English Football’s Most Successful Clubs of All Time (August 2021)

ARL Football Success Ranking System

Any club which remotely thinks it deserves the label ‘big’ should be playing in the top league of its association, buying the best players and, ideally, holding down a global brand presence. It is the trophy cabinet, however, which really sorts the economy class clubs from the business class, or even private jet ones.

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.

English Football 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

Scroll to the bottom to see the full table of England’s 25 Most Successful Clubs!


Here, is the ARL countdown of the Top 10 Most Successful Football Clubs in England:

10. Sunderland AFC

Sunderland players hold aloft their 1937 FA Cup win

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 1889 –1896)

Most Successful Decade: 1890-1900 – 27 points

Sunderland AFC enjoyed its main period of glory the decade before its Tyneside rivals, grabbing 3 of its 6 Titles before the 19th Century’s end. During the late 19th Century, it was declared to have the “Team of All Talents” by William McGregor, the founder of the league, after its 3rd Title win in the 1894–95 season – ending the season five points ahead of Everton. Sunderland then went up against Heart of Midlothian, the champions of the Scottish League. Winning that 5–3, they were announced to be “Champions of the World”.

It has only managed to win the second of its 2 FA Cups since WW2’s end. With its vintage years of ruling English football, Sunderland takes the bottom spot of the ten most successful clubs in England.

9. Newcastle United FC

…whilst Newcastle likewise celebrate their FA Cup triumph in 1951

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, which comes in at 9th – its 4 more FA Cups trumps Sunderland’s 2 extra league Titles.

With a team known for their artistic play, combining team-work and quick, short passing, the club dominated English football in the 20th Century’s first decade when Newcastle won 3 Titles and an FA Cup, and 33 of its 69 points. It bagged a further 3 FA Cups in the 1950s.

8. Tottenham Hotspur

A proud Spurs team pose with their Title/FA Cup ‘double’, 1961

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

The ‘Lillywhites’ have achieved much for a club with just two Titles to its name. Spurs’ credentials are underlined by the fact they achieved a number of firsts in English football. Tottenham was the first, and likely, only non league club to win an FA Cup, in 1901; the first club in the 20th Century to win the ‘Double’ and in 1963 it was the first English club to win a UEFA trophy (The UEFA CWC). Spurs also won 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, going on to win just one trophy – an FL Cup – in the 21st Century to date.

7. Everton FC

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Very pleased: Everton teammates pose with the UEFA CWC, 1985

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 its city rivals Liverpool, it has an impressive trophy cabinet in its own right and, except the ’50s and ’70s, has managed to win Titles and trophies every decade back from the 1890s up until the 21st Century.

The ’80s was Everton’s best period under manager Howard Kendall. They won 2 Titles, a handful of FA Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (CWC). But the Heysal Stadium Disaster and the ensuing 5 year English club ban from UEFA competitions gave English football a hard jolt, hitting both Everton and Liverpool particularly badly. The Merseyside two 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

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Joyous Aston Villa holding the UEFA European Cup in 1982

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, having won 5 Titles and 3 FA Cups before the the 20th Century even kicked off.

From after WW1, the club found success much harder to come by, although this did include winning its latest Title in ‘81 with its first ever European Cup the following year. It also bagged a number of FL Cups and its latest FA Cup in the 2nd half of the 20th Century.

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

5. Manchester City FC

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2017 English Champions Man City FC

Success Points: 142.5

First Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1904

Latest Trophies Won: PL and FL Cup, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Pep Guardiola – 54 points (Jul 2016 – Present (May 2021))

Most Successful Decade: 2010-2020 – 69 points

From the ‘Grand Old Ladies’ to upstarts, Manchester’s 2nd club comes in at 5th and has rocketed into the bigtime.

A club sports fans maybe deride even more than Chelsea for its trophy ‘buying’, Manchester’s mega wealthy Adu Dhabi backers took over in 2008, instantly spending a PL record sum on Brazilian striker Robinho. It actually won 69 of its 142.5 total points before its takeover yet, since then, its owners have amassed a squad packed with talent in every position, winning 5 PL Titles and 10 other major trophies under a revolving door of managers.

Its glory days show no sign of stopping so expect it to rise further up the table.

4. Chelsea FC

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Chelsea’s CL and FA Cup ‘double’ in 2012

Success Points: 146

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

Latest Trophy Won: UEFA CL and UEFA SC, 2021

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

Most Successful Decade: 2000-2010 – 53 points

Chelsea comes in at 4th place. Chelsea had won 32 of its present 136 Success points before 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, and 32 success points in three seasons.

This club, with its new money, has bought a place at the top table.

3. Arsenal FC

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The Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ of 2003-2004

Success Points: 215.5

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. Under the leadership of Herbert Chapman, a manager who had already managed to win 3 consecutive Titles with Huddersfield Town FC in the ‘20s, Arsenal won its first ever trophy in 1930. With a new home and First Division football, attendances more than doubled, Arsenal’s budget grew rapidly and Arsenal quickly became known as the ‘Bank of England club’. Record breaking gate receipts meant it was able to lavish its extra income on stars like David Jack and Alex James. It then went on a winning spree throughout the ’30s and picked up from where it left off straight after WW2 and for a few years thereafter, winning Titles every decade except the 1960s and the 2010s.

A second icon of the club’s was Arsene Wenger in the PL era, winning 3 Titles and 7 FA Cups to make it the most successful club in the FA Cup. Although a powerhouse of the domestic game, Arsenal’s prestige is limited by having only a single international trophy – the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, won in 1994.

Arsenal is the most successful club in London.

2. Manchester United FC

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Man U famously achieved the European Treble in 1999

Success Points: 320.5

First Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1908

Most Recent Trophy Wins: FL Cup and UEFA Europa League, 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.

It won two 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

We've been waiting a long time' - Liverpool celebrate Premier League glory  in style
Top of the world: PL champs in 2020, having won the CL and World Cup in the 12 months prior.

Success Points: 329.5

First Trophy Won: FL Div. 1 Title, 1901

Most Recent Trophy Won: PL Title, 2020

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)
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup
2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup
3
LC: League Cup (EFL League Cup)
4
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League
4
AC: Association Cup (FA Cup)
5
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League
6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup
6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League
8
T: Top Tier League Title (Division 1 / Premier League)
9

Top 25 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: 8 x 4 = 32

AC: 7 x 5 = 35

EL: 3 x 6 = 18

CL: 6 x 8 = 48

T: 19 x 9 = 171

2 (Treble) 
329.5
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)
320.5
3Arsenal FC15 + 0.5 (1 shared) x 1 = 15.5
2 x 4 = 8
14 x 5 = 70
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
13 x 9 = 117
216.5
4Chelsea FC4 x 1 = 4
2 x 2 = 4
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
146
5Manchester City FC6 x 1 = 6
9 x 4 = 36
6 x 5 = 30
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
7 x 9 = 63
+1 (Treble)
142.5
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
135
7Everton FC8 + 0.5 (1 shared) x 1 = 8.5
5 x 5 = 25
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
9 x 9 = 81
121
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
96
9Newcastle United FC1 x 1 = 1
6 x 5 = 30
4 x 9 = 36
67
10Sunderland AFC1 x 1 = 1
2 x 5 = 10
6 x 9 = 54
65
11Blackburn Rovers FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 4 = 4
6 x 5 = 30
3 x 9 = 27
62
12Wolverhampton Wanderers FC1 + 1.5 x 1 = 2.5
2 x 4 = 8
4 x 5 = 20
3 x 9 = 27
57.5
13Sheffield Wednesday FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 4 = 4
3 x 5 = 15
4 x 9 = 36
56
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
54
15Birmingham City FC2 x 4 = 8
4 x 9 = 36
44
16West Bromwich Albion FC1 + 0.5 x 1 = 1.5
1 x 4 = 4
5 x 5 = 25
1 x 9 = 9
39.5
17Leeds United FC2 x 1 = 2
1 x 4 = 4
1 x 5 = 5
3 x 9 = 27
38
18Huddersfield Town AFC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 5 = 5
3 x 9 = 27
33
=19Preston North End FC1 x 1 = 1
2  x 5 = 10
2 x 9 = 18
29
=19Sheffield United FC4 x 5 = 20
1 x 9 = 9
29
21Portsmouth FC0.5 x 1 = 0.5
2 x 5  = 10
2 x 9 = 18
28.5
22Leicester City FC2 x 1 = 2
3 x 4 = 12
1 X 5 = 5
1 x 9 = 9
28
23Wanderers FC5 x 5 = 2525
24Burnley FC1 + 0.5 x 1 = 1.5
1 x 5 = 5
2 x 9 = 18
24.5
25Derby County FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 5 = 5
2 x 9 = 18
24
26West Ham United FC0.5 x 1 = 0.5
3 x 5 = 15
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
22
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