Premier League stadium rankings: All 20 from worst to best – so you could shout at us

Welcome to The Athletic’s Premier League stadium rankings, an exercise in entertainment, creating arguments nobody can win and questionable mathematics.

Before we start, we should beg for forgiveness. This is an almost impossible task and however we choose categories, weight categories and then mark the teams is going to annoy you. It’s a subjective topic and there isn’t a right answer.

All we ask is that you know we have put far too many hours into all this, tried to make it as fair as possible, and are not deliberately trying to upset anyone.

So take a seat — or stand, if you prefer — maybe get one of those squeezy stress balls and enjoy. Hey, you might even agree with some of it.


Coming to this order has been a long, methodical process involving a working group that broke the scoring into four categories:

  • Matchday experience — including seat views, community feel, accessibility and amenities inside and near the stadium (40 per cent of the final total)
  • Match atmosphere — with consideration for home and away supporters (25 per cent)
  • Transport and location — how easy it is to get to and from the stadium (20 per cent)
  • Aesthetics — such as design, character, surroundings, history and other intangibles (15 per cent)

The panel was asked to submit marks out of 10 for each stadium in each category, which were then averaged and weighted as above — giving an objective final ranking.

There are complexities to each category. A ground’s atmosphere can depend on the form of a team, the status of the opposition and whether the floodlights are on.

Equally, your matchday experience can be influenced by how safe you feel or how swiftly stewards deal with an abusive or racist supporter nearby.

As for the aesthetics, stadium architectural historian Simon Inglis said most grounds “are simply an agglomeration of decisions made by different directors over different eras in different circumstances. I hold my hand up to extolling a shambles over a masterplan and prefer asymmetry and quirky angles to a uniform bowl, but I also appreciate that a uniform bowl will almost always be functionally superior”.

Our working panel and consultation included Inglis, our own writers, which includes a broad cross-section of match-going supporters, and guidance from the Football Supporters’ Association.


20. Vitality Stadium

Team: Bournemouth

Capacity: 11,307

First used: 1910

The main stand at what was originally named Dean Court carries the Bournemouth crest and below it, a slogan: “Together, anything is possible”. Few things could be more apt. Completely rebuilt in 2001, the stadium finally got its fourth stand in 2013 after the club survived administration. Since then, it has become a regular Premier League feature.

Best bits: There is a neatness and conformity to the Vitality Stadium. The compact stands are close to the action and provide uninterrupted views and the whole ground does not try to be something it isn’t. Instead it is humble, which may explain its presence at the bottom of this list, but some will also view that as its charm.

Where it falls short: There’s little discernible character. The support is welcoming but everything feels a bit temporary, like the real ground will be built at some point in the future. The images of past glories on the side of each stand are a nice feature but struggle to inspire.

What I love about the place: It is a cobbled-together ground and wouldn’t look out of place in the lower rungs of the EFL, with the club’s training complex adjacent to the Ted MacDougall Stand. That part of the ground remains a temporary building, put up quickly when Bournemouth were promoted to the Championship. The stadium is situated in a leafy part of Dorset and near a dog-walking route that cuts between the ground and Bournemouth’s compact training facility. The charm of the ground has contributed to them punching above their weight.” – Jacob Tanswell, football writer

Verdict: If you are in the area and a game is on (with tickets available), then you should catch it, but no one is going to shame you if there are other grounds higher on your list.

19. Kenilworth Road

Team: Luton Town

Capacity: 11,050

First used: 1905

Luton’s home for more than 100 years was one of the stories of the summer following the club’s promotion. Kenilworth Road, which last hosted the top flight in 1992, is like a football museum. A working example of how football grounds first established themselves with mostly wooden, low-roofed, shallow terraces that have since seen seats installed. Those stands sit alongside a new, temporary Bobbers Stand that enables the ground to fulfil its Premier League obligations. The Oak Stand entrance through nearby houses is now known globally. The ground’s days are numbered, with Luton set to build a new purpose-built stadium across town.

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Best bits: There is nothing like the cauldron of noise that can be generated in a ground like Kenilworth Road. Everything feels so close. The sound consumes. It may be well short of the stature enjoyed by most Premier League venues, yet you won’t hear an atmosphere like it. The walk into the away end through neighbouring terraced housing really is fun, too.

Where it falls short: There is limited legroom, posts galore and a roof that is likely to obscure your view. Accessibility was also considered poor, although improvements have since been introduced as part of the recent redevelopment.

What I love about the place: “All its peculiarities and rough edges embody the Luton story and how far we have come. Each stand has a unique character. Draped flags lionise club greats and protest past wrongs inflicted on the club by over-zealous authorities. The re-jigged Bobbers Stand is just the latest example of the club being dragged kicking and screaming into the next phase of modern football.

“But the individual stories and who you go with (parents, grandparents, partners, children) are what make it so personal. Your first game (Preston North End). Your worst game (Kettering Town). Your best game (Sunderland). They are the memories. Eventually, we will move into a nice-looking new stadium, which will bring financial security and less mockery from opposition fans. It will probably look lovely on TV, but it won’t be home. Not for a long time.” – Alex Brodie, content editor (and Luton fan)

Verdict: Get there and soak up a rare atmosphere while you still can. Just don’t expect comfortable surroundings.

18. Selhurst Park

Team: Crystal Palace

Capacity: 25,486

First used: 1924

One of the venues for the 1948 Summer Olympics, Selhurst Park is a traditional ground that has preserved its character while picking up enough updates. The newest part of the ground is the striking Holmesdale Road Stand, completed in 1994. You may well recognise the stadium as Nelson Road, the fictional home of AFC Richmond in Ted Lasso. Plans for a £150million ($185m) redevelopment of Selhurst Park are in place, with most of the formal barriers now cleared.

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Best bits: Palace take pride in their home atmosphere. The Holmesdale Fanatics lead by example with flags and chants throughout the 90 minutes. The soul at Selhurst Park is viewed among the best in the country and there is a community warmth around the place that can be hard to find at other clubs in London.

Where it falls short: Parking is a struggle. There will also be obstructions to your view — especially in the away end — and accessibility is poor in places.

What I love about the place: “Selhurst Park is not the most glamorous stadium, but it has character and history. Next year will mark its centenary, just as work to replace the Main Stand is hoped to start. Combine that with an atmosphere often hailed as the envy of other Premier League clubs and there is something special about it. Just don’t try to drive there.” — Matt Woosnam, Crystal Palace correspondent

Verdict: Selhurst Park is definitely a matchday atmosphere to savour and a classic ground to take in, whether you want to see Roy Hodgson or imagine Ted Lasso watching on from the dugout.

17. Turf Moor

Team: Burnley

Capacity: 21,744

First used: 1883

Home to Burnley for 140 years and counting, Turf Moor is one of the world’s oldest football stadiums. Only Preston’s Deepdale has enjoyed longer unbroken service than Turf Moor and recent investment has raised the standards of the facilities after a few too many years of neglect.

Best bits: Burnley is a proper football town and it feels like it. The stadium regularly averages crowds over 20,000 in a town with a population of little more than 90,000, making it one of the best-supported clubs per capita in England. There’s the tidier look, new video screens, painted wooden seats and a lovely backdrop of rolling hills. You may even get to catch some action at the neighbouring Burnley Cricket Club, which backs onto one of the stands.

Where it falls short: All places get cold, but Turf Moor can feel particularly chilly. You may or may not get a good view of the pitch and two of the stands could do with the same renovation treatment as their opposite ends.

What I love about the place: There is a charm to Turf Moor that gives it an authentic old-school football feel. It has character, history, tradition, compact concourses and now digital advertising boards. The one feature that marks it out is the view. Sit in the press box at the top of the North Stand and admire the old mill town and surrounding area. A thing of beauty you never tire of and when the visiting team’s correspondent arrives, you can guarantee they will point it out. Combine that with ‘Kompanyball’ at its best and the atmosphere it can generate… quality.” – Andy Jones, Burnley correspondent

Oliver Kay says: I cannot understand how it’s so low. A functional stadium rather than an attractive one, but it has an old-world charm, slightly more rugged than Craven Cottage. I suspect a north-south divide here. That view from the top of the Bob Lord Stand of the chimneys and hills beyond is something to savour. And there aren’t many better away ends.

Verdict: Take a coat and enjoy one of English football’s oldest venues that still carries plenty of charm.

16. The American Express Stadium

Team: Brighton & Hove Albion

Capacity: 31,876

First used: 2011

Situated in Falmer on the outskirts of Brighton, the Amex is not so much the home of a club as the sign of its rebirth. Brighton had been homeless for 16 years after the board of directors voted to sell the club’s previous Goldstone Ground home to developers without arranging a replacement. The club fought through the peril and earned Premier League football within six years of moving to its impressive, £93million home.

Best bits: Your matchday ticket also acts as a voucher for free travel. The facilities for supporters include padded seats and ample legroom. The design is appealing and there is even the charm of depicting white seagulls among the sea of blue seats. The stadium’s accessibility has been awarded the gold standard centre of excellence by charity and stadium auditors Level Playing Field.

Where it falls short: It just doesn’t feel or look right to have such small seating areas behind each goal. This is where supporters suck the ball into the net, don’t they know? Although transport is free, the remote location of the ground means there are no real alternatives when it fails. There are also limited refreshment options beyond the club facilities, which tend to be more expensive and don’t provide shelter from the weather.

What I love about the place: The Amex is neat, well-equipped and fit for purpose. A near-32,000-seater stadium set in a bowl on the eastern outskirts of the city. Above all, it symbolises the spirit of the club and its supporters. Together they fought back from two years of ground sharing with Gillingham 75 miles away and 12 years at Withdean, a converted athletics track that was supposed to be a temporary home back in the city before a drawn-out saga for permission to build the Amex. A facelift after 12 years has given the stadium a fresh feel for the club’s first season in Europe.” – Andy Naylor, Brighton correspondent

Verdict: Brighton are on to a good thing; their stadium sums up perfectly where they have come from and who they now aspire to be.

15. Craven Cottage

Team: Fulham

Capacity: 24,500

First used: 1896

Craven Cottage’s history of hosting Fulham dates back more than 125 years and it represents one of the more idiosyncratic stadiums in England. It is named after a cottage built by William Craven in 1780, which still stands in one corner of the ground. The ornate frontage of the historic Johnny Haynes Stand — the oldest remaining stand in English professional football — runs along the length of the ground. Now standing opposite it is the redeveloped Riverside Stand.

Best bits: There is a lot to like and experience when visiting Craven Cottage. The walk from Putney Bridge along the bank of the River Thames is one of the most enjoyable journeys to an English ground.

Where it falls short: Tickets are not cheap. Fulham supporters already feel like they have been asked to bear the brunt of the cost of that new Riverside Stand through higher ticket prices.

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What I love about the place: “The walk to Craven Cottage sets it apart. A rite of passage. Across the bridge, through Bishops Park, along the rows of terraced houses and then, somehow, a football ground hidden behind a listed brick facade attached to the cottage itself, tucked away in the corner. There is no football stadium like it, especially now it combines the modernity of the new Riverside Stand with the tradition and history of the wooden seats opposite. But it’s the stroll on a sunny day that makes it unique. It’s why travelling supporters enjoy it and why Fulham fans have fought so hard to make sure developers could never touch it.” — Peter Rutzler, Fulham correspondent

Verdict: There will be bigger, louder and more intense places to visit, but few are as warm and picturesque as Craven Cottage.

14. Goodison Park

Team: Everton

Capacity: 39,414

First used: 1892

Goodison is iconic. No stadium has hosted more games of English top-flight football. It was the first purpose-built stadium in England when it opened and the first to introduce dugouts for managers. Everton were also the first club to have a church attached to its stadium: the cosy St Luke’s serves tea, toast and memorabilia to match-goers before games. A new stadium on Bramley-Moore Dock is set to replace Goodison during next season, with the old stadium redeveloped for homes and commercial use.

Best bits: Goodison Park is football vintage. It holds in noise to guttural levels and provides an experience far closer and more stirring than others. Designed by Archibald Leitch, also look out for the criss-cross balustrades that underpin its architectural design and underline the ground’s enduring charm.

Where it falls short: There is no avoiding the pillars obstructing your view. It is the Premier League stadium with the highest percentage of restricted-view seats. There is little room for supporter facilities other grounds can offer, or much legroom.

What I love about the place: “If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then Everton’s imminent farewell to Goodison Park is already intensifying emotions among supporters. The Old Lady may be a pensioner among the top flight’s other modern super stadia, but it is a venerable old dear, bursting with history, tradition and memories to go with the fraying paint and obstructed views. Wedged into terraced streets on three sides, those matchday smells of chippies, beer and police horse muck are — like the ground itself — lingering reminders of a bygone age.” — Greg O’Keeffe, football writer

Oliver Kay says: By goodness, it has seen better days. It’s a relic now, a symbol of a club that has regrettably been left behind in the Premier League and its days are numbered. Everything about the place — the noise and smells as you walk down Goodison Road, the peeling paint in the concourses and stairwells, the appalling lack of legroom — feels like stepping back in time. And in the age of homogenised, identikit new stadiums, it is all the more appealing for that. Everton have to move on, but it will be a sad, sad day when they leave.”

Verdict: The beloved ground will not be around for much longer and is worth a visit for that reason alone. It will be missed once it’s gone.

13. Bramall Lane

Team: Sheffield United

Capacity: 32,050

First used: 1855

Bramall Lane is the oldest football stadium in the world still hosting matches. The four stands cling to the sides of the pitch and loom over the action — and that is despite being originally built to host cricket. It sits near the city centre, yet is a significant distance from the Hillsborough home of rivals Sheffield Wednesday. Steeped in history and character, it has its quirks but also comes across as pretty well-kept. The South Stand’s wooden seats were only removed in 2005.

Best bits: There can be few more intimidating atmospheres in English football than the one generated inside Bramall Lane. The noise lingers and swells as if stuck under the roof and the authenticity of the place means it feels like little has substantially changed through the years. It is the stadium that defines what a “difficult place to go” looks like and being on the right side of that is always more fun.

Where it falls short: Being on the opposite side of that atmosphere is not as enjoyable and the home support can make things intimidating for away supporters when the mood turns. Views can be interrupted by pillars and there is little to get excited about around the stadium itself. Accessibility across the stadium is limited and there is also the depressing sight of the stadium’s hotel, which has stood unused since 2020.

What I love about the place: “In many ways, Bramall Lane is a throwback to the days before dozens of new stadiums came along looking exactly like the one before — other than the colour of the seats. And that’s a good thing. On a night, the atmosphere positively fizzes. The lack of fans in 2020-21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic goes a long way to explaining why Chris Wilder’s United tanked so horribly in their second Premier League season.” — Richard Sutcliffe, football writer

Verdict: The sort of place the Premier League misses when it’s not there, a piece of history that continues to stand the test of time and home to one of the most vociferous atmospheres across English football.

12. The City Ground

Team: Nottingham Forest

Capacity: 30,404

First used: 1898

All but the first 14 years of Forest’s existence have been at The City Ground. The stadium sits on the bank of the River Trent and there have been plans since 2019 to redevelop the Peter Taylor Stand. They were granted planning permission last year, although the stadium’s proximity to the river may complicate matters.

Best bits: The stadium is in a beautiful spot at the heart of Nottingham, with the river a welcome neighbour. Trent Bridge crosses the river and is a hive of activity on a matchday. Then, inside the ground, the belting anthem of Mull of Kintyre sung just before kick-off is an iconic sound in English football, taking the entire ground right back to their English title and European successes of the late 1970s. The home atmosphere has been rejuvenated in recent seasons.

Where it falls short: The City Ground has character but little comfort. The PA system volume can be erratic and there is a chance you will have a post obstructing your view. It has also ranked as one of the more limited Premier League grounds for accessibility.

What I love about the place: “The City Ground has always been special, but it is the people, as much as the place, that has made it Forest’s biggest asset in recent years. Steve Cooper’s fist pumps, the spectacular Forza Garibaldi banners, Brennan Johnson, Ryan Yates and Joe Worrall helping fire their club to success. The deafening, almost physical wall of noise helped drive Forest into the Premier League and helped keep them there. For so long, it was a museum, a place of history. Now there is excitement for the future.” — Paul Taylor, Forest correspondent

Verdict: There is little new and shiny about the place, just a powerful atmosphere and a deeply ingrained history.

11. Etihad Stadium

Team: Manchester City

Capacity: 53,400

First used: 2003

Originally built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the City of Manchester Stadium was converted into a purpose-built football stadium at a cost of £40million. That conversion means it feels much more like a football venue than the London Stadium. In 2003, Manchester City moved in and, following the club’s takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008, the stadium sits in one of the most impressive football sites in Europe, with the Etihad Campus just across the road. The stadium design maximises sunlight and ventilation for the playing surface, which is regarded as one of the best in England. Expansion of the South Stand was completed in 2015 and there are plans for further redevelopment of the stadium over the coming three years.

Best bits: It is akin to visiting a football theme park, with restaurants, stages for bands and activities for supporters spread around the site. Inside, the stadium carries an aura given City have set about winning every trophy going. With Jack Grealish, Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne on the pitch, you know a seat guarantees the very best in action, alongside all the facilities and connectivity of a state-of-the-art stadium, which was lso awarded Level Playing Field’s centre of excellence award for accessibility.

Where it falls short: It is hard not to visit the Etihad and think about Maine Road. The club’s spiritual home saw a constant rollercoaster and delivered one of the great atmospheres in English football. The Etihad is many things but may never have that final piece of intangible soul that sits in the old stands. Away supporters being housed over three tiers does little to help the atmosphere.

What I love about the place: You’d have to say the Etihad is one of the toughest grounds to go to in top-level European football these days. Pep Guardiola’s team is a large reason for that, but the fans can generate an atmosphere for the biggest games that seems to give the players an extra push. Just ask Real Madrid. As for the physical building, it’s one that’s always evolving. The curious mixture of sky blue and concrete grey will look very modern once the North Stand redevelopment is concluded and the new live music venue next door is up and running.” — Sam Lee, Manchester City correspondent

Verdict: Unfairly nicknamed ‘Emptyhad’ by rivals, the Etihad gets a harder rap than it deserves. Given the team’s trophy haul and the high-quality fan experience, we all know who is having the last laugh.

10. London Stadium

Team: West Ham United

Capacity: 62,500

First used: 2016

London’s Olympic Stadium underwent a three-year, £274million renovation after controversially being handed to West Ham. The club was awarded a 99-year lease and pays an annual rent of £2.5million. The stadium is still used for other sports. UK Athletics has annual use and Major League Baseball games have also been hosted.

Best bits: Set in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London Stadium has expansive surroundings and the genuine feel of a big, international venue. There is plenty of space, excellent facilities and a good atmosphere outside the stadium on a matchday.

Where it falls short: The elephant in the room is the number of elephants you can fit into the stadium. The pitch feels distant and so does everyone else in the stadium. These are problems you will find in any football ground that also features an athletics track. Had Tottenham Hotspur’s bid to take over the site been successful, they would have knocked the stadium down and rebuilt it. Anyone who attended ‘Super Saturday’ in August 2012, when the British Olympic team won three gold medals inside the stadium, would vouch for the noise and atmosphere that can be created inside, but as hard as West Ham try, the experience of the London Stadium struggles to match the spectacle.

What I love about the place: It will never truly feel home to West Ham supporters due to their strong connection to the Boleyn Ground, but the electric atmosphere on European nights at the London Stadium is special. There have been so many memorable moments, from Andriy Yarmolenko’s winner in the last-16 Europa League tie against Sevilla to Michail Antonio’s goal in the Europa Conference League semi-final first-leg victory over AZ Alkmaar. Those moments make the place come alive.” — Roshane Thomas, West Ham correspondent

Verdict: There are issues — it can offer one of the least engaging atmospheres in England’s top flight – but the amenities, facilities and experience of visiting an impressive venue in part make up for that.

9. Stamford Bridge

Team: Chelsea

Capacity: 40,173

First used: 1877

Chelsea are one of only a few clubs to play at the same stadium since they were formed, but there is something utterly unrecognisable from the ground Chelsea were playing at just 30 years ago. Redevelopment of the stands, the removal of the greyhound racing track and the building of all manner of hotels and restaurants means the stadium itself is almost hidden inside the hodgepodge of buildings that make up Chelsea Village. Expanding the stadium or moving away have proven equally problematic.

Best bits: There are few stadiums of the size of Stamford Bridge that make everything feel so close to the pitch, probably because it would now be almost impossible to design it alongside the required space and amenities. Still, that closeness creates an authentic feel inside the stadium despite its exclusive west London setting and opulent exterior.

Where it falls short: There really is little to get excited about as you approach the ground. No view. No teasing floodlights. It just looks like you’re visiting a hotel shopping complex. Quite frankly, a club with Chelsea’s aspirations needs a bigger stadium and a future away from Stamford Bridge has been discussed. This is another stadium in a prime location where transport links can buckle on a matchday.

What I love about the place: “As each year goes by, Chelsea’s ground shows more signs of age and is overtaken in size and facilities by new, shinier versions built by rivals… but there is no other place Chelsea fans would rather be. Stamford Bridge is unique: the supporters, courtesy of Chelsea Pitch Owners, actually own the freehold to the ground. The club cannot move sites and keep the name Chelsea without getting enough votes from the CPO first.

“A club mocked for a lack of history are still at their traditional home. The team’s deteriorating form has dampened the atmosphere, but a blast of One Step Beyond by Madness after a big win gets people dancing in the stands like nowhere else.” — Simon Johnson, Chelsea correspondent

Verdict: Given Chelsea’s journey over the past 30 years, this may be one club that needs to move if it is to maximise its future, but Stamford Bridge remains an archetypal stop on any tour.

8. Gtech Community Stadium

Team: Brentford

Capacity: 17,250

First used: 2020

Having enjoyed the compact home comforts of Griffin Park and a public house on each corner since 1904, Brentford’s switch to their £71million new home was quite the departure. Plans had been in the works for almost two decades, but the new stadium finally arrived in time for the remarkable rise to the Premier League.

Best bits: The stadium is cleverly designed to fit into a triangle of land just off the M4. Space and comfort are all here and it is compact enough for the stands to feel attached to the action. Transport links are good and there is a community feel about the place.

Where it falls short: The design is fun but unlikely to persuade you to visit. The transport links are good but you could be forgiven for using a map and compass to find your way there on foot or by car.

What I love about the place: “It is one of the smallest grounds in the top two divisions but none of that detracts from its charm. Brentford’s home is close to the Thames and there is nothing better than stopping for a drink at one of the riverside pubs before watching Thomas Frank’s side take on one of the ‘Big Six’ on a roasting summer’s day. Just ask Manchester United fans.” — Jay Harris, Brentford correspondent

Verdict: A proud home for Brentford, a mark of how far the club has come and a comfortable and enjoyable venue for football.

7. Villa Park

Team: Aston Villa

Capacity: 42,530

First used: 1897

It is far from the biggest ground, yet there is something classically ornate and reliable about Villa Park. Villa’s home for well over a century, in the days before the new Wembley Stadium, Villa Park was used for more FA Cup semi-finals than any other ground. Significant redevelopment of the North Stand is on its way.

Best bits: A proper ground full of tradition and character, the Holte End especially. It is as good to look at from the outside as it is to experience from the inside, especially on a good day. When Villa Park rocks, the whole of Birmingham shakes.

Where it falls short: At times, Villa’s long and prestigious history has weighed heavy and when things are not going well, Villa Park can be quiet and unassuming. The ground comes with accessibility issues and has areas primed for redevelopment by its owners.

What I love about the place: A packed-out Villa Park, when in full voice, is a special place to be. The Holte End towers over the pitch and creates a wonderful, unique atmosphere. When it gets going there is no place quite like it and it’s little surprise more than 30,000 people are on the waiting list for a season ticket. While there are issues around the ground with public transport and the North Stand looks a little dated, its traditional charm is still warming. When cup semi-finals were held here, visiting supporters loved it just as much as the locals.” — Gregg Evans, football writer

Oliver Kay says: The tragedy of Villa Park is they demolished the old Trinity Road Stand, which was a thing of beauty. Of all the famous stands lost in the rush to modernise during the 1990s and 2000s, there were few more striking. Thank goodness they preserved the Holte End with its imposing red-brick exterior. Is there a more handsome stand in English football? And the upcoming redevelopment of the North Stand will enhance the old-meets-new feel of a stadium that is widely recognised among the best in the Premier League.”

Verdict: Getting to Villa Park for a big game to watch an in-form Villa can be as good and authentic as it gets.

6. Molineux

Team: Wolverhampton Wanderers

Capacity: 31,750

First used: 1889

Molineux has been home to Wolves for more than 130 years. It was the first stadium built for use by a Football League club and among the first to have floodlights installed and host European club games. Its name originates from Benjamin Molineux, who purchased the land during the 18th century. The modern stadium was built following Sir Jack Hayward’s takeover of the club in 1990 after serious financial issues. A new two-tier Stan Cullis Stand was opened in 2012.

Best bits: Whatever Wolves’ issues with identity on the pitch, their Molineux home is truly distinctive, with warm, inviting architecture. It is a short walk from the city centre, the facilities are modern and the atmosphere is raucous. A quick walk around the ground is worth the effort, showing off how the stadium is cut into the land. Hopefully, you will also clock the statue of Wolves legend Billy Wright.

Where it falls short: The home support can be intimidating and it may not be the best place to walk around on your own in your away shirt. It is another ground with limited parking nearby, too. There are a lot of pubs nearby but few allow away supporters inside.

What I love about the place: “Let’s talk about the statues. The figures of Stan Cullis and Billy Wright, in particular, are among the best footballing tributes you will find anywhere. Let’s talk about the pre-match music. Hi Ho Silver Lining, obviously, but Kashmir is even better. When you have Robert Plant around, why not? Then there’s the location; a short stroll from the station and city-centre pubs, not stuck out of town on a retail park. It needs sprucing up in places but so do a few cathedrals, which is what Molineux is; a footballing cathedral at the centre of its community.” — Steve Madeley, Wolves correspondent

Oliver Kay says: Molineux is a gem, but that wasn’t always the case. When I first went in 1982, it was a dump with an inexplicable 20-yard gap between the pitch and one of the stands. Even to my young eyes, it was a total eyesore. But I love it now. The design is slightly eccentric but it works, as does the old-gold colour scheme. Inside, particularly around the media suite and the executive boxes, the club’s proud history is rightly flaunted. And it’s a five-minute walk from the city centre. Seriously, what’s not to like?

Verdict: Molineux has a perfect balance of modern facilities and an authentic atmosphere to rival anywhere in the country.

5. Anfield

Team: Liverpool

Capacity: 61,276

First used: 1884

Apart from its first seven years when it was home to Everton, Anfield has served Liverpool from its perch on the edge of Stanley Park. It has continually evolved, adding tributes to legendary figures and more recently adding extra seats. That has seen off the need to move away from the club’s much-loved home. Now Anfield sits high above the trees and dominates the view as much as it does the lives of the city’s red-hearted residents.

Best bits: There is a poignancy in finding a moment to reflect at the ground’s Hillsborough memorial, while watching and listening to the entire ground sing You’ll Never Walk Alone before kick-off is one of football’s special experiences. Anfield can take you on a wild ride you may not want to end.

Where it falls short: The stadium has felt in a state of redevelopment for a few years and issues with the Buckingham Group, which was overseeing the rebuild of the Anfield Road end, have prolonged that perception. Once completed, Anfield will feel like it has been given another fresh lease of life. That is also likely to make matchday road congestion significantly worse.

What I love about the place: I’ll never forget the first time I walked up those red steps and gazed out at the sheer beauty of Anfield. October 27, 1990. Liverpool 2 Chelsea 0. There was no place like it as a wide-eyed 12-year-old and it’s still unsurpassed more than three decades later. The towering Kop, the noise, the flags and that unique ability to inspire and intimidate players in equal measure. Nowhere is capable of producing miracles like Anfield. Don’t take my word for it, this is what Pep Guardiola thinks: “The motto ‘This is Anfield’ is no marketing spin.” — James Pearce, Liverpool correspondent

Oliver Kay says: I get why people feel it is over-mythologised. The ‘famous European night’ cliche must sound pretty trite for opposition fans whose only experience of Anfield is a run-of-the-mill Premier League game on one of those Saturday afternoons when the Kop seems to be nursing a collective hangover. But I don’t think my ears have ever recovered from the semi-final second legs against Chelsea in 2005 and Barcelona in 2019. On nights like that, the place seems to take on a life of its own. One of the best things Fenway Sports Group did was scrap the previous owners’ plans for a new stadium.

“From certain vantage points, it is almost unrecognisable, but when the Anfield atmosphere is at its most raucous, it is unmistakable — possibly unrivalled.

Verdict: A bucket-list item for any Liverpool fan and probably any fan of football.

4. Emirates Stadium

Team: Arsenal

Capacity: 60,704

First used: 2006

Replacing the iconic surrounds of Highbury, the Emirates is now in its 18th season as Arsenal’s home. It cost £390million to build, which was funded solely by the club. Arsenal are yet to win a league title since it was opened — but are closer than ever.

Best bits: Supporter facilities are excellent. Arsenal’s on-pitch performances have improved the atmosphere, too. One thing you do sense walking up to the Emirates is its ‘Arsenalisation’. Since 2009, supporters have helped bring club history and soul with murals and imagery. The stadium’s accessibility has also been awarded the gold standard centre of excellence by Level Playing Field.

Where it falls short: At times under Arsene Wenger, it felt like the Emirates hampered Arsenal’s ability to improve on the pitch. Maybe that was unfair, but it made for an often unhappy stadium to visit. That feeling has eased in recent seasons, unlike the cost of refreshments. There are London Underground stations nearby but that proximity can also cause major congestion outside.

What I love about the place: “Arsenal’s relationship with the Emirates is a funny one. It will always be held up against Highbury and for its first 15 years, it paled in comparison. Recently, however, the supporters have made it feel more like home. The atmosphere has improved since the return of crowds in 2021 and everybody seems to be benefiting. Memories are being created and additions outside the stadium, including Wenger’s statue and new artwork, have also solidified the connection between the club and its people.” – Art de Roche, Arsenal correspondent

Verdict: The Emirates has its critics but it now delivers the atmosphere, facilities, accessibility and product any sports fan would expect from the Premier League.

3. Old Trafford

Team: Manchester United

Capacity: 74,031

First used: 1910

The embodiment of Manchester United’s original Premier League success. The stadium ballooned to its current size — the third largest in the United Kingdom and 14th in Europe — due in part to their domination of the division. Redevelopments ceased in 2006 and Old Trafford is in need of renovation simply to return to its previous standards.

Best bits: The scale of the place is mighty and it comes with a special atmosphere. Most views inside the stadium are excellent and outside, United’s rich history is embraced by statues of Sir Matt Busby, three of their 1968 European Cup winners (Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law), and a clock and plaque to remember the victims of the Munich air disaster.

Where it falls short: There are clear issues — parts look out of date, roofs leak following heavy rain and a lack of commercial areas is hitting revenue. Not all of that is a supporters’ concern, but it will form United’s opinion on whether to renovate or relocate. Surprisingly, there are some areas of restricted view and most of the stadium provides legroom that even those below average height might find a squeeze.

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What I love about the place: “Redeveloping Old Trafford is essential. The last major upgrades were signed off before the Glazers took control. Despite this, the stadium itself remains one of huge character and history. Appearing on the Manchester horizon, its structure is distinctive and striking. Once inside, the proximity of the seats to each other and the pitch generates a crackling atmosphere.” — Laurie Whitwell, Manchester United correspondent

Oliver Kay says: People were always a bit grudging about Old Trafford when it was in its pomp in the 2000s. A bit too shiny and perfect for traditional tastes. Stereotypes about daytrippers and corporate fans in executive boxes eating “their prawn sandwiches”, as Roy Keane famously put it. It was always a brilliant stadium though and it still is. It was so extensively modernised in the 1990s that it didn’t look, feel or smell as historic as Anfield, Goodison Park or Highbury. But it feels historic now. That’s one upside of neglect. The upside of a difficult decade on the pitch is a more raw, visceral atmosphere than commonly portrayed.”

Verdict: Old Trafford is a temple of English football and for as long as it is standing, it will be worth a visit.

2. St James’ Park

Team: Newcastle United

Capacity: 52,257

First used: 1892

The long-term home of Newcastle United, St James’ Park sits on a hill at the centre of the city. It is as if everything is drawn to the beacon that protrudes the skyline. The ground is lopsided given the vast redevelopment of two stands in 1998 and it can look architecturally cold and clinical, but it provides an atmosphere as authentic as any in the Premier League.

Best bits: That big-game aura and the fact you can see the ground from so many points in the city establishes its sense of importance. The stadium is equally impressive inside. It is one of the more respectful welcomes travelling supporters will receive, especially if you return the respect. You can do that by visiting three of the statues outside the stadium that mark the legendary contributions of Alan Shearer, Bobby Robson and Jackie Milburn.

Where it falls short: Away fans are put in a top tier as far away as possible from the action, which is unfair to those who make the trip and in conflict with rules that suggest away fans should be pitchside.

What I love about the place: “I can’t believe there’s a better atmosphere anywhere than St James’ Park right now: paint-peeling noise, the sensory overload of Wor Flags and, after so much division, everybody in it together. What makes the stadium so special is its location, slap-bang in the middle of the city, looming over it, setting the mood and once again drawing people towards it.” – George Caulkin, senior writer (based in Newcastle)

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Verdict: The pride in Newcastle runs deep. Hence some of our north-east contingent questioning why St James’ Park isn’t top. It is one of the country’s proper football cathedrals and a fantastic place to watch a game.

1. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Team: Tottenham Hotspur

Capacity: 62,850

First used: 2019

The basics: London’s biggest club stadium was built on the spot of Spurs’ previous home for 118 years, White Hart Lane. A £1billion project to redevelop the north London site replaced one traditional football venue with a stunning, modern sibling. It was also built to become a London home for the NFL and includes a retractable gridiron.

Best bits: The little details that point out the geographical relevance to White Hart Lane, such as a white circle on the floor that marks the previous centre spot. Then there is the 17,500-capacity South Stand. Despite being a bowl, the raking, double-tier stand draws attention, creates atmosphere and provides the perfect canvas for a supporter mosaic.

Where it falls short: Modern can mean clinical and, at times, walking through the concourses you would be forgiven for thinking you were in an airport. Expensive stadiums often lead to expensive experiences and most Spurs supporters would lead their gripes with the cost of their matchday. Transport links on matchday can get clogged.

What I love about the place: “Spurs’ on-pitch performances may not have been the envy of Europe over recent years, but nobody could fail to be impressed by their stadium. It increased the capacity from 36,000, gave fans more spacious concourses, incredible pitch views from every position and, famously, pints that magically fill from the bottom. It hasn’t been an entirely positive transition — there has been little improvement to transport infrastructure and ticket prices are ludicrous – but there can be little doubt Spurs’ new home is the best in the Premier League.” – James Maw, editor and regular on The View from the Lane podcast

Verdict: Perhaps this is a victory for modern, commercialised football over the more organic qualities of its past. Still, sit inside the stadium and you soon realise its draw: an experience comparable to any live stadium sport across the world.

Full stadium scoring and rankings

Ranking Stadium Atmosphere score Atmosphere ranking Experience score Experience ranking Transport/location score Transport/location ranking Design/aesthetics score Design/aesthetics ranking

1

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

7

9

8.4

1

6.6

11

8.7

1

2

St James’ Park

7.4

4

7.6

2

8.1

1

7.9

3

3

Old Trafford

7.3

5

7.3

3

7.1

3

7.4

6

4

Emirates Stadium

6.7

12

7.3

3

7.7

2

7.6

5

5

Anfield

7.7

1

7.1

5

5.7

13

8.1

2

6

Molineux

7

9

7

6

7.1

3

7.4

6

7

Villa Park

7.2

6

6.5

10

5.7

15

7.2

8

8

Gtech Community Stadium

5.9

15

7

6

6.7

9

6.3

13

9

Stamford Bridge

6.1

13

6.4

12

7.1

3

6.6

10

10

London Stadium

5.8

16

6.5

10

7

6

6.5

11

11

Etihad

6

14

6.6

8

6.7

9

6.3

13

12

City Ground

6.8

11

5.8

14

6.8

8

5.8

17

13

Bramall Lane

7.2

6

5.7

15

6.3

12

6.2

15

14

Goodison Park

7.7

1

5

18

5.7

13

6.9

9

15

Craven Cottage

4.7

18

5.9

13

7

6

7.9

3

16

Amex Stadium

4.6

19

6.6

8

5.1

19

6.4

12

17

Turf Moor

5.8

16

5.7

15

5.5

17

6.2

15

18

Selhurst Park

7.5

3

4.3

19

5

20

4.3

19

19

Kenilworth Road

7.1

8

3.8

20

5.7

15

5

18

20

Vitality Stadium

4

20

5.3

17

5.3

18

4.3

19

(Top photo: Getty Images; design: Sam Richardson)