Royal Antwerp Football Club, often simply referred to as Antwerp, is a Belgianfootball club based in the city of Antwerp.
Antwerp is regarded as the oldest club in Belgium, approximately founded in 1880 by English students residing in Antwerp as Antwerp Athletic Club, 15 years prior to the creation of the Royal Belgian Football Association. At first there was no organised football played by its members, until 1887 when the football division was founded with an own board, named Antwerp Football Club. As it was the oldest club still playing it was subsequently the first football club to register to the Association in 1895 and they consequently received the matriculate number one, when matriculation numbers were introduced in 1926.
Royal Antwerp have a long-term partnership with the English giants Manchester United, often taking their young players on loan so that their development can be aided with first team football, and young players who require European work-permits can benefit from Belgium's more relaxed laws. An example is Dong Fangzhuo, who was unable to play for United, immediately due to work permit problems and was loaned to allow him to gain first team experience.
Despite being one of Belgium's best-supported clubs, Antwerp have been under-achievers for several years. They have not won a league title since 1957, and have spent several seasons in the second division. They were last promoted to the top flight in 2000, only to be relegated in short order in 2004.