English Premier League

Premier League logoThe English Premier League (EPL) is a professional European football league that has evolved out of The Football League First Division that had remained England’s premier competition since 1888.


Beginning in 1992-3 the inception of the Premier League (its common moniker) marked a turning point in English football and the movement away from the hooliganism, violence and struggling clubs that marred the 1980’s. Under First Division status, the league’s disrepair got so bad that sides were banned from competing in European competitions for five years.

At the close of the 1991 season a proposal was put forth to increase investment and encourage funding for the league overall. Referred to as the Founding Members Agreement, this proposal set up the basic principles of the FA Premier League – notably giving the league licence to negotiate its own broadcast and sponsorship agreements.

In 1992 the First Division clubs left en mass marking the end of a 104 year old venture. The 1992-3 season began with 22 clubs competing in the league’s inaugural year however, it was reduced to 20 teams in 1995 with FIFA pressures cited as the reason for the restructuring.

The EPL season spans from August to May, with teams competing in 38 games – playing each other twice in a double round-robin format. Sides are awarded three points for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss. The team with the most points, or in the event of a draw the greatest goal differential, is awarded the title at the end of each season. The sides with the lowest points score are relegated to the lower division.

The 20 competing clubs act as shareholders, with each club awarded one vote in matters of decision-making. Franchises also elect a chairman, chief executive officer and board to oversee the functioning of the competition. Under this structure the competition has evolved as the most lucrative football competition in the world with total club revenues totalling $3.56 billion in 2009-10.

The competition is also broadcast to a growing audience of 600 million across 200 countries. Such exposure has caused some to label the competition ‘the greatest show on earth’. The EPL, however (and in spite of such a widespread following), is not without criticism.

The 2000’s ‘big four dominance’ referring to consistent high finishes by Manchester United, Arsenal F.C., Liverpool F.C. and Chelsea F.C. has drawn opprobrium for threatening the competition by making it mostly uncontested. To date, Manchester United has won 13 titles since 1992.

In recent years however, the ‘big four dominance’ has come from other clubs including Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, partially quelling discourse of competition threat.

Last updated: 6 August, 2018