Watching soccer in England is a truly enjoyable experience. I’ve done quite a lot of it myself, making it to 69 clubs and seeing 126 games.
Along the way, I have learned a few things, which I would like to share here. If you’d like to know more and perhaps get my help in planning your English soccer adventures, get in touch with me about my English Soccer Guide consulting services.
Updated: February 2020
Villa Park in Birmingham
When is the English soccer season?
The season runs from August to early May. In the summer, many clubs tour the US as part of their preseason training and exhibition season. Others will have some preseason "friendlies" in the UK in July.
Which leagues and competitions are there?
The Premier League is the one you’ve almost certainly heard of; that’s where you find Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool etc. Beneath that level, there are three more fully professional leagues, known collectively as the English Football League, or EFL. They are called the Championship, League One, and League Two.
Throughout the year there are also Cup and League competitions that overlap the regular league seasons. The FA Cup is a tournament for all clubs in England. The EFL Cup (aka League Cup or Carabao Cup) is for all professional clubs. The EFL Trophy is for some smaller professional clubs. The Champions League is a European championship. The Europa League is a lesser European championship.
For an explanation of how all this works, including how teams move from one league to another, read this much longer post.
How can I find out when and where the games are?
Here are the links to each fixtures list:
- Premier League
- League One
- League Two
- FA Cup
- EFL Cup (known as the Carabao Cup this year for sponsorship reasons)
- EFL Trophy (known as the Papa John's Trophy for sponsorship reasons)
For the London area, I recommend a great blog called The London Football Guide. This covers the many amateur clubs, as well.
Why are there some weeks with no league games?
Generally that’s because of an International Break, when players go home to play for their home countries. It could also be due to a big weekend of Cup fixtures. Here is a list of all the international breaks for this season.
Do these schedules change?
Absolutely. The Premier League announces everything for Saturday at 3, then a couple months out many of them get moved to Sunday and Monday for TV. Championship games occasionally go to Friday night. Sometimes a team will advance in a Cup and have to move a league match. Read more about changing schedules.
How do I decide which game to see?
If you’re set on seeing a particular club, then you’ve made your decision. If you just want to see a game, here is my process for deciding which games to go see.
Where should I sit?
If you have a choice on this, it makes all the difference. The short answer is either (A) with the rowdy fans or (B) with a good view of the away fans. Here's more.
Is it safe? Are hooligans going to kill me?
No. You can find the rowdies if you'd like, but seeing games in England is perfectly safe.
How can I find out more about each club?
How do I get tickets?
For leagues other than the Premier League, you can almost always get them straight from the club’s website. For the Premier League, for almost any club you’ve ever heard of, you will probably need to buy a club membership. Even then, it could be tough. Getting more than two together is virtually impossible.
I have a whole post about this. I also have separate posts on some of the bigger clubs:
You can also look into getting a (luxurious and expensive) hospitality package.
When do tickets go on sale?
Generally about six weeks before the game.
If my trip is truly soccer-focused, as opposed to just working a game into my schedule, when is a good time to go?
What does all this cost?
It varies, of course, but I have a whole post about this.
What’s a good place to get started?
Much of this same material is covered in my post called Planning a Trip to Watch Soccer in England? Here Are Some Starter Tips.
What if I want some more detailed, directed help – like from the author of all this?
Buy The Book
Written by an American who has seen more than 100 games all over the UK, The Groundhopper's Guide is like a well-informed friend who has been there and done it, and now want to help you do the same.