“Stadium” vs “Ground” in English Football

Paul Gerald · Profile
“Stadium” vs “Ground” in English Football

What is the difference between a stadium and a ground in English football?

This is something I thought I had all figured out; ground is simply what British people call a stadium. Not so, I am beginning to understand. As with many things, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Carrow Road in Norwich is what you’d call a football ground.

One way of getting at this is to think of a stadium as a thing and a ground as a place. So a ground is where you would find a stadium, as well as a pitch and a carpark and club offices, etc. The stadium, then, is just the thing people sit in to watch the action on the pitch — and all of this happens at the football ground.

But I have heard another, subtler way of looking at it. I asked someone today about where to eat down by the Crystal Palace stadium, and she said I should use football ground instead. Her explanation was that Sulhurst Park, home of Crystal Palace, is a football ground because it is a place in a neighborhood. So, for example, although she is not a football fan, she knows exactly where Selhurst Park is, and she can use it as a reference point or landmark.

The Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal FC, from a flight into London. Not exactly on a high street.

“Something like the Emirates,” she said, “now that’s a stadium.” Seems the thinking goes like this: a ground isn’t as grand or modern as a stadium, and it’s rooted to a part of town — indeed is part of the community. But a stadium like The Emirates is something recently built, with nothing else around it really. Another person in the conversation said, “Right, so Wembley is a stadium, but Selhurst Park is a football ground.”

Maybe the best way to explain this is that a football ground is a place you might walk past on a non gameday, to get a pint or something. But you would never, in your ordinary life, just find yourself walking past a stadium like Wembley or the Emirates.

At least, I think that’s how it is. For now.

Written By Paul Gerald
Paul Gerald, Owner and Founder of Groundhopper Soccer Guides · Profile
Paul is a traveler, writer, publisher and soccer freak. He started Groundhopper Soccer Guides as EnglishSoccerGuide.com in 2014. When he's not kicking around England working on this site and his book, you can find him at Providence Park in Portland, cheering on the Portland Timbers.

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