There’s nothing like going to watch the football, but these days there is a lot to consider if you are going to make a day of it.
Transport, ticket prices, pie selection, pub geography and half-time toilet queues are factors we took into consideration when collating this definitive ranking of Championship grounds.
See if you agree with us, and leave your comments below…
24. Madejski Stadium – Reading
Sorry Reading – your home of 20 years is just a bit dull. The uninspiring location off the M4 is as bland as the atmosphere on match day. It’s a nice modern stadium, but when it’s the away fans making most of the noise in a 24,161-seater stadium, you know you’re in trouble.
23. Macron Stadium – Bolton Wanderers
Once known as the Reebok Stadium, Bolton have played at Macron since 1997 when they left Burnden Park for the 28,723-capacity stadium. The downside of their bigger ground is that it is six miles out of Bolton city centre – meaning it is a trek for fans coming from both near and far.
22. Deepdale – Preston North End
Preston claim their ground is the oldest continuously used football stadium in the world. Built on what was once Deepdale Farm, the Lancashire outfit have played there since 1878. However, despite its 23,404 capacity, it is often the away fans making the most noise – it can be rather quiet.
21. DW Stadium – Wigan Athletic
Home to Wigan since 1999, the DW has developed something of a reputation for being more hospitable to away fans than its own as attendances dwindle. Wigan have suffered since they were relegated to the Championship in 2013 and then to League One in 2015. They reversed their fortunes this season and return to the Championship, but the Latics need their fans to show up and be the 12th man they have lacked for so long.
20. Portman Road – Ipswich Town
That Portman Road is just 450 yards from Ipswich railway station is probably its best feature – you can escape quickly. The stadium is traditional, with away fans sectioned between the corner and halfway line. But too often, the 30,300-seater ground is not full enough to make its ideal location worth a visit.
19. New York Stadium – Rotherham United
Close to the city centre, this has been Rotherham’s home since 2012. A small stadium – its capacity is only 12,021 – if Rotherham continue on their upwards trajectory, they may will need to expand some time soon.
18. Ewood Park – Blackburn Rovers
Ewood Park is one of those stadiums where you get more excited about seeing the visiting team than your own, after a dismal few years for the Rovers. Hopefully, this quiet stadium will get louder and more exciting this season, with Blackburn’s return to the Championship.
17. St Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium – Birmingham City
It’s hard to know which joke to make first about St Andrew’s’ new name, so we’ll let you do that for yourself. But this ground, Birmingham’s home since 1906, is a delight on a big derby day clash, where 30,015 supporters cram to make a loud, raucous atmosphere.
16. Griffin Park – Brentford
We wanted to put Brentford higher up – they are the only English league football ground to have a pub on each corner – but unfortunately, that is the only thing going for them. This tiny 12,300-seat stadium, the club’s home since 1904, is simply not big enough for a club of Brentford’s size and calibre. It won’t be long before they have a new home, though.
15. Carrow Road – Norwich City
Purpose-built in just 82 days, Carrow Road has stood the test of time. Norwich have played there since 1935, and the Regency Security, Barclay, Geoffrey Watling City and South Stands hold 27,244 fans between them. A middle-of-the-ground stadium for a middle-of-the-table team.
14. Riverside Stadium – Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough’s 23-year-old stadium may be set to expand, as the club has provisional planning permission to grow by 8,000 seats to 42,000. Of the four stands, the South is the loudest, but in recent seasons the volume has been dialled down somewhat.
13. The Den – Millwall
This 20,100-capacity stadium is a solid Championship ground, but is rather dilapidated after 24 years hosting Millwall in Bermondsey, London. Now, a dispute with Lewisham council means there is a good chance Millwall will be relocating in the near future, the controversy compromising the atmosphere in the stands.
12. KCOM Stadium – Hull City
This bowl-shaped stadium does not feel like a natural football haven – Tigers’ rugby is also played here – but its modern design and sweeping roof, it makes a nice change from the usual grounds with minimal character.
11. Hillsborough Stadium – Sheffield Wednesday
Two miles further out of Sheffield than their United rivals, Hillsborough is bigger than Bramall Lane with 39,752 seats. Home since 1899 and a Euro 96 host, most people know this stadium by name from the 1989 disaster where 96 Liverpool fans tragically died. But the heartbreaking legacy of that terrible day is part and parcel of a club which respects and honours its past.
10. Ashton Gate – Bristol City
Home since 1904, this ground underwent a massive redevelopment in 2016, unveiling the 11,000-seater Lansdown Stand in August that year. The 27,000-capacity stadium is shared with Bristol Bears, who were promoted to rugby’s top tier at the end of last season. A sporting haven, this stadium is steeped in Bristolian culture and is a landmark of the city.
9. Villa Park – Aston Villa
A big stadium for a club with big ambition, Villa have played here since 1897. The iconic ground, built on the site of a Victorian amusement park, has hosted 55 FA Cup semi-finals, more than any other stadium. Of the Trinity Road, North, Doug Ellis and Holte End stands, the latter is particularly treasured. It holds a whopping 13,500 supporters and is the loudest area of the stadium, especially on a derby day.
8. The Hawthorns – West Bromwich Albion
It only took four months for construction workers to build The Hawthorns, which seats 26,850, 118 years ago. With an altitude of 551 feet, West Brom boast the highest ground out of all 92 English league teams. In the West Stand, Brummie Road, Smethwick End and East Stand you can catch some of the country’s most thrilling derbies.
7. Loftus Road – Queens Park Rangers
Fans are 50/50 about this west London institution. The stands are wedged tightly together, meaning home and away fans are squeezed next to each other and are closer to the pitch than at most stadiums. Some don’t like it, but we do – even if it could do with scrubbing up a bit.
6. Liberty Stadium – Swansea City
Home since 2005, Liberty is the third-biggest stadium in Wales – and one of the loudest. A relatively small capacity of 21,088 belies its volume, which has increased since they left Vetch Field 13 years ago. A statue of Ivor Allchurch, the club’s record goalscorer, stands outside the stadium, befitting of a side proud of their history.
5. bet365 – Stoke City
Since Stoke completed expansion works on their ground last year, it has the bet365 Stadium has become one of the most exciting grounds in the league – not least because it was at the centre of an ultimately unsuccessful relegation battle at the end of last season. Still, with Potters fans indignant about their Championship fate, you can be sure they will show you an entertaining time.
4. City Ground – Nottingham Forest
Home to the Reds since 1898, the iconic ground on the banks of the River Trent was last redeveloped in 1994 – but its ‘rough around the edges’ appearance is part of its charm. Steeped in history, it can hold 30,445 fans at capacity and was one of the host stadiums for the Euro 96 tournament. Situated just 300 yards away from Meadow Lane, home of League Two rivals Notts County, the grounds are the closest professional football stadiums in England.
3. Bramall Lane – Sheffield United
The ‘home of football’ is named after the Bramall family, who were file and graver manufacturers in the 19th century. Home to the Blades since 1889, it is the oldest major stadium in the world to still be hosting professional association football matches. It is one of only two grounds to have hosted England internationals, an England cricket test match and an FA Cup final – the other is the Oval cricket ground. Regularly filled with almost 33,000 fans, it is a special ground which is always singing, win or lose.
2. Pride Park – Derby County
A huge improvement from Derby’s old Baseball Ground, Pride Park is certainly a home to be proud of. After the post-Hillsborough disaster, the Taylor Report ordered English football stadiums to become totally seated, meaning Derby would have to cut their capacity to 17,500 fans. They moved to 33,600-capacity Pride Park in 1997, but have never managed to sell it out – the record attendance is 33,378 in a Premier League match against Liverpool in March 2000. But, it still boasts one of the best atmospheres in the league.
1. Elland Road – Leeds United
One of the most famous grounds in football, Elland Road is historic, iconic and downright intimidating for travelling teams. Its East Stand can hold 17,000 fans and is the focal point of the famous ground. The ground may be slightly weathered in places, but that’s part of its rugged, old-school charm. There are plans for a 2020 expansion under new owner Andrea Radrizzani, but if it ain’t broke, why fix it? The stadium hosted its first England game since 2002 earlier this summer as the Three Lions completed their World Cup prep with a 2-0 demolition of Costa Rica. A sell-out crowd of 36,104 fans created an electric atmosphere that reminded the nation why Elland Road is such a special place.