​Football has a long and rich history, dating back to the mid 19th Century. 

With each passing year, the beautiful game has evolved and developed, but the foundations remain the same. 

Due to the current coronavirus crisis resulting in lockdown, football clubs have been treating their fans to match rewinds from glorious games gone by to keep them content until the game is able to resume. But Crystal Palace opted to take a slightly different route on Tuesday.

Instead, they decided to come out and claim that they are the ​world's oldest professional club after 'new' research had surfaced. While the majority believed Palace had been formed in 1905, the club now explain that it was actually formed in 1861. 

The club were believed to have disbanded in 1876 and didn't reform until 1905, but the south London club state they did not close as footballers and, instead, carried on playing cricket until football was brought back. 

But as Palace have explained themselves, this is just a 'claim' right now, and it can be considered perhaps slightly farfetched to completely ignore the fact the club didn't reform until 1905. 

However, we at 90min have decided to pull together a list of the oldest professional football clubs in the world....

Spoiler: this list doesn't include Crystal Palace...

Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, Hearts, Hamilton Academical (1874)


In ​Aston Villa's first game after being formed in 1874, they agreed to play the first half (against a rugby team) following the rules of rugby, before being able to play the second half under the rules of football. Villa have gone on to achieve great success, winning the FA Cup and First Division on seven occasions each. 

​Bolton, meanwhile, were also founded in 1874 but it was their inability to find a home that led to their name 'Wanderers'. Nonetheless, they did eventually find their home in the Football League, although they have experienced difficulties along the way. 

As for Hearts, a group of friends initially started out playing a mix of rugby and football - like Aston Villa. But after watching the more conventional game being played in late 1873, they decided to follow suit. Hearts' exact date of establishment is still a topic of debate, with some claiming that it was formed in 1873. 

Another Scottish outfit, Hamilton, were also formed the same year and this one is slightly less contested. The club has had its ups and downs since its establishment, but they have retained their spot in Scotland's top flight since the 2014/15 campaign. Hamilton are also the only British football club to have been formed from a school football team. 

Rangers (1872)

Rangers FC v Sporting Braga - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: First Leg

A club filled with history, pride and success, Rangers were formed by four founders in March 1872. 

But after suffering liquidation in 2012, they were forced to work their way back up to the top from the third division in Scotland. Due to the finer details, some have claimed that the club's history has been broken. Despite this, the SPFL have insisted that the club remain the same as in the past - ensuring their history remains intact. 

Reading (1871)

Reading v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship

Before ​Reading adopted the nickname of the Royals, they were actually referred to as the Biscuitmen - with biscuits one of the biggest trades in the area. 

Winners of the ​Championship in the 2005/06 and 2011/12 seasons, Reading have taken up their place in the Premier League since its introduction. But they haven't featured since the 2012/13 campaign and are now desperate to get themselves back into the top division.

Kilmarnock (1869)

Kilmarnock v Celtic - Scottish Ladbrokes Premiership

Kilmarnock was formed in January of 1869 after a group of cricketers were keen to take up another sport during their down time. After agreeing to set up the football club, the group also initially started out playing the game in a way with clear similarities to the sport of rugby - hence the name Rugby Park Stadium. 

Ultimately, however, the foundations were set and Killie are regarded as the oldest professional club in Scotland. They have continued to grow in stature, and have occupied a space in the top division since 1993/94. 

Sheffield Wednesday, Queen's Park FC (1867)

Hillsborough Stadium - Sheffield Wednesday Football Club

​Sheffield Wednesday started out as 'the Wednesday Cricket Club' and while there is some debate as to when it was formed, it is believed to be around 1820. But why is it called Wednesday I hear you ask. Well, it was on Wednesday's that the founding members were granted their day off from work. 

In September 1867, they agreed to form a football club, and this rapidly grew in popularity. Wednesday currently occupy a spot in the Championship, with their last piece of silverware coming back in 1991.

As for Queen's Park, they set the foundations in Scotland for football along with Kilmarnock, forming in 1867. Winning ten Scottish Cups in the 19th Century, Queen's Park were the dominant force, but success became harder to come by as they continued to stick to their philosophy of playing 'for the sake of playing.'

This meant they continued to be a fully amateur side, but they take up their place on this list as this changed in November of 2019 as they agreed to go professional after 152 years. 

It's quite the story. 

Nottingham Forest (1865)

Nottingham Forest v Newcastle United - Carabao Cup Second Round

​Nottingham Forest's date of formation has been the topic of much discussion, with some claiming it was created a few years later than 1865. But nonetheless, there is sufficient evidence to suggest Forest were formed then. 

In the early years, the club were renowned for being charitable and this is backed up by the fact they helped the likes of Liverpool, ​Arsenal and Brighton to establish themselves - notably handing the Gunners red kits to help.

Forest have a rich and impressive history, having won the European Cup twice in the past, but they currently sit in the Championship after two decades out of the limelight.

Stoke City (1863)

Stoke City v Swansea City - Sky Bet Championship

Originally known as the Stoke Ramblers, Stoke were formed in 1863 but didn't actually play their first game until 1868. 

One of the founding members of the Football League, the Potters led the way in developing the beautiful game. The club achieved promotion to the ​Premier League in 2008 for the first time, and this was led by the great (??) Tony Pulis. 

Tracksuit on, white trainer shoelaces done up tight and cap to go with it, Pulis helped Stoke cement their place in the top flight before departing in 2013 - though those lofty days seem a million miles away right now.

Notts County (1862)

Notts County v Grimsby Town - Sky Bet League Two

Despite what Crystal Palace say, Notts County are undisputedly the oldest professional football club in the world. 

Forming in 1862, they were one of the 12 founder members of the Football League, a competition they dramatically fell out of in 2019.

While Notts County may be plying their trade way down in England's fifth tier these days, it was their black and white stripe jerseys which inspired Juventus to adopt a similar style of kit in 1903. 

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