The English Premier League is without doubt the most coveted football league in the World, and many of the clubs favoured by fans at home and abroad reside in London. Nowadays, with Premiership football home to some of the biggest names on the planet, teams are always looking to improve, and this includes the quality and capacity of the stadiums too.
There are plenty of grand stadiums to take a tour through in the capital, the most recent of which is Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, seeing in its first season in 2006-2007.
Arsenal – The Emirates
Arsenal is a club steeped in English football history, and with the new stadium up and running for some five full seasons, there is plenty to admire on both a historical and an architectural scale as you take a tour through one of London’s most reputable clubs. Indeed, the Emirates has been hailed as one of the most innovatively designed stadiums in recent history and as a consequence has become a major tourist attraction in the capital.
An Emirates tour will bring you to heart of Arsenal Football Club, with exposure to the club’s match day changing rooms along with a walk down the tunnel to the pitch. There are plenty of state-of-the-art facilities to be marvelled at, from the director’s box to the press conference room, not forgetting the Arsenal Museum, with shirts from past heroes and interactive shows outlining the club’s star-studded history in great depth.
Prices range from £12-£15 for adults and £6-£8 for children under-16, depending on peak and off-peak season. Children under-5 are allowed in for free. Group bookings also available, with tours by Arsenal legends a distinct possibility.
Chelsea – Stamford Bridge
With billionaire owner Roman Abramovich bringing a whole host of international superstars to Chelsea Football Club, success has surely followed and thus a tour of Stamford Bridge is a great day out for many a football fan.
A trip around Chelsea’s home will offer fans and tourists an unrivalled insight into their history, starting with the Chelsea Museum, an interactive audio-visual treat which acts as a tribute to over 100 years of Chelsea history. Further to that, there are knowledgeable tour guides to walk you through the club’s transition over the years, and into the home dressing room along with the ceremonial walk down the tunnel. In addition, there are even educational classes for those with a vested interest in the behind-the-scenes goings on regarding match-day operations.
Prices vary, with discounts available if pre-booked, but range from £18 for adults, £12 for kids and £54 for a family of four. Under-5s go in free. Kids’ parties can also be arranged subject to confirmation.
Tottenham Hotspur – White Hart Lane
Spurs are a well-established club in the top tier of English football and a tour through White Hart Lane is sure to satisfy even the most fervent and passionate supporter.
You will experience the technical area, the dug outs and the Press auditorium. You will view trophies and iconic items in the museum and hall of fame that illustrate the rich history behind Tottenham Hotspur. Subject to availabilities, you may even be given an access all areas tour by the likes of Pat Jennings.
Prices depend on whether you’re a member or not, generally ranging from £16 for adults to £37 for a family of four.
Fulham – Craven Cottage
A now proven Premier League team, Fulham is also London’s oldest football club. They have certainly come a long way from scouring the lower reaches of the football divisions ten years ago, and a tour in and around the stadium will elucidate that fact.
Stepping into Fulham’s hospitable home will bring you an insight into the club’s history, beginning with a jaunt through its pitch side dug-outs to the box of owner Mohammed Al-Fayed. Afterwards you may take in the team’s changing rooms and facilities and the trophy lounge. The latest addition to the format is a mini-tour of the recently erected statue of Michael Jackson, should you wish to mix things up a bit!
Prices are as follows:
£38 for adults
£19 for children under-12
£9.95 for under-5s
Queen’s Park Rangers – Loftus Road
The most recent addition to the Premier League but with glamorous Italian F1 owners to match their newly-found status, QPR is very much a club on the up. The Loftus Road experience takes you into the lesser-seen parts of QPR.
In an hour you will transported down the players’ tunnel, dressing room and dug-out, whilst also experiencing the executive room and QPR boutique. Prices are £10 for adults and £5 for juniors (season ticket holders) and booking times vary every day.
There is a plethora of drinking establishments for the enthusiastic football fan in Sunderland, and away fans are particularly well catered for. Here is a selection of the best pubs near the Stadium of Light.
The Harbour View
If you want to make a proper day of it and get a good lunch (and some excellent real ales) first, The Harbour View, on the seafront, comes highly recommended.The Harbour View Harbour View Sunderland SR6 0NU 0191 561 1402
Yates’s, The William Jameson
Two chain pubs – Yates’s in the city centre and The William Jameson Wetherspoons – are also good value for money (and atmosphere).Yates’s 3-4 Burdon Road Sunderland SR1 1QB 0191 567 1649 The William Jameson 30-32 Fawcett Street Sunderland SR1 1RH 0191 514 5016
Sunderland Companions’ Club, The New Democratic Club
Closer to the stadium, The Sunderland Companions’ Club and The New Democratic Club are both very welcoming to away fans and offer an entertaining ambience.The Sunderland Companions’ Club 39-41 North Bridge Street Sunderland SR5 1AH 0191 565 9255 The New Democratic Club 34 North Bridge Street Sunderland SR5 1AH 0191 510 1915
You might not believe it, but it is just two years since Liverpool was European Capital of Culture. If you’re interested in getting your own taste of Scouse life, Everton-style, look no further than the following away-friendly pubs on your Everton away day.
The Head of Steam
Fans visiting Goodison tend to recommend pubs in Liverpool city centre, rather than those nearer the stadium. Having said that, the pubs nearest Lime Street station are best avoided, with one or two exceptions. The Head of Steam, located at the station itself, is away-friendly and CAMRA-listed. It also has a big screen for matches.The Head of Steam 7 Lime Street Liverpool L1 1RJ 0151 707 9559
The Thomas Frost
A few pubs closer to the stadium are worth mentioning. As a member of the vast Wetherspoons chain, The Thomas Frost offers a reliable and respectable range of beers, ciders and other drinks. On match days it can be rather busy; queues of 10 minutes or more are common.The Thomas Frost 177-187 Walton Road Walton Liverpool L4 4AJ 0151 207 8210
The Spellow is a fairly ordinary but pleasant pub with two bars, serving a few bitters and a few lagers. Sneakily, prices go up on match days.The Spellow 79 Goodison Road Walton Liverpool L4 4EN 07545 474 961
Their football team haven’t been in the top league for absolutely yonks, so you could be forgiven for not knowing the best haunts in the seaside town of Blackpool. But fret not; MATCHhotels.com has got just the guide for you.
The Old Bridge
The Old Bridge is one of Blackpool’s better pubs, and comes highly recommended. The staff are friendly and the atmosphere is great. It’s also a stone’s throw from the stadium.The Old Bridge 124 Lytham Road Blackpool FY1 6DZ 01253 403 354
The Swift Hound
The Swift Hound in Festival Park is an example to football fans everywhere, with home and away supporters mixing happily.The Swift Hound Borough Park Rigby Road Blackpool FY1 5EP 01253 299 108
The Auctioneer, near Blackpool South station, is an unremarkable but reliable Wetherspoons: expect cheap beer and decent, cheap food.The Auctioneer 235-237 Lytham Road Blackpool FY1 6ET 01253 346412
If you’re planning an away trip to see Birmingham’s second side, take a look at our list of friendly pubs for peace of mind.
There are quite a few good away-friendly pubs around St Andrew’s, including The Wellington on Bennetts Hill, an award-winning pub with at least 16 ales on at any one time.The Wellington 37 Bennetts Hill Birmingham B2 5SN 0121 200 3115
The Anchor Inn
Another is The Anchor Inn, a four-time Birmingham CAMRA (www.camra.org.uk) Pub of the Year.The Anchor Inn 308 Bradford Street Digbeth Birmingham B5 6ET 0121 622 4516
The Briar Rose
There is also The Briar Rose, a perfectly acceptable Wetherspoons with the usual wide selection of drinks.The Briar Rose 25 Bennetts Hill Birmingham B2 5RE 0121 634 8100
The Cricketers Arms
For convenience try The Cricketers Arms, the closest pub to the ground for away fans.The Cricketers Arms 48 Little Green Lane Small Heath Birmingham B9 5AX 0121 772 7797
Any Blackpool or Sunderland fans off to Anfield to see your team face Liverpool in the next couple of weeks? Follow our guide to find out where to get a drink in before the football.
The traditional away pub near Anfield is The Arkles. It pays to get in early as it gets uncomfortably busy after noon.The Arkles 77 Anfield Road Liverpool L4 0TJ 0151 263 9496
The Flat Iron
The Flat Iron on Anfield Road is popular too, and only five minutes from the ground. Home fans frequent the pub, but the atmosphere is friendly.The Flat Iron 375-377 Walton Breck Road Liverpool L4 0SY 0151 263 4440
The Thomas Frost, The Spellow
The Thomas Frost and The Spellow, both recommended for fans travelling to Goodison Park, are close to Anfield too.The Thomas Frost 177-187 Walton Road Walton Liverpool L4 4AJ 0151 207 8210 The Spellow 79 Goodison Road Walton Liverpool L4 4EN 07545 474 961
OK, so they’ve spent roughly £765 million gagillion this summer, but you’ve still got a chance against Man City, surely? Maybe? Look, if you can’t face it, there’s always the pub. Here’s where you should go…
The Bradford Inn
The best bet for away fans is The Bradford Inn, although, as you might expect, it is very busy on match days.The Bradford Inn 112-114 Bradford Road Manchester M40 7AS 0161 205 7853
Mary D’s Beamish Bar
Mary D’s Beamish Bar doesn’t look like much, but it’s a popular sports bar quite close to the City of Manchester Stadium which has been recommended by away fans in the past.Mary D’s Beamish Bar 13 Grey Mare Lane Manchester M11 3DQ 0161 223 0687
The Seven Stars
The Seven Stars, a Lloyds No1 Bar (aka Wetherspoons) in the city centre’s Printworks, offers the usual cheap drinks and is only a five-minute taxi ride to the stadium.The Seven Stars 6-8 Dantzic Street Manchester M4 2BS 0161 817 2980
Making the trip to see your side face Bolton? Follow our advice and get the most from your pre-match pint.
The Bromilow Arms
Like most Premiership football grounds, the majority of pubs in the immediate vicinity are for home supporters only on match days. However, The Bromilow Arms is a bit of gem: located just a few minutes from the Reebok, it offers a good selection of reasonably priced ales, served up by friendly staff. Home and away fans mix quite happily. The only downside is that it can get very busy as it is quite small.The Bromilow Arms Lostock Lane Lostock Bolton BL6 4BP 01204 697 541
Just up the road is The Barnstormers, which has benefited from a recent refurbishment. It is modern, clean and serves good, fairly priced food.The Barnstormers Lostock Lane Lostock Bolton BL6 4BL 01204 691 797
The Beehive, also just a few minutes’ walk away from the stadium, is a Grade II Listed former coach station serving a decent selection of beers. If you fancy staying over, there is a Premier Inn right next door.The Beehive 991 Chorley New Road Lostock Bolton BL6 4BA 01204 692 104
Off to see your team play Blackburn? Liven up your trip to the north-west using our foolproof pub guide.
The Fernhurst Lodge
The Fernhurst Lodge is the traditional away pub for football fans, opposite the Darwen end of the stadium. They have a large screen for the football and serve good food.The Fernhurst Lodge 466 Bolton Road Blackburn BB2 4JP 01254 693 451
The Navigation Inn
The Navigation Inn is a good choice for any fans arriving at Mill Hill station, as it is on the way to the stadium. There is a friendly mix of home and away supporters.The Navigation Inn 2 Canal Street Blackburn BB2 4DL 01254 53230
The Golden Cup Inn
The Golden Cup Inn can be very busy on match days, but it’s a pleasant, comfortable pub with a village feel.The Golden Cup Inn 610 Blackburn Road Darwen BB3 0AJ
Scared about your rickety full backs facing Aston Villa‘s Ashley Young and Gabby Agbonlahor? Follow our pub guide and settle your nerves with a drink beforehand.
The Bartons Arms
Alcohol is not available in the away end at Villa Park, so if you want a drink it’ll have to be outside the ground. Fortunately there are some great pubs not too far away, in particular The Bartons Arms. A 15 minute walk from the ground, it is one of the best pubs in Birmingham, located in a Grade II Listed building. The range of Oakham cask ales is excellent, as is the food.The Bartons Arms 144 High Street Aston Birmingham B6 4UP 0121 333 5988
The Witton Arms
Another option is Witton Arms (formerly The Cap and Gown), which is very accommodating to away fans – on match days, the pub is split in two and away supporters get a dedicated entrance. There is, however, an entry charge of £2.The Witton Arms 458 Witton Road Aston Birmingham B6 6SN