually ever since. They are London’s second-oldest club to play professional football and have called Brisbane Road their home ground since 1937.

The club was originally formed as the Glyn Cricket Club, not playing football for the first time until 1888. They joined the London League eight years later, becoming Clapton Orient in 1898. They didn’t settle on the name Leyton Orient until after the Second World War. That that is part of what we’re telling you about them probably tells its own story about the O’s success.


MillwallThe fact that the fans often sing ‘No one likes us, we don’t care’ is a good indication of what to expect from ‘the Lions’. Many of the club’s supporters are associated with hooliganism, being portrayed in such a light in films and other forms of media. One of the club’s fiercest rivalries is with West Ham United, who they have played nearly 100 times to date.

Having been founded as Millwall Rovers on the Isle of Dogs in London’s West End in 1885, the club chose to drop the ‘Rovers’ four years later. In terms of major honours, there isn’t a huge amount to report, although they made it the final of the FA Cup in 2004 where they lost 3-0 to Manchester United.

Sutton United

Sutton UnitedSutton United was formed as a football club in 1898, playing in junior and local leagues for the first couple of decades. It wasn’t until 1921 that they progressed to the Athenian League and it took another 43 years before they made it to the Isthmian League.

Over the duration of Sutton’s existence, the U’s, also known as the Amber & Chocolates and the Yellows, have played at Wembley on four occasions to date. Two of those came thanks to the FA Amateur Cup final, with a FA Trophy final being played there in 1981 snd the EFL Trophy final in 2022.

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham HotspurWhilst Tottenham Hotspur can’t rival Arsenal and Chelsea in terms of trophies won, the North London club have become an established top-flight side over the years. Their rivalry with Arsenal is one of the most notable things about the club, with Spurs having established themselves as the North London club of note after their formation in 1882 and before the Gunners decided to move to the area.

Tottenham’s first First Division title came in 1951, with their second arriving exactly a decade later. They have also won the FA Cup several times over the years, with the first win being in 1901. Add to that their League Cup wins and you can see why it is that Spurs fans always believe that their team has a chance of adding silverware come the start of every season, even if they end up disappointed more often than not.


WatfordThe fact that Watford are based in Hertfordshire means that there might well be some people who think that they don’t belong on this list. For many, though, the Watford Gap is the edge of what is considered London, so it is probably only right that they’re included here. Having been founded in 1881 in line with the foundation of Watford Rovers, Watford Football Club itself was established 17 years later.

The club’s most successful period arguably came between 1977 and 1987, which was when Graham Taylor was the manager and they rose from the fourth tier all the way up to the first. During that time they reached the FA Cup final, although they lost 2-0 to Everton. In the modern era, Watford have bounced between the Premier League and Championship, never quite having the ability to remain in the former nor the lack of it to depart the latter.

West Ham United

West Ham UnitedIn the modern era, those that don’t really know football will be aware of West Ham United thanks to the fact that the club has been the rivals of fictional side AFC Richmond in the American comedy Ted Lasso. That, though, is somewhat dismissive of a club that has been playing football since 1895, which was when it was formed as the Thames Ironworks. Known as the Irons and the Hammers, they have enjoyed success both domestically and in Europe.

Whilst West Ham have never won the Premier League, nor its predecessor the First Division, the London club has enjoyed success in the FA Cup. They won their first European trophy thanks to success in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965, adding another one in 2023 when they defeated Fiorentina in the UEFA Europa Conference in 2023. They could easily have added two League Cups to that, losing in the finals of both 1966 and 1981.

Queens Park Rangers

Queens Park RangersFounded in 1882 as Christchurch Rangers, the club changed its name after it merged with St. Judes Institute four years later. When they won the West London League in 1899, QPR, as the club is most commonly referred to, joined both the Souther League and the Western League. This eventually led to their election to the Football League, which came in 1920.

Perhaps the club’s closest attempt to major success came at the end of the 1975-1976 campaign, when they finished second in the First Division, missing out on the title by just a single point to eventual winners Liverpool. The fact that they were relegated three years later perhaps tells the story of QPR’s history in general, constantly bobbling between the top leagues.