England’s 26 Most Successful Football Clubs, Ranked (May, 2022)

ARL Football Success Ranking System

The ARL Football Success Ranking System for men’s European club football establishes for certain which clubs are the most successful of each nation and in the whole of Europe.

It is a system of scoring points to clubs based on what trophies and how many have been won.

Different trophies score different points and are based on a ‘glory’ criteria.

Only ‘competitive football’ trophies are considered.

England and its Premier League

England, alongside it’s northern neighbour, is the cradle of football civilisation. A sport played since medieval times and now played in every corner of the globe, the rules of modern Association Football were written up in the Freemasons’ Tavern, London in 1863 and have changed little since.

Club football served to channel the fierce regional identities and rivalries of places like Merseyside, Tyne and Wear, Greater London and Greater Birmingham. The English also became highly consumerised and these and other factors explain the rise in the popularity of the ‘beautiful game’ and why England’s Premier League is rated as the biggest and most competitive league in the world.

English clubs have earned 232.5 points in international competitions.

Competition KeyPoints
SC: Domestic Super Cup (FA Charity Shield / Community Shield)1 (0.5 points per ‘shared’ trophy)
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup3
LC: League Cup (EFL League Cup)4
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League4
AC: Association Cup (FA Cup)5
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League8
T: Top Tier League Title (Division 1 / Premier League)9

10: Sunderland AFC 

Success Points: 65

Earliest Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1892

Latest Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1973

Most Successful Manager: Tom Watson – 27 points (Aug 1888 –1896)

Most Successful Decade: 1890-1900 – 27 points

Sunderland AFC enjoyed their main period of glory the decade before their Tyneside rivals, grabbing three of six Titles within five seasons of joining the English Football League (EFL) in 1890.

Tom Watson, a later longstanding gaffer of Liverpool FC, first took charge of Sunderland in 1888 and brought in a squad of foreign internationals – Scotsmen, in this case. With players like League top-scorer John Campbell and goalie Ned Doig, Watson’s Black Cats won their first Title at a canter in ’92, and by 11 points the season after. It was declared to have the ‘Team of All Talents’ by league-founder William McGregor and, after going up against Heart of Midlothian then champions of the Scottish League and triumphing 5–3, Sunderland were announced to be ‘Champions of the World’.

It has managed to hold aloft the FA Cup two times, the 2nd in 1973 when Sunderland beat Don Revie‘s Leeds United with club record goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery between the sticks. Its vintage years of league dominance takes Sunderland into the 10 most successful clubs in England.

9: Newcastle United FC 

Success Points: 67

First Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1905

Latest Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1955

Most Successful Manager: Frank Watt – 47 points (1892 – Dec 1929)

Most Successful Decade: 1900-1910 – 33 points

The next place is taken by Sunderland’s fierce Tyne and Wear rival – Newcastle FC. Their four extra FA Cups to Sunderland’s two additional league Titles.

By 1903 The Magpies had a promising squad of young players who became renowned for their artistic play that combined team-work and quick, short passing. Newcastle dominated English football in the 20th Century’s first decade when they won three Titles and an FA Cup. With goal machines like Jackie Milburn and George Robledo Newcastle bagged a further three FA Cups for the trophy cabinet in the 1950s.

Both Tyne & Wear clubs have since slumped. But with Newcastle FC’s new obscenely rich owners, expect more glory days soon for the Toon Army.

8: Tottenham Hotspur FC

Success Points: 96

First Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1901

Latest trophy Won: FL Cup, 2008

Most Successful Manager: Bill Nicholson – 47 points (1958–1974)

Most Successful Decade: 1960-1970 – 33.5 points

Spurs has achieved much for a club with just two Titles to its name. Years ending in ’01’ are particularly celebrated by The Lilywhites. Tottenham won an FA Cup in 1901 becoming the first, and likely only, non league club to ever win an FA Cup; and seized another in 1921. Tottenham were crowned English Champions first in 1951, having just been promoted to Division One the season prior. In 1961 Tottenham Hotspur became the first club in the 20th Century to win the ‘Double’ with icon Bill Nicholson at the helm and Blanchflower controlling games. Spurs also won domestic trophies in 1971, 81 and 91

In 1963 The Lilywhites won English football’s first UEFA trophy (The UEFA CWC) and also the first ever edition of the UEFA Cup in 1972.

Regular trophy success with attractive, pioneering tactics in the decades after WW2 meant Tottenham was regarded as the 5th biggest club in England by the time the Premier League was launched at the start of the 1990s. The club failed to exploit the commercial value of a league that went on to be the most wealthy in the world however, winning just one trophy – an FL Cup – in the 21st Century to date.

7: Everton FC

Success Points: 121

First Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1891

Latest Trophies Won: FA Cup and Community Shield (CS), 1995

Most Successful Manager: Howard Kendall – 37 points (May 1981 – 87)

Most Successful Decade: 1980-1990 – 37 points

Although Everton’s global profile is overshadowed by that of their city rivals, Liverpool FC, they have an impressive trophy cabinet in their own right. Everton claimed the English crown in the 3rd ever EFL season and won Titles preceding each World War. Striker legend, ‘Dixie’ Dean, scored an amazing 60 league goals to win Everton a 3rd Title in 1927-28. Dean was still with Everton when they got re-promoted the top tier in 1931, another Title win the season after, and a 2nd FA Cup the season after that.

Harry Catterick took charge in ’61 and introduced a ‘School of Science’, methodical approach to football. With a ‘Holy Trinity’ midfield of KendallBall and Harvey, Everton stylishly won two more Titles, another FA Cup and Charity Shields.

The 1980s was The Toffees‘ best period under manager Howard Kendall. He bought in players such as Scotland striker Andy Gray and the club seized another two Titles, FA Cup, Shields, and defeated Rapid Vienna to add European silverware to their collection. All this in four seasons.

The Heysal Stadium Disaster and the ensuing five-year English club ban from UEFA competitions gave English football a hard jolt, hitting Everton badly. They lost their ascendancy to Manchester and London clubs in the ’90s, and Everton has since failed to win a Title in the Premier League era.

6: Aston Villa FC

Success Points: 135

Earliest Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1894

Latest Trophy Won: FL Cup, 1996

Most Successful Manager: George Ramsay – 84 points (Aug 1884 – May 1926)

Most Successful Decade: 1890-1900 – 61 points

Despite struggling in the PL in recent years, the Villans are the original giants of the English game, being the first serious club to emerge from the West-Midlands. This began the day George Ramsay stumbled across the Aston Villa players’ practice match in 1876 and was snapped up after astounding the squad with his ball control. Ramsay grabbed Villa with both hands and was made football’s first ever professional manager in ’86. This Scotsman borrowed ‘Combination Game‘ passing football from Queens Park FC to lead Villa on a glittering winning spree of six national championships and six FA Cups, including ‘the Double’ in 1887. Ramsay faithfully served Aston Villa across a fifty-year career.

After WWI the club slumped, although revived again in the latter 20th Century and Villa won no less than six major domestic trophies. Fitness fanatic Ron Saunders took charge from 1974 and got AVFC back into the elite. Under his regime, they were crowned champions for a 7th time in 1981 and the following season seized the European crown by beating Bayern Munich in the final, even though Saunders quit in the Quarter Finals.

Aston Villa is the most successful club in the Greater Birmingham area.

5: Chelsea FC

Success Points: 149

Earliest Trophies Won: FL Division 1 Title and FA CS, 1955

Latest Trophy Won: UEFA SC and FIFA WC, 2022

Most Successful Manager: Jose Mourinho – 45 points (2004 – 2007 and 2013 – 2015)

Most Successful Decade: 2000-2010 – 53 points

Founded in 1904, Chelsea FC was a slow-burner club until the later 20th Century when manager Ted Drake came in and modernised the club. Chelsea soon won their first ever English crown as underdogs in 1954-55. They built on this; in the 1960s-70s The Blues won three major trophies, including a UEFA CWC, won by trumping Real Madrid in the final.

Chelsea then underwent a slump as they tried to finance a Stamford Bridge redevelopment. But by the end of the ’90s Chelsea were on the up again and won four major cups in four years.

Roman Abramovich, Russian multi-billionaire extraordinaire, seized a majority share of Chelsea in 2003 and started pumping tens of millions of pounds into the squad. He appointed the ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho, who they rode a wave of dominance under, winning two Titles plus other trophies in three seasons. Many managers have come and gone in Chelsea’s 21st Century high pressure environment, but it’s reaped rewards. Chelsea’s fans have revelled in five Title triumphs, eight domestic trophies and two Europa Leagues sandwiched between being crowned European kings twice. The club has done this with players like Terry, Lampard and Drogba who provided a backbone to build success around.

Despite recent financial disruptions, The Blues continue to compete for the greatest honours.

4: Manchester City FC

Success Points: 151.5

First Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1904

Latest Trophies Won: PL, 2022

Most Successful Manager: Pep Guardiola – 59 points (Jul 2016 – Present (May 2022))

Most Successful Decade: 2010-2020 – 69 points

Manchester’s 2nd club rocketed into the bigtime after a slow-burning early history similar to Chelsea’s before The Citizens acquired their own riches in the 21st Century.

Manchester City wrestled with frequent relegations throughout the 20th Century after being first promoted to Division 1 in 1900. Nevertheless, City won the first ever major trophy in Manchester with an FA Cup win in 1904. They won another Cup in ’34 in front of a record 85,000 fans, and then their first Title in ’37 before dropping into Division Two the season after.

In the 1950s The Citizens adopted the hugely successful Hungarian tactic of playing a false number nine, with Don Revie as that number nine, and won another FA Cup with their goalkeeper finishing the game with a broken neck. Under the management of Joe Mercer, City won their 2nd Title in ’68, narrowly beating rivals Man United to the post. City then won more trophies, including a cup ‘Double’ in 1970.

Manchester City’s mega wealthy Adu Dhabi backers took over in 2008 and proved their intention to reshape the football landscape by instantly spending a PL record sum on Brazilian striker Robinho. Since then, its owners have amassed a squad packed with talent in every position, winning six PL Titles and no less than eight domestic cups in 12 short seasons, including an unprecedented domestic ‘Treble’ (plus Community Shield) in 2019. They’ve done this with some stellar talent, including Sergio Agüero, David Silva and legendary manager Pepe Guardiola orchestrating their overwhelming success.

3: Arsenal FC

Success Points: 217

First Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1930

Latest Trophies Won: FA Cup, 2020

Most Successful Manager: Arsene Wenger – 69 points (Oct 1996 – May 2018)

Most Successful Decade: 1930-1940 – 55 points

Breaking the 200 Success Point mark is Arsenal FC. The club struggled to establish themselves in the First Division until they built Highbury stadium and the club chairman began loosening the purse strings a bit… The ‘Bank of England Club’ bought in managerial legend Herbert Chapman who modernised the club’s practices. With players like Alex James and Charlie Buchan The Gunners evolved a counter-attacking style of football that would prove hugely successful for them. Arsenal won their first silverware in 1930 – an FA Cup – just five years into Chapman’s reign. Arsenal then won their first English crown the season after scoring just one goal shy of the all-time league record (128 goals). They won a total five Titles and two FA Cups before WWII commenced.

Arsenal won two more Titles and a cup in the 1950s. In 1971, they won their first ever League-Cup ‘Double’ with George Graham in the team; a player who would go on to win two more Titles plus a UEFA Cup Winners Cup as their manager in the 80s-90s.

A second icon of the club’s was Arsene Wenger in the PL era who added three Titles and no less than seven FA Cups to Arsenal’s trophy cabinet with PL icons like Thierry Henry and Tony Adams. Arsenal is a powerhouse of the domestic game and the most successful club in London.

2: Manchester United FC

Success Points: 320.5

First Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1908

Latest Trophies Won: FL Cup and UEFA Europa League and FA Community Shield, 2017

Most Successful Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson (SAF) – 204 points (Nov 1986 – Jun 2013)

Most Successful Decade: 1990-2000 – 93 points

One of the biggest clubs in England, with its ubiquitous fanbase, it won its lion’s share of trophies in the PL era under the epic stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Manchester United won 2 Titles before WW1 under manager Earnest Mangnall, but didn’t win its 3rd until 1952 under Matt Busby, with the ’60s and ’70s also a fallow period of no Title wins while Liverpool was dominating English football. Yet, the only decades in its history it hasn’t won a single trophy were the 1920s and ’30s. Man U really ruled football from 1986 – 2013 when the club won 13 of its 20 Titles under SAF.

Despite the Munich Air Disaster of 1958 claiming the lives of 23 staff including 8 players, it rose from the ashes, managing its next major trophy win just 5 years later by winning the FA Cup. It would win its, and English football’s, first European Cup in 1967 and won 2 more under SAF.

1: Liverpool FC

Success Points: 338.5

First Trophy Won: FL Div. 1 Title, 1901

Most Recent Trophy Won: FA and FL Cup, 2022

Most Successful Manager: Bob Paisley – 116.5 points (Aug 1974 – July 1983)

Most Successful Decade: 1980-1990 – 100.5 points

Liverpool won its first trophy whilst Queen Victoria was still on the throne. Its many Titles were won in the ’20s, ’40s and ’60s decades and particularly during the ’70s and ’80s as well when, in the 14 years between 1976 and 1990, it amassed a total of 10 Titles, 4 European Cups and 7 other major trophies.

Iconic managers during the glittering period of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s were Bill Shankley, Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan.

The Heysel Stadium disaster blighted the glow around the club and its community for a short while as Fagan retired shortly afterwards and the disaster led to a five year ban from European competition. However another club icon, Kenny Dalglish, picked up where his predecessors left off continuing the trail of success at home.

Like Everton, ‘The Reds‘ wilted in the PL era but managed to win other trophies including 2 more Champions’ Leagues (CL). This means Liverpool holds the record for CLs won in England. Liverpool then ended its 30 year wait for its first PL Title by topping the table in 2020. Its impressive trophy haul puts Liverpool on top as England’s most successful club!

Competition KeyPoints
SC: Domestic ‘Super Cup’ (FA Charity Shield / Community Shield)
1 (0.5 points per ‘shared’ trophy)
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup
LC: League Cup (EFL League Cup)
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League
AC: Association Cup (FA Cup)
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League
T: Top Tier League Title (Division 1 / Premier League)

26 Most Successful Football Clubs in England

PositionFootball ClubPoints SubtotalsPoints Total
1Liverpool FCSC: 10 + 2.5 (5 shared) x 1 = 12.5

UEFA SC: 4 x 2 = 8

FIFA CWC: 1 x 3 = 3

LC: 9 x 4 = 36

AC: 8 x 5 = 40

EL: 3 x 6 = 18

CL: 6 x 8 = 48

T: 19 x 9 = 171

2 (Treble) 
2Manchester United FCSC: 17 + 2 (4 shared) x 1 =19

UEFA SC: 1 x 2 =2

FIFA CWC: 2 x 3 =6

LC: 4 x 4 = 16

AC: 12 x 5 = 60

EL: 1 x 6 = 6

UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5

CL: 3 x 8 = 24

T: 20 x 9 = 180

+1 (Treble)
3Arsenal FCSC: 15 + 0.5 (1 shared) x 1 = 15.5
LC: 2 x 4 = 8
AC: 14 x 5 = 70
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 13 x 9 = 117
4Manchester City FC6 x 1 = 6
9 x 4 = 36
6 x 5 = 30
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
8 x 9 = 72
+1 (Treble)
5Chelsea FC4 x 1 = 4
2 x 2 = 4
1 x 3 = 3
5 x 4 = 20
8 x 5 = 40
2 x 6 = 12
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
2 x 8 = 16
6 x 9 = 54
6Aston Villa FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 2 = 2
5 x 4 = 20
7 x 5 = 35
1 x 8 = 8
7 x 9 = 63
7Everton FC8 + 0.5 (1 shared) x 1 = 8.5
5 x 5 = 25
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
9 x 9 = 81
8Tottenham Hotspur FC4 + 1.5 (3 shared) x 1 = 5.5
4 x 4 = 16
8 x 5 = 40
2 x 6 = 12
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
2 x 9 = 18
9Newcastle United FC1 x 1 = 1
6 x 5 = 30
4 x 9 = 36
10Sunderland AFC1 x 1 = 1
2 x 5 = 10
6 x 9 = 54
11Blackburn Rovers FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 4 = 4
6 x 5 = 30
3 x 9 = 27
12Wolverhampton Wanderers FC1 + 1.5 x 1 = 2.5
2 x 4 = 8
4 x 5 = 20
3 x 9 = 27
13Sheffield Wednesday FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 4 = 4
3 x 5 = 15
4 x 9 = 36
14Nottingham Forest FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 2 = 2
4 x 4 = 16
2 x 5 = 10
2 x 8 =  16
1 x 9 = 9
15Birmingham City FC2 x 4 = 8
4 x 9 = 36
16West Bromwich Albion FC1 + 0.5 x 1 = 1.5
1 x 4 = 4
5 x 5 = 25
1 x 9 = 9
17Leeds United FC2 x 1 = 2
1 x 4 = 4
1 x 5 = 5
3 x 9 = 27
18Huddersfield Town AFC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 5 = 5
3 x 9 = 27
=19Preston North End FC1 x 1 = 1
2  x 5 = 10
2 x 9 = 18
=19Sheffield United FC4 x 5 = 20
1 x 9 = 9
21Portsmouth FC0.5 x 1 = 0.5
2 x 5  = 10
2 x 9 = 18
22Leicester City FC2 x 1 = 2
3 x 4 = 12
1 X 5 = 5
1 x 9 = 9
23Wanderers FC5 x 5 = 2525
24Burnley FC1 + 0.5 x 1 = 1.5
1 x 5 = 5
2 x 9 = 18
25Derby County FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 5 = 5
2 x 9 = 18
26West Ham United FC0.5 x 1 = 0.5
3 x 5 = 15
1 x 6.5 = 6.5

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