The English Premier League (EPL) or Premiership colloquially, is an English professional league for men’s association football clubs. It is the primary football competition in England, and it includes 20 clubs. The EPL operates on a system of promotion and relegation.
The Premier League is a corporation with 20 member clubs which act as shareholders. Seasons lasts from August to May. Every team needs to play 38 matches, twice against each team in the league, home and away. The majority of games are played on the weekends, usually Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Because of other competitions and the national team breaks other games are played during weekday evenings.
According to some sources, the Premier League is the most-watched sports league in the world, with broadcasts in 212 territories to 643 million homes and 4.7 billion people. During the 2014–15 season, the average EPL match attendance was over 36,000, which made it the second highest of any professional football league. The Bundesliga was first with 43,500. The EPL ranks third in the UEFA coefficients of leagues, which is based on performances of the clubs in European competitions over the past five seasons.
Even though 47 clubs have participated in the competition since the inception of the Premier League, only six clubs have won the title. Those were Manchester United with 13 titles, Chelsea with 4, Arsenal with 3, Manchester City with two titles, and Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City with one title each.
Regardless of their significant European success in the 70s and early 80s, English football in the late ’80s hit the low point. Poor facilities and crumbling stadiums on top of hooliganism were some of the major reasons. In addition to that, all English clubs were banned from European competitions after the Heysel Stadium disaster in European Cup Final in 1985 between Juventus and Liverpool. The Football League First Division which was the major competition since 1888, at that time was behind Italian Serie A and Spanish La Liga in attendances and revenues.
However, the period of change began in the 1990s. The first step was at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, where England reached the semi-finals. Then UEFA lifted the five-year ban on English clubs which were able to play in European competitions in 1990. That resulted in Manchester United winning the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991. Furthermore, the Taylor Report on stadium safety standards was published in January 1991. It proposed expensive upgrades to create all-seater stadiums to prevent the repeating of a tragedy such as the Hillsborough disaster from 1989.
At the end of the 1991 season, a proposal for the establishment of a new league appeared. The Founder Members Agreement settled on the basic principles of the FA Premier League, and it was signed on 17 July 1991 by the game’s top-flight clubs. This newly formed top division had its own commercial independence from both Football Association and Football League, allowing the FA Premier League to negotiate its own broadcast and sponsorship agreements. At the time it was accepted since this would bring the extra income which could help English clubs to compete with teams across Europe.
In 1992, the First Division clubs resigned collectively from the Football League which was the last step before 1992 the FA Premier League was formed on 27 May. The league was founded as a limited company working out of an office at the Football Association’s headquarters in Lancaster Gate. This was a break-up of the 104-year-old Football League which had operated with four divisions by that time. It was agreed that the Premier League would operate with a single division while the Football League will manage three. It was important that the competition format stays unchanged with the same number of teams competing, and promotion and relegation between the Premier League and the new First Division. Three teams could be relegated from the league, and three could be promoted as well.
One significant feature of the EPL in the mid-2000s was the domination of the “Big Four.” Those were the clubs Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United.
During this period, from 2002 to 2009, to be correct these teams dominated the top four spots in the league which brought UEFA Champions League qualification. 2003-04 was notable because Arsenal won the league without losing a single game which was the only time it has ever happened in the Premier League.
The first season of the league was season 1992–93 with 22 clubs. The first goal in Premier League was scored by Brian Deane of Sheffield United in a 2–1 win against Manchester United. The 22 inaugural clubs of the new Premier League were Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Everton, Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United, Chelsea, Sheffield United, Southampton, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur, Ipswich Town, Manchester City, Wimbledon, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, and Sheffield Wednesday. Teams Luton Town, Notts County, and West Ham United were the first relegated teams from the old first division at the end of the 1991–92 season. Only six teams have played in every season of the EPL from its founding, and those are Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Everton, and Tottenham Hotspur.