English Premier League History

Posted on July 26, 2009. Filed under: Premier League | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

League Overview

The English Premier League is known officially known as the Barclays Premier League (for sponsorship reasons), and often referred to as The Premiership. It falls under the hierarchy of the English Football Association, and is a professional league for the country’s top clubs, and the country’s main football competition. There are currently 20 clubs in the league, with each team playing 28 games. The season runs from August to May, with the club that finishes top of the league being crowned as champions and gaining an automatic entry into the Champions League. Clubs finishing 2-4 are also entered into various European competitions, with additional places available depending on UEFA coefficients. Clubs finishing in the bottom three places are automatically relegated.

League Ranking

UEFA League ranking : 2nd


The birth of the Premier League followed on from a very poor 1980s in English football, and the events that succeeded it. Stadiums and facilities were in very poor condition, and the enigma of the “English hooligan” was at its peak, with fights and racist chants prevalent around the country. Additionally, English clubs had been banned from Europe for 5 years following the death of 39 fans in Heysel at the 1985 European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus. There was also the Hillsborough disaster where 96 Liverpool fans died, and in general there was a great dissatisfaction at the state of English football both inside and outside the country. At the time, the “First Division” had been the top level of English football, but it was far behind the level of Italy’s Serie A or Spain’s La Liga. Contrary to the present state of affairs, it was the top English players who were going to the foreign clubs. Something needed to be done, and it began with the post-Hillsborough Taylor report, where stadiums were now required to be all-seaters. Not only was this expensive, but it also reduced the money to be received from gate revenues, and so football started to look for money from external sources. Ten First Division clubs contemplated breaking away to form a “super league”, but eventually were persuaded to stay. But television money, and improved stadiums and facilities saw interest and finance in the game rise, and the threat of a breakaway came once again. The response to that, also taking into consideration the altogether unattractive nature of the first division, was a proposal for the establishment of a new league in 1991 that would bring more money into the game, and allow teams to compete with the rest of Europe and attract talent from around the world, something which was unthinkable at the time. So on 27th May 1992, after several First Division clubs had resigned from the Football League, and the FA Premier League was registered as a privately-held, limited company at the Football Association’s headquarters. The Premier League would be financially independent of the FA, and thereby able to negotiate its own contracts for sponsorship and television rights. This also meant that the structure of the 104 year-old Football Association had to be changed. Previously comprised of four divisions, it now consisted of just three, with the First, Second and Third Divisions being pushed down a tier, the Premier League placed at the top, and the Fourth Division being scrapped. The competition format hence more or less remained the same, with systems of promotion and relegation remaining as before. Although now consisting of 20 clubs, the Premiership then remained faithful to the old First Division format of 22 clubs, and it was the following 22 teams that provided the competition in the inaugural English Premier League season of 1992/93: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Wimbledon.

League Format

The Barclays Premier League currently consists of 20 teams that play each other twice a season (home and away), amounting to 38 games in a season. A proposed idea for a 39th game to be played overseas has been shelved for the moment. The bottom three teams in the Premiership are automatically relegated to the Coca Cola Championship, and are replaced by top two teams in the Championship along with a third (the winner of a playoff between teams 4-6). The team finishing first in the Premiership wins the title, and gains automatic entry into the group stages of the following year’s Champions League. At present, the second placed team also gains automatic entry, with the 3rd and 4th placed teams entering into the qualifiers for the Champions League, and the 5th placed team getting a UEFA Cup entry. However these are determined by UEFA coefficients that change from time-to-time depending on how a country has performed. The 6th place team may also earn a UEFA Cup spot depending on the outcome of domestic cup finals, and other teams might also try to gain entry through the InterToto Cup and the Fair Play Table.

League Trophies

The Barclays Premiership trophy is an interesting looking cup, with a gold-plated, crowned top, and gold-plated lions atop either handle. It is arguably the most prestigious trophy in English football, although some people consider the FA Cup to be worth more because of its rich tradition and history. Manchester United currently hold the record for the most titles with 9. They won the very first season of the Premiership in 1992/93, and after a dry spell of 3 years, they reclaimed it last season (2006/07). They are also the only team to have achieved three titles back-to-back from 1998-2001, as well as the prestigious “Treble” in 1999 (winning the Premiership, Champions League and FA Cup in the same season). Arsenal have the second highest number of trophies with 3, and have done the “Double” in 1998 and 2002 (winning the Premier League and FA Cup in the same season). They have also set numerous records along the way – in 2002, they completed their league campaign without losing a single game away from home. In 2004 they went a step better and won the league without losing a single game, and went on to set an unbeaten run of 49 consecutive games from May 2003 to October 2004.

Recognition and Awards

Most League Goals of All Time

Ranking Player Games Goals First Match Last Match
1 Alan Shearer 441 260 1992 2006
2 Andrew Cole 401 187 1993 2008
3 Thierry Henry 254 174 2000 2007
4 Robbie Fowler 373 163 1992 2007
5 Les Ferdinand 368 149 1992 2005
6 Teddy Sheringham 415 146 1992 2007
7 Michael Owen 252 131 1997
8 Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 288 127 1997 2007
9 Dwight Yorke 377 123 1992
10 Ian Wright 213 113 1992 1999

Most League Appearances

Ranking Player # Appearances
1 Gary Speed 536
2 David James 507
3 Ryan Giggs 488
4 Sol Campbell 447
5 Alan Shearer 441
6 Gareth Southgate 426
7 Teddy Sheringham 418
8 Andrew Cole 414
9 Paul Scholes 398
10 Emile Heskey 397

League Management

Premier League Chairman: Sir Dave Richards
FA Chairman: Lord Triesman


Barclays Bank

Media Coverage

Broadcasting rights (2007-2010):
Sky – 92 matches – £1,314 million
Setanta – 46 matches – £392 million

Read more about Premier League

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