List of football clubs in England and Wales by year formed

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List of football clubs in English football league system, as of the 2017–18 season, who are playing in the top four divisions of English football. Different sources offer alternative dates for club foundation dates, and therefore given dates can vary. Reasons for differentiation include:

  • Clubs can originate as an unincorporated association; clubs may include this relatively informal period as part of their history however evidence for either continuous existence and relationship to any subsequent incorporated club may be limited
  • Clubs can form from a merger of two clubs with the date of one of the origin clubs being used as the foundation date.
  • Some clubs were wound up, with a present club claiming themselves as the continuation of the previous one
  • Historicity - some dates are based on non-contemporary accounts, or on newspaper reports where the direct connection to modern day clubs is not established.

The year in the left hand column is the year claimed by the club itself

Year stated by club Club(s) Notes
1862 Notts County Informal before 1864[1]
1863 Stoke City The historicity of accounts of football in 1863 is disputed, the evidence of subsequent existence of football prior to 1868 is lacking, the 1868 club underwent a merger in 1878 and was liquidated in 1908[2][3]
1865 Nottingham Forest[4]
1867 Chesterfield Several Chesterfield clubs with unknown links existed in the 19th century, current club founded 1919[5]
1867 Sheffield Wednesday[6]
1871 Reading[7]
1874 Aston Villa[8]
1874 Bolton Wanderers[9]
1875 Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers
1876 Middlesbrough, Port Vale
1877 Blackpool, Crewe Alexandra, Wolverhampton Wanderers
1878 Everton, Grimsby Town, Ipswich Town, Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion
1879 Doncaster Rovers, Fulham, Sunderland, Swindon Town
1880 Manchester City[10]
1880 Preston North End[11]
1881 Watford underwent merger in 1898, the 1881 date is for one of the two merged clubs[12]
1882 Burnley, Queens Park Rangers, Tottenham Hotspur
1883 Bristol Rovers[13]
1883 Coventry City[14]
1884 Derby County, Leicester City, Lincoln City
1885 Bury, Luton Town, Millwall, Southampton
1886 Arsenal, Plymouth Argyle, Shrewsbury Town
1887 Barnsley, Cheltenham Town, Wycombe Wanderers
1888 Barnet, Walsall
1889 Brentford, Forest Green Rovers, Sheffield United[15]
1892 Liverpool, Newcastle United
1893 Gillingham, Oxford United
1894 Bristol City[16]
1895 Oldham Athletic, West Ham United, Yeovil Town
1896 Crawley Town played informally from 1890[17])
1897 Mansfield Town, Northampton Town
1898 Portsmouth
1899 Bournemouth, Cardiff City, Scunthorpe United
1901 Brighton & Hove Albion, Exeter City
1902 Norwich City[18]
1903 Bradford City formed from Manningham FC after a switch from Rugby League [19]
1904 Carlisle United, Hull City
1905 Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Crystal Palace
1906 Southend United[20]
1907 Rochdale[21]
1908 Fleetwood Town, Huddersfield Town
1912 Cambridge United, Swansea City, Newport County
1919 Leeds United[22]
1920 Morecambe[23]
1925 Rotherham United based on clubs that were involved in the 1925 merger, 1870 is sometimes claimed[24]
1932 Wigan Athletic Several teams created and wound up prior to current club[25]
1934 Peterborough United[26]
1937 Colchester United Replaced an amateur club which folded the previous year[27]
1950 Burton Albion succeeded other clubs in the town[28]
1968 Accrington Stanley Reformed, following the demise of a previous club of the same name in 1963[29]
1976 Stevenage founded following bankruptcy of a previous club[30]
2002 AFC Wimbledon viewed as a new club and not a continuation of Wimbledon FC[31]
2004 MK Dons Although the club was a continuation of Wimbledon FC (formed 1889), moving from Wimbledon to Milton Keynes in 2003, the club considers its foundation from when the club was renamed in 2004[32]


In the book "Forever Forest" by Don Wright, the "official Nottingham Forest club historian" states "Nottingham Forest are the second oldest football league club in the world (after Notts County, which began in 1862)". This is due to there being actual records of this date.

  1. ^ "Calls for plaque to recognise meeting at city hotel which created Notts County FC". 
  2. ^ "Classic clubs:Stoke City". 
  3. ^ "1863-1888 In the Beginning". Stoke City F.C. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  4. ^ "The forgotten story of … Sam Weller Widdowson: footballer, cricketer, innovator". 
  5. ^ "Four clubs for Chesterfield". 
  6. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Pictures: Reading FC rubbishes rumours these could be next season's kits". 
  8. ^ "Rise and Fall of Aston Villa". 
  9. ^ "New book re-lives the story of lost Bolton Wanderers heroes and an age when the club was a giant of football". 
  10. ^ "How resilient district rose out of industrial decline". 
  11. ^ "Invincible team's march into football’s history books". 
  12. ^ "Watford". 
  13. ^ "Bristol Rovers". 
  14. ^ "Coventry City: The Sky Blues' unhappy anniversary". 
  15. ^ "on this day:1889". 
  16. ^ BCFC. "A Potted History". Retrieved 2017-06-10. 
  17. ^ "Crawley Town history". 
  18. ^ "The dates which shaped our city explored in new book". 
  19. ^ "Bradford City]]". 
  20. ^ "Keep Southend United's history alive". 
  21. ^ "Rochdale FC". 
  22. ^ "Ill health forces Fell out". 
  23. ^ "Profile on Morcambe FC". 
  24. ^ "Rotherham United". 
  25. ^ "Wigan Athletic". 
  26. ^ "Meet Eric Heath". 
  27. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. ^ "Living the impossible dream". 
  29. ^ "Axed Stanley". 
  30. ^ "Stevenage facts". 
  31. ^ "ONLY ONE DON AFC Wimbledon refuse to recognise MK Dons in their official match-day programme as the two clash tonight at the Cherry Red Records Stadium". 
  32. ^ "MK Dons v AFC Wimbledon: Stuart Murdoch's story".