English football is home to some of the largest and most impressive stadiums in world football. Whilst stadiums such as Old Trafford and The Emirates are home to some or the biggest clubs in European football, some of the stadiums in EFL League One certainly should not be overlooked.
In this article, I will be taking a look at some of the most impressive grounds belonging to clubs currently plying their trade in EFL League One and picking out my top 5.
5. KCOM Stadium – Home of Hull City AFC
Number five for me is the KCOM. Hull were of course a Premier League side very recently, so for their ground to be up there with the best in League One comes as no surprise.
The stadium opened its doors on 18 December 2002. Hull City beat Sunderland A.F.C 1–0 in a friendly match to mark the occasion. Conceived in the late 1990s, the stadium was completed in 2002 at an estimated cost of £44 million. The curved roof of the stadium is the feature to look out for upon arrival to the stadium, which really makes the ground stand out.
Once in the ground, you will see rows of black seats with the odd white or orange seat. A sight that for me, makes any ground look smart. The white seats spell out the word ‘Hull’ whilst the orange seats provide a nice contrast in the stands.
With a capacity of over 25,000, the KCOM joins a list of some of the biggest grounds in the EFL.
Away fans visiting the KCOM Stadium are usually located in the North East corner of the stadium, with a typical allocation of around 2,600. This placement helps to add to the atmosphere that is generated by ‘The Tigers’.
In terms of refreshments and snacks, the KCOM has a wide variety of options. Prices are slightly inflated due to the nature of the venue however there are also plenty of pubs and restaurants nearby. Whilst Hull City play their football there, the KCOM is also home to Hull FC rugby team as well as various concerts throughout a typical year.
I wouldn’t expect the KCOM to be hosting League One football for too much longer.
4. Stadium MK – Home of MK Dons FC
2007 was the year in which Stadium MK was opened, making it one of the most modern stadiums in the EFL. In November of 2011, a £56m plan was put in place to increase the capacity of the stadium from an original 22,000 seats to 32,000, averaging around 3,000 away fans. Once again, making it one of the biggest grounds in the EFL. But with MK Dons playing their football in the Championship in the 2015/16, they had an average attendance of 13,000.
If you were to view the stadium from the outside, it has a very modern look, with the use of silver coloured cladding and areas of glass on view. The most notable feature of the stadium is the roof. Gaps between the stands allows more natural light to reach the pitch.
The atmosphere at the ground has had its critics over the years, however as an away fan I didn’t have any criticisms. On its day, the atmosphere can be electric and that mixed with the modern appearance makes it a great experience for any football fan. You can get a mean hot dog at the ground as well!
Stadium MK is certainly a home to be proud of, and one that wouldn’t look out of place in the Premier League!
3. The Valley – Home of Charlton Athletic FC
London is home of some of the biggest and best football grounds in England. The Valley is no different. In 1992, it became the home of Charlton Athletic. Once again, with an impressive capacity of over 27,000, it is one of the biggest in the Football League.
Since development, Charlton enjoyed eight seasons in the Premier League playing at The Valley before relegation in the 06/07 season ended a seven year stay in the top division. They have found themselves in the EFL since.
As an away fan, the experience can be phenomenal. The atmosphere is usually top drawer and the placement of the away fans behind the goal only adds to this. Located just outside the away section, fans can enjoy a selection of cold beers and piping hot burgers, the go to meal for any football fan!
Accessibility for supporters travelling by coach is nice and easy as well. Coaches are typically parked just a few minutes walk from the ground.
All in all, a great football ground.
2. Fratton Park – Home of Portsmouth FC
Fratton Park is another ground that was once associated with Premier League football. Built in 1899, Fratton Park has been the home of Portsmouth for over 121 years. However issues both on and off the pitch, meant Portsmouth dropped down the divisions. In the 2009/2010 season, Portsmouth dropped into the EFL and have remained there since. With performances and results so far this season, it may not be long until Portsmouth start their climb back up the footballing pyramid, arguably back to where they belong.
As League One grounds go, Fratton Park is certainly up there with the most impressive. Holding 19,670 fans, it is the 7th biggest ground in the league. Plans for redevelopment are well underway that would see an increase in capacity. Whilst the appearance of the ground isn’t the most modern, it certainly has the attributes to contribute to a great footballing experience for all fans.
Kiosks are located around the stadium for fans to stock up on refreshments and snacks. As well as plenty of pubs around the area.
Fratton Park has also been named the best ground in League One in terms of the atmosphere generated by FootballGroundMap. Whilst the ground doesn’t compete with others in terms of size, the atmosphere for both home and away sides can be extraordinary.
If Portsmouth were able to get promoted and complete the development of the stadium, Fratton Park could become one of the most intimidating places to play your football.
1.Stadium of Light – Home of Sunderland AFC
Sunderland AFC dropped into the third division of English football following relegation from the Championship in the 17/18 season. Officially, Sunderland are a League One club. However their facilities are from it. The stadium specifically.
In 1997, Sunderland made the move from Roker Park into the newly formed Stadium of Light. Their first season in the new ground saw the club finish 3rd in the Football League first division, narrowly missing out on promotion after defeat in the play off final. However for a long time, the Stadium of Light was home to a Premier League side.
Holding a total of 49,000 fans, The Stadium of Light is the the biggest stadium in the entirety of the EFL. One of the first things Stewart Donald did when he was named the new owner of Sunderland back in 2018 was revamp the stadium. Old, worn and pink seats were ripped out and replaced by brand new red seats to improve the aesthetics of the ground.
A park and ride system allows both home and away fans easy access to the ground with regular buses going to and from the stadium free of charge. Certainly something other clubs could benefit from in the future.
There is a pub just a few minutes away from the ground as well as numerous kiosks around the stadium for fans to grab refreshments and snacks pre match and half time, all reasonably priced as well when it comes to the usual prices at football grounds.
Away fans find themselves located in the upper tier which can, at times, take away from the atmosphere slightly. If Premier League days were to return for the fans of Sunderland, moving away fans into the lower bowl could certainly help improve the matchday experience for all involved.
Away coaches are typically lined up just a minute away from the ground for a quick and stress free exit.
The atmosphere on a matchday can be extraordinary. An average home attendance of 30,000 fans means the Stadium of Light is an intimidating place for any club to visit.
What is your favourite League One ground to visit and why? Let us know!