The UK is widely considered to be the home of football, and this is borne out by the fact that the 10 oldest football clubs in the world all herald from either England, Scotland or Wales.

Of course, several of these clubs have laid claim to being the oldest football entity in the world, including Stoke City and Notts County (which is the longest-standing professional club). Many such claims are disputed, however, especially those that are unsubstantiated by official records.

So, here’s an official list of the 10 oldest football clubs in the world and a sneak peek at their impact on the sport!

Sheffield FC – Est 1857

Sheffield Football Club

Sheffield FC are recognized by both FIFA and the FA as the oldest football club in the world, having been founded in October 1857. The team became formal members of the Football Association in 1863, although they didn’t consent to play by FA rules until 1878. Interestingly, they play their matches in Dronfield, Derbyshire, and currently ply their trade in the Northern Premier League Division One East. In 2004, they joined Real Madrid in receiving a coveted FIFA Order of Merit, which is quite an incredible achievement given their status at the time.

Hallam FC – Est 1860

Hallam FC are based in Crosspool, Sheffield, and were officially founded in 1860. Although they play in the 10th tier of English football in the Northern Counties East League, they’ve done battle with Sheffield FC numerous times, with this fixture known as ‘The Rules Derby’. Their home ground, Sandygate Road, is recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest football stadium in the world, while the team won the world’s first ever competitive tournament (the Youdan Cup) in 1867.

Cray Wanderers – Est 1860

Cray Wanderers Est 1860

Cray Wanderers were also founded in 1860, by local railway workers who would spend their spare time gleefully kicking a ball around the village of St Mary Cray in Bromley. Unlike Sheffield FC and Hallam, they spent 12 years as a professional club between 1895 and 1907, but have since operated as a semi-pro entity in the sport. Currently, they compete in the Isthmian League Premier Division, which is one level below the National League South.

Notts County – Est 1862

Notts County Football Club

Notts County were founded two years later in 1862, and have the distinction of being the oldest professional football club in the world. Incredibly, they even predate the existence of the Football Association, while they were one of the founding members of the English Football League in 1888. They achieved their highest ever league position of third in the top flight in 1890/91 and currently ply their trade in League 2. Interestingly, their iconic black and white striped kit was adopted by Italian giants Juventus in 1903, which is quite an impressive claim to fame.

Stoke City – Est 1863

Stoke City

The Potters have previously claimed to be the oldest club in the world, although it’s widely accepted that they were formally founded in 1863. This is despite there being no record of the team playing a competitive match until 1868. During their formative years, they were known as the ‘Stoke Ramblers’, becoming just ‘Stoke’ in 1878 before changing their name again to ‘Stoke City’ in 1925. Stoke are currently playing in the EFL Championship, although they spent 10 seasons in the Premier League between 2009 and 2018.

Wrexham – Est 1864

Wrexham joined Notts County in gaining promotion back to the Football League in 2023, while they were founded just a year after their rivals in 1864. Their Racecourse Ground is also considered to be the oldest international football stadium in the world. The club contested their first ever match on 22nd October 1864, and by 1977 had reached the second tier of the football pyramid. They’re now back in the league after a 13-year hiatus, propelled by the exciting takeover by Hollywood pair Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

Brigg Town – Est 1864

Brigg Town Football Club

Brigg Town were also founded in 1864, but unlike the Red Dragons of Wrexham, they’ve never come close to scaling the heights of the English Football League pyramid. Currently, they play in the Northern Counties East League Division One, a level below the aforementioned Hallam FC. However, the team did reach the inaugural final of the Lincolnshire Senior Cup in 1882, and were founding members of the Lincolnshire League in 1948. There were elected to the English League in 1976 after a sustained spell of local success and winning eight Lincolnshire League titles.

Nottingham Forest – Est 1865

Nottingham Forest were founded in 1865 and are the only team on this list to currently play in the English Premier League. They’re also the most successful club featured here by far, having won two consecutive European Cups and a league title in 1977/78 (just a year after being promoted from Division 2). Forest have also won two FA Cups and finished as runners-up in the competition in 1990/91, while they were founding members of the Premier League in the summer of 1992.

Queen’s Park – Est 1867

Queen’s Park are ninth of this list and the oldest football club in Scotland, and often considered to be genuine trail-blazers in the sport north of the border. The club were founded in 1867, while their initial influence was so apparent that their players comprised the entire Scottish national team in their maiden international match vs England in 1872. Queen’s Park were historically invited to play in the FA Cup, finishing as runners-up twice. They’ve also won 10 Scottish Cups between 1874 and 1900, but have never won the title.

Sheffield Wednesday – Est 1867

Championship side Sheffield Wednesday complete our list, having been established in 1867 as ‘The Wednesday Football Club’. This was an offshoot of the Wednesday Cricket Club in the Steel City, while the team turned professional in 1887 and earned the distinction of joining the Football League just five years later. They became Sheffield Wednesday in 1929 (33 years after winning their first of four FA Cups), while the Owls have also won four top flight titles a single Football League Cup (in 1990/91) during their history.

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