The English Football League was founded in 1888. It was the oldest such competition in world football. It was the top-level football league in England from its foundation until 1992 when Premier League was formed. Since 1992, Premier League has been the top division football league of England. In this article, we will rank the top 20 clubs in the all-time league point table combining the old first division to the current Premier League. Only the top division league table from 1888 to 2020 is considered.
This table is adjusted to 3 points per victory, 1 point for a draw.
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20. Leeds United [Matches- 2060, Won- 846, Lost- 691, Points- 3061]
Leeds United was formed in 1919 following the disbanding of Leeds City F.C. by the Football League and took over their Elland Road stadium. They have a huge and loyal fan base. Leeds is one of the biggest clubs in England.
They have won three English league titles, one FA Cup, one League Cup, two Charity/Community Shields, and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups. The club also reached the 1975 European Cup Final, losing to Bayern Munich. Leeds also reached the semi-finals of the tournament’s successor, the Champions League in 2001.
19. Middlesbrough FC [M- 2438, W- 818, L- 1006, P- 3065]
Middlesbrough FC was formed in 1876, turning professional in 1889. They have played at the Riverside Stadium since 1995, their third ground. The club played at the Linthorpe Road ground from 1882 to 1903 and at Ayresome Park for 92 years, from 1903 to 1995.
The club’s achievements include winning the League Cup in 2004, their first and to date only major trophy, and they also reached the 2006 UEFA Cup Final, losing to Spanish club Sevilla. Their highest league finish to date was third place in the top flight in the 1913–14 season and the club has only spent two seasons outside the top two divisions of English football.
18. West Ham United [M- 2501, W- 846, L- 1033, P- 3160]
West Ham was founded in 1895 as Thames Ironworks and reformed in 1900 as West Ham United. They moved to the Boleyn Ground in 1904, which remained their home ground for more than a century. In 2016, the club moved to the London stadium. The club have a passionate fan base, that can be deemed as one of the best in the country.
They have been winners of the FA Cup three times; in 1964, 1975 and 1980, and have also been runners-up twice; in 1923 and 2006. The club have reached two major European finals, winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965 and finishing runners-up in the same competition in 1976. West Ham also won the Intertoto Cup in 1999. The club’s highest league position to date came in 1985–86, when they achieved third place in the then First Division.
17. Sheffield United [M- 2384, W- 882, L- 932, P- 3216]
Sheffield United was formed in 1889 as an offshoot of Sheffield United Cricket Club, and are nicknamed The Blades due to Sheffield’s history of steel production. The club have played their home games at Bramall Lane since their formation in 1889.
Sheffield United won the original Football League in 1898 and the FA Cup in 1899, 1902, 1915 and 1925. They were also the first club in English football to achieve promotion from the newly formed Second Division to the First Division in 1892-93.
The club was also a founder member of the Premier League in the 1992–93 season, during which they scored the first-ever goal of the Premier League era. Brian Deane was the scorer of the first goal in a 2-1 win at Bramall Lane, against the eventual champions, Manchester United.
16. Derby County [M- 2468, W- 906, L- 977, P- 3303]
Derby County was founded in 1884 by William Morley, as an offshoot of the Derbyshire County Cricket Club. Its competitive peak came in the 1970s when it twice won the First Division and competed in major European competitions on four separate occasions, reaching the European Cup semi-finals as well as winning several minor trophies. Additionally, the club was a strong force in the interwar years, winning the 1945–46 FA Cup.
They are notable for being one of the 12 founder members of the Football League in 1888. Derby County is one of only 10 clubs to have competed in every season of the English football league system, with all but four of those being in the top two divisions.
15. Wolverhampton Wanderers [M- 2489, W- 969, L-952, P- 3475]
Wolves was formed as St. Luke’s FC in 1877 and has played at Molineux Stadium since 1889. Wolves was one of the founding members of the Football League in 1888. The club in 2019–20 is enjoying its 65th season of top flight football; Wolves’s longest continuous period in the top tier was 26 consecutive seasons in the 33 years between 1932 and 1965.
In the 1950s, Wolves were English League champions three times (1953–54, 1957–58 and 1958–59), under the management of Stan Cullis. Wolves have also finished League runners-up on five occasions, most recently in 1959–60. Wolves have won the FA Cup four times, most recently in 1960, and finished runners-up on a further four occasions. The club has also won the Football League Cup twice, in 1974 and 1980.
14. Sheffield Wednesday [M- 2582, W- 980, L- 990, P- 3552]
Sheffield Wednesday was formed in 1867 as an offshoot of The Wednesday Cricket Club. Until 1929, they were called by the name of the Wednesday Football Club. They were founding members and inaugural champions of the Football Alliance in 1889, before joining The Football League three years later. In 1992, they became founder members of the Premier League.
The Owls, as they are nicknamed, have won four league titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup and one FA Community Shield. Wednesday have also competed in UEFA cup competitions on four occasions, reaching the quarter-finals of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1963. The team has spent most of its league history in English football’s top flight, but they have not played at that level since being relegated in 2000.
13. Bolton Wanderers [M- 2802, W- 1017, L- 1144, P- 3692]
Its quite surprising to see Bolton in this list, given the fact that they have never won the league title and are currently in the third division of English football. The club was formed as Christ Church Football Club in 1874 and adopted its current name in 1877. Bolton was a founder member of the Football League in 1888. The club played at Burnden Park for 102 years from 1895. In 1997, Bolton moved to the Reebok Stadium (as it was then known). The stadium was renamed the Macron Stadium in 2014 and the University of Bolton Stadium in 2018.
Bolton have spent more seasons, 73, than any other club in the top flight without winning the title. They finished third in the First Division in 1891–92, 1920–21 and 1924–25. Bolton won the FA Cup three times in the 1920s, and again in 1958. The club spent a season in the Fourth Division in 1987–88, before regaining top-flight status in 1995 and qualifying for the UEFA Cup twice.
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12. Blackburn Rovers [M- 2720, W- 1017, L- 1052, P- 3702]
The club was established in 1875, becoming a founding member of The Football League in 1888 and the Premier League in 1992. They have been playing their home games at Ewood Park since 1890. Blackburn Rovers have been English champions three times, and have won six FA Cups, one Football League Cup and one Full Members’ Cup.
The club has spent most of its existence in the top flight of English football. They won the Premier League. They might’ve dropped down (briefly) to League One a couple of years ago, but they won the Premier League. A handful of European trips followed in the early 2000s too.
11. West Bromwich Albion [M- 3108, W- 1100, L-1273, P- 4065]
West Bromwich Albion was formed in 1878 and has played at its home ground, The Hawthorns, since 1900. They are one of the biggest clubs to come from the midlands. Albion were one of the 12 founding members of the Football League in 1888, the first professional football league in the world, and have spent the majority of their existence in the top tier of English football.
They have been champions of England once, in 1919–20, and have been runners-up twice. Albion have reached ten FA Cup finals, winning the Cup on five occasions. The first win came in 1888, the year the league was founded, and the most recent in 1968, their last major trophy.
10. Sunderland AFC [M- 3340, W- 1260, L- 1300, P- 4560]
The club was founded as Sunderland and District Teachers in 1879. Sunderland play their home games at the 49,000-capacity all-seater Stadium of Light having moved from Roker Park in 1997. The Stadium of Light is huge, and has a hardcore fanbase filling it. Sunderland have a history of being a really good football team – and have one of the country’s best rivalries to boot.
The club has won six top-flight titles and has finished runners-up five times. The club has also won the FA Cup twice and been runners-up twice. Sunderland have a long-standing rivalry with their neighbouring club Newcastle United, with whom they have contested the Tyne–Wear derby since 1898.
9. Newcastle United [M- 3493, W- 1346, L- 1299, P- 4886]
Newcastle United was founded in 1892 by the merger of Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End. The team plays its home matches at St. James’ Park. The club has been a member of the Premier League for all but three years of the competition’s history, spending 88 seasons in the top flight, and have never dropped below English football’s second tier since joining the Football League in 1893.
Newcastle United has some of the best fans in the country. Their stadium St. James’ park is always buzzing on a matchday. Newcastle have won 4 League titles, 6 FA Cups, and a Charity Shield, as well as the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and the 2006 UEFA Intertoto Cup, the ninth highest total of trophies won by an English club.
8. Chelsea FC [M- 3427, W- 1400, L- 1145, P- 5082]
The Chelsea football club was formed in 1905. They are definitely the most successful London club over the past couple of decades and among the most successful English clubs. They have been league champions six times and won over thirty competitive honors – including six European trophies.
Chelsea are one of five clubs to have won all three of UEFA’s main club competitions, and the only London club to have won the Champions League. The Blues are very much a modern giant, bankrolled by Roman Abramovich’s billions. They are one of the biggest football clubs in the UK.
7. Tottenham Hotspur [M- 3423, W- 1421, L- 1174, P- 5091]
Tottenham was founded in 1882 as Hotspur F.C. Tottenham’s new stadium demonstrates a club looking to the future, not the past. They’ve only spent one of the last 70 seasons outside of the top flight. Tottenham Hotspur has been staggeringly consistent (and sometimes straight-up brilliant) for the best part of three-quarters of a century.
Spurs have won two league titles, eight FA Cups, four League Cups, seven FA Community Shields, one European Cup Winners’ Cup and two UEFA Cups. Tottenham were also the runners-up of the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League competition. The club has a long-standing rivalry with nearby club Arsenal, with head-to-head fixtures known as the North London derby.
6. Manchester City [M- 3648, W- 1470, L- 1302, P- 5286]
Manchester City was founded in 1880 as St. Mark’s (West Gorton), it became Ardwick Association Football Club in 1887 and Manchester City in 1894. The club’s home ground is the City of Manchester Stadium in east Manchester, to which it moved in 2003, having played at Maine Road since 1923. Manchester City has been the most successful English team in domestic competitions over the last decade.
Under the management of Pep Guardiola, they won the Premier League in 2018, becoming the only Premier League team to attain 100 points in a single season. In 2019, they won four trophies, completing an unprecedented sweep of all domestic trophies in England and becoming the first English men’s team to win the domestic treble. The club have won 6 league titles as well as 6 FA Cups.
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5. Aston Villa [M- 4098, W- 1650, L- 1476, P- 5922]
Aston Villa was founded in 1874 and have played at their home ground, Villa Park, since 1897. They were one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888 and of the Premier League in 1992. The most successful club in the Midlands, European champions, Aston Villa have spent the best part of 90% of their Football League life in the top flight.
Apart from the European cup, they have also won the Football League First Division seven times, the FA Cup seven times, and the League Cup five times. Villa have a fierce local rivalry with Birmingham City and the Second City derby between the teams has been played since 1879.
4. Manchester United [M- 3807, W- 1822, L- 1048, P- 6403]
Manchester United was founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to its current stadium, Old Trafford, in 1910. They are one of the biggest football clubs in the world. They have won more trophies than any other English club, including a record 20 League titles, 12 FA Cups and 3 Champions League trophies.
Some of the football greatest superstars have played for the club, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, George Best, Bobby Charlton, Eric Cantona, Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, etc. United aren’t just the biggest club in Britain, they – alongside Real Madrid and Barcelona – have a claim to be the biggest football club in the world.
3. Everton FC [M- 4547, W- 1847, L- 1558, P- 6683]
It is actually quite surprising to see Everton so high up the list. The club has competed in the top division for a record 116 seasons and has missed the top division only four times since the creation of the Football League. The club has won nine League Championships, five FA Cups, and one UEFA Cup Winners Cup. Their trophy cabinet is absolutely inarguable, and they’ve got one of the very best fanbases in the country.
The club was formed in 1878 and won its first League Championship during the 1890–91 season. After winning four more League Championships and two FA Cups, the club experienced a post-World War II dull period until a revival in the 1960s. A period of sustained success came in the mid-1980s, when Everton won a further two League Championships, one FA Cup, and the 1985 European Cup Winners’ Cup. The club’s most recent major trophy was the 1995 FA Cup.
2. Arsenal FC [M- 4162, W- 1895, L- 1197, P- 6755]
The club was founded in 1886 as Dial Square. Arsenal was the first club from the South of England to join The Football League, in 1893, and they reached the First Division in 1904. Relegated only once, in 1913, they continue the longest streak in the top division, and have won the second-most top-flight matches in English football history.
The only Premier League club to go a full season unbeaten. London’s biggest club, Arsenal has won 13 League titles, a record 13 FA Cups among a host of other trophies. At the turn of the century, they finished in the top two for eight years in a row, won four FA Cups and four League Cups.
1. Liverpool FC [M- 4163, W- 1963, L- 1168, P- 6921]
The club was founded in 1892 and joined the Football League the following year. They have played at Anfield since its formation. Liverpool is one of the most passionately followed football clubs in the world. The club’s home ground Anfield is known for a great atmosphere. Liverpool established itself as a major force in English and European football in the 1970s and 1980s when Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish led the club to a combined eleven League titles and four European Cups.
The club has won six European Cups, eighteen League titles, seven FA Cups among a list of other honors. The song “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, is the club’s anthem and has been sung by the Anfield crowd since the early 1960s. The fans are iconic. The club is iconic. There’s nobody like Liverpool.