Relocation of sports teams in the United Kingdom

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Relocation of professional sports teams in the United Kingdom is a practice which involves a sports team moving from one metropolitan area to another, although occasionally moves between municipalities in the same conurbation are also included. For relocations in other part of the world see Relocation of professional sports teams.

In British sport, the relocation of teams away from their traditional districts is unusual because of the nature of the relationship between clubs and their fans: the local football club is regarded by most English football supporters as part of the local identity and social fabric rather than as a business that can be transplanted by its owners at will. As a result, any relocation plan would be strongly opposed by fans in the club's original area, and unlikely to succeed in most new locations due to the existence of established teams in most towns and cities that would already have secured the loyalty of native supporters. John Bale, summarising a study published in 1974, writes that, in the view of most fans, "Chelsea would simply not be Chelsea" were that club to move a few miles within the same borough to Wormwood Scrubs.[1]

However, there have been examples of club relocations, primarily motivated by difficult financial situations or problems with the home ground. So far this article lists 111 relocated teams, 9 clubs with failed relocation proposals, and 96 changes in identity in total.


Association Football (men's)[edit]

The geographic redistribution of the 92 Football League teams was considered a possible eventuality by some around that time, including Sir Norman Chester, who headed an investigation into the condition of English football in 1968.[2] Before the 1986–87 season, clubs could not be relegated out of the League's Fourth Division. The bottom four clubs had to apply for re-election by the other member clubs at the end of each season, alongside any non-League teams who wished to take their place,[3] but the replacement of an established League side in this way was quite rare. From the inaugural post-war season (1946–47) through to 1985–86, clubs already in the League were supplanted on only six occasions.[4] "New communities have developed ... which lack clubs in League membership", Chester reported, in 1968. "Amalgamations of old clubs would provide vacancies for new clubs to enter the League. Alternatively the movement of established clubs to new communities could provide a way both of saving old clubs and at the same time bringing League football to new and growing areas."[2] Having been established in 1967 as the largest of the "new towns" springing up across southern England and the Midlands,[5] Milton Keynes provided a clear staging ground for such an experiment.[2]

At the end of the 1978–79 season, 20 leading non-League clubs left the Southern League and the Northern Premier League to form the Alliance Premier League. This national non-League division started in the 1979–80 season and renamed itself the Football Conference in 1986. Since the 1986–87 season, the champions of the Conference have received promotion to the Football League, with the League's bottom club being relegated to the Conference in exchange. This was expanded to the Conference champions and the winners of a promotion play-off before the 2002–03 season, with the worst two League clubs being relegated.[6] The situation of the Football League "closed shop", which for nearly a century effectively barred most non-League clubs from accession, therefore no longer exists.[3]

According to the Football League's statement to the independent commission on Wimbledon F.C. in May 2002, the English League "had allowed temporary relocations for good reasons outside 'conurbations' in respect of certain clubs where it was intended the club would return, but there has been no previous occasion on which the Football League had granted permission to a club to relocate permanently to a ground outside its 'conurbation'."[7] Clubs in the English professional ranks that have relocated to other locales within their traditional conurbations include Manchester United and Woolwich Arsenal, who moved 5 miles (8 km) and 10 miles (16 km) respectively in 1910 and 1913.[n 1] South Shields of the Third Division North relocated 8 miles (13 km) west to Gateshead in 1930 and renamed themselves Gateshead A.F.C..[10] The commission reported that there was no Football League precedent for a move between conurbations, but stressed that there was direct precedent for such a move in Scotland.[7]

Promotion and relegation in and out of the Scottish Professional Football League was not introduced until the league system's reorganisation in 2014;[11] until then it was nearly impossible for sides outside the League to join.[12] Scottish League membership therefore remained largely restricted to well-established cities as opposed to new towns. Two Scottish League teams left their metropolitan districts for new towns during the 1990s. Third-flight club Clyde moved from Shawfield Stadium (close to Rutherglen in the south-east of Glasgow) to the new town of Cumbernauld, about 16 miles (26 km) to the north-east, in 1994,[13] and a year later Meadowbank Thistle, a struggling Edinburgh club in the fourth tier, relocated amid fans' protests about 20 miles (32 km) west to another new town, Livingston.[14] Clyde kept their original name,[13] while Meadowbank renamed themselves Livingston Football Club.[14]

Relocations of teams which assumed new identities[edit]

Chessington United → Mole Valley Predators[edit]

Chessington United merged with two youth teams, Predators F.C. and Fetcham Park United, and changed their name to Mole Valley Predators F.C. in 2005. They relocated from Chessington to Leatherhead, Surrey.

Clydebank F.C. → Airdrie United F.C. (now Airdrieonians F.C.)[edit]

Clydebank F.C. in 2002 was taken over by Airdrie United F.C. and played their games at Airdrie following the earlier liquidation of Airdrieonians, though the club was founded as a continuation of Airdrieonians and did not take over Clydebank until after their application for the old Airdrie club's league place was refused. As a result, Airdrie United were placed in Division Two for the 2002–03 season, taking the place that would have been occupied by Clydebank. A year later, the Clydebank fans founded a new club, bearing the same name. In 2013, Airdrie United, with the approval of the Scottish Football Association, changed their name to Airdrieonians.

Distillery F.C. → Lisburn Distillery F.C.[edit]

Distillery F.C. started in Belfast, Northern Ireland, then were homeless for many seasons in the 1970s sharing grounds with other clubs until settling in Ballyskeagh, near Lisburn, later adding the latter town's name to theirs, now known as Lisburn Distillery F.C..

Emley F.C. → Wakefield & Emley F.C. → Wakefield F.C.[edit]

After a poor to average couple of seasons in the late 90s, it emerged that Emley A.F.C. (1903) were looking to leave the village. This was due to ground regulation gradings. The League brought in new regulations, concerning three-sided grounds, that meant Emley would be thrown out of the league unless they spent vast amounts upgrading. The club was unable to expand their ground and were forced to look for a new one. A ground share with Rugby league club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats was suggested, then the club played a couple of games at Wakefield's Belle Vue ground. Although primarily a rugby city, the club moved to Wakefield's Belle Vue for their home games in the 2000–01 season.

In the close of 2002 season the club decided to renamed itself Wakefield & Emley F.C.. This alienated some of the village supporters as the club frequently began to be referred to as simply "Wakefield". 2003–04 saw Wakefield & Emley's worst ever season in senior football, they finished bottom of the Northern Premier League Premier Division.

The club changed its name once again in the 2004–05 season, this time to Wakefield–Emley F.C.. In the close season Northern Counties East League disbanded its reserve division. The Wakefield-Emley reserve team had continued in that division when the first team were promoted to the NPL. They also continued to play at the old Welfare Ground in Emley. With the loss of the league, some former officials of the club decided to form a new club—A.F.C. Emley.

As there was now a new club in Emley, the board decided to drop the name "Emley" and continued on as Wakefield F.C., the club changed colours and moved to College Grove in Wakefield, becoming fully a Wakefield club.

Wakefield F.C. was wound up in June 2014, and AFC Emley was re-named as Emley A.F.C. in the summer of 2019.

Horwich RMI F.C. → Leigh RMI[edit]

Horwich RMI F.C., was founded in 1896 in Horwich. During the 1994–95 season,[15] the club realised their ground Grundy Hill would not be able to help the clubs' prospects of achieving success up the football pyramid, made the decision to move from Horwich seven miles south to Hilton Park in Leigh, home of the rugby league club Leigh Centurions. As part of this deal, a new company, Grundy Hill Estates, was formed to take over the ownership of the shared ground.[16] Once the move had been finalised and agreements had been made to share the 10,000 capacity stadium, the club officially changed their name to Leigh RMI to reflect their new surroundings. RMI lost its first match at Hilton Park in March 1995 to Boston United 4–0, and ended up being relegated at the end of the 1995 season.[17] Its name was changed again in June 2008 when the club became Leigh Genesis F.C..[18]

Negretti and Zambra F.C. → Stocklake F.C.[edit]

Negretti and Zambra F.C. was established in the 1930s, a works team for the Negretti and Zambra company in the King's Cross area of London.[19] When the company relocated to the Stocklake Industrial Estate in Aylesbury in 1949, facilities were set up for the sports teams and the club joined the Aylesbury & District League in 1954.[19] The company later sold the sports facilities to the council, at which point the club was renamed Stocklake F.C.. The club underwent mergers and several name changes and are now known as Aylesbury F.C..

Runcorn F.C. → Runcorn F.C. Halton[edit]

Founded in 1918 as Highfield and Camden Tanneries Recreation Club, the club renamed a year later to become Runcorn F.C., after its home town Runcorn.

In 1993–94, the club's stadium nearly fell apart; a perimeter wall collapsed during a cup game against Hull City, the roof blew off one stand, and the main stand was destroyed by a fire. This crippled the club, which was relegated in 1996 for the first time ever. In 2000, they sold the Canal Street ground where they had played since 1918, and moved to the 11,000-seat Halton Stadium in Widnes, which was also used by the town's rugby team and Everton reserves. The club renamed itself Runcorn FC Halton to reflect its new location.

In 2005 the club's precarious financial state caused them to move out of the Halton Stadium permanently, having finished the previous season at Southport's Haig Avenue, and to share Valerie Park, home of local rivals Prescot Cables, who also played in the Northern Premier League.

During its final season in 2006 the club went into severe financial crisis and was unable to pay its players' wages, forcing it to offload many of its key playing staff and replace them with amateur players used to playing at a much lower standard. This made for an embarrassing end to the season, with Runcorn finishing bottom and frequently suffering defeats by five or more goals and after a second successive relegation, the club's future was in doubt, and the decision was made to officially confirm its resignation from the league and cease activity.

South Liverpool F.C. (1890s) → New Brighton A.F.C.[edit]

South Liverpool F.C. founded in the late 19th Century relocated in 1921 to the seaside resort of New Brighton, Merseyside and the club became New Brighton A.F.C.. South Liverpool's supporters who were unhappy with the situation founded a new team of the same name in 1935.

South Shields F.C. (1889) → Gateshead F.C.[edit]

South Shields F.C. was the first and most successful of three clubs from South Shields which bore the same name. After two unsuccessful seasons in the lower division, the struggling club took the step of not just leaving the Horsley Hill ground but of moving the club to another town in search of more support. Newcastle upon Tyne, was mentioned as a possible destination, but Gateshead was eventually chosen, mainly due to the enthusiastic support of the Gateshead Council. The club folded in 1930 and was taken over in its entirety by Gateshead F.C. (who later liquidated in 1973). Back in South Shields, a phoenix club of the same name was founded.

South Shields F.C. (1936) → Gateshead United[edit]

South Shields F.C. was a phoenix club of a club of the same name which moved to Gateshead. However, repeating the same migration of its predecessor, in 1974 the club became Gateshead United F.C. after a move between the two towns that are 10 miles apart. The club folded in 1973, the present Gateshead F.C., founded in 1977 and South Shields F.C. founded in 1974, are new clubs.

Relocation of teams to New Towns[edit]

Several examples of relocation in the UK focus on the phenomenon of New Towns, built to cope with the shortage of housing following the Second World War. Many of these towns had large populations, but lacked professional football teams due to their age. Also, some clubs that did not move changed their names to reflect the creation of nearby new towns.

Clyde F.C.[edit]

Clyde F.C. moved from Shawfield Stadium (near Rutherglen in the south east of Glasgow) to the new town of Cumbernauld in 1994. They had been evicted from Shawfield in 1986. By 1990, Clyde secured an agreement to build a home of their own in the new town of Cumbernauld, which had grown in population and was by 1990 one of the larger settlements in Scotland without senior football. They were homeless from 1986 until Broadwood Stadium was built in Cumbernauld in 1994. The move allowed Clyde to continue as a semi-professional club.

Meadowbank Thistle → Livingston F.C.[edit]

Meadowbank Thistle, a struggling Edinburgh club controversially relocated in 1995 to the new town of Livingston, 19 miles away. It changed its name to Livingston F.C., its fortunes improved and it won the Scottish League Cup in 2004.

Wellington Town → Telford United[edit]

Wellington Town F.C. never relocated, but changed its name in 1969 to Telford United, after the new town of Telford (formed in 1963) was expanded to include the club's home of Wellington. The club went into administration and was dissolved in 2004, but was re-founded the same year as A.F.C. Telford United.

Wimbledon F.C. → MK Dons[edit]

The Norwegian owners of Wimbledon F.C. proposed to move the club from South London to Milton Keynes in 2001. The proposal received FA approval in 2002. Those Wimbledon fans who were unhappy with the proposal withdrew their support and created a new team in called AFC Wimbledon; Wimbledon F.C. went into administration in 2003. The club was bought out of administration by Inter MK Ltd., transferred to Milton Keynes and subsequently renamed Milton Keynes Dons F.C. in 2004. Twelve years before the move to Milton Keynes, Wimbledon had already left their London borough of Merton home for Selhurst Park in (the London borough of) Croydon. Plans to move Wimbledon F.C. had been discussed as early as 1979.

Relocations of teams within a conurbation which assumed new identities[edit]

Other examples of relocation out of the original district are slightly more common, especially in the clubs' early histories. In certain cases, the club has moved within a conurbation.

Milford Everton → Armagh City[edit]

Armagh City F.C. was founded in 1964 as Milford Everton F.C. in the village of Milford, just outside Armagh city, but changed their name in 1988 on relocation to Armagh. The club played at the Mill Field, Armagh from 1988 to 1993, when it moved to its current home, Holm Park.[20]

Woolwich Arsenal → Arsenal F.C.[edit]

Arsenal was founded at Woolwich in 1886. But In 1889, Woolwich became part of London, with the formation of London County Council. Arsenal moved from Woolwich in south London to Highbury in north London in 1913. They moved again to Holloway, a neighbourhood adjacent to Highbury, in 2006, though this was a much shorter distance than they had moved when relocating 93 years earlier, and kept the club in the London Borough of Islington.

Mitchell Shackleton → Irlam F.C.[edit]

Formed as Mitchell Shackleton F.C. in October 1969 by a group of employees working for Mitchell, Shackleton and Company Limited, the club was initially headquartered at the Oddfellows Arms, Patricroft, before moving to St Michael's Community Centre, Peel Green in 1973. The start of 2001–02 season saw the club change its name to Irlam Mitchell Shackleton F.C. in anticipation of its relocation to Silver Street, Irlam. In 2006 the team dropped the Mitchell Shackleton suffix to become Irlam F.C.. Both Patricroft and Peel Green are areas of Eccles, Greater Manchester. Both Irlam and Eccles are now part of the City of Salford, although both were historically a part of Lancashire.

Newton Heath → Manchester United[edit]

Manchester United were founded (as Newton Heath) in the Manchester neighbourhood of Newton Heath in 1878, and moved within the city to Clayton in 1893. After adopting the Manchester United name in 1902, they moved just outside the city to Stretford in 1910.

Thames Ironworks → West Ham United[edit]

West Ham United have been located in what is now the London Borough of Newham since their creation as Thames Ironworks F.C. in 1895, but played in several different neighbourhoods within that area in their early history. Their first home was Hermit Road in Canning Town, followed by Browning Road in East Ham, before returning to Canning Town at the Memorial Grounds. After severing ties with the Thames Ironworks company and reforming as West Ham United in 1900, they initially played at the Memorial Grounds, but became a transient team in 1901, playing at several local clubs' grounds in another nearby neighbourhood, Upton Park. In 1904, they built the Boleyn Ground in Upton Park, where they remained until moving into the Olympic Stadium, located in the Newham neighbourhood of Stratford and now known as London Stadium, starting with the 2016–17 season.

Relocations of teams within a conurbation without change in name or identity[edit]

Relocation out of the original district are becoming frequent due to urbanisation and growth of many conurbations. One upcoming relocation will move an existing club to the area that its fanbase considers as its spiritual home.

Barnet F.C.[edit]

Barnet F.C.'s old home ground of Underhill Stadium, had a capacity of 6,023. It was also used by Arsenal F.C. Reserves. Barnet were also involved in an annual friendly fixture with Arsenal F.C. with the former benefiting from its gate receipts. It was thought that Barnet would move from Underhill at the end of the 2011–12 season to an unknown location due to a dispute about the contract lease on Underhill with Barnet Council, but stayed until the end of the 2012–13 season.

In July 2012 Harrow Council agreed the development of a new stadium called The Hive Stadium at the Prince Edward Playing Fields which the club can use for a period of up to 10 years.[21] In February 2013, Barnet's move to the new ground was ratified by The Football League.[22]

Bedford Town[edit]

Bedford Town F.C. played at London Road in 1886, before playing most of its matches at Bedford Park between 1887 and 1890.[23] They then moved to a ground located off London Road.[23]

After being reformed in 1908, the club started playing at a site off London Road, before moving to the Queens Park football ground in Queens Park during October.[24] The pitch was originally between Havelock Street and Lawrence Street, before they moved to one at the end of Nelson Street.[24] There were initially no spectator facilities, with duckboards only put down in November 1911.[24] During World War I the ground was used by the Army, and it was still in use in 1919 when the club started playing again. As a result, they played on the playing fields of County School until being able to return to Queens Park in December 1919.[24]

In 1982 the club's lease on Queens Park was terminated and after a proposed new ground in the Barkers Lane area failed to come to fruition, the club folded.[19] When the club re-formed in 1989, they initially played on public pitches in Queens Park, before finding a site in Cardington to build a new ground. The New Eyrie opened on 6 August 1993 with a friendly match against Peterborough United attracting what remains the ground's record attendance of 3,000.[19][25] It has a capacity of 3,000, of which 300 is seated and 1,000 covered.[25] The ground is located next to McMullen Park, the home ground of local rivals Bedford.

Bolton Wanderers[edit]

Bolton Wanderers play at University of Bolton Stadium, which is situated in the neighbouring town of Horwich, since their relocation from 101-year-old Burnden Park in 1997.

Grimsby Town[edit]

Grimsby Town play in the town of Cleethorpes, a town to the east of Grimsby that has been absorbed by the former's outward growth during the 20th century.


Kingstonian F.C. remained at Richmond Road for most of the 20th Century, it thus being referred to as the club's 'traditional home'. he maintenance of the site increasingly became more than the club's income could support and parts of the site were sold off for redevelopment; the 'Kingstonian petrol station' occupying much of the Richmond Road frontage since 1956, and the former running track and reserve pitch redeveloped for housing in the 1970s. The club eventually sold the site and moved out of Richmond Road in 1988. The stadium was demolished after 1989 and the remainder of the site redeveloped for housing.[26][27]

After a season and a half ground-sharing at Hampton F.C.'s Beveree ground, Kingstonian opened their new Kingsmeadow Stadium (on the site of the old Norbiton Sports Ground owned by Kingston Council) in August 1989.[28][29]

After financial mismanagement and over-spending in a chase for success, Kingstonian entered administration to avoid bankruptcy and lost the Kingsmeadow lease in October 2001. It was assigned in April 2002 by the administrators to a property developer, Rajesh Khosla, who was also by then owner of the club. AFC Wimbledon were already sub-tenants at Kingsmeadow, before raising £2.4 million to buy the lease from Khosla in June 2003, with a view to making Kingsmeadow their home in the short term until their intended move to a site in Wimbledon became feasible for them. Kingstonian secured a 25-year sub-tenancy agreement with AFC Wimbledon, with customary break clauses. The clubs operated a ground-sharing arrangement, with Kingstonian receiving preferentially cheap rental terms.[30] In 2015, AFC Wimbledon agreed plans to sell Kingsmeadow to Chelsea in order to help finance their plans to move back to a new stadium in Wimbledon. Chelsea have stated that they wish to use Kingsmeadow for their own youth and women's teams and are not willing to accommodate Kingstonian. On 22 February 2017, Kingstonian announced that they will be sharing Leatherhead F.C.'s ground at Fetcham Grove for the 2017–18 season.[31] On 16 January 2018, Kingstonian announced they would be on the move once more, this time to King George's Field in Tolworth to share with Corinthian-Casuals F.C. starting in the 2018-19 season.[32]

The sale was hugely detrimental to Kingstonian, it has made the local club's future very uncertain, with them unable to play in a ground that is now too big and expensive for a non-league side and one which they no longer have any decision over, having now to relocate.[33][34][35][36]

Nottingham Forest[edit]

Nottingham Forest have long played outside of the Forest district of Nottingham and now reside in West Bridgford, currently just outside Nottingham's city limits, although they retain a Nottingham postal address.

Partick Thistle[edit]

Partick Thistle is a Scottish football club that moved from the Glasgow district of Partick to that of Maryhill but retains its name.

Sheffield FC[edit]

Sheffield F.C., considered the oldest football club in the world, currently plays in the Horses and Coach ground in Dronfield, across the county boundary in Derbyshire. During their peak in the mid-19th century they played at venues in Sheffield such as Sheaf House and Bramall Lane.

Temporary relocations without change in name or identity[edit]

There have also been examples of temporary relocations, with the club either moving back or still planning to, however the clubs have kept their original historic names. Some relocations, although considered temporary, are for an indefinite amount of time.

Aylesbury United[edit]

Aylesbury United played at Turnfurlong Lane until moving to Buckingham Road in the mid-1980s.[19] In July 2006 the lease on the ground expired and they were forced to play matches outside the town.[19] They played at the Meadow in Chesham (groundsharing with Chesham United, before moving to Bell Close in Leighton Buzzard in 2009, where they shared with Leighton Town. In 2015 they began a groundshare at Thame United's Meadow View Park.[37]

Biggleswade Town[edit]

In 2006 Biggleswade Town F.C. left Fairfield Road and groundshared with Bedford United & Valerio, Bedford, whilst a new ground was built on Langford Road, Biggleswade. The new ground, named the Carlsberg Stadium for sponsorship purposes, was opened for the start of the 2008–09 season. The ground has a capacity of 3,000, of which 300 is seated.[38]

Billingham Synthonia[edit]

In April 2017 Billingham Synthonia F.C. left the Central Avenue Stadium in Billingham due to the cost of upgrading works, initially agreeing to use the Norton Sports Complex in Norton for two seasons.[39]

Cambridge City[edit]

Cambridge City F.C. traditional home ground is the City Ground (also known as "Milton Road"), where they played from 29 April 1922 until 27 April 2013. It is located in the Chesterton area of the city, approximately 0.62 miles (1 km) north of the Cambridge city centre. The original ground was one of the largest outside the football league and was estimated to have a capacity in excess of 16,000, although the highest recorded attendance was 12,058 (in 1950). In the mid 80's, part of the land the original ground stood on was sold for redevelopment, with a new ground built on the remaining land. The capacity of the second ground was approximately 3,000 with 700 seats.

The club was in a legal dispute with their landlords over the ground, which was sold by a previous board of directors for less than its market value. The High Court ruled that the club had been fraudulently misrepresented, and the club will receive 50% of the development profits on the site.[40]

In February 2010, Cambridge City announced a three-year ground-share with Newmarket Town at their Cricket Field Road ground in Newmarket, approximately 13 miles away, for the 2010–11 season. The ground was deemed to need work to bring it up to the required standard,[41] and Cambridge City were to use this time to seek a permanent home closer to Cambridge. The groundshare was later deferred several times, and in April 2013, it was announced that the club had agreed a 2-year groundshare with local neighbours Histon, with City sharing Bridge Road in Impington from the beginning of the 2013–14 season.[42]

In 2012, it was announced that the club's President, Len Satchell, had purchased 35 acres of land in Sawston, with a view to building the club a new 3,000 seat stadium, alongside community facilities for Sawston and the surrounding villages. Following public consultation and an appeal[43] over the decision to grant Planning Permission,[44] Len Satchell has stated their intention to go ahead with the development (May 2016).[45]

On 30 March 2015, it was announced that the club had reached a groundshare agreement with St Ives Town for the use of St Ives' Westwood Road stadium.

Canterbury City[edit]

Canterbury City F.C. originally played at the Kingsmead Stadium, but were evicted by the council in 2001.[46] The stadium closed in 1999 and was demolished, making way for a residential development. In the first seasons after reforming, they initially played in Bridge, before moving to the Recreation Ground in Hersden for the 2009–10 season. After the start of the 2010–11 season the club arranged an ongoing groundshare agreement to play their home matches at Herne Bay's Winch's Field ground. At the beginning of the 2014–15 season City moved to Ashford United's Homelands ground.[47] They played at Deal Town's Charles Sports Ground in 2017–18,[48] before moving to Salters Lane, the home ground of Faversham Town, for the 2018–19 season.[49]

Carlisle United[edit]

In November and December 2015, after severe flooding in Northern England, Carlisle United had to play their home matches at Preston's Deepdale Stadium[50] and Blackburn's Ewood Park,[51] after Brunton Park was completely flooded.[52]

Charlton Athletic[edit]

Charlton Athletic play at The Valley in Charlton, where they have played since 1919, apart from one year in Catford, during 1923–24, and seven years at Crystal Palace and West Ham United between 1985 and 1992.

Coventry City[edit]

Coventry City relocated to Northampton and spent the 2013–14 season ground sharing with Northampton Town due to Arena Coventry Limited, who manage the Ricoh Arena, not being willing to negotiate with the club to agree a new lease. The club's move sparked widespread protests, boycotts and anger at the club's relocation. With an uncertain return to Coventry, the club played at the Sixfields Stadium, although Walsall's Bescot Stadium was also considered. On 21 August 2014 it was announced an agreement had been reached allowing the club to return to the Ricoh Arena for the next two years with the option of another two years. Coventry City's first home game at the Ricoh Arena was played against Gillingham on 5 September 2014.

Dartford F.C.[edit]

Dartford F.C., in the wake of the Bradford City stadium fire and the Hillsborough disaster, Dartford, like so many clubs, needed to either relocate or upgrade their current facilities with the Board going for the latter option. Large sums of money were spent on planning and design fees, which burdened a manageable financial deficit with crippling interest charges.

At the same time Maidstone United, who had sold their own ground, needed a suitable home to launch the ill-fated foray into the Football League and the Dartford board agreed to let Maidstone ground-share at Watling Street, the rent income providing a welcome boost for finances. The ground share began at the start of the 1988–89 season, at the end of which Maidstone reached the Football League as Football Conference champions.

However, Maidstone United went bankrupt and had to resign from the league in August 1992, most of their cash being taken up to gain the eagerly sought Football League place. Ground improvements, which Maidstone United had paid for, were sold to Dartford at a cost (around £500,000), which pushed Darts' debts beyond manageable proportions. Watling Street was sold to pay off creditors and Dartford withdrew from the Southern League four games into the 1992–93 season.[53]

In 1993 the club was offered a ground-share arrangement by Cray Wanderers, meaning Dartford were able to make a successful application for membership of the Kent League. With a view to the future, Dartford negotiated a ground-share with Welling United and played home games at the Park View ground from the 1994–95 season. In September 1997 a disastrous fire at Erith & Belvedere's Park View ground put the club's future and standing with the Southern League into serious doubt. A new ground sharing arrangement was made with Purfleet in time for the 1998–99 season.

The club moved closer to the borough with a new arrangement to play home matches at Gravesend & Northfleet's (now Ebbsfleet United) Stonebridge Road ground from the 2000–01 season. The ground-sharing agreement at Gravesend & Northfleet, coupled with an upturn in performances on the field, saw a significant increase in attendances to help the financial position of the club.

On 10 April 2004 Dartford Borough Council announced it would provide funding and a site for the building of a stadium in Dartford in time for the 2006–07 season. Construction work began on 14 November 2005. Dartford played their first game at new stadium Princes Park on 11 November 2006, less than 12 months after building work began. They beat Horsham YMCA 4–2 in front of an all ticket capacity crowd of 4097.

Durham City[edit]

Durham City A.F.C. played at Ferens Park, Durham, until the end of the 1993–94 season. During the 1994–95 season they played at Chester-le-Street Town's Moor Park in Chester-le-Street, before moving to New Ferens Park in 1995.[19] However, a dispute with the landlord led to the club moving to Consett's Belle View Stadium in Consett in 2015,[54] where they played until the end of the 2016–17 season. They then moved to Willington's Hall Lane ground in Willington.[55]

East Stirlinghire F.C.[edit]

East Stirlingshire F.C. relocated to Stenhousemuir to Ochilview Park which is the home ground of local rivals Stenhousemuir. After leaving Firs Park in 2008, the club entered a ground-share agreement with Stenhousemuir, intended to be for a period of five years during which the club planned to develop a new stadium in Falkirk.[56] In May 2014 East Stirlinghire FC entered into a partnership with LK Galaxy Sports and others to develop a new playing facility at the former BP Club site at Little Kerse, Grange Road, Grangemouth. The site will also host other sports in due course. Planning has recently been approved by Falkirk Council.[citation needed]

Historically, the club's first ground was outside Falkirk itself, Merchiston Park was located in the industrial village of Bainsford, approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) north of Falkirk. It was situated on the northern bank of the Forth and Clyde Canal near to present day Main Street in Bainsford, which is now a suburb of Falkirk. In 1921 the club moved to Firs Park was located to the south of the canal in the centre of Falkirk, named after the street in which it was situated, Firs Street.[57]

Enfield 1893 F.C.[edit]

Enfield 1893 F.C. was founded in 2007 as a phoenix club of a folded club which struggled to find a lasting home, Enfield F.C., when the fans choose not to merge with the splinter club Enfield Town F.C., which emerged in 2001. The new club was based in Ware for the 2007–08 and 2008–09 seasons, then moved to Broxbourne, Hertfordshire for the 2009–10 season, before returning to the borough of Enfield after an 11-year absence when they moved to Goldsdown Road in 2010, the former home of Brimsdown Rovers who folded in 2010, In 2014, the club has had to leave the borough again due to the ground falling below the grading required due to a dispute between Goldsdown Sports Ltd the ground's owner and the local council, and now play their matches in Harlow, Essex, sharing with Harlow Town F.C..

Enfield F.C.[edit]

Enfield F.C. in 1999, sold its Southbury Road stadium, and began ground sharing with several nearby clubs. Eventually, the board decided on a long term ground share with Boreham Wood F.C., 10 miles away at Meadow Park. The relocation sparked protest and in protest some supporters formed splinter phoenix club Enfield Town F.C.. In 2007 Enfield F.C. folded choosing not to merge with Enfield Town and founded their own phoenix club, Enfield 1893 F.C., however the new club equally struggled to maintain a lasting home in Enfield.

Enfield Town[edit]

Enfield Town F.C., founded in 2001 as a fan-owned splinter club of Enfield F.C. after it sold its Southbury Road Stadium in 1999, with the aim to "keep football in Enfield", although Enfield F.C. continued to exist until 2007. The club began play ing at Brimsdown Rovers' Goldsdown Road ground, later joined by Enfield 1893, Enfield F.C.'s phoenix club founded in 2007. In October 2008, Enfield Council announced a deal with the club allowing the club to relocate to the Queen Elizabeth Stadium, close to Enfield's old Southbury Road ground. At the end of the 2009–10 season the club was awarded a grant of £81,504 by the Football Stadium Improvement Fund towards the first phase of works on the new ground.

They left Goldsdown Road at the end of the 2010–11 season, taking with them much of the ground's infrastructure, which resulted in Enfield 1893, who had won the Essex Senior League, not being able to take promotion to the Isthmian League as the ground no longer met the league's standards. After spending the first few months of the 2011–12 stadium groundsharing at the Cheshunt Stadium in Cheshunt,[58] they moved into the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in November 2011.[59]

F.C. United of Manchester[edit]

Despite their spiritual home being Manchester, F.C. United of Manchester did not have their own home ground during the first decade after their formation. Instead, they ground-shared Gigg Lane with Bury F.C., in Bury between 2005 and 2014. Also as a result of some fixture clashes, F.C. United used a further six stadia for home fixtures; Altrincham's Moss Lane in 2005–06,[60] Radcliffe Borough's Stainton Park in 2007–08,[61] Hyde United's Ewen Fields in 2009–10,[62] Stalybridge Celtic's Bower Fold in 2010–11, 2011–12 and 2012–13[63][64] and Curzon Ashton's Tameside Stadium in 2011–12 and 2014–15.[65] A Manchester Premier Cup tie at home to Flixton was switched to Flixton's Valley Road ground in 2008 making it technically F.C. United's seventh home ground.[66]

In March 2010, the club announced plans to build their own 5,000-capacity football ground in Newton Heath, the original home of Manchester United.[67] The development was planned to be located on the site of the current Ten Acres Lane sports centre and would have cost £3.5 million, to be financed by public donations, a Community Shares issue and grant funding.[68] However a year later, in March 2011, Manchester City Council backed out from funding the stadium, but that they had pledged to help F.C. United build a stadium in a new location with reduced costs.[69] In April 2011 it was revealed that F.C. United were considering a new site in the Broadhurst Park area of Moston, Manchester.[70] Detailed information about the new facility, including the tentative name Moston Community Stadium, was released in June 2011.[71] Manchester City Council approved the planning permission for the Moston site on 27 October 2011.[72] F.C. United had to overcome some obstacles including funding agreements, contractor and lease negotiations and a legal challenge from local residents which caused a further two-year delay before building commenced in November 2013.

Since their Broadhurst Park ground was not ready in time for the 2014–15 season, F.C. United ended their groundsharing agreement with Bury and began using Bower Fold as a temporary home. Due to fixture clashes with Stalybridge Celtic, the Northern Premier League agreed in December for another switch to Curzon Ashton's Tameside Stadium until Broadhurst Park was granted a safety certificate.[73][74] F.C. United finally moved into their own home ground at Broadhurst Park for the start of the 2015–16 season.

Gateshead F.C.[edit]

Gateshead F.C. moved to Filtrona Park, South Shields, ground-sharing with South Shields F.C. in April 2003 when the International Stadium was out of bounds due to the installation of a new athletics track.[75] The club promptly returned to Gateshead after the work was finished.

Gloucester City[edit]

Gloucester City A.F.C. has a long history of relocations, although the majority of them within the conurbation of the City of Gloucester. However, after their Meadow Park Stadium was destroyed in the 2007 flood, the club has since played in other towns. Their first season in exile was spent at The New Lawn in Nailsworth, ground-sharing with Forest Green Rovers. between 2008 and 2010 the club played at The Corinium Stadium, Cirencester, home of Cirencester Town F.C.. The club currently plays at Whaddon Road, Cheltenham, sharing with league club Cheltenham Town F.C.. The club is still hoping to return to Gloucester, and on 7 October 2014, after seven years in exile, the club plans for a new stadium at Meadow Park have been approved by Gloucester City Council.[76] On 25 March 2015, the club announced a further one season stay at Whaddon Road but with increased rent to Cheltenham Town. This would mean the club would have been in exile for 9 seasons, 6 of them at Cheltenham. Confirmation that outline planning permission had been granted by the council came on the 22 September. The club now needs to be submit a full planning application before anything can be built.

Grays Athletic[edit]

Grays Athletic F.C. initially played at the Hoppit Ground in Little Thurrock.[77] In 1906 they moved to the New Recreation Ground, playing there until 2010. After the ground was sold to developers, the club groundshared with East Thurrock United at their Rookery Hill ground in Corringham.[29]

During the 2012–13 season the club played at Rush Green Stadium in Rush Green, sharing the ground with West Ham United's reserves who played in the Professional Development League.[78] The following season, West Ham pulled out of the deal in June and Grays moved to Aveley's Mill Field ground. When Aveley moved to Parkside in 2017, Grays became tenants at the new ground.[24]

Hamilton Academical[edit]

Hamilton Academical F.C. settled at Douglas Park in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire in 1888 and remained at the ground until 1994 when they sold it to a supermarket chain. The club played outside the town for several years, groundsharing at Cliftonhill and Firhill Stadium for a number of years. A fans' campaign for the club to return to their home town was undertaken, including a single issue candidate at the 1999 Hamilton South by-election before a new ground, New Douglas Park, was built on a site adjacent to the previous ground. It opened in 2001.[79]

Northwich Victoria[edit]

Northwich Victoria F.C. from their foundation in 1874 played at the Drill Field, located in the centre of Northwich. Due to the ground not meeting new safety regulations and standards, and to provide revenue for the club, the ground was demolished in 2002.[80] In the three-year gap between the demolition of the Drill Field and the construction of Victoria Stadium, Northwich played at Wincham Park, the home of their Northwich rivals Witton Albion, which is located across the canal from the Victoria Stadium.[81] A new ground was built in Wincham, a few miles outside of the town in the middle of a business park. It was named the Victoria Stadium, and was opened in 2005, with its official opening in 2006 by Sir Alex Ferguson.[82] In January 2012, chairman Jim Rushe's planned purchase of the Victoria Stadium fell through and the site was sold to chemical manufacturer Thor Specialities Ltd., who were based adjacent to the stadium and planned on expanding their operation. As a result, the club was evicted from the ground with immediate effect, with its remaining home fixtures of the 2011–12 season either played at nearby venues or switched to the ground of the away team. The club then tentatively agreed to share Marston Road, the home of Stafford Rangers located over 40 miles south of Northwich, to enable them to gain readmission to the Northern Premier League for the following season. The club hoped to secure a groundshare closer to their home town before the season started, and eventually agreed a lease on Flixton's Valley Road. However, the ground at Flixton did not meet ground grading requirements for the Northern Premier League. The club then unsuccessfully appealed the leagues refusal to allow the sub-standard ground at Flixton and followed this up with a second unsuccessful appeal as to their placement in the Southern division of the Northern Premier League. The club were forced to remain at Stafford, and were subsequently denied the appeal to switch to the Northern division due to the extra travelling for the away clubs. The club's relocation and sale of Drill Field were one of the factors in the creation of 1874 Northwich F.C., a breakaway club founded in 2012 by the supporters. However, they too do not play in Northwich, they currently share the Barton Stadium with nearby team Winsford United.

Slough Town[edit]

Slough Town F.C. currently play their home games at Holloways Park, Windsor Road, Beaconsfield.

For many years since the 1930s, Slough Town played at the Dolphin Stadium, just to the east of the town centre. From 1973 Slough Town played at the Wexham Park Stadium. At the end of the 2002–03 season, financial disagreements with the stadium's owners led to the club's eviction. The Stadium is still in existence, but has since fallen into a state of serious disrepair.

During the next four seasons (2003–04 to 2006–07) the club was based in Windsor, ground-sharing with Windsor & Eton at their Stag Meadow ground.

In the summer of 2007, the club agreed a three-year ground-share with Beaconsfield SYCOB. This was extended to cover the 2010–11 season,[83] and, as of the 2012–13 season, is still continuing.

Since June 2009, Slough Town have been progressing a proposal submitted to Slough Borough Council for permission to build a new stadium within the Borough of Slough. The proposed location for the development is the Arbour Vale school site on Stoke Road, to the north of the town. In addition to a state-of-the-art stadium, the plans include affordable housing and sports fields.[84][85] An artist's impression of the new ground was released in March 2012.[86]

The stadium name will be Arbour Park, with up to 320 seats, meeting FA Regulations.

Preparations are still under way to submit a planning request. It was hoped that the Stadium would be ready by Autumn 2013, so that Slough Town could move back home for the 13/14 season. As of October 2012, a planning application had not been submitted, although Slough Borough Council announced its plan to place the Arbour Park development into the Slough Regeneration Partnership to assist the planning process.[87]

South Shields F.C. (1974)[edit]

South Shields F.C. founded in 1974 as a phoenix club of two previous club of the same name (South Shields F.C. (1889) and South Shields F.C. (1936), see above) which both relocated to Gateshead, consider Filtrona Park, South Shields as their spiritual home. The ground has links with the nearby Filtrona factory which manufactures cigarette filters. As of the 2013–14 season, South Shields play at Eden Lane, Peterlee after being evicted from Filtrona Park. South Tyneside Council announced they hoped to have a new purpose built ground in the town in time for the 2014–15 season.

Tottenham Hotspur[edit]

Tottenham Hotspur late in 2014, was reported to be in negotiations with MK Dons over a temporary groundshare at Stadium:mk for a season, during renovations at Spurs' White Hart Lane ground.[88] According to press reports, Tottenham proposed to play most home matches in Milton Keynes and a small number at Wembley Stadium.[89] The idea of playing home matches in Milton Keynes, even temporarily, is largely unpopular with Spurs fans.[90][91] The Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust stated in September 2014 that it would have "serious issues" with such an arrangement.[92] In a London Evening Standard poll of 206 Tottenham fans two months later, 71 (34%) said they would attend home matches at Stadium mk if the club played there temporarily, while 135 (66%) said they would not.[93]

Spurs' home ground from the 2018–19 season onward is Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but the first few home games of the season were played at Wembley Stadium, in the London Borough of Brent, as were all games during 2017-2018. Their former home of White Hart Lane had been demolished at the end of the 2016-2017 season to make way for the new stadium on the same site.[94]

Spurs eventually ended up playing a game at Stadium:mk[95] against Watford in front of 23,650 people[96] a fixture supported by former MK Dons player and Milton Keynes local Dele Alli.[97]

Wooton Bassett Town[edit]

Wootton Bassett Town moved temporarily and currently play their home games at the Corinium Stadium, Cirencester, home of Cirencester Town. Their Reserve, Development and Ladies teams all play home fixtures at Royal Wootton Bassett Rugby Football Club's Ballards Ash ground, their traditional Royal Wootton Bassett home. The club will be moving all their teams to a new site opposite Ballards Ash in the summer of 2015.

Worcester City[edit]

Worcester City left their traditional home St George's Lane, Worcester in June 2013, as it has been sold to a housing developer. The sale of the ground was aimed at helping to fund the building of a new 6,000-capacity ground to be built at Nunnery Way on the edge of Worcester but the sale of the ground failed to provide sufficient finances to pay for such a stadium.[98] Since 30 January 2013, they have ground-shared with Kidderminster Harriers at their Aggborough ground in Kidderminster from the 2013–14 season.[99] In 2013 previous plans for the club's new stadium to be built out of the city at Nunnery Way were shelved, however thanks to the Worcester City Supporters' Trust a new full planning application has been submitted to the City of Worcester Council and is currently pending.

Worksop Town[edit]

In 1901 Worksop Town F.C. moved across the River Ryton to Central Avenue, staying there until 1988, when they were forced to move to play in Gainsborough. They returned to their home town in 1992 when a new ground was built on Sandy Lane. They lost ownership of Sandy Lane in 2005 and again had to groundshare elsewhere before returning to Sandy Lane in 2011, this time as tenants of Worksop Parramore.

Failed relocation proposals[edit]

Barnet F.C.[edit]

Pete Winkelman attempted to negotiate a move with two League clubs from London over to Milton Keynes; he approached Crystal Palace and Barnet, but neither were interested.[100][101] Winkelman then offered the ground to Wimbledon.[102] Barnet did eventually move from their ground in Barnet, to The Hive Stadium in the neighbouring borough of Harrow.

Charlton Athletic[edit]

The south-east London club Charlton Athletic were linked with a move to "a progressive Midlands borough" in 1973,[103] a year after Charlton's relegation to the third tier.[104] The Gliksten family, which owned Charlton from 1932 to 1982 and had a history of proposing elaborate schemes for the club,[105][n 2] revealed plans to build a community sports complex at The Valley, and to hold a public market at the ground on weekdays. Greenwich Council refused to license the market and insisted that the complex be built on public space at a local park. The club reacted by announcing the proposed move to the Midlands.[103] Fans inundated the local media and club offices with strong opinion against a move, prompting Charlton to print a statement in the 14 April 1973 match programme telling fans that the proposed move was because of the council's attitude regarding the market and complex plans, which the team said threatened its future. "You, the supporters, can make sure the club continues in Charlton by protesting as loud as you can to Greenwich Council over their refusal to grant us permission for our plans", the message explained.[107] No relocation occurred.[104]

Crystal Palace F.C.[edit]

Pete Winkelman attempted to negotiate a move with two League clubs from London over to Milton Keynes; he approached Crystal Palace and Barnet, but neither were interested.[100][101] Winkelman then offered the ground to Wimbledon.[102]

Leyton Orient[edit]

On 18 October 2011, Leyton Orient F.C. submitted a request to the Football League to become tenants of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium[108] after the initial decision (to award the stadium to West Ham United) had collapsed on 11 October 2011, following legal challenges from Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton.[109] Leyton also expressed an interest in ground sharing the stadium with West Ham,[110] but West Ham were not keen on the idea,[111] and in December 2012 West Ham was chosen as the permanent tenant of the Olympic Stadium. Orient chairman Barry Hearn voiced his complaints over West Ham being given an anchor tenancy at the stadium. Orient claimed that the stadium was too close to their own, which they claimed would breach FA rules, and by extension, move the club into bankruptcy.[109] On 6 March, Barry Hearn stated that he would mount another legal challenge as he believed that the rules set out by the LLDC had not been followed. Hearn also said that he felt that Leyton Orient's proposed ground share had been ignored and not properly explored.[112][113][114] Leyton's legal challenge was ended when a confidential agreement between Orient and the Premier League was reached.[115][116]

Luton Town → MK Hatters[edit]

Luton Town, based 20 miles (32 km) from Milton Keynes in Luton and nicknamed "the Hatters", were seeking a new site in the early 1980s. As early as 1960, then-First Division Luton's attendances had been deemed far too low for the top flight by Charles Buchan's Football Monthly, which also considered their ground at Kenilworth Road, in the middle of town, to be hard to get to.[101] At this time the club was already planning a 50,000-capacity ground near Dunstable, to the north-west of Luton,[101] but no new ground materialised. Luton were relegated in 1960 and, apart from the 1974–75 season, remained outside of the top division until 1982–83.[117]

With the team still based at the "cramped and inadequate" Kenilworth Road in 1983,[118] the construction of a new road next to the ground escalated the need for a replacement. The Milton Keynes Development Corporation approached Luton proposing a new all-seater stadium in central Milton Keynes, housing either 18,000 or 20,000 spectators, as part of a leisure and retail development.[119] Luton's owners were receptive to the idea; according to The Luton News, the relocated "MK Hatters" would play home matches in a "super-stadium".[101] This ground would reportedly have an artificial pitch and a roof; Milton Keynes Council would invest heavily in its construction.[118] The Luton chairman Denis Mortimer surmised if the team moved it would not only garner new fans from the Milton Keynes area but also retain the existing Luton fanbase. He said that the club was financially unsustainable at Kenilworth Road and would go bankrupt if it did not move.[118]

The Milton Keynes idea was very poorly received by Luton fans and viewed, in Bale's words, as "tearing the club from its most loyal supporters".[1] Luton fans held protest marches and rallies throughout the 1983–84 season,[120] and chartered a plane to fly over Kenilworth Road during one match pulling a banner reading "Keep Luton Town F.C. in Luton". Some 18,000 Luton residents signed a petition against the club leaving. A consortium of local businessmen attempted to persuade Vauxhall Motors, General Motors' Luton-based British marque, to invest in the club and help with a new stadium in Luton.[118] In Milton Keynes, some residents expressed fears that Luton's arrival in central Milton Keynes might bring with it football hooliganism and threaten local amenities.[121] Some Luton supporters boycotted the club's first home match of the 1984–85 season in protest against the Milton Keynes plans.[120] The wide unpopularity of the proposed move and the consistently vehement opposition from Luton's local support combined to prevent it from occurring.[101][122] "The directors want our support and our money", said Tom Hunt, a member of a Luton fans' action group against the move, "but they ignore the views of a community that wants to keep its football club. Why should fans pay at the turnstiles to help the club in business so that it can be taken away from us?"[120]

North Ferriby United → East Hull[edit]

In October 2018, the owner of North Ferriby United, Carl Chadwick, submitted a name change application with the Football Association in October 2018 which could see the team become "East Hull" the following season, as well as considering a relocation to Dunswell Park on the northern edge of Hull.[123]

Oxford United & Reading F.C. → Thames Valley Royals[edit]

Shortly before the end of the 1982–83 Football League season, Robert Maxwell, the then-owner and chairman of Oxford United Football Club, announced that he had made a deal with the owners of nearby Reading to amalgamate the two teams to create a new club he proposed to name "Thames Valley Royals". This appellation combined a loose term for the geographical region, "Thames Valley", with the Reading team's nickname, "the Royals". With each team having financial problems, Maxwell claimed that both were on the verge of going out of business and that uniting them was necessary for the region to retain a Football League club.

Maxwell envisioned Thames Valley Royals' future home as an unspecified location somewhere between Oxford and Reading where a new stadium would be built, perhaps Didcot; home matches would alternate between Oxford and Reading in the meantime. Both sets of supporters promptly embarked on mass demonstrations against the merger, including protest marches and a 2,000-man sit-in on the pitch at Oxford before a match on 23 April. Maxwell pressed on with his plan regardless, insisting that "nothing short of the end of the Earth" would prevent its fruition.

The proposed amalgamation was stopped by the actions of one of Reading's board directors, Roy Tranter, and Roger Smee, a businessman and former Reading player. Smee disputed the legitimacy of the controlling interest in Reading held by the faction of three Reading board members that backed the merger plan, including the chairman Frank Waller, and Tranter launched a legal challenge to the sale of certain shares on 22 April 1983. Waller and his boardroom allies resigned under pressure from the rest of the Reading board on 12 May 1983, and at an extraordinary shareholders' meeting in July, Smee took over the club, ending the amalgamation plans.

Queens Park Rangers[edit]

Towards the end of the 2000–01 season Wimbledon and Queens Park Rangers, who were in financial administration, entered discussions over a merger; the new team would play at Loftus Road.[124] The Football League announced on 2 May 2001 that it would give "favourable consideration" to a takeover of QPR by Wimbledon, but that the process would have to be very quick for the merged team to take part in the 2001–02 season. Noades said that Wimbledon would have to give him 12 months' notice to leave Selhurst Park. The majority of Wimbledon and QPR fans quickly made their opposition to a merger known.[125] Following Wimbledon's draw with Norwich City at Selhurst Park on 6 May, Koppel came onto the pitch and told the mostly jeering home fans that "there never was a merger proposal with QPR";[126] the Loftus Road club had instigated the talks, he said.[126] QPR abandoned the amalgamation plan two days later, citing potential fan alienation.[127]

A month later, Winkelman offered his Milton Keynes stadium site to QPR, promising that the club's name and blue-and-white hooped strip would be kept in Buckinghamshire and that the fans would be represented on the board of directors.[128] "We have real resources to put behind the club", said Winkelman. "They are fast running out of solutions and we are the answer to their problems."[128] QPR dismissed the offer, leading the developers to once again contact Wimbledon later that month.[102]

Wimbledon F.C.[edit]

The south-west London club Wimbledon, traditionally a semi-professional non-League side, through successive promotions caused the team to reach a level of prominence far above that suggested by its modest home stadium at Plough Lane, which remained largely unchanged from the club's non-League days.[129] Wimbledon's record attendance at Plough Lane—18,000, set "in the 1930s against a team of sailors from HMS Victory"[130]—was never broken during 14 League seasons at the ground, including five in the top flight.[130]

Ron Noades, who purchased the club for £2,782 in 1976,[131] came to see Plough Lane as a potential limitation by 1979. He surmised that it could only attract a relatively small number of fans because of its location, close to large areas of sparsely-populated parkland.[132] Noades's interest was piqued by the site the Milton Keynes Development Corporation had earmarked for a stadium next to the town's still-under-construction Central railway station.[132] "They were very keen to get a Football League club, effectively a franchise if you like, into Milton Keynes to take up that site", Noades said in a 2001 interview.[132] Planning to move Wimbledon there by amalgamating with an established Milton Keynes club, Noades purchased debt-ridden Southern League club Milton Keynes City (MK City; formerly Bletchley Town)[n 3] for £1. He and three other Wimbledon directors—Jimmy Rose, Bernie Coleman and Sam Hammam—were promptly voted onto MK City's board "in an advisory capacity".[136] This was a separate personal investment by the four directors, Noades said at the time, and not relevant to a move, though he also spoke at length about the superior long-term promise of the Milton Keynes location.[136]

Despite his early optimism, Noades soon came to the conclusion that a League club in Milton Keynes would not draw crowds much higher than those Wimbledon already attracted in south London. "I couldn't really see us getting any bigger gates than what Northampton Town were currently getting at that time, and, in fact, are still getting", he recalled in 2001. "I really couldn't see any future in it. I can't actually see that there is a means of drawing large attendances to Milton Keynes."[132] Abandoning his interest in MK City,[132][136] Noades sold Wimbledon to Hammam in 1981. Later that year Noades bought nearby Crystal Palace and briefly explored merging that club with Wimbledon.[102][131]

In 1994, Wimbledon's Irish-born manager Joe Kinnear contacted Eamon Dunphy, a football pundit and former player from Ireland, to inform him of this and to put to him the idea of moving the club to Dublin. Dunphy was enthusiastic about the idea and became its main proponent in Ireland over the next three years. It was suggested that Wimbledon fans from London could be given free flights to Dublin for home matches,[137] and that British Sky Broadcasting might pay to fly the opposing teams there during the first season.[138]

Opinion polls in the Republic showed consistently high support for the idea of Wimbledon hosting Premier League matches in Dublin,[137][139] but the League of Ireland argued that this would endanger its existence, and in September 1996 about 300 fans rallied in Dublin under the slogan "Resist the Dublin Dons".[137] Twenty Irish clubs "reaffirmed their opposition" to Wimbledon playing in Dublin the following month;[140] a week later Reuters called the proposal "dead and buried".[130] When Hammam requested talks with the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) top brass in April 1997, they refused to even meet him.[141] Vocal opposition from Wimbledon fans emerged—after a friendly match in August 1997 fans holding "Dublin = Death" and "Dons Belong In Merton" placards refused to leave the stadium for two hours. Soon afterwards, Hammam met six leading protesters, who told him that in the event of a move they would start a new non-League club locally.[137]

Plough Lane in 2000, standing derelict

Playing away from Merton at a supposedly temporary home, Wimbledon set a record for the lowest-ever English top-flight attendance during the 1992–93 season, drawing only 3,039 fans to a Tuesday-night match against Everton on 26 January 1993.[142] However the general trend was one of a sharp rise—the club's average home attendance more than doubled at Selhurst Park from around 8,000 during the last years at Plough Lane to a peak of over 18,000 during the 1998–99 Premier League season.[143] Hammam sold Wimbledon to two Norwegian businessmen, Kjell Inge Røkke and Bjørn Rune Gjelsten, for a reported £26 million in June 1997, while remaining at the club in an advisory role.[144] In December that year, Wimbledon were reported to be considering the football and greyhounds option again.[145] Ownership of Plough Lane was transferred from the club to Rudgwick Limited—a company founded in 1993 with Hammam serving as director.[146] With political control of Merton Council having changed, Hammam secured the £8 million sale of Plough Lane to Safeway supermarkets in 1998.[102] He unsuccessfully attempted to gain permission to redevelop a former gas works in Merton during the same year,[102] and soon after entered abortive negotiations over a site in Beddington.[102]

Frustrated by the lack of progress, Hammam shifted his focus to Dublin and other locations outside London—Basingstoke, "Gatwick", Belfast, Cardiff and Scotland.[100][129][147][148][149] He later claimed that during this time seven clubs from outside London approached Wimbledon with groundshare offers.[148][n 4] By February 1998, Clydebank of the Scottish third tier were also pursuing a move to the Irish capital. Swayed by Hammam's offer of £500,000 to each League of Ireland club, the same amount to the FAI and "schools of excellence all over the country" in return for support, five Irish teams now backed Wimbledon's Dublin proposal.[150] Later that year, after the Premier League had approved the idea, the lengthy, heated debate in Ireland ended with an FAI veto.[102][148][151][152][153] With Dublin now not an option, Hammam attempted to buy Selhurst Park from Noades, who had sold Crystal Palace in 1998, but still owned the ground. This led nowhere.[131] Hammam finally sold his shares in Wimbledon in February 2000,[154] and seven months later became the owner of Cardiff City.[155] Wimbledon were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 1999–2000 season.[156] The average attendance at Wimbledon home matches dropped by more than half over the next year, from 17,157 during the 1999–2000 season to 7,897 during 2000–01.[157]

Association Football (women's)[edit]

Relocations of teams which assumed new identities[edit]

Bromley Borough → Croydon W.F.C. → Charlton Athletic W.F.C.[edit]

The team was formed in 1991 as Bromley Borough by disaffected members of Millwall Lionesses' WFA Cup winning squad.[158] the club won promotion into the National Premier League in 1994.[159] The club entered the top-flight however as Croydon W.F.C., having tied up with Croydon F.C. and relocating to Croydon. At Croydon W.F.C.'s AGM in June 2000, the club's players controversially voted to accept a hostile takeover from Charlton Athletic.[160] Bampton resigned as manager, as both the club's committee and the FA declared affiliation with the men's Premier League club to be against the rules. The Croydon F.C. chairman, Ken Jarvie, also attempted to block the move[161] which was eventually sanctioned.[162] Charlton Athletic W.F.C. currently play at Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, groundsharing with Thamesmead Town.

District Line Ladies → Wembley Ladies → Barnet Ladies[edit]

District Line Ladies F.C. founded in 1975 relocated to Vale Farm, Wembley, after being tied up with Wembley F.C. in 1993 to become Wembley Ladies F.C.. In 1997 the club moved to play at Reynolds Field in Perivale, home of Hanwell Town, but kept the Wembley Ladies name. Then in 1998 the club became affiliated to Barnet F.C., amalgamating with the existing Barnet Ladies F.C. from the Greater London League to form Barnet F.C. Ladies. In 2013, they were successful in their bid to join the WSL under their new name of London Bees for the 2014 season

Lincoln City Ladies → Notts County Ladies[edit]

Notts County Ladies F.C. were created in 2014 when Lincoln Ladies were controversially relocated from Lincoln to Nottingham and re-branded. The club were originally formed in Lincoln in 1995 and also spent a period known as Lincoln City Ladies while affiliated to Lincoln City. Sincil Bank and other smaller venues staged the club's matches during their time in Lincoln. The club was named OOH Lincoln Ladies from 2008 until 2010, due to sponsorship from Ray Trew's OOH Media PLC.

The club withdrew from the FA WSL 1, the top tier in the English women's football league system, two days before the start of the FA WSL Spring Series on 21 April 2017.[163]

Relocations of teams without change in name or identity[edit]

Birmingham City L.F.C.[edit]

Birmingham City L.F.C. in 2005 left Redditch United's The Valley Stadium in Redditch, for Stratford Town's DCS Stadium at Knights Lane, in Tiddington, Warwickshire. The club underwent another stadium change in 2014, leaving the DCS Stadium for Solihull Moors' Damson Park.[164]

Celtic L.F.C.[edit]

Celtic L.F.C. moved from their base the club's traditional training ground Lennoxtown training centre in Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire to the K-Park Training Academy in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, which is shared with the men's senior team East Kilbride F.C.[165] from the 2015 season onwards.

Chelsea L.F.C.[edit]

Chelsea L.F.C., who are based in Fulham, until 2017 played their home games at Wheatsheaf Park, the home of the Staines Town F.C..[166] The stadium is located in Staines-upon-Thames, Middlesex and features capacity for 3,002 spectators.[167]

The team played at Imperial Fields during the 2011–12 season, the home ground of Isthmian League club Tooting & Mitcham United.[168]

As of the 2017–18 season, Chelsea L.F.C. plays at Kingsmeadow in Norbiton, Kingston upon Thames, London, which the Chelsea organisation has agreed to purchase from current occupant AFC Wimbledon in order for them to finance a new stadium for their own use (ultimately New Plough Lane).[169] Kingsmeadow has a capacity of 4,850 (2,265 of which is seated).

Liverpool L.F.C.[edit]

Liverpool L.F.C. announced a move from the West Lancashire College Stadium in Skelmersdale, to the Halton Stadium in Widnes for 2013.[170]

Portsmouth F.C. Ladies[edit]

Portsmouth F.C. Ladies have played in a number of different stadiums throughout their history. Currently, Portsmouth the majority of their home games at Privett Park, Gosport, the home of National League South side Gosport Borough F.C.. Prior to this, Pompey played at the Moneyfields Sports Ground, Portsmouth, the home ground of Wessex League Premier Division side Moneyfields F.C.. The team have also in recent seasons played at The City Ground, Winchester, home of Southern League Division One South & West side Winchester City.

In the Fourth Round of the 2012/13 FA Cup, Portsmouth played their home tie against QPR at West Leigh Park, Havant. Subsequently, this stadium was announced as the home venue for the rest of the season, although the last two home games were played at the College Ground, Hayling Island, home of Hayling United FC, as a result of the overrunning of the season due to bad weather and the pitch at Westleigh Park being relaid. Westleigh Park continued to be used as Pompey Ladies' main home ground for the first half of the following season, however poor weather over the New Year period saw Pompey Ladies relocate, with the Blues playing most of the second half of the season at Privett Park, where as of 2016, they still play.

Tottenham Hotspur L.F.C.[edit]

Tottenham Hotspur Ladies F.C. moved home grounds to Cheshunt Stadium, Cheshunt, home of Cheshunt F.C. in 2016,[171] moving from Barrows Farm stadium.[172] However, the alternative first team stadium stayed the same, as Goffs Lane.[173]



Bolton & Bury Giants → Olympic City Giants[edit]

Olympic City Giants were a professional basketball team based in Oldham. Previously based in Bolton and Bury, the team were known as Bolton & Bury Hawks and then Bolton & Bury Giants, the team were founder members of the British Basketball League in 1987. In 1989 after encountering several financial difficulties, Olympic City Giants formally merged with Manchester Eagles (formerly Manchester United) to become Manchester Giants, marking a return of the famous name after a three-year absence, following a merger between the original Manchester Giants and Manchester United in 1986.[174]

Brighton Bears → Worthing Bears → Brighton Bears[edit]

The Brighton Bears founded in 1973, were rocked by financial instability by the early 1980s. High rents at the Brighton Centre combined with dwindling crowds meant that it was no longer financially viable for the team to operate out of Brighton, and the search for a new home began. The second half of the season saw home games being played in arenas all over the south, including Bognor Regis, Eastleigh and Hastings.

The Bears' first game at Worthing was against the Birmingham Bullets in December 1983. A crowd of 400 curious onlookers turned up to watch the game, and the passion and excitement generated made the directors choose Worthing as the new permanent home for the Bears. The rent of the Leisure Centre was agreed with Worthing Borough Council and fans decided to stick with the Bears name. The club began the 1984–85 season as the Worthing Bears.

Several years later, after finishing rock-bottom of the league in the 1998–99 season, with only 4 wins out of 36 starts, late in the season Bob Wood sold his share of the club to Romek Kriwald, and as the season drew to a close the announcement was made that the Bears were to leave Worthing and head back to Brighton. The increased revenue and TV exposure that a venue such as the Brighton Centre could bring were seen as the only route back to success for the Bears. The club's first year back in Brighton was a marked improvement on the previous years' decline. The club returned to the Brighton Bears name in 199 and home games were once again held at the Brighton Centre, as well as at the Burgess Hill Triangle, and attendances peaked at close to 3,000. The Worthing Rebels filled the void left by the Bears back in Worthing.

Brixton TopCats → Lambeth TopCats → Brixton TopCats[edit]

The Brixton TopCats, based in Brixton, London, briefly relocated for one season, 1986–87 season, to nearby Lambeth changing their name accordingly.

Derbyshire Arrows → City of Sheffield Arrows → Derbyshire Arrows[edit]

The Derbyshire Arrows water founded in Killamarsh, Derbyshire. In 2003 to allow the club to advance further, they moved to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, Yorkshire, changing their name to the City of Sheffield Arrows. The move proved successful trophy-wise, but since winning their last title in 2005, the club began a gradual decline. With the drop to a more modest league, the club returned to their original Killamarsh home and reclaimed their former name in 2011.[175]

Ellesmere Port Jets → Chester Jets[edit]

Founded in 1984 in Ellesmere Port as Ellesmere Port Jets, in the 1987–88 season, they changed their name to Cheshire Jets (a name which they returned to in 2007), though still continuing to play in Ellesmere Port. As the team gained promotion to the BBL, the arena in Ellesmere Port became unsuitable, and so in 1993 the Jets were forced to move to Chester, and into the Northgate Arena. The move was reflected in another name change to the Chester Jets.

EPAB Washington → Sunderland Scorpions → Newcastle Comets[edit]

EPAB Washington founded in 1977 in Washington, moved to Sunderland after just one season to become Sunderland Saints. Renamed in 1993 to Sunderland Scorpions they moved to Newcastle in 1995, becoming the Newcastle Comets, which would later become the successful Newcastle Eagles.

Hemel Hempstead Lakers → Watford Royals → MK Lions → London Lions[edit]

The London Lions currently play in the British Basketball League – the top level men's basketball league in the United Kingdom. The club had been based in Hemel Hempstead, Watford and Milton Keynes prior to its re-location to London for the 2012–13 season.

The club was formed as the Hemel Hempstead Lakers in 1977 before being renamed Hemel Royals in 1985. The lack of fortunes and an ageing venue prompted the franchise to look at relocating and found a suitable, yet temporary solution in the neighbouring town of Watford. In preparation for the move, the franchise was rebranded as Hemel & Watford Royals in 1996 and made the move from the Dacorum Centre to Watford Leisure Centre in 1997. The move had little luck on the team's playing performance and they finished 13th out of 13 in the 1997–98 season (3–33). Royals' stay in Watford lasted just one season and, in 1998, with the promise of a future purpose-built arena being offered in the town of Milton Keynes, the team packed up, moved and renamed themselves as the Milton Keynes Lions.

The move to Milton Keynes was a great success, winning the franchise's only trophy success to-date is the BBL Cup title, won in 2008 as the Milton Keynes Lions.

Following the conclusion of the 2011–12 season, the owners of Prestige Homes Arena triggered an opt-out clause in the lease to let the building as a retail outlet. A planning application to change the building from a sporting facility to retail unit was approved by Milton Keynes Council,[176] thus leaving the club without a home venue for the third time in as many seasons. Owner Vince Macaulay searched during the summer of 2012 to secure a new base for Lions home games, which included public pleas to local businesses for help in finding a new home as offers from cities around the UK poured in to relocate the team. On 30 July, it was announced that the search for a home venue had been unsuccessful and the club would be forced to leave Milton Keynes.[177]

The move in 2012 to London was fiercely criticised by fans and the general local population. The club still operate the Milton Keynes College Lions Basketball Academy in partnership with Milton Keynes College, which was established in 2007 and remains running despite the professional team's departure from Milton Keynes in the summer of 2012.

London YMCA Metros → Kingston Kings → Glasgow Rangers → Kingston Kings → Guildford Kings[edit]

The franchise's origins date back to the London YMCA Metros who entered the National Basketball League in 1973. In 1979, owner Malcolm Chamberlain uprooted the team and relocated them from London to the suburbs of Kingston upon Thames and to the Tolworth Recreation Centre, and rebranding as Kingston Kings.

In 1988, the franchise was bought out by Rangers F.C., and became the Glasgow Rangers, although the team played in Falkirk. Rangers were League Champions in 1988–89, but were sold after just one year and returned to Kingston, where the franchise enjoyed their most glorious period. In 1992 the franchise was moved yet again to the brand new Spectrum Arena in Guildford to become the Guildford Kings. The Kings competed for two more years in the British Basketball League and even European competitions, until 1994, when the franchise folded completely due to financial difficulties. The league sold Kings' licence to a group headed by Robert Earl, Ed Simons and Harvey Goldsmith, who went on to establish the equally successful Greater London Leopards franchise.

Loughborough All-Stars → Leicester All-Stars[edit]

Founded as the Loughborough All-Stars in 1967, making it the oldest operating basketball team in the UK, the club moved from Loughborough to Leicester in 1981, backed by Leicester City Council and Leicester City Bus, hence the change in nickname to "Riders" in 1986, becoming the Leicester Riders. They briefly moving back to play at Loughborough University in 2000, following the closure of Granby Halls, at a new venue barely a stone's throw from Victory Hall where the club played its first game, but the club did not change its name. In 2004 the Riders agreed a sponsorship deal with De Montfort University and moved back to Leicester, where they played their games at De Monfort's John Sandford Sports Centre.

Rossendale Raptors → Lancashire Spinners[edit]

The Rossendale Raptors, based in Rossendale, with the goal of establishing themselves at national level complete, the club relocated to the Castle Leisure Centre in Bury and re-branded themselves as the Lancashire Spinners in 2014 to attract a wider audience and to prepare for a future push towards the professional leagues.

Sportsworld Market Harborough → Corby Flyers → Coventry Flyers[edit]

Founded as Sportsworld Market Harborough in 1987, the club were nomadic during their formative years, only remaining in their original venue for a year before relocating to Corby, where they adopted the name Corby Flyers, and then moving to Coventry after a further two years. Stability started to come to the club in the 1992–93 season when they re-branded as the Coventry Crusaders.

Stockport Belgrade → Warrington Vikings → Manchester United[edit]

Stockport Belgrade were a successful club created in 1975, based at Peel Moat in Heaton Moor. But by the 1981–82 season, the Stockport club took the decision to move away from their fan base to the new Spectrum Arena in Warrington, adopting the name Warrington Vikings. Halfway through the 1998–99 season, another major turning point occurred in the Viking's eventful history when Manchester United bought the team. Two barren seasons followed the United title win and the United experiment having failed, the franchise was bought by a group of local businessmen in 1988, who changed the team name to the Manchester Eagles. The club suffered a complicated intertwining with the other Manchester club, the original Manchester Giants with several mergers taking place.

Southampton Trailblazers[edit]

In 2007, the Trailblazers became the leading club in Southampton, and were permitted to move from their St. Mary's home venue to Fleming Park Leisure Centre in Eastleigh.

Southern Pirates → Guildford Pirates → Bracknell Pirates[edit]

The franchise started out as the Southern Pirates, playing in the city of Portsmouth, however they were soon moved inland in 1975 to the town of Guildford retaining its name at first before being renamed Guildford Pirates. In 1982, the Pirates moved again to nearby Bracknell, becoming the Bracknell Pirates and later renamed the Bracknell Tigers and then eventually Thames Valley Tigers. In the new millennium that the successes dried up and for owner John Nike the team was too much of a financial burden. In April 2005, he announced that he would no longer be funding the basketball franchise nor his ice hockey franchise Bracknell Bees.[178] Fans of the Thames Valley Tigers set up a phoenix club Guildford Heat in 2005, after successful negotiations with the Spectrum Arena in Guildford.

Tolworth Reckers → Chessington Wildcats[edit]

Although relocating only within the London Borough of Kingston upon Thames, the team founded as the Tolworth Reckers in 1983 moved the short distance from Tolworth Recreation Centre to Chessington Sports Centre in 1993, becoming the Chessington Wildcats. The team alternated venues several times since then, but the team continues to exist as the Kingston Wildcats

Ware Fire → Essex Leopards[edit]

The team was established in 1997 as Ware Fire, in Ware, Hertfordshire.

In the summer of 2003 it was announced that British Basketball League (BBL) team, and twice former League champions, Essex Leopards would be dropping out of the League as a buyer for the struggling franchise could not be found.[179] A supporters group called "Leopards Alive" was set up in September 2003, aiming to resurrect the Leopards franchise and bring professional basketball back to their base in Brentwood.[180] Initially seeking to enter a team into the BBL, the supporters group opted for the English Basketball League after realising that "without a major backer, the expense of running a professional team in the BBL was too great."[180] It was formally announced in May 2004 that the Leopards Alive organisation and the Ware Rebels were merging for the 2004–05 season, and be re-branded as the Essex & Herts Leopards, taking the names of both counties (Essex and Hertfordshire) they would be representing.[181]

The 2006–07 season saw another major rebranding for the franchise as the club was renamed as London Leopards in an effort to attract a bigger fanbase from Britain's capital city, whilst following a disagreement with the new owners of the club's home venue, the Brentwood Centre, the Leopards would play all home games back at Wodson Park or the Goresbrook Centre. Following a merge with Barking Abbey Basketball Academy in 2010, a BA prefix was added to reflect this. In 2012, the club was rebranded as Essex Leopards and currently play in the English Basketball League Division 1.

West Hertfordshire Warriors → Watford Storm → Edmonton Storm → Hemel Storm[edit]

The club was formed in 2006 as a feeder club for the West Hertfordshire Warriors, Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Early in the following season, the parent team resigned from Division One due to financial difficulties, leaving the second team to carry on the name alone, but the club continued to a fourth-place finish despite the off-court upheavals.[182]

The newly independent club moved their home venue to Watford's Westfield Community Sports Centre (in Watford) for the 2008–09 season, the move bringing the club a new name, Watford Storm and another third-place finish. However, problems with the Westfield venue led to the club playing in Edmonton by the end of the season, leading to another short-term move to North London for the 2009–10 season, and a further name change to the Edmonton Storm. Finally, the club moved one final time to Hemel Hempstead ahead of the 2010–11 season, renaming themselves the Hemel Storm and bringing basketball back to the town after a 13-year absence.[182]


Edinburgh → Livingston[edit]

Livingston, moved from Meadowbank Arena, Edinburgh to Forum Arena, Livingston in 1987, changing their name accordingly. Under the Livingston name they became one of the most successful and popular teams in Britain, before folding after just two years.

Edinburgh Rocks → Scottish Rocks[edit]

Established as the Edinburgh Rocks in 1998 by a consortium of businessmen, the team debuted at the Meadowbank Arena under the helm of American coach Jim Brandon. After poor results, in the summer of 2002, the team was attracted by the opening of the brand-new 4,000-seat Braehead Arena in Glasgow, Rocks uprooted from their aging Meadowbank venue in Edinburgh and moved 45 miles west to Scotland's largest city, and rebranded as the Scottish Rocks.[183] The move received a mixed response from fans, whilst many said that the move would not work, the official supporters club backed the franchise's decision.[184]

While few fans followed the club west, the first season in Glasgow provided the franchise with a sponsorship deal with Mitsubishi and its most successful season to date, as coach Wall led the Rocks to their first ever trophy, the BBL Play-off Championship. The team currently play in the BBL under the name Glasgow Rocks.

Penilee B.C. → Paisley B.C.[edit]

Founded n 1963 as Penilee B.C. in Penilee, a suburb of Glasgow, the club moved to Paisley in 1972 becoming Paisley B.C..

Troon Tornadoes → Ayrshire Tornadoes[edit]

Troon Basketball Club founded in 1991, played home games at Marr College, Troon before changing their name to Ayrshire Tornadoes in 2015 and moving around Ayrshire as a result; currently they mostly play in Dalry.

Ice Hockey[edit]


Durham Wasps → Newcastle Cobras[edit]

The Durham Wasps began their prosperous start to hockey just after the war. Ice hockey remained popular in the sixties and seventies, but it exploded with popularity between the eighties and nineties, and the period from around 1982 to 1992 enjoyed a highly successful period. There was an intense local rivalry with both the Whitley Warriors and the Billingham Bombers. It was a golden period for hockey in the North East with derby matches against the Warriors often resulting in crowds which exceeded the stated capacity of the rink by a considerable margin.

With the rise of teams such as the Cardiff Devils and Sheffield Steelers, the Wasps started to struggle to fund a competitive team. At the same time, the rink was in need of significant investment. Around this time, John Hall, then owner of Newcastle United Football Club, laid plans to form a centre of sporting excellence in Newcastle. As part of this he purchased the team with the intention of moving them to a new ice rink in Newcastle. In the meanwhile, the team temporarily played out of the Crowtree Leisure Centre in Sunderland.

This proved very divisive amongst Wasps fans with many to this day refusing to watch ice hockey in Newcastle. A replacement team was established in Durham called the Durham City Wasps who played in the English League. This featured some players who the new Wasps owners decided not to retain, as well as players from the junior teams. Unfortunately the team only lasted one season before the costs of maintaining the rink came to a head and the rink was sold to be redeveloped.

The plans for a new rink in Newcastle came to nothing so a deal was made which resulted in the Whitley Warriors being evicted from the Telewest Arena to make way for the team. After a season of playing out of Crowtree, Wasps were taken to Newcastle and renamed the Newcastle Cobras. In the next few years they changed owners and names from the Cobras, to the Riverkings, to the Jesters, however, the franchise folded soon after.

MK Kings → Solihull MK Kings[edit]

Milton Keynes Kings were an Ice Hockey team based in Milton Keynes from 1990 to 1996 in the British Hockey League (BHL), and from 1998 to 2002 in the English Premier Ice Hockey League (EPIHL).[185] Following a dispute with the Planet Ice Arena in Milton Keynes, the team relocated to Solihull, where they became Solihull MK Kings for a while.[186] The team was wound up in May 2003.[187]

The Solihull franchise was taken by the new Solihull Barons in 1996.[188]

Milton Keynes Lightning took over the semi-professional league spot at Planet Ice left by MK Kings soon after.

Newcastle Vipers[edit]

The Newcastle Vipers were founded in 2002 to keep the city's ice hockey heritage alive after the demise of the Newcastle Jesters However, due to low crowds and problems getting regular ice time at the Newcastle Arena, in November 2010 the Vipers were forced to move in with rivals Whitley Warriors and play for part of their final season out of the Hillheads rink in Whitley Bay. On 6 May 2011, the EIHL confirmed that the Vipers would fold and not take part in the 2011–12 season after months of financial difficulty, leaving the North East with no top flight Ice Hockey club for 2011–12. GM Jaimie Longmuir said he was "Incredibly sad to confirm that the Vipers will no longer participate in the Elite League following Tuesday's meeting."

Romford Raiders → London Raiders[edit]

The Romford Raiders became the London Raiders after the Romford Ice Arena was sold by Havering Council to investors. The team subsequently had to move to Lee Valley Ice Centre and became the London Raiders.[189]

Solihull Barons → Coventry Blaze[edit]

The original Solihull Barons founded in 1965, evolved into Solihull Blaze before the start of the 1996–97 season. In May 2000, the club announced that they would be heading to new a new 3,600-seater stadium, the Coventry SkyDome Arena, for the 2000–01 BNL campaign; renaming themselves Coventry Blaze in the process. This was done for the purpose of attracting a larger fan base to the team.[190] A new Solihull Barons was formed in 2005 as a phoenix club.


Ayr Scottish Eagles → Braehead Clan[edit]

The owner of the Ayr Scottish Eagles, Bill Barr, in August 2002 announced that the team were to permanently relocate to the Braehead Arena in Renfrewshire, outside Glasgow, from their traditional home in Ayr.[191]

Bob Zeller, Belfast Giants' founder was announced as managing director and the team changed their name to Scottish Eagles, dropping "Ayr" from their name.[192] Bob Zeller remained a shareholder in the Belfast Giants.[191] The reason given for the relocation was due to the Braehead Arena having a larger seating capacity and a larger catchment area, expected to increase the fanbase of the club.[191]

The club (with the new name) folded on 14 November 2002, after just six home games, in what was to become the final season of the Ice Hockey Superleague.[193][194]

When the Superleague's successor, the Elite Ice Hockey League was formed, initial plans included a new Glasgow-based team as being amongst the founding clubs, but this never materialised.[195]

Following the 2008–09 season, the Elite League lost two teams with the resignations of the Basingstoke Bison and Manchester Phoenix, leaving the league with eight participating teams for the 2009–10 season. The Elite League subsequently announced the formation of the Braehead Clan as a ninth team for beginning with the 2010–11 season. The team's ownership was announced as consisting of several of the Elite League's existing team owners, including Nottingham's Neil Black.[196]

Motorcycle Speedway[edit]

Active teams[edit]

Glasgow Tigers → Coatbridge Tigers → Glasgow Tigers → Workington Tigers → Glasgow Tigers[edit]

Glasgow Speedway was formed in 1928 and were initially based at the White City Stadium on Paisley Road West in Ibrox, Glasgow (close to Rangers F.C.'s Ibrox Stadium). Other venues were also operating open meetings around this time at Carntyne Greyhound Stadium, Celtic Park and Nelson Athletic Grounds in the Gallowgate area of Glasgow. The club underwent few cross-city moves and name changes before they chose the name Glasgow Tigers.

In 1973 the club moved to Coatbridge and became the Coatbridge Tigers, riding at Cliftonhill, home of Albion Rovers F. C.. The Tigers remained there until they moved to Blantyre in the middle of the 1977 season and re-introduced the name Glasgow Tigers. The Tigers rode in two stadiums in Blantyre, firstly at Blantyre Sports Stadium which was a greyhound stadium. This stadium was demolished in advance of the construction of the East Kilbride Expressway and the Tigers moved in 1982 to Craighead Park.

In 1987 the Tigers moved to Derwent Park in Workington and although they started the year named as Glasgow, they were renamed Workington Tigers for the rest of what was an uncompleted season. This was the only time in the team's history that they have been based in England. In 1988, the club returned to Glasgow when they moved into Shawfield Stadium, Rutherglen.

The Tigers remained at Shawfield with the exception of the 1996 season when the poorly supported Scottish Monarchs rode there in top flight speedway. In 1999 the club moved to its current home at the Ashfield Stadium in Possilpark when the speedway track replaced an old greyhound racing track.[197]

Rayleigh Rockets → Rye House Rockets[edit]

The Rayleigh Rockets rode at the Rayleigh Weir Stadium in Rayleigh, Essex,[198] until 1973 when it was announced that the stadium had been sold to developers and the Rockets would need to find a new home. Len Silver took the Rockets to Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire to start the 1974 season as the Rye House Rockets.[199] The former site of Rayleigh Stadium is now a retail park. The Rye House Rockets Speedway team have been racing at the Rye House Stadium next to the River Lea continuously since 1974.

Defunct teams[edit]

Crayford Kestrels → Hackney Kestrels[edit]

The Crayford Kestrels moved in 1983 from the Crayford Stadium in Crayford, Kent, to the Hackney Wick Stadium in Hackney, London, becoming the Hackney Kestrels.

Belle Vue Colts → Rochdale Hornets → Ellesmere Port Gunners[edit]

The Belle Vue Colts are the junior youth development team of the popular Manchester team Belle Vue Aces. In 1970 the Belle Vue management looked for a new home for their nursery team, and this was found just up the road at Rochdale where the Colts moved – still under the control of Belle Vue – to become the Rochdale Hornets.[198] The team arrived in 1970 but moved on to Ellesmere Port at the end of the 1971 season to become the Ellesmere Port Gunners.

Halifax Dukes → Bradford Dukes[edit]

The Halifax Dukes were reinstated in 1965 after a lengthy absence of speedway in the town, and the sport returned to The Shay when Reg Fearman moved his Middlesbrough promotion. The new team opened to big attendances as the sport hit another 'boom' period and the 'Dukes' popularity was re-enforced by winning the British League Championship and KO Cup in only their second year of operation, 1966. By the early 1970s, the Dukes were enjoying higher attendances than the Shaymen (Halifax Town). However, by the mid-1980s, Halifax Dukes and Halifax Town had financial disagreements and in 1986 The Dukes left The Shay and Halifax, moving to Bradford's Odsal Stadium to become the Bradford Dukes.

Newport Wasps → Bristol Bulldogs[edit]

The Newport Wasps competed in the top British league between 1964 and 1976 and were based at the now-defunct Somerton Park stadium, Newport. The club closed in 1976 after becoming the Bristol Bulldogs for one season in 1977, re-instating the Bristol Bulldogs historical team name, however, the club folded after just one season.

Rugby league[edit]


Blackpool Borough → Springfield Borough → Chorley Borough → Trafford Borough → Blackpool Gladiators[edit]

Blackpool Borough were accepted into the Rugby League for the 1954–55 season and played at Blackpool's St Anne's Road Greyhound Stadium, although larger fixtures were played at Blackpool F.C.'s Bloomfield Road Stadium. In April 1982, Borough were put into liquidation less than nine months after being taken over by a Cardiff businessman. A new company, Savoy Sports and Leisure Ltd, then bought the club and a new Blackpool Borough RLFC was formed on 4 August 1982 and accepted into the Rugby League for the new season. The club was ordered to carry out safety measures on the ground by Lancashire County Council by 1 February 1987 or quit the ground. Blackpool failed to get a safety grant aid of £65,000 from Blackpool Borough Council and were forced to leave. The final game at Borough Park being on 4 January 1987 when a crowd of 386 saw the club lose 8–5 to Whitehaven. Their final six home games were played at Bloomfield Road.

A different consortium took over the club in April 1987 on condition that Borough left Blackpool. Their first new home was Springfield Park, the then home of Wigan Athletic. Wigan RLFC were rumoured to have objected to the proposed Wigan Borough name and so Springfield Borough was adopted. Springfield Borough's club colours were dark blue, tangerine and white. The club logo was the same as the crest used by Wigan Athletic F.C. at the time.

The club relocated to Victory Park in Chorley and played as Chorley Borough in the 1988–89 season. The club's colours initially consisted of black and white hooped jerseys, which changed later to a primarily black jersey with irregular white bands around the waist and on the sleeves. The club ended up finishing sixteenth out of twenty teams in the Second Division.

Borough then became Trafford Borough when they moved to Moss Lane, Altrincham, sharing with Altrincham F.C. for the 1989–90 season. This, however, caused a boardroom split leading to five Blackpool-based directors resigning to form a new club based initially bases in Chorley, but later became the Blackpool Panthers, who used name Chorley Borough between 1990 and 1995, and are widely regarded as a phoenix club of the team.

Meanwhile, Trafford Borough adopted the local Trafford crest also used by Trafford F.C.. Their tenure at Altrincham was generally unsuccessful, with most home crowds averaging around the 200 mark. Trafford Borough survived three seasons before returning to Blackpool, sharing Blackpool Mechanics F.C.'s ground, as Blackpool Gladiators in September 1992, adopting their traditional tangerine, purple and white jerseys, black shorts and socks. The club was beset by financial problems and successive relegations, playing their last games as a professional club on 11 April 1993. Eventually, the club folded in 1997.

Broughton Rangers → Belle Vue Rangers[edit]

Broughton Rangers were founded in 1877, in Broughton, Greater Manchester. The club's headquarters were located at the Bridge Inn on Lower Broughton Road and home games were played at Wheater's Field. From 1892 the headquarters was the Grosvenor Hotel on the corner of Great Clowes Street and Clarence Street. In 1933, Broughton Rangers moved to Belle Vue Stadium, east of the city to Gorton, Manchester, inside the speedway track.[200] After the war, in 1946–47, Broughton was renamed Belle Vue Rangers. The club folded in 1955.

Chorley Chieftains → Lancashire Lynx → Chorley Lynx[edit]

When the original Chorley Borough, founded as Blackpool Borough, relocated from Victory Park in Chorley to Moss Lane, Altrincham, becoming Trafford Borough, it caused a boardroom split leading to five Blackpool-based directors resigning to form a new club based in Chorley, thus giving birth to a new Chorley Borough. They were renamed Chorley Chieftains in 1995.

However, in 1996 they were bought by Preston North End football club and they moved to the Deepdale stadium.[201] and they became the Lancashire Lynx at the start of 1997.

The club was sold on 6 October 2000 to Chorley Sporting Club Ltd which also included Chorley F.C.. The club's name was changed again, this time to Chorley Lynx and they returned to Victory Park.[202] At the end of the 2004 season Chorley Lynx folded due to poor attendances and the withdrawal of funding by backer Trevor Hemmings. They were losing £1,000 a week with an average crowd of just 434.

Gateshead Thunder (1999) → Hull F.C.[edit]

In 1999, the same year as the Sheffield Eagles relocation, Gateshead Thunder, who had only been playing in the English Super League for one year, were taken over by Hull Sharks who then reverted to their traditional brand of Hull. The merged club played all its home games in Kingston upon Hull. As with Sheffield, a new Gateshead Thunder team was set up by supporters of the old side to play in the National Leagues, since renamed the Championship and League 1.

Gateshead Thunder (2000) → Newcastle Thunder[edit]

The second incarnation of Gateshead Thunder remained in that town until 2015, when they moved across the River Tyne to Newcastle, becoming the Newcastle Thunder. They currently play in League 1.

Mansfield Marksman → Nottingham City[edit]

Mansfield Marksman was founded in 1984. Mansfield was chosen as it was in the heartland of the Nottinghamshire coalfields, and close to Yorkshire where rugby league was much stronger. They played initially at Mansfield Town's Field Mill, and were sponsored by Mansfield Brewery and named "Marksman" in the singular after a lager the brewery produced.

The club colours were predominantly sky blue and dark blue shirts with yellow trim, however towards the end of their existence the club colours became a more basic blue and amber. The team was composed of northern, mainly West Yorkshire based players, who travelled down to play for Mansfield.

The club lost £90,000 in this first year and could not afford the rent at Field Mill. The final game there was on 2 February 1986. The club then moved to Alfreton Town's North Street ground in Alfreton. The first game at the new venue was on 23 March 1986.

The club moved once again for the 1988–89 season to Sutton Town's Lowmoor Road ground at Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

A boardroom split occurred over the decision to move the club to Nottingham in June 1989. The move also led to the loss of sponsorship by Mansfield Brewery and the club was renamed Nottingham City RLFC. They played at the Harvey Hadden Stadium and their initial club colours were sky blue shirts with a dark blue and gold vee, carrying over the Mansfield Marksman colours. Later the club colours changed to myrtle green, yellow and white shirts. In later years the shirts were myrtle green with purple trim. One season the team adopted the name Nottingham City Outlaws RLFC, a name that would later be used by the city's amateur side, the Nottingham Outlaws.

The Nottingham team was led by player-coach Mark Burgess, several players were from Batley Boys RLFC and other local towns, Dave Parker took over as Managing Director at Huddersfield and the Nottingham City club was run by former Mansfield Director Paul Tomlinson and his mother Joan. As Nottingham they won only seven games in four years.[203]

Chief Executive Maurice Lindsay wanted to reduce the number of clubs in the lower division of the league in 1993. The three clubs finishing bottom of the second division would be demoted to the National Conference League. Nottingham struggled and finished bottom of the Third Division at the end of the 1992–93 season, winning only one game. With both Nottingham City and Blackpool Gladiators both already relegated, the crucial last match at Nottingham on 12 April 1993, between Nottingham City and Highfield would determine the final relegation spot. Highfield won 39–6 and Highfield survived at the expense of Chorley Borough.

The RLSA, the Rugby League Supporters Association, had called on fans to turn out at the Harvey Hadden Stadium, in protest against the decision, City's normal crowd of three hundred or so was boosted by this to a season's best of 851.[204] The three expelled clubs plus Highfield RLFC pursued legal action against the Rugby Football League decision, but to no avail.

Nottingham could no longer afford Yorkshire-based players so imported local Nottingham Crusaders players who were not of National Conference League standards and they were relegated in their first year and then resigned from the league the following year.

Sheffield Eagles → Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants[edit]

In 1999, just one year after the Sheffield Eagles won the Challenge Cup, they accepted an offer from the RFL to merge with the Huddersfield Giants. The new team, Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants, played some matches in Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium and some in Huddersfield's McAlpine Stadium. However, the new team consisting of mostly ex-Sheffield players, whilst retaining the old -Giants suffix resulted in a lack of acceptance from both sets of fans (though primarily Sheffield), and the team reverted to the Huddersfield Giants name the following season, effectively a franchise of the team. A new Sheffield Eagles started from scratch that following season, and now compete in the second-tier Championship.

Swinton Lions[edit]

The Swinton Lions, known as Swinton R.L.F.C. until 1996, have relocated several times around the Greater Manchester area. Apart from very early relocations within Swinton in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the relocations began especially since their traditional home of Station Road was demolished in 1992, a venue they have been playing at since 1929. It was widely regarded as one of the largest and best rugby league venues, with a capacity of 60,000 and a record attendance of 44,621 in a Challenge Cup Semi Final on 7 April 1951 between Warrington and Wigan. Fire damaged the disused Main Stand including offices and function rooms in July 1992, this was the last in a series of vandalism before the club moved out of Station Road. Station Road was sold at the end of the 1991–92 season by the club's directors to David McLean Homes for property development, part of the deal involved sponsoring the Lions in their first season post Station Road. The last match to be played at Station Road was a local derby versus Salford on 20 April 1992 with 3,487 witnessing Salford winning 26-18 and Ian Pickavance of Swinton scoring the last try.[205] The site is now a housing estate.

Since 1992 the club has relocated to the following grounds: in 1992 they relocated to Gigg Lane, home of Bury F.C. in Bury where they played till 2002, followed by a season at Moor Lane, home of Salford City F.C. in Salford. The nect few years since 2004 was at Park Lane, in Whitefield where they played until 2010, returning later for one year only in 2015. In between that time they played one year at home of Salford Red Devils at The Willows, Salford and Leigh Sports Village in Leigh between 2012 and 2014.

Since 2016 they have played at the former home of Sale Sharks, Heywood Road, Sale, vacated by their move to Edgeley Park in Stockport. The move of Swinton to the ground meant that the General Safety Certificate had to be renewed. In September 2016 a report by Trafford Council to the Safety at Sports Grounds Sub-Committee recommended that Heywood Road's capacity be reduced from 5,400 down to 3,387 for safety reasons.[206]

Wigan Highfield → London Highfield → Liverpool Stanley → Liverpool City → Huyton RLFC → Runcorn Highfield → Highfield RLFC → Prescot Panthers[edit]

Wigan Highfield was formed around 1880 and went out of existence for a few years following the rugby schism of 1895. They reformed in 1902, playing in a league comprising the "A" teams of the major clubs. Despite the "Highfield" tag, Wigan Highfield played in Pemberton, down the road from the Highfield area of Wigan. In 1921–22, the club made an application for full Rugby League status, but it was decided that their Tunstall Lane ground was not big enough. By incorporating a field, it was possible to increase the size of the ground and in the 1922–23 season the club entered the Rugby League as Wigan Highfield.

In 1932, Leeds played Wigan in an exhibition match at the White City Stadium in west London under floodlights. The owner of the stadium, Brigadier-General A C Critchley, was impressed enough to take over Wigan Highfield, who had finished second from bottom in the league, and agreed to pay off their debts. He moved the club to White City and renamed the club London Highfield. The club's old Tunstall Lane ground was sold off for housing. Despite reasonable success, the White City Company deemed the venture unprofitable and decided not to continue with rugby league beyond the first season. Players' match fees and expenses, plus compensating other team's travel costs contributed largely to the club's loss that year of ₤8,000.

In 1934, Highfield returned north to the Stanley greyhound stadium in Liverpool and became Liverpool Stanley. For the start of the 1950–51 season the club moved to Mill Yard, Knotty Ash and was renamed Liverpool City RLFC (not to be confused with a previous club of the same name).

In July 1964, the club's board were informed that the Knotty Ash lease would not be renewed and negotiations then took place with nearby Huyton local authority for a 21-year lease at the new Alt Park Ground, becoming Huyton RLFC. With Alt Park not ready, Huyton spent their first year of existence as homeless nomads. Most home matches were played at Widnes. Alt Park was eventually ready in August 1969. It was of a poor standard and often suffered from vandalism.

The club continued as Huyton RLFC and struggled in the second division until 1985, when the club moved to Runcorn F.C.'s Canal Street Ground, Runcorn after Alt Park's main stand was declared unsafe. The club then became known as Runcorn Highfield RLFC. Around the time of Huyton RLFC's proposed move to Runcorn, the then tenants of the Canal Street ground, Runcorn F.C., and its board of directors had mooted the idea of gaining extra income by establishing a rugby league club. That year saw applications from new clubs Mansfield Marksman and Sheffield Eagles. When these clubs were elected into the Rugby Football League, Runcorn F.C. withdrew its application and decided to allow Huyton RLFC to move to their ground instead.

When Runcorn Football Club increased the rent for Canal Street, Runcorn Highfield signed a 99-year agreement with St Helens Town F.C. in August 1990 and moved to Hoghton Road, Sutton. The move was opposed by St. Helens and the Rugby League Board but approved by the full Rugby League Council by 26 votes to 6 on 5 October 1990. The club was renamed Highfield RLFC for the 1991–92 season.

Highfield moved to Valerie Park in Prescot during the 1994–95 season, a move that was made due to the tenants of Hoghton Road, St Helens Town A.F.C. deciding to increase the rent on the ground. Highfield RLFC played there until the start of the 1996 season, when they were then renamed Prescot Panthers to coincide with the start of the Super League.

A brewery loan, which had kept the club afloat both at Sutton (Highfield) and later on at Prescot, changed hands and the new creditors wanted the loan to be repaid immediately. With this loan, Geoff Fletcher had managed to sustain a social club at Valerie Park which provided the club with a small but sufficient income. When the brewery loan was recalled, the Prescot Panthers went into administration and then ultimately receivership. Chairman Geoff Fletcher accepted a one-off payment of about £30,000 for the club to resign from the Rugby Football League. Equitable payments were then made from the £30,000 to the club's bankers and also to the few remaining Huyton-with-Roby RLFC Ltd Co. shareholders.


Cardiff City Blue Dragons → Bridgend Blue Dragons[edit]

Cardiff City Blue Dragons were a rugby league team formed in 1981. Their home ground was Ninian Park which was also used by Cardiff City F.C.. The club spent three seasons in Cardiff before relocating to Bridgend. In July 1984 the club was bought out of liquidation by a consortium. The new owners came under pressure from the Welsh FA who wanted Ninian Park as their permanent headquarters and were opposed to ground sharing with rugby league. As a result, the Blue Dragons changed their name to Bridgend Blue Dragons and relocated the club to Bridgend Town A.F.C.'s Coychurch Road ground. They were wound up in 1986 as they failed to secure a ground for the forthcoming season.

Celtic Crusaders → Crusaders Rugby League[edit]

Following their inaugural Super League season in 2009, the Celtic Crusaders, based in the South Wales town of Bridgend since their formation in 2005, moved to the North Wales town of Wrexham and renamed themselves Crusaders Rugby League. The team folded after the 2011 season and was replaced by the North Wales Crusaders, competing in League 1.

Valley Cougars[edit]

Founded in 2001 as Cynon Valley Cougars, after their debut season in the Welsh Division in 2003 they dropped "Cynon" from their name. They led a nomadic existence for their first few years in the valleys playing out of places like Pontyclun, Abercynon and Sardis Road, Pontypridd, Nelson and Treharris. They currently share facilities with Treharris RFC in Merthyr.

South Wales Scorpions → South Wales Ironmen → West Wales Raiders[edit]

Founded in 2009 as South Wales Scorpions, they initially played home games in Neath. The club then led a nomadic existence for the 2014–2016 seasons, variously playing in Maesteg, Mountain Ash, and Caerphilly. For 2017, they moved to Merthyr Tydfil, renaming themselves South Wales Ironmen. Following that season, they were purchased by the chairman of the Llanelli-based Conference League South side West Wales Raiders and moved to that town; the former Ironmen will take up the West Wales Raiders name for 2018 and beyond.

Rugby union[edit]

A number of rugby union clubs have made minor relocations from time to time, almost always within their current conurbation.

Relocations out of London[edit]

Five clubs with historic roots in London either currently play in the Premiership or have played in that league in the recent past. Two of these clubs now play their home matches outside Greater London, with one playing within the London commuter belt and one playing outside it. A third club returned its home matches to Greater London for 2015–16 after three seasons playing outside the commuter belt.

London Irish[edit]

London Irish were founded in London in 1898 for the city's Irish community. The club established their first home ground at The Avenue in Sunbury, Middlesex in 1931. In 1965, most of Middlesex was incorporated into Greater London, but Sunbury was instead attached to Surrey. In 2000, London Irish moved their senior team to Madejski Stadium in Reading (groundsharing with Reading F.C.), though their headquarters remain in Sunbury.

London Wasps → Wasps RFC[edit]

London Wasps were founded in 1867 in North London via a membership split of Hampstead Football Club, which had been created a year earlier. They established their first permanent ground at Repton Avenue in Sudbury in 1923. In 1996, they moved within Greater London to groundshare with Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road, and eventually added "London" to their name in 1999. They moved outside Greater London in 2002 to share Adams Park in High Wycombe with Wycombe Wanderers. Wasps later moved their headquarters to Adams Park, and dropped "London" from their official name in 2014. In October 2014, The Telegraph reported that Wasps were nearing completion of the purchase of a 50% interest in Ricoh Arena in Coventry, also home to Coventry City F.C., and would move their home games there in 2015–16. Wasps intend to keep their training base at Acton Park in West London, where it has remained throughout their recent moves.[207] Coventry Council unanimously approved the purchase on 7 October, and the move also received the approval of the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby.[208] The following day, Wasps announced that their first home match at Ricoh Arena would occur that December.[209] Prior to Wasps' first match in Coventry, the club purchased the remaining 50% interest in the stadium. The move helped to remove any chance of the local football club, Coventry City F.C., of purchasing any percentage in buying the Ricoh Arena. The football club negotiated a 2-year lease, which runs out at the end of the 2017/18 season, in which would leave the club homeless.[210]

London Welsh[edit]

London Welsh were most recently promoted from the RFU Championship at the end of the 2013–14 season. London Welsh were founded in 1885 for the city's Welsh community, and eventually settled in at Old Deer Park in Richmond. However, from the 2012–13 season through to 2014–15, they groundshared with Oxford United at Kassam Stadium, well outside the commuter belt. They still maintained their training base at Old Deer Park.[207]

The Oxford relocation proved to be temporary. Following their relegation at the end of a 2014–15 season in which they failed to win a game, London Welsh announced that they would return home games to Old Deer Park for the immediate future whilst seeking another stadium option.[211] The club went into administration in December 2016 and were expelled from the RFU Championship the following month.

Relocations within London[edit]

Two current Premiership clubs with London roots play in Greater London. One has remained in London throughout its history; the other returned to London in February 2013 after more than a decade in Watford.


Harlequins, the second part of the Hampstead F.C. split, played at a number of grounds in London until the RFU invited them to play at Twickenham in 1906. The club acquired an athletics ground across the road from Twickenham in 1963, built today's Twickenham Stoop on the site, and have played there ever since. Quins have long been headquartered at Twickenham—first at the RFU stadium, and now at The Stoop.


Saracens were founded in 1876 in Marylebone, and moved numerous times within what is now Greater London. At the dawn of the professional era in 1995, they moved again within Greater London to Enfield, and then moved outside the boundary in 1997 to groundshare with Watford F.C. at Vicarage Road. Saracens initially planned to return home matches to Greater London at the Barnet Copthall complex in 2012, but delays meant that the move was put off until February 2013. The club currently maintain their headquarters outside Greater London in St Albans.

Other Relocations[edit]

Sale Sharks[edit]

Another Premiership club, Sale Sharks, have moved their home ground from their original base, though within the same conurbation. Founded in Sale in 1861, they settled at Heywood Road in Sale in 1905, and played there for nearly a century. In 2003, they began a groundshare in Stockport with Stockport County F.C. at Edgeley Park, and eventually moved their headquarters there. After the 2011–12 season, they moved their home ground again within Greater Manchester, sharing the venue now known as AJ Bell Stadium with the Salford Red Devils (then Salford City Reds) rugby league side.


  1. ^ Manchester United moved from Clayton, 3 miles (4.8 km) east of central Manchester, to Old Trafford, 2 miles (3.2 km) south-west, in 1910.[8] Woolwich Arsenal migrated from Woolwich in south-east London to Highbury in the north of the city in 1913, and dropped "Woolwich" from their name the following year.[9]
  2. ^ On buying the team in 1932, they briefly planned to expand The Valley to house 200,000 fans, which would have been a world record capacity. Jimmy Seed, Charlton's manager from 1933 to 1956, claimed in his autobiography that the Glikstens later considered moving the club to South Africa to avoid taxes.[106]
  3. ^ The name "Milton Keynes City" (MK City) refers to two different non-League clubs. The first was founded as Bletchley Town F.C., and was called MK City from 1974 until its liquidation in 1985. The second was founded as Mercedes-Benz F.C., and played as MK City from 1998 until its demise in 2003.[133][134][135]
  4. ^ The clubs Hammam named were Birmingham City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Hull City, Luton Town, Portsmouth, Watford and West Bromwich Albion.[148]


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