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The oldest football stadiums in the world

To football fans worldwide, stadiums are seen as places of worship and spiritual homes in which people travel from far and wide to watch their favourite football teams and players play the beautiful game every week.

While the modern stadiums of today are flash and brilliantly illuminated with padded seats, retractable roofs and amazing viewpoints from every stand, older stadiums undoutbedly still possess a more unique, perhaps nostalgic, charm to them, and with that, they provide an atmosphere that the newer versions just can't emulate, no matter how hard they try.

So, ever wondered what the world's oldest football stadiums are? Wonder no more. Packed with great trivia, this list of the world's oldest grounds has all you need to know.

It won't be any surprise to most to know that most of world's oldest football grounds are located in the UK, but some of these might shock you. How many have you been to?

El Molinon Stadium, Spain (1908)

Enrique Castro Quini funeral at El Molinon Stadium
The Molinon stadium holds great cultural significance and was used to celebrate the life of former player Enrique Castro Quini after he passed away in February 2018 (Photo: Marca/Icon Sport)

Home to Spanish football club, Real Sporting de Gijon, the El Molinon Stadium has a capacity of 29,029, making it the 20th largest stadium in Spain. It is currently the oldest professional football stadium in Spain, and its name is ‘El Molinon' which translates into English means, ‘Big Mill', as the stadium was located on the site of an old water mill.

Hampden Park Stadium, Scotland (1903)

Hampden Park Stadium, Scotland (1903)
(Photo: Jamie Johnston/Focus Images/Sipa USA) – Photo by Icon Sport

The home of Scottish football is next on the list, although this one may be confused by another stadium, also named Hampden Park, that pre-dated this venue. There were three Hampden Parks in total. The first was built in 1873 and was played in by Scotland's oldest football club, Queens Park. They moved out in 1883 and settled into the second Hampden Park until 1903. The second Hampden Park was renamed Caitlin Park and played host to the now-defunct, Third Lanark AC. They finally settled into the third Hampden Park and played there up as recently as 2021. They are set to return to the venue for the 2023-2024 season.

Hampden Park has hosted several major tournaments, as well as the Scottish Cup Final every year. It most recently was a host stadium for the pandemic-delayed Euro 2020 tournament. It's now set to undergo major renovations ahead of Euro 2028, which is expected to be hosted by the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Gran Parque Central Stadium, Uruguay (1900)

Gran Parque Central Stadium, Uruguay (1900)
Photo by Carlospaivacarlitos

Home to Uruguayan football club, Club Nacional de Football, this is the oldest stadium in the Americas. It has a capacity of 34,000 and was one of the venues used in the first-ever World Cup finals, hosted in Uruguay in 1930. It also has historical relevance to Uruguayans because prior to the ground's construction, this was the location where Uruguayan national hero, Jose Artigas, was named the leader of the country in 1811.

Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, Greece (1895)

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(Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images) – Photo by Icon Sport

Finding our way into the 19th century for the first time on the list, we have the home of the Greek side, Olympiakos. The Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium has a capacity of 33,334 and is named after a Greek national hero. The venue, which was known as the Neo Phaliron Velodrome up until 1964, played host to the first-ever modern-day Olympic Games back in 1896.

Portman Road, England (1884)

Aerial shot of Portman Road, home of Ipswich Town since 1884 and one of the oldest football stadiums in the world
(Photo: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images/Sipa USA) – Photo by Icon Sport

Next on the list is the home of the English side, Ipswich Town, where they moved to from their previous playing field of Broomfield Park. Technically, Portman Road was around since 1855, playing host to cricket matches, however, it was established as a football stadium until Ipswich moved in, so 1884 is the date we are sticking with.

Anfield, England (1884)

Anfield, home to Liverpool, former home of Everton, and one of the oldest football stadiums in the world
(Photo by Steve Flynn/News Images/Sipa USA) – Photo by Icon Sport

Anfield stadium is famously home to Liverpool FC, playing host to some of football's most memorable matches in both the English domestic league and the European stage, but it wasn't always like this. Liverpool's Merseyside rivals Everton were tenants at Anfield for the first seven years of the ground's existence. However, a rent dispute involving the club's president saw the Blues move to Goodison Park, only a few hundred meters away, with the newly formed Liverpool FC taking up residency a year later when they were formed.

Turf Moor, England (1883)

Turf Moor Stadium - Football Ground - Burnley FC Stadium
Photo by Icon Sport

Home to Burnley FC, Turf Moor is one of English football's more old-school grounds. With its four stands closely hugging the pitch, it has the claim to fame that it was the first stadium in England to be visited by a member of the Royal Family when Prince Albert Victor went to the venue to watch a game between Burnley and Bolton Wanderers in 1886.

Sport has been played around Turf Moor for centuries, with the adjacent cricket ground outdating the football stadium and an attempt at a horse-racing circuit being made earlier in the 19th-century.

Ewood Park, England (1882)

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Photo: Russell Hart/Focus Images/Sipa USA/Icon Sport

Originally known as ‘Ewood Bridge', Blackburn Rovers played four matches there in the year 1882. They didn't return to their spiritual home until 1890 but have been playing there ever since. Blackburn Rovers were one of the founding members of the football league and are one of only two clubs to have won the FA Cup three times in a row (1882-1885). The other club was Wanderers FC (1875-1878).

Deepdale, England (1878)

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Photo by Icon Sport

Staying up in the north of England, we have the home of Preston North End, another one of football's first clubs. The land around the ground was first leased for sport in 1875 by the North End sports club, who primarily played cricket and rugby. The first football match played there was on 5 October 1878 and it has hosted Preston North End matches ever since. The club were one of the dominant forces of early professional football.

Deepdale has undergone constant renovations since its 1878 birth, with particularly notable recent updates in 1995, 1998 and 2001. A fun fact for you: in the early days, North End allowed female spectators to attend matches at Deepdale for free. When several thousand women turned up to claim their free tickets for one game, they abandoned that policy on economic grounds!

Rodney Parade, Wales (1877)

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Photo by Icon Sport

This stadium is a bit of a cheat, as it only became a football stadium as recently as 2012 when Newport County moved in. The Welsh side moved from Newport Stadium, initially on a three-year deal, but that was oon extended. The ground has been used for sport since 1877 when the Newport Athletic Club – who played cricket, tennis, rugby and practiced athletics – secured the rights to use the ground from Godfrey Morgan, the 1st Viscount Tredegar.

Fun fact: Rodney Parade was the first ground in Wales to have floodlights installed, way back in 1879 when a rugby match was played under the lights.

It only had a capacity of 7,850 (for football matches) and up until 2012 was mostly used for rugby and cricket throughout its history. But it gets added to the list. Just about.

Stamford Bridge, England (1877)

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(Photo by Vincent Mignott/DeFodi Images) – Photo by Icon Sport

Also built in 1877 is west London's Stamford Bridge. Used by London's Athletic Club from 1877 until 1905, the stadium was then made the home stadium of Chelsea FC. It has a capacity of 40,343. It was used as the venue for the FA Cup final on three occasions in 1920, 1921 and 1922. The final moved to the newly built Empire Stadium in Wembley in 1923. Peculiarly, all three Stamford Bridge finals ended in a 1-0 win, none of which Chelsea were involved in.

Tannadice Park, Scotland (1870)

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Photo by Icon Sport

Home to Dundee United, Tannadice Park is officially the oldest football stadium still in use in Scotland. Plenty of clubs have played here, with the current capacity of the ground at 14,223. Tannadice only became the stadium's name in 1909, as it was known as Clepington Park previously. It is also located only 200 yards away from Den's Park, which is occupied by their city rivals, Dundee, making them the closest professional stadiums in the UK, just about beating Anfield and Goodison Park.

Carlisle Ground, Rep of Ireland (1862)

Carlisle Grounds

A surprise inclusion into the list is that of League of Ireland's Carlisle Ground, The stadium is currently the oldest football ground in Ireland, and has played host to three League of Ireland clubs in its history, with Transport FC, Bray Unknowns, and current occupants Bray Wanderers all having played there. This is not just a football stadium, the ground has been used as a film set and a music video location in recent years, with scenes from Michael Collins being filmed there, whilst Dermot Kennedy's hit, ‘Outnumbered' had its music video shot on the pitch. It currently only has a capacity of 2,500.

Field's Mill, England (1861)

field mill cover

Mansfield FC do not usually get high up any table, but in this case, with their stadium, they do. Originally used as a recreational field for the employees of Greenhalgh & Sons Works, it wasn't until 1919 that the current Mansfield FC would move in. A capacity of 9,186 makes it rather small, but it holds all the charm of an old-school stadium. That's despite its renovation work done back in 1999-2001 when all the stands were demolished and rebuilt.

Bramall Lane, England (1855)

Bramall Lane Stadium - Football Ground - Sheffield United FC Stadium 1
Photo by Icon Sport

Many football fans worldwide see Bramall Lane as the oldest stadium still in use. But it's not. Home to Sheffield United since 1889, and previously to the world's first-ever football club, Sheffield FC, Bramall Lane is still a historic site that football fans should go and visit. It has a capacity of 32,000 nowadays and is an all-seater stadium, meaning it probably isn't as old school as some football fans would like it to be considering its age. Still, it's the second oldest stadium in the world, with some regard it as the ‘Home of Football'.

Sandygate, England (1804)

Sandygate

The oldest football stadium still in use is Sandygate Stadium, located in Sheffield. Hallam FC currently plays their matches there, with a capacity of 1,300, of which 250 are seated, we suspect not many people have visited this stadium. The most famous match to have been played here was probably that of the first inner-club football match between Hallam FC and Sheffield FC on December 26, 1860. So, while Hallam can only claim to be the second oldest football club in the world, they can say they have the oldest football stadium in the world.

Oldest football stadiums in the world: Key facts

The oldest football stadium still in use: Sandygate, Sheffield, England (since 1804)

The oldest football ground still hosting professional matches: Bramall Lane, Sheffield, England (since 1889)

The oldest international football stadium still hosting international matches: The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, Wales (since 1877)

The first international match played at the Racecourse Ground was between Wales and Scotland on 5 March 1877. Scotland won 2-0. Wales most recently played at the Racecourse Ground – although their matches in North Wales have become less frequent in recent years – in 2019. This makes it the oldest international ground still hosting international matches.

What about Hampden Park? Well, Scotland have always played at Hampden Park, but not at the Hampden Park. The site of a stadium by that name has changed several times, although the current ground has been at the current Hampden Park since 1903.

England, meanwhile, have only been at the new Wembley Stadium since 2007, which replaced the previous Empire Stadium, opened in 1923. Prior to that, the Three Lions played most of their international games at the Kennington Oval cricket ground and then toured around the country at different venues, including at the old Crystal Palace ground (not Selhurst Park), Bramall Lane and many others.


Philip O'Rourke

Philip O Rourke is a Dublin-based journalist and author of Forgotten Football Clubs, 50 Clubs Around the World. He appears on the Forgotten Football Clubs podcast and, in his spare time, travels around Europe to different football stadiums, trying to watch as many different clubs as he can.

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