The Ten Best Football Grounds in England

By: Alan Webber

I've been supporting my team home and away for around 25 years and have been to many grounds throughout England. Over the years I've seen an incredible transformation in facilities and infrastructure, especially since the Taylor report was published. The huge amount of TV money and commercialisation of the game at the top level has meant clubs have been able to build incredible new stadia with all modern conveniences. They are undoubtedly more comfortable than the grounds they replaced but have they lost some of what made those grounds the places they were? Atmosphere, familiarity and location are three things that have often been overlooked when building a new stadium.

With the following list, I've tried to take all the factors that are important to me into consideration and given extra points if the stadium is impressive for some other reason.

10. Emirates Stadium - Arsenal

Arsenal have carried out the most ambitious plans of all the teams who have redeveloped in recent years. There are many reasons to dislike the stadium, it's name and lack of atmosphere being just two but any fan of stadiums can help being in awe of the design of the arena.

9. Wembley - England

The rebuilt England stadium is architecturally the most impressive stadium in the world today. It has more toilets than any other building in the world and for that reason alone it goes into the top ten.

8. Fratton Park - Portsmouth

Portsmouth are another team planning a shiny new stadium in the not too distant future. Lets hope they transfer some of the charm and atmosphere from run down Fratton Park.

7. Villa Park - Aston Villa

The views are generally excellent and there are few better places for atmosphere and comfort. Architecturally it's nothing to write home about but you can't have everything.

6. The Galpharm Stadium - Huddersfield Town

For it's unique architecture and great facilities, this stadium which was built in 1995 has the atmosphere of a much older ground.

5. St.James Park - Newcastle United

A hugely lop-sided stadium wedged into a small area right in the centre of Newcastle, it towers over the surrounding buildings. The atmosphere can be as good as anywhere on it's day and the facilities are good.

4. KC Stadium - Hull

Excellent services, excellent views, good food and a decent atmosphere put this all rounder in the top ten.

3. Old Trafford - Manchester United

The ground has been developed bit by bit over the years. It is a huge stadium, the North Stand is the largest capacity stand in England. Atmosphere can be lacking at times but for history alone the so called Theatre of Dreams has got to be up there.

2. The Stadium of Light - Sunderland

Another new stadium. Although there is often a decent atmosphere, this one goes into the top ten for its facilities and food which are both beyond reproach.

1. Anfield - Liverpool FC

Liverpool have plans to build a new Anfield and interestingly plan to keep the legendary Kop, the stand on the south-west side of the stadium which tends to generate much of the excellent atmosphere in this old ground.

A special mention also goes to Easter Road Stadium, the home of Hibs. Atmosphere, facilities and views are second to none there but being north of the border means this one can't be included.

When I started this list I didn't think I would pick any new stadiums at all. The more I though about it, the more I realised that comfort, good views and good facilities are the most important things to me these days. In this respect, new stadiums generally beat older ones hands down. Next time you watch a football match, ask yourself if you like the stadium. If you do, ask why.

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