Ah, England, the country that invented ‘the beautiful game’. Their league must be ancient, probably the oldest in the world right?
Not exactly. The Premier League, in its current form is actually one of the youngest leagues in all of Europe. The 80’s were a dark time for British football. Leagues were held by the aptly named Football League. Infrastructure was crumbling, and attendance was poor, so many of the top players left England to greener pastures, which meant poor quality football which fuelled the cycle. Additionally, following the Heysel Stadium disaster, English clubs were under a 5 year ban from competing in Europe. Finally, at the end of the 1991 season, 22 first division clubs resigned and formed their own league. The Football league still exists, and consists of three lower divisions.
The Football League also still governs the Premier League, which means that at the end of the season, the three worst performing teams from the Premier league are automatically down regulated to The Football League, while the two best performing teams in The Football League’s championship are up regulated to Premier level. The next four best performing teams enter playoffs for the final spot. Exciting right?
The English Premier League is made up of 20 clubs that play each other twice: once at home and once away. Teams are awarded 3 points if they win a match, 1 if they draw and none if they lose. At the end of the season, the club with the most points wins! If for some reason two teams are tied in points, ranking then depends on goal difference and finally goals scored.
The League’s season stretches from August to May and doesn’t break in winter (yay!). Each club plays 38 matches, which amounts to 380 matches in a season- a lot of entertainment.
Most successful team
For a significant period in the early 2000s, the English Premier League’s top spots were dominated by the ‘big four’: Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea. However things started to get interesting again in the 2010’s, with Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur also breaking into the top ranks. The most successful team in the Premier League is Manchester United, who’ve won the championship 13 times. The second most successful is Chelsea, who have managed to clinch the title 4 times.
Why should I follow the English Premier League?
It’s definitely one of the leagues where the referees are lenient in terms of physicality, so if you like a bit of karate or boxing action with your football, this is the league for you. Also, the fact that it doesn’t stop in winter means you’ll have a constant source of entertainment. And there’s just something cool about watching them carry on like normal when it’s pouring rain.
How to pick a team?
If you’re new to the Premier League, or you haven’t been indoctrinated into allegiance by a parent, this is a reasonable question to ask. Most hardcore fans will tell you that the team chooses you. If your idea of a good time is all about winning the championship, history has been pretty clear on who the best bets are. If you are into more long term projects of teams getting better through the seasons, why not take a look at Liverpool or Queens Park Rangers? Some teams like Arsenal or Wigan Athletic can be the better choices if you value pure entertainment or drama above all else.