Genesis of the English Premier League

Sports & RecreationsSports

  • Author Okechukwu Martins Onuoha
  • Published August 13, 2023
  • Word count 3,671


The English Premier League a.k.a. EPL is one of the most entertaining leagues in the world, started on May 27, 1992. 22 clubs contested for the title. Foot ball, the round-leather game popularly known as football, is well known amongst all who watch and play it.

The English Premier League was created as FA Premier League on 20th February 1992 following the decision of first Division (top-tier league from 1888-1992) clubs.

The EPL started on 20th February 1992. In the early 1990s, English First Division Clubs believed that a thorough reshaping of football was needed if they and, the game in general, were to develop and excel. On July 17, 1991, they signed the Founder Members Agreement, creating the basic principles for building the Premier League. Commercial Independence the League will enjoy from the Football League and the FA, giving it a free hand to arrange its own broadcast and Sponsorship agreement.

EPL is the Sports League with the highest number of viewers globally, as it is shown in over 212 areas to 643 million homes and a likely TV audience of 4.7 billion people. In the 2018-2019 season, each match was having at least 38, 181 attendants, only second to the Bundesliga’s 43,500.

On 20th February 1992, the 22 first-division teams quit the football league in large numbers and after three months, on 27th May, a limited company was born as the Premier League. It got its first Television deal with Pay-Tv broadcaster BSkyB, a brave move at the time, but Sky has been always available and has been a main player in improving the league to its recent status.

The first Premier League campaign started on Saturday 15th August 1992, with 22 clubs. The 22 first 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, Middlesborough, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Shefield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and Wimbledon. Amongst all these, six clubs have not been relegated from the EPL: Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur.

The League had its first season in 1992-1993. It was made up of 22 clubs for that season(brought down to 20 in the 1995-1996 season). The EPL had its goal scored by Brian Dean of Sheffield United in a 2-1 victory over Manchester United. Manchester United were the champions of the first edition of the Premier League, becoming Champions for the first time in twenty-six years. Energized by this achievement, Man United quickly became the EPL’s main team, as it won seven of the first nine trophies of EPL, two League, and F.A. Cup doubles and a European treble, firstly in a combination of fierce players like Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce, Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Erik Cantona, initially, Bruce and Roy Keane captained a young vibrant new team filled with the class of 92, a group of young players that had David Beckham that came from the Man United Academy.

Only fifty-one clubs have participated since the beginning of the Premier League in 1992. Forty-nine of them are English while the remaining two are Welsh clubs. Only seven of them have managed to win the Title: Manchester United(13), Manchester City(7), Chelsea(5), Arsenal(3), Blackburn Rovers(1), Leicester City(1) and Liverpool(1).

At the end of the decade, Man United’s close opponent in the league, Arsenal FC won the League and F.A. Cup double, and these big two won the EPL between themselves in the following 5 years.


In the 2000s came Liverpool, and then Arsenal as main competitors, and Chelsea broke into the top four by winning the EPL in 2004-2005. The top-four Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United dominated, which saw them end at the top of the table for the main part of the decade, which ensured qualification for the UEFA Champions League. The other three clubs that managed to qualify for the Champions League during this period are Newcastle United (2001-02 and 2002-03), Everton (2004-05), and Tottenham Hotspur (2009-10) – every one of them taking the last Champions League place, except Newcastle in the 2002-03 season, that finished third.

In the next 2003-2004 season, Arsenal was nicknamed ‘The Invincibles’ as it emerged for the first time, and to date, the only club to finish the EPL season and not lose a single game.

Within 2005 and 2012, EPL showed its’ presence in seven of the eight Uefa Champions League finals. Leeds United was the only Club outside the Top Four side to get to the semi-finals of the Champions League, in the 2000-01 season. There were three EPL teams in the semi-finals in 2006-07, 2007-08, and 2008-09, an achievement only ever made five times (in line with Seria A in 2002-03 and La Liga in 1999-2000). Furthermore, between the 1999-2000 and 2009-10 seasons, four EPL teams got to the Uefa Cup or Europa League finals, with only Liverpool struggling to win the event in 2001. Arsenal (2000), Middlesbrough (2006), and Fulham(2010) all lost the finals they played in.

Even though the group’s great presence was decreased to a point after this time with the coming up of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, as per all-time Premier League points, they remained top by some points. By the end of the 2021-22 season, the 27th season of the EPL – Liverpool, in fourth place in the all-time points table, was over 30 points ahead of the next team, Tottenham Hotspur. They as well are the only team to have and maintain a winning average of over 50% all through its all-premier league time.


After 2009 was recorded a change in the shape of the Top Four with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City forcing themselves into the top four places on a consistent level, hence moving the Top Four into the Big Six. In the 2009-10 season, Tottenham ended fourth and was the first team to force itself into the top four since Everton five years earlier. Fans talked against the distance between the ‘Super Teams’ and the others of the Premier League has continued, led by their continuous power to spend more than the other Premier League clubs.

Manchester City won the League Title in the 2011-12 season, making it the first club outside the ‘Big Four’ to win since Blackburn Rovers in the 1995-96 season. That season was the same time two of the Big Four(Chelsea and Liverpool) finished outside the top four slots for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

Having only four Uefa Champions League qualifying spaces obtainable in the league, more contesting for qualification now exists, though from a small base of six clubs. The following five seasons after the 2011-12 season, Man United and Liverpool found themselves outside of the top four three times, while Chelsea finished 10th in the 2015-16 season. Arsenal ended 5th in 2016-17, finishing their record run of 20 consistent top-four finishes. Outside the field, the ‘big Six’ show relevant financial power and control, with these clubs of the opinion that they should be given the right to more share of the revenue due to the greater shape of their clubs worldwide and the attractive football they want to play.

People argue and believe that having equal financial structure by all EPL clubs helps to keep a competitive league which is vital for its near progress. The 2016-17 Deloitte Football Money League report showed the financial difference between the Big Six and the rest of the division. Every one of the ‘big six’ had revenues higher than 350 million Pounds, with Manchester having the biggest revenue in the league at 673.3 million Pounds. Leicester City was the closest club to the ‘Big Six’ in terms of revenue, having a figure of 271.1 million Pounds for that season – assisted by their involvement in the Champions League. The eight-largest revenue generator, West Ham – who did not play in European football had revenues of 213.3 million Pounds, less than half of those of the club with the fifth-largest revenue, Liverpool(424.2 million Pounds). A good part of the club’s revenue by then was acquired from the Television broadcast business, and the biggest clubs each taking from around 150 million to nearly 200 million Pounds in the 2016-17 season from such deals. In Deloitte’s 2019 report, all the ‘Big Six’ were in the top Ten of the World’s richest clubs.


From the 2019-20 season, Video Assistant Referees were used in Project Big Picture was pronounced in October 2020 described a plan to bring together top Premier League clubs with the English Football League clubs with the English football league, suggested by leading Premier League clubs Man United and Liverpool. It has been talked against by the Premier League leadership and the UK government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sports.

On 26th April 2021, play was stopped during a match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace to allow players Wesley Fofana and Cheikhou Kouyate to break Ramadan fast. This is arguably the first time a game was stopped to allow Muslim players to break their fast at Sunset.

The 2022-23 season was the first to take a six-week break between November and December 2022 to permit the first winter World Cup, to come back with boxing day games. The EPL players agreed to take a knee only at some chosen ‘remarkable periods’, instead of the normal way before games. The players promised to be committed to removing racial pre-judgment. The season was marked for Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion forcing themselves into the usual ‘big six’, as they ended fourth and sixth separately and, in the order, already mentioned. Though, 2015-16 Champions Leicester City was demoted to the English Championship, emerging as the second league-winning club to be relegated since 1992. The season also saw Arsenal mounting a serious title challenge and leading the table for most of the 2022 – 2023 season only to lose the title to Manchester City on five points difference. Arsenal last mounted a similar serious title challenge in the 2015-16 season, losing the title to surprise Champions, Leicester City.


The EPL has 20 clubs. In a season (from August to May), each club plays other clubs two times (a double round-robin system), one time at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents, for games up to 38. Every team gets three points for a win and a point for a draw. A lost match is awarded no point to the losing team. Clubs are rated by overall points, their goal difference, and then goals scored. If still equal, clubs are assumed to occupy the same position. If there is a tie for the championship, for relegation, or qualification to other competitions, the head-to-head record between the tied teams is taken into consideration (points scored in the matches between the teams, followed by away goals in those matches). If two teams are still tied, a play-off match at a neutral venue decides the position.


A pattern of promotion and relegation is obtainable between Premier League and the EFL Championship. The three last-placed teams in the Premier League are relegated to the championship, the top two teams from the Championship are promoted to the EPL, and an additional team is promoted after a series of play-offs involving the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth-placed teams.

On June 8, 2006, FIFA requested that all main European Leagues, including Italy’s Seria A and Spain’s La Liga, be shortened to 18 clubs by the start of the 2007-08 season. The Premier League responded by pronouncing their plan to reject such a cut. Finally, the 2007-08 season started again with 20 clubs.


Video Assistant Referee (VAR), was brought to the Premier League at the start of the 2019-20 season. It uses technology and officials to assist the Referee in making decisions on the field. Anyway, the use of VAR has been met with different views from fans and bookmakers, with some praising its accuracy while others kick against its influence on the flow of the game and the regularity of decision-making.

The center Referee continues to make the final decision, but VAR can assist the Referee in the decision-making process. VAR only becomes useful for four types of decisions: goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents, and cases of mistaken identity. VAR officials review the video footage and relate it with the on-field Referee via a headset. The VAR officials are situated in a central control room, which is equipped with multiple camera angles and the ability to replay footage at various speeds. This is foot ball!


IN 2011, as soon as Swansea City was promoted, a Welsh club played in the EPL for the first time. The first premier league match played outside England was Swansea City’s home match at the Liberty Stadium vs Wigan Athletic on 20th August 2011. The size of Welsh clubs in the Premier League went up to two in 2013-14 as Cardiff City were promoted, although they were relegated after their debut season. Cardiff gained promotion again in the 2017-18 season but the Welsh club presence could not move up in the 2018-19 EPL season as Swansea City was relegated from the EPL in 2017-18. Since Cardiff City's relegation after the 2018-19 season, no Welsh club has played in the EPL.


The teams that finish in the first four positions qualify automatically for the next season’s UEFA Champions League group stage. The winners of the Uefa Champions League and Eufa Europa League can get an extra qualification for the next season's Champions League group stage if they did not finish in the top five places in the EPL or have won one of Uefa’s main competition, then this position reverts to the team that ends sixth. The Champion of the EFL Cup qualifies for the next season’s Uefa Europa Conference League though, if the winner had already qualified for a Uefa competition through their performance in another competition, then this position goes back to the team that ends sixth in EPL, or seventh if the FA Cup result had since made the sixth-placed club to qualify.

The quantity of slots assigned to English clubs in Uefa games is based on the place the country has in the Uefa constant placements, which are checked as per how well the team did in Eufa games over the past five years. Recently, England is in first position, with Spain just behind them.


A deviation from the normal European qualification pattern occurred in 2005, after Liverpool won the Champions League the season earlier, but did not end in a Champions League qualification position in the premier league. Uefa presented immunity for Liverpool to go into the Champions League, giving England five qualifiers. Uefa after then, ruled that the defending Champions qualify for the games the next year despite their domestic league position. Anyway, for those leagues with four entrants in the champions league, this means that if the champions league winners finished the season outside the top four in its domestic league, it would qualify at the cost of the fourth-placed team. This happened in 2012, when Chelsea – who had won the Champions League that season, but finished sixth in the EPL – qualified for the 2012-13 champions league in place of Tottenham Hotspur, who went into the Europa League.

From 2015-2016, the Europa League winners qualify for the Champions League, increasing the maximum number of participants per country to time. This was started in England in 2016-2017, when Manchester United finished sixth in the EPL and won the Europa League, giving England five Champions League slots in 2017-2018. From these examples, any Europa League space opened is not handed down to the next-base premier league finisher outside of a qualifying space. If both champions league and Europa League winners are of the same association and both finish outside the top four, then the fourth-placed team is transferred to the Europa League.


This English league was renamed The Premier League in 2007 from its former name – The FA Premier League. From 1993 to 2016, the Premier League had Title sponsorship rights given to two companies through sales – Carling Brewery and Barclays Bank Plc; Barclays was the major current title sponsor, being the sponsor of the Premier League from 2001 until 2016(until 2004, the title sponsorship was held through its Barclaycard brand before transferring to its major banking brand in 2004). Barclay's business with EPL finished at the close of the 2015-16 season. The FA released a statement on 4th June 2015 that it would discontinue sponsoring the EPL, claiming that it aimed to develop a neat brand for the tournament more in line with those of MLS in the USA.

Also, for the sponsorship for the league, the premier league has many official partners and suppliers. The official Ball supplier for the league is Nike who have had the contract since the 2000-01 season when they continued from Mitre, stopped. Merlin brand used its subsidiary, Topps, to hold the license to produce collectibles for the premier league between 1994 and 2019 including Stickers (for their Sticker album) and trading cards. Launched in the 2007-2008 season, Topp’s Match Attax, the official premier league trading card game, is the best-selling boy’s collectible in the UK and is also the biggest selling Sports trading Card game in the world. In October 2018, Panini was given the License to produce Collectables from the 2019-20 season. The Chocolate company Cadbury has been the official snack partner of the Premier League since 2017 and was sponsoring Golden Boot, and Golden Glove Playmaker of the Season Awards from the 2017-18 season 2019-20 season. The Coco=Cola zero sugar products) sponsored the Awards during the 2020-21 season with Castrol being the present sponsor as of the 2021-22 season.


The EPL has the highest revenue of any association’s football league in the world, with total club revenues of 2.48 billion Pounds in the 2009-2010 season. In 2013-14, based on upgraded Television revenues and cost controls, the EPL clubs together made a net profit of over 78 million Pounds, passing all other football leagues. In 2010, the EPL was given the Queen's Award for Enterprise in the International Trade Class for its great contribution to International Trade and the quality it gets to English football and the United Kingdom’s broadcasting industry. The EPL includes a few of the wealthiest football clubs in the world. Delloitte’s ‘Football Money League’ outlined seven EPL clubs in the top 20 for the 2009-10 season, and all 20 clubs were in the top 40 globally by the end of the 2013-14 season, largely as a result of increased broadcasting revenue. In 2019, the league produced around 3.1 billion Pounds per year in local and International Television rights.

Premier League clubs accepted in principle in 2012, to total new cost controls. The two proposals consist of a break-even rule and a cap on the amount clubs can increase their wage bill in a season. With the new Televisions deals in perception, momentum has been growing to get a way of preventing the majority of the cash from getting direct to players and agents.


Managers in the premier league participated in the day-to-day management of the team, which includes training, team selection, and buying of players. Their inspiration changes from club to club and is connected to the ownership of the club and the rapport of the manager with supporters. Managers are expected to have a Uefa Pro license which is the final coaching qualification obtainable and follows the completion of the Uefa B and A Licenses. The Uefa Pro License is mandatory for every person who wishes to manage a club in the Premier League on an everlasting basis (ie more than 12 weeks, the amount of time an unqualified Caretaker manager is allowed to take control). Caretaker appointments are managers that fill the gap between a managerial exit and a new nomination. Many Caretaker managers have gone on to get a lasting managerial post after doing well as a Caretaker, including Paul Hart at Portsmouth, David Pleat at Tottenham Hotspur, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United.

Arsene Wenger is the longest-serving manager, having been in charge of Arsenal in the premier league from 1996 to his exit at the end of the 2017-18 season, and holds the record for most matches managed in the premier league with 828, all with Arsenal. He erased the record set by Alex Ferguson, who had managed 810 matches with Manchester United from the beginning of the Premier League to his retirement at the end of the 2012-13 season. Ferguson took charge of Manchester United from November 1986 until he retired in the 2012-2013 end of the season, which means he was manager for the last five years of the old football league First Division and all of the first 21 seasons of the premier league.

It is worthy of note, that since its inauguration, the premier league has never been won by an English manager. Managers who are managing EPL clubs going into the 2023-24 season are Jurgen Klopp(Liverpool – appointed 8 October, 2015), Pep Guardiola(Manchester City – appointed July 1, 2016), Thomas Frank(Brentford – appointed 16 October, 2018), Mikel Arteta(Arsenal – appointed 20 December, 2019), David Moyes(West Ham – appointed 29 December, 2019), Marco Silva(Fulham – appointed July 1, 2021), Steve Cooper(Nottingham Forest – appointed September 21, 2021), Eddie Howe(Newcastle United – 8 November, 2021), Paul Heckingbottom(Sheffield United – 25 November, 2021), Erik ten Hag(Manchester United – Manchester United – 23 May, 2022), Vincent Kompany(Burnley – 14 June, 2022), Roberto De Zerbi(Brighton & Hove Albion – 18 September, 2022), Unai Emery(Aston Villa – November 1, 2022), Julen Lopetegui(Wolverhampton Wanderers – 14 November, 2022), Robert Edwards(Luton Town – 17 November, 2022), Sean Dyche(Everton – 30 January, 2023), Roy Hodgson(Crystal Palace – 21 March, 2023), Mauricio Pochettino(Chelsea – 28 May, 2013), Ange Postecoglou(Tottenham Hotspur – 6 June, 2023), and Andoni Iraola(Bournemouth – 19 June, 2023).


Alan Shearer scored 260 EPL goals for Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United (between 1992 – 2006) to remain the top scorer in the history of the English premier league. Other players with high number of goals are Harry Kane(213), Wayne Rooney(208), Andy Cole(187), Sergio Aguero(184), Frank Lampard(177), Thierry Henry(175), Robbie Fowler(163), Jermain Defoe(162) and Michael Owen(150).

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Martins O. Onuoha

I am a Sports blogger with emphasis on football.

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