The club was founded in 1908, first reached the highest level in Belgian football in 1921–22, and have been playing in the first division since 1935–36. They won their first major trophy after World War II, with a championship win in 1946–47. Since then, they have never finished outside the top six of the Belgian first division. They are #12 in the all time List of UEFA club competition winners and #10 in the IFFHS continental Clubs of the 20th Century European ranking. Anderlecht are ranked 41st in the 2012 UEFA team ranking. In 1986, they achieved their best UEFA ranking with a joint first place with Juventus F.C..
Founded as Sporting Club Anderlechtois on 27 May 1908 by a dozen football lovers at the Concordia café (located in the Rue d'Aumale/Aumalestraat in the municipality of Anderlecht), the club beat Institut Saint-Georges in their first match by 11–8. They joined the official competition in 1909–10, starting at the lowest level in the Belgian football league system, then the 3rd provincial division. In 1912–13, they gained promotion to the second-higher level of football, then named the Promotion. After only one season at that level, the championships were suspended due to World War I, and resumed in 1919–20. With the popularity of the team increasing, Anderlecht had moved to a new stadium in the Astrid Park in 1917 (then known as Meir Park). They baptized the stadium Stade Emile Versé in honor of the club's first major patron, the industrialist Emile Versé. At the end of the 1920–21 season, Anderlecht promoted to the first division for the first time in their history. In the next 14 seasons, Anderlecht was relegated 4 times (1923, 1926, 1928 and 1931) and promoted 4 times (1924, 1927, 1929, 1935), earning themselves the mockery of local rival clubs Union Saint-Gilloise and Daring Club de Bruxelles, who nicknamed them the "lift club". In 1933, 25 years after their formation, the club changed their name to Royal Sporting Club Anderlechtois. Since their promotion in 1935, Anderlecht has remained at the top level of football. With Jef Mermans, a striker signed from K Tubantia FC in 1942 for a record fee of 125,000 Belgian francs, Anderlecht won their first league title in 1947. Their success increased in the following years as they won 6 more titles between 1949–50 and 1955–56 (winning three consecutive titles twice) and 2 more in 1958–59 and 1961–62. In the 1960s, under the coaching of Pierre Sinibaldi and then of Andreas Beres, the club even won 5 titles in a row (from 1963–64 to 1967–68), which is still a Belgian league record. The star of this team was Paul Van Himst (topscorer in 1965, 1967 and 1969 and Belgian Golden Shoe winner in 1960, 1961, 1965 and 1974).
Anderlecht played in the first European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1955–56, and lost both legs of their tie against Vörös Lobogo. They had to wait until the 1962–63 season to win their first European tie, with a 1–0 victory over Real Madrid, which followed a 3–3 draw in Spain. For the first time they advanced to the second round, where they beat PFC CSKA Sofia before losing to Dundee in the quarter-finals. In the 1969–70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, Anderlecht lost in the final against Arsenal FC. Between 1975 and 1984, Anderlecht only won one championship but they achieved considerable European success: they won the 1975–76 and 1977–78 European Cup Winners' Cups against respectively West Ham United and FK Austria Wien, as well as the two subsequent European Super Cups. The 1982–83 season was a noteworthy season for the club for numerous reasons: former Anderlecht favourite Paul Van Himst was named the new coach, they won the 1982–83 UEFA Cup, and the rebuilding of the club stadium began. But in the domestic league, Anderlecht had to settle for second place behind Standard. Their bid to retain the UEFA Cup in 1983–84 failed at the final hurdle against English side Tottenham Hotspur. Anderlecht reached the final controversially by beating another English side Nottingham Forest with a debatable extra-time penalty to win 3–2 on aggregate. It was later found Anderlecht had bribed the referee the equivalent of £27,000 to ensure passage to the final.
After three second-place finishes in a row, the Purple and Whites secured an easy 18th title in 1984–85, 11 points ahead of Club Brugge. In 1985–86, Anderlecht won the championship again, but this time after a two-legged play-off against Club Brugge. Anderlecht won their 20th championship on the last matchday of the 1986–87 season. They then lost key players Franky Vercauteren, Enzo Scifo (transferred in the summer of 1987) and Juan Lozano (heavily injured in a game at KSV Waregem a few months earlier). A weakened team coached by Raymond Goethals finished only 4th in 1988 behind Club Brugge, Mechelen and Antwerp, but they managed to lift the Belgian Cup for the sixth time in their history, after a 2–0 victory against Standard Liège, with goals by Luc Nilis and Eddie Krnčević. The next year, Anderlecht retained the trophy with goals by Krnčević and Jankovic (again with a 2–0 win over Standard), but finished second in the championship. After his second cup win, Raymond Goethals left for Bordeaux. In the 1990s, Anderlecht reached one more European final, the 1990 European Cup Winners' Cup Final, that they lost to UC Sampdoria. The club then declined in European competitions, reaching only the 1990–91 and 1996–97 UEFA Cup quarter-finals as their best result. In national competitions, they won 4 championship titles and a cup. In the 2000s, Anderlecht secured 5 more Belgian champion titles, reaching a total of 29 titles in 2007, and 1 more cup. In the 2000–01 UEFA Champions League, they qualified for the first time to the second round, then another group stage, where they finished 3rd of their group behind Real Madrid and Leeds United. In 2009–10, the Purple and Whites won their 30th Belgian league title. In the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League, Anderlecht made history by becoming the first Belgian team to finish the group stage of a European competition with the maximum number of points, in a group with Lokomotiv Moscow, Sturm Graz and AEK Athens. They were also the only team of that year's Europa League to achieve this feat. On 6 May 2012 Anderlecht won their 31st Belgian Championship. On 22 July 2012 Anderlecht won their 10th Belgian Super Cup.
Anderlecht colours are purple and white, and the club's home kit is generally white with purple trim, though they did wear a black and purple home kit in the 2005–06 season, and a grey in the 2007–2008 season. In the beginning, purple was the main colour of the shirts. The motto of Anderlecht (Mens sana in corpore sano) is written on its badge as are the three letters SCA referring to the initial name of the club (Sporting Club Anderlechtois). A crown was added in 1933 following the name change to Royal Sporting Club Anderlechtois. Anderlecht's colours were the inspiration for Al Ain FC's colours.
RSC Anderlecht play their home matches at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium located within the Astrid Park in the municipality of Anderlecht. It currently has a capacity of 28,063 places, with 6,900 standing places, but the club has planned to extend the stadium to reach a capacity of 30,000 all-seated. The works should start in 2011 and last 2 years. Anderlecht has been playing in the Astrid Park since the building of the Emile Versé Stadium in 1917. The stadium was completely rebuilt in 1983 and it was renamed in honour of the then chairman Constant Vanden Stock. Prior to 1917, the club has played on a ground in the current Rue du Serment/Eedstraat for a couple of years since 1908, then in a stadium located Rue Verheydenstraat (now Rue Démosthènestraat).
The club has had the highest average attendance in the Belgian First Division for ten years, except in 2002–03 and 2004–05 (when KRC Genk and Club Brugge respectively had higher averages). Anderlecht supporters hail from all over the country and only a minority come from the Brussels Capital Region. Anderlecht counts 77 fan clubs, of which five are abroad (one in France, one in Poland, one in Texas (USA) one in Montreal (Canada) and one in Sunderland (England).
There have been a total of 37 permanent managers and 3 caretaker managers of Anderlecht since the appointment of the first manager, Sylva Brébart in 1920. The club's longest-serving manager is EnglishmanBill Gormlie who served during 9 seasons between 1950 and 1959. Frenchman Georges Perino is the first Anderlecht manager to have claimed a trophy, with the first championship win in 1946–47. Seven Anderlecht managers have managed the club on two occasions: Ernest Churchill Smith, Pierre Sinibaldi, Urbain Braems, Raymond Goethals, Arie Haan, Johan Boskamp and Franky Vercauteren. Other managers have also played another role in the club before being appointed manager, for instance Jean Dockx who served 3 times as caretaker before being appointed manager.