Football Clubs and Stadiums

Football Clubs and Stadiums

There are 12 professional football teams in London, most founded in the 19th century. Leyton Orient F.C, founded in 1881, was the first professional club in London.

The football stadiums are often just as famous as the teams that play in them. The game's best-known venues were all built or extended in the 20th century to accommodate the ever-larger crowds. As the century progressed, stadiums became larger and better equipped. Floodlighting was installed, along with covered terraces and improved facilities. By the end of the century, many stadiums had become like mini-towns with bars, restaurants, offices, press rooms, boardrooms, VIP suites as well as changing rooms.

As stadiums got larger, so crowd safety became more important, particularly after horrific disasters such as that at Hillsborough stadium in 1989 when 96 Liverpool fans died. One of the most important ways of improving safety was to replace standing terraces with seats. Fire exits and access routes were also improved.

The largest football stadium in 20th century London was Wembley Stadium, which has been the English National Stadium since 1923. The F.A. Cup Final was played there almost every May (outside wartime) until 2000, when the stadium was closed for refurbishment.

After Wembley, the largest stadium was Stamford Bridge, known as The Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club. Its capacity is 42,449. It was opened in 1877 as an athletics arena, and in 1904 Chelsea acquired it. The stadium hosted the F.A. Cup for the first three years after the First World War, after which it was hosted at Wembley. In 1972, the east stand was rebuilt to designs by the architects Darbourne and Darke. The new stand provided 12,000 seats under a 42-metre (140-foot) cantilevered roof, and was much acclaimed for its modernist architecture.

Other football stadiums in London are:

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