The English Premier League (EPL) is a top flight league for association football teams, in England. The League is run as a corporation of which the 20 member clubs are shareholders.
Every season, matches start in August and go on till May the next year. Each team plays every other team, once at its home venue and once away, thereby playing 38 matches in all, which translates into 380 matches played mainly on weekends, with occasional week day matches.
The League is sponsored by Barclays Bank, and is officially known as the Barclays Premier League.
The 80’s marked a low point in English football, when the football infrastructure began to crumble, English players’ standards fell, as compared to those of European players, and football hooliganism became rife.
The lowest point was reached when English football teams were banned for 5 years from 1985. Things took a turn for the better when England performed well at the 1990 World Cup, reaching the Semifinals. Also, after the Hayworth tragedy, a decision was made to improve the infrastructure of stadia across Britain.
The EPL was formed in 1992 by teams that decided to break away from the Football League, founded in 1888. Their chief incentive was a television rights deal. They would also be free to negotiate their own sponsorship agreements.
However, the television rights are sold collectively. From 1996-97 onwards, the tournament has been dominated by the big four, namely, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Manchester united have never featured outside the top three, in any Premiership season.
This is the story of one of the world’s richest Football Leagues, with the combined revenues exceeding 3 billion dollars, per annum. It is also the highest rated league in Europe by UEFA, ahead of Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A.
Since 1888, 23 teams have won the football league. The EPL which has completed 18 seasons has had 4 winners. Manchester United has won it 11 times, Arsenal and Chelsea, 3 times each, and Blackburn Rovers, once.
Once the EPL came into existence, the relationship between the Premier League and the Football league was exactly simlar to that between first and second division footbal in the previous era.
Initially there were 22 teams. This was reduced to 20 in 1995 when four teams got relegated and only 2 teams were promoted from the Football League (now called the Championship League).
Thereafter FIFA wanted all European leagues to have no more than 18 teams, a move that has been resisted by the EPL.
Of the 20 teams that take part in a EPL season, the bottom three are relegated and replaced the next year by the top three teams in the Champions League, (the finalists and the winners of the third place play off).
The top four teams of the EPL qualify for the UEFA Champions League, with the top three directly entering the group stage.