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Manchester is one of the world's most famous footballing cities. It is one of only two cities to be home to two European Cup winners in Manchester United (1968, 1999 and 2008) and Manchester City (2023). It is the only city in Europe with two Treble-winning clubs at its heart.
Manchester and Milan are the only cities with two Champions League-winning clubs in United and City, and Milan and Inter.
But are there more football clubs in Manchester? It depends on what you consider to be Manchester, as the geographical borders have been long disputed by its residents.
In this context, we'll discuss the Greater Manchester area, home to a wonderful number of clubs across the Football League and non-league system. There are eight Football League clubs in Manchester and many more in the divisions below.
So, here's all you need to know about how many football teams in Manchester…
Premier League football clubs in Manchester
Manchester United were founded as Newton Heath in 1878, changing their name in 1902 to Manchester United. In the succeeding century and a bit, United have become the city's biggest and most successful club, and perhaps those attributes ring true when considering the biggest club in the country, and even the world.
Winning 20 league titles, 12 FA Cups, and three European Cups, United are a global sporting behemoth.
The club has been managed by arguably the best manager the world of football has ever had in Sir Alex Ferguson while they've also had their fair share of playing superstars throughout their history including Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best, Roy Keane, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, amongst many others.
The club plays its football at Old Trafford and has done so since 1910. The ‘Theatre of Dreams' is the second largest stadium in England, with its capacity of 74,310 ranking only behind Wembley Stadium.
But Manchester United are not in the city itself. Old Trafford is actually in Trafford, a metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester.
The honour of being Manchester's only top-flight club, then, falls to United's ‘noisy neighbours' – a Sir Alex Ferguson term – Manchester City, recent Treble winners in 2023.
Founded in 1880 as St Marks, the club changed its name to Manchester City in 1894 and won its first FA Cup in 1904 before a renewed period of success in the 1930s and 1960s.
City's 2010s-present dominance has catapulted them to global fame and whilst they have a long way to go to catch up to their local rivals' trophy haul, they have won more than their fair share, with nine top-flight league titles, seven FA cups and one European Cup.
The club has become more than just noisy neighbours in recent years with their new owners from the UAE investing a considerable amount to turn them into one of the world's best football clubs on and off the field.
EFL Championship football clubs from Greater Manchester
Surprisingly, there are no clubs in the Championship that come from the Greater Manchester area. This hasn't always been the case. As you'll see below, there are several clubs who have risen and fallen from League One to Premier League and back over the last decade, stopping on their way in the Championship.
How many League One football teams in Manchester?
Two League One clubs call Greater Manchester home.
Bolton Wanderers FC, once a Premier League outfit, is one of English football's oldest clubs. Founded in 1874, as Christ Church Football Club, they changed to their current name three years later in 1877.
The club has never won a top-flight league, but they have lifted the FA Cup on four occasions, the latest of which came in 1958, against rivals Manchester United. They have also won three second-division titles.
Bolton have come under huge financial pressure over recent years but have stabilized themselves in recent times. In 2023, they won the EFL Trophy.
They currently play at the Toughsheet Community Stadium, which has had numerous name changes over the last few years due to naming rights and sponsorship changes.
The other Greater Manchester club that plays in League One is Wigan Athletic. Like Bolton, Wigan have also recently played in the Premier League but have tumbled down the league system and had their fair share of struggles.
The club was founded in 1932 and used to play at Springfield Park. That was until 1999 when they moved to their current home, the DW Stadium.
The Latics haven't enjoyed much silverware down the years but, like Bolton, their most recent FA Cup victory came against one of the Manchester big boys. Wigan shocked the world by lifting the Cup for the first time by beating Manchester City 1-0 at Wembley in 2013.
Who could forget the scenes when Ben Watson headed the Latics ahead in the 93rd minute, to give the so-called smaller club from Greater Manchester the bragging rights over their bigger, more successful, local rivals?
League Two football teams in Manchester
There are also two clubs from the Greater Manchester area in League Two: Salford City and Stockport County.
Salford City FC were founded back in 1940 and have mostly played in the lower tiers of English football. However, a takeover by the Class of '92, a group of former Manchester United players (Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes), has led to their rapid rise. Significant investment has been rewarded with several promotions. Salford even made the 2022/23 League Two play-offs, only to lose to local rivals, Stockport County, on penalties.
The club plays at Moor Lane and has done so since 1978. The stadium has undergone significant renovations in the last decade.
The other club is Stockport County, founded in 1883 as Heaton Norris Rovers. They were renamed in 1890 to Stockport County.
Like Salford City, Stockport have spent most of their time playing in the lower leagues. They gained promotion to the Football League in 2022 after winning the National League and nearly made it back-to-back promotions when they got to the League Two play-off final. Unfortunately, the Hatters lost the final at Wembley to Carlisle United.
The club currently plays its home matches at Edgeley Park.
How many National League and non-league football teams in Manchester?
Numerous clubs from Greater Manchester play in the lower tiers of English football. Three of them currently play in the National League, with Oldham Athletic easily one of the bigger clubs to play at this level.
Founded in 1895 as Pine Ville FC, they changed their name to Oldham Athletic in 1899. The club was one of the founding members of the Premier League and played at the top tier of English football for several years. Once they were relegated, however, they never recovered and tumbled down the league pyramid.
They are the first club to have played in the Premier League to have also been relegated out of the Football League, an unwanted bit of history that their fans try to forget. They play their home matches at Boundary Park.
Rochdale are also currently playing their football in the National League. A club founded in 1907, they have only recently been relegated to the National League, ending a remarkable 102-year stay in the Football League. They currently play their home matches at Spotland Stadium.
Altrincham FC is the other club from the area that plays in the National League. They were founded in 1891 and play their football at Moss Lane.
Other clubs from the Greater Manchester area who play in leagues lower than the National League are, Curzon Ashton, Ashton United, Atherton Collieries, United FC of Manchester, Hyde United, Radcliffe, Stalybridge Celtic, Mossley, Ramsbottom United, Bury FC and Trafford.