When you ask the most diehard football fans what the most popular football league is, almost all of them would tell you that it is the Premier League, and its popularity is highly justified since it would often have some of the most exciting games in football history. The Premier League, also known as the English Premier League outside the United Kingdom, is a football league system that has 20 clubs competing for the championship. To get to the finals, all 20 clubs must play a certain amount of games (specifically 38 for each team) from August to May and win most of their matches to get to the play-offs.
The Premier League was founded only in 1992, as a way for first division clubs of the original Football League to get more deals from television networks that air their matches. How did these clubs decide to create the breakaway league? And how much money did they get on the deals? Let us find out as we take a look at the history of the Premier League.
Origin of the Premier League (1990s)
In the 1990s, following a decade of unfortunate events like the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985 and the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, which led to the five-year ban of English football clubs from participating in European tournaments, the richest football clubs in England started to look for business ventures to revive the popularity of the sport in the country.
After the five-year ban was lifted, the representatives of the “big five” clubs (Irving Scholar for Tottenham Hotspur, Noel White for Liverpool, Martin Edwards for Manchester United, David Dein for Arsenal, and Philip Carter for Everton) met with Greg Dyke, managing director of the London Weekend Television (LWT) on October 1990 to discuss the creation of a “breakaway league” that will be participated by most First Division clubs of the original Football League. Greg Dyke suggested to the representatives that they should make a league wherein only the major football clubs will participate, thus allowing more money to be divided to fewer clubs compared to the Football League that has more than 50 clubs sharing the revenue.
The original plan was to start the Premier League with 18 clubs for the 1992-93 season, but the number of clubs eventually went up to 22. Before the start of the Premier League, the five major clubs and LWT sought the recommendation of The Football Association (FA), as the league wouldn’t have any credibility if they are not recognized by the organization. David Dein, the representative for Arsenal, then set up a meeting with the FA to discuss the plans to create a breakaway league. It was an open secret during the 1990s that the Football Association and the Football League weren’t on good terms, and as a way of weakening the Football League, the FA approved of the creation of the Premier League.
After the formation of the Premier League was approved, Independent Television (ITV) offered 205 million euros for the television rights to air the Premier League, but they were late outbid by Rupert Murdoch, the then-owner of Sky Television. The Premier League was then officially formed on May 27, 1992, although the first game would not be played until August 15 of the same year. Manchester United is the champion football club during that year.
Top Four Era (2000s)
Following the dominance of Manchester United in the 1990s, wherein they won five championships, the 2000s saw the intense matches between four of the best football clubs in the Premier League, which are Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United.
During this era, the four football clubs would often dominate the top four spots in the league, and they would continue to fill those four spots consecutively from 2003 to 2009. It was also be the period where Arsenal got their infamous nickname “The Invincibles,” as the club did not lose a single game during the 2003-04, and as of 2020, there are no other clubs that were able to accomplish that feat.
However, despite having exciting games, the 2000s was deemed by most football enthusiast, with some being fans of losing clubs, to be the most boring period in the Premier League since there are only four clubs out of many that are always on the play-offs of the league. However, because of the popular of the top four teams, particularly Manchester United, the Premier League was actually successful in terms of revenue and TV ratings.
Big Six Era (2010s)
The 2010s saw the emergence of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur as two of the top clubs in the league, and thus the Top Four became the Big Six. Tottenham became one of the Big Six when they reached the top four of the standings and were able to qualify for the UEFA Champions League in the 2009-10 season. Manchester City then officially became part of the Big Six when the won their first Premier League championship in the 2013-14 season. From then on, Manchester City won two more championships in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.
Leicester City, a club that is not part of the Big Six, won the championship during the 2015-16 season. Interestingly, that season’s championship was the club’s first finals win in their 132-year history. On the other hand, Manchester United, which is the club that is considered to be the strongest out of all clubs, only won two championships in the Big Six era.
COVID-19 Season (2019 to 2020)
The 28th season of the Premier League started normally on August 9, 2019, but due to the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 during the first months of 2020, the season was postponed for more than three months. The postponement was announced on March 13, 2020 after several league officials found out that club staff members and players tested positive for COVID-19.
The suspension would only last for April 4, but it was extended until June 17, when two matches were played officially. The champion of the season was Liverpool, and the club was officially awarded with the trophy on July 26, 2020. In one of Premier League’s crazy results, Liverpool won their first Premier League title even if they have been part of the Top Four since the 2000s. As the season ended in July instead of the usually end month of May, the 2019-20 season became the longest season in Premier League history.