History of the English Premier League
William McGregor statue © Action Images
What is now known as the English Premier League
has its roots in an earlier league, called the Football League, which
was originally founded in 1888.
The Football League, also known as the npower Football League
for sponsorship reasons, is a league competition featuring professional
association football clubs from England and Wales.
Founded in 1888, it
is the oldest such competition in world football. It was the top level
football league in England from its foundation until 1992.
Since 1995 it has had 72 clubs evenly divided into three
divisions, which are currently known as The Championship, League One
and League Two. Promotion and relegation between these divisions is a
central feature of the League and is further extended to allow the top
Championship clubs to exchange places with the lowest placed clubs in
the Premier League.
A director of Aston Villa, William McGregor, was the first to
set out to bring some order to a chaotic world where clubs arranged
their own fixtures. On March 2, 1888, he wrote to the committee of his
own club, Aston Villa, as well as to those of Blackburn Rovers, Bolton
Wanderers, Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion, suggesting the
creation of a league competition that would provide a number of
guaranteed fixtures for its member clubs each season.
The first meeting was held at Anderson's Hotel in London on
March 23, 1888, on the eve of the FA Cup Final. The Football League was
formally created and named in Manchester at a further meeting on April
17 at the Royal Hotel.
In 1992, the First Division clubs resigned from the Football
League to take advantage of a lucrative television rights deal and on
May 27, 1992, the Premier League as we know it today was formed.
This meant a break-up of the 104-year-old Football League that
had operated until then with four divisions; the Premier League would
operate with a single division and the Football League with three.
There was no change in competition format; the same number of
teams competed in the top flight, and promotion and relegation between
the Premier League and the new First Division remained on the same
terms as between the old First and Second Divisions.
The 22 inaugural members of the new Premier League were
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.
A total of 43 clubs have played in the Premier League from its
inception in 1992 until the end of the 2009/10 season. Two other clubs
(Luton Town and Notts County) were signatories to the original
agreement that created the Premier League, but were relegated prior to
the inaugural Premier League season and have not subsequently returned
to the top flight.
Seven clubs have been members of the Premier League for every
season since its inception. This group is composed of Arsenal, Aston
Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham
Due to insistence by Fifa that domestic leagues reduce the
number of games clubs played, the number of clubs was reduced to 20 in
1995 when four teams were relegated from the league and only two teams
On June 8, 2006, Fifa requested that all major European
leagues, including Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga be reduced to 18
teams by the start of the 2007/08 season. The Premier League responded
by announcing their intention to resist such a reduction. Ultimately,
the 2007/08 season kicked off again with 20 teams.
The league changed its name from the FA Premier League to
simply the Premier League in 2007.
At the inception of the Premier League in 1992/93, just 11
players named in the starting line-ups for the first round of matches
were 'foreign' (players hailing from outside of the United Kingdom or
Republic of Ireland).
By 2000/01, the number of foreign players participating in the
Premier League was 36 per cent. In the 2004/05 season the figure had
increased to 45 per cent. On December 26, 1999, Chelsea became the
first Premier League side to field an entirely foreign starting
line-up, and on February 14, 2005, Arsenal were the first to name a
completely foreign 16-man squad for a match.
No English manager has won the Premier League; the five
managers to have won the title comprise two Scots (Alex Ferguson
(Manchester United, 11 wins) and Kenny Dalglish (Blackburn Rovers, one
win), a Frenchman (Arsène Wenger, Arsenal, three wins), an Italian
(Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea, one win), and a Portuguese (José Mourinho,
Chelsea, two wins).
The record transfer fee for a Premier League has been broken
several times over the lifetime of the competition.
Prior to the start of the first Premier League season, Alan
Shearer became the first British player to command a transfer fee of
more than £3 million. The record rose steadily in the Premier League's
first few seasons, until Alan Shearer made a world record breaking £15
million move to Newcastle United in 1996.
This stood as a British record for four years until it was
eclipsed by the £18 million Leeds paid West Ham for Rio Ferdinand.
Manchester United subsequently broke the record three times by signing
Ruud van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastián Verón and Rio Ferdinand.
Chelsea broke the record in May 2006, when they signed Andriy
Shevchenko, from AC Milan. The exact figure of the transfer fee was not
disclosed, but was reported as being around £30 million. This was
eclipsed by Manchester City's transfer of Robinho from Real Madrid on
September 1, 2008 for £32.5 million. The Robinho transfer remains the
largest ever paid by a Premier League club.
The record transfer in the sport's history had a Premier
League club on the selling end, with Manchester United accepting an £80
million bid from Real Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.
David James holds the record for the most Premier League
appearances, overtaking the previous record held by Gary Speed of 535
appearances in February 2009.
The first ever Premier League goal was scored by Brian Deane
of Sheffield United in a 2–1 win against Manchester United.
The Premier League has been sponsored since 1993. The sponsor
has been able to determine the league's sponsorship name. The table
below details who the sponsors have been and what they called the
Television has played a major role in the history of the
Premier League. The money from television rights has been vital in
helping to create excellence both on and off the field. The League's
decision to assign broadcasting rights to BSkyB in 1992 was at the time
a radical decision, but one that has paid off.
At the time pay television was an almost untested proposition
in the UK market, as was charging fans to watch live televised
football. However, a combination of Sky's strategy, the quality of
Premier League football and the public's appetite for the game has seen
the value of the Premier League's TV rights soar.
The Premier League sells its television rights on a
collective basis. This is in contrast to some European Leagues,
including Serie A and La Liga, in which each club sells its rights
individually, leading to a much higher share of the total income going
to the top few clubs.
The money is divided into three parts: half is divided equally
between the clubs; one quarter is awarded on a merit basis based on
final league position, the top club getting twenty times as much as the
bottom club, and equal steps all the way down the table; the final
quarter is paid out as facilities fees for games that are shown on
television, with the top clubs generally receiving the largest shares
of this. The income from overseas rights is divided equally between the
Sky's monopoly was broken from August 2006 when Setanta Sports
was awarded rights to show two out of the six packages of matches
available. This occurred following an insistence by the European
Commission that exclusive rights should not be sold to one television
Sky and Setanta paid a total of £1.7 billion, a two-thirds
increase which took many commentators by surprise as it had been widely
assumed that the value of the rights had levelled off following many
years of rapid growth.
On 22 June 2009, due to the troubles encountered by Setanta
Sports after it failed to meet a final deadline over a £30 million
payment to the Premier League, ESPN was awarded the two packages of UK
rights containing a total of 46 matches that were available for the
2009/10 season as well as a package of 23 matches per season from
2010/11 to 2012/13.
For the inaugural season of the Premier League, clubs were
obliged to supply their own match balls, which were usually provided by
the clubs' kit manufacturers. In 1993, the Premier League came to an
agreement with Mitre for them to supply the league's teams with their
match balls. Mitre supplied balls to the Premier League for seven
years, starting with the Mitre Pro Max (1993–1995) and then the Mitre
The 2000/01 season saw Nike take over as match ball supplier,
introducing the Nike Geo Merlin ball, which had been used in the UEFA
Champions League. The Geo Merlin was used for four seasons before being
replaced by the Nike Total 90 Aerow, which ran for another two seasons.
The 2004/05 season also saw the introduction of a yellow
"Hi-Vis" ball for use in the winter months. Next came the Nike Total 90
Aerow II, which featured an asymmetrical design to help players judge
the flight and spin of the ball.
For the 2008/09 season, the official ball of the Premier
League was the Nike Total 90 Omni, which featured yet another pattern
in dark red and yellow and a modified panel design, and was replaced by
the Nike T90 Ascente for the 2009/10 season, with blue, yellow and
orange trim, and for 2010/11 by the T90 TRACER, and will be electric
blue, black and white trim.
TOP SCORERS IN
THE PREMIER LEAGUE (PREMIER LEAGUE ONLY)
| Thierry Henry
| Robbie Fowler
| Les Ferdinand
| Dwight Yorke
Manchester United became the first team to have scored 1 000
goals in the league after Cristiano Ronaldo scored in a 4–1 defeat of
Middlesbrough in the 2005/06 season. Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are
the only other teams to have reached the 1 000-goal mark.
The highest-scoring match to date in the Premier League
occurred on September 29, 2007, when Portsmouth beat Reading 7–4. Five
goals is the record individual scoring total for a player in a single
Premier League game, and as of November 2009, only three players had
achieved this feat, Andy Cole first, followed by Alan Shearer and then
Jermain Defoe. Only Ryan Giggs of Manchester United has scored in all
18 Premier League seasons.