FA Premier League
Learn more about FA Premier League
|FA Premier League|
|Image:FA Premier League.png|
|No. of teams||20|
|Country||Image:Flag of England (bordered).svg England|
|Current champions||Chelsea F.C.|
The FA Premier League (often referred to as the Barclays Premiership in the UK and the Barclays English Premier League internationally) is a league competition for football clubs located at the top of the English football league system (above The Football League), making it England's primary football competition. It is the world's most watched sporting league and most lucrative football league, followed by over a billion people.<ref>Campbell, Dennis. "United (versus Liverpool) Nations", The Observer, January 6 2002. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref>
The Premiership was formed in 1992 from the top division of The Football League, and is currently contested by twenty clubs. In a total of fourteen seasons, the title has been won by only four teams: Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea and Manchester United. Of these, the most successful is Manchester United, who have won the title eight times and only team to have won the title three consecutive times. The current Premier League champions are Chelsea, who won their second consecutive title in the 2005-06 season.
The FA Women's Premier League, more specifically the National Division, is the Premiership's female counterpart, as most of its clubs are affiliated with Premiership and Football League sides; however, the league is semi-professional and has a much lower profile than the men's game even within its national boundaries.
- For more details on this topic, see History of English football
The 1980s had marked a low point for English football. Stadiums were crumbling, supporters endured poor facilities, hooliganism was rife, and English clubs were banned from European competition following the events at Heysel in 1985.<ref>"1985: English teams banned after Heysel", BBC. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref> The Football League First Division, which had been the top level of English football since 1888, was well behind foreign leagues such as Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga in attendances and revenues, and several top British players had moved abroad.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> However, by the turn of the 1990s the downward trend was starting to reverse; England had been relatively successful in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, reaching the semi-finals. UEFA, European football's governing body, lifted the ban on English clubs playing in European competitions in 1990 and the Taylor Report on stadium safety standards, which proposed expensive upgrades to all-seater stadiums, was published in January of that year.<ref>Taylor of Gosforth, Lord (1990). Final Report into the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster. HMSO. Cmnd. 962.. See also Template:Cite web</ref>
Television money had also become much more important; the Football League had received only £6.3 million for a two-year agreement in 1986, but when that deal was renewed in 1988, the price had risen to £44m over four years.<ref name="leicester_tv">Template:Cite web</ref> The 1988 negotiations were the first signs of a breakaway league; ten clubs threatened to leave and form a "super league" but were eventually persuaded to stay.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> As stadiums improved and match attendance and revenues rose, the country's top teams again considered leaving the Football League in order to capitalise on the growing influx of money being pumped into the sport.
In the 1991 close season, a proposal for the establishment of a new league that would bring more money into the game overall was tabled. The Founder Members Agreement, signed on 17 July 1991 by the game's top-flight clubs, established the basic principles for setting up the FA Premier League.<ref>"In the matter of an agreement between the Football Association Premier League Limited and the Football Association Limited and the Football League Limited and their respective member clubs", HM Courts Service, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref> The newly formed top division would have commercial independence from the Football Association (the FA) and the Football League, giving the FA Premier League license to negotiate its own broadcast and sponsorship agreements. This was seen to be necessary so that English clubs could once again compete with the best of Europe, while attracting the best talent in the world, something which in 1991 seemed practically unthinkable.
In 1992 the First Division clubs resigned from the Football League en masse and on 27 May 1992 the FA Premier League was formed as a limited company working out of an office at the Football Association's then headquarters in Lancaster Gate. This meant a break-up of the 104-year-old Football League that had operated until then with four divisions; the Premier League would operate with a single division and the Football League with three. There was no real change in competition format; the same number of teams competed in the top flight, and promotion and relegation between the Premier League and the new First Division remained on the same terms as between the old First and Second Divisions.
The league held its first season in 1992–93 and was originally composed of twenty-two clubs. The first ever Premiership goal was scored by Brian Deane against Manchester United in a 2-1 win for Sheffield United. Due to insistence by FIFA, the international governing body of football, that domestic leagues reduce the number of games clubs played, the number of clubs was reduced to twenty in 1995 when four teams were relegated from the league and only two teams were promoted. On 8 June, 2006, FIFA requested that all major European leagues, including Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga be reduced to eighteen teams by the start of the 2007-08 season. The Premier League responded by announcing their intention to resist such a reduction.<ref>"Fifa wants 18-team Premier League", BBC. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref>
The Premier League is operated as a corporation that is owned by the 20 member clubs. Each club is considered a shareholder with one vote each on such issues as rule changes and contracts. The clubs elect a Chairman, Chief Executive, and Board of Directors to oversee the daily operations of the league.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The Football Association is not directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the Premier League, but has veto power as a special shareholder during the election of the Chairman and Chief Executive and when new rules are adopted by the league.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
The Premier League sends representatives to UEFA's European Club Forum, the number of clubs and the clubs themselves chosen according to UEFA coefficients. The European Club Forum is responsible for electing three members to UEFA's Club Competitions Committee, which is involved in the operations of UEFA competitions such as the Champions League and UEFA Cup.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
 Competition format and sponsorship
There are twenty clubs in the Premier League. During the course of a season (which lasts from August to May) each club plays the others twice, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents for a total of 38 games for each club, and a total of 380 games in a Premier League season. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference and then goals scored. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned as champion. The three lowest placed teams are relegated into the Football League Championship and the top two teams from the Championship, together with the winner of play-offs involving the third to sixth placed Championship clubs, are promoted in their place.
The top four teams in the Premiership qualify for the UEFA Champions League, with the top two teams directly entering the group phase. The third and fourth placed teams enter the competition at the third qualifying round and must win a two-legged knockout tie in order to enter the group phase. The fifth placed team automatically qualifies for the UEFA Cup, and the sixth and seventh placed teams can also qualify, depending on what happens in the two domestic cup competitions. If the FA Cup champions and runners-up both finish in the top five of the Premier League, the FA Cup's UEFA Cup spot goes to the sixth placed team in the League. If the League Cup is won by a team that has already qualified for Europe, the League Cup's UEFA Cup spot also goes to the next highest placed team in the League (unlike the FA Cup spot, it is never transferred to the losing finalist). The highest placed team that has not qualified for the UEFA Cup is allowed the opportunity to compete in the UEFA Intertoto Cup. The Premiership is third in the UEFA rankings of European leagues based on their performances in European competitions over a five year period, behind Spain's La Liga and Serie A.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
Since 1993, the FA Premier League has been sponsored. The sponsor has been able to determine the league's sponsorship name. So far, all sponsors have referred to the competition as the 'Premiership'. The list below details who the sponsors have been and what they called the competition:
- 1993–2001: Carling (FA Carling Premiership)
- 2001–2004: Barclaycard (Barclaycard Premiership)
- 2004–2010: Barclays (Barclays Premiership)
The Premiership boasts some of the best players in the world, including many from outside England. The Premier League is the most lucrative football league in the world, with total club revenues of over £1.3 billion in 2004–05 according to Deloitte, more than 40% above its nearest competitor, Italy's Serie A.<ref>"First fall in Premiership wages", BBC News, 31 May 2006. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref> Revenues will increase substantially by the 2007–08 season, when new media rights deals start (see below). Based on May 2006 exchange rates, £1.3 billion converts to annual league revenue of about US$2.44 billion. This figure is the fourth highest for any sports league worldwide, behind the annual revenues of the three most popular North American major sports leagues (the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association), but slightly ahead of the National Hockey League. Considering that the Premier League has only 20 clubs, and depending on exchange rates and what is defined as revenue, the Premier League's average per-team revenues are very close to, and could be ranked ahead of, the NBA's.
The 2005–06 average attendance of 33,875 for league matches is the fourth highest of any domestic professional sports league in the world. This represents an increase of over 60% from the average attendance of 21,126 recorded in the league's first season (1992-93).<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> However, during the 1992-93 season the capacities of most stadiums were reduced as clubs replaced terraces with seats in order to meet the Taylor Report's 1994-95 deadline for all-seater stadiums.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The 2005-06 figure is lower than the Premier League's record average attendance of 35,464, set during the 2002-03 season.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
 Media coverage
- See also: English football on television
Television has played a major role in the history of the FA Premier League. The money from television rights has been vital in helping to create excellence both on and off the field. The League's decision to assign broadcasting rights to BSkyB in 1992 was at the time a radical decision, but one that has paid off. At the time pay television was an almost untested proposition in the UK market, as was charging fans to watch live televised football. However a combination of Sky’s marketing strategy, the quality of the FA Premier League football and the public’s appetite for the game has seen the value of the FA Premier League’s TV rights soar. It also saw the creation of regularly scheduled games on Sundays and Mondays, taking a page from the National Football League's Sunday Night and Monday Night games. In both cases, the featured TV games are normally the only ones played at that time.
The Premier League sells its television rights on a collective basis. This is in contrast to some European Leagues, including Serie A and La Liga, in which each club sells its rights individually, leading to a much higher share of the total income going to the top few clubs. The money is divided into three parts:<ref>"Frequently asked questions about the F.A. Premier League", premierleague.com. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref> half is divided equally between the clubs; one quarter is awarded on a merit basis based on final league position, the top club getting twenty times as much as the bottom club, and equal steps all the way down the table; the final quarter is paid out as facilities fees for games that are shown on television, with the top clubs receiving the largest shares of this. The income from overseas rights is divided equally between the twenty clubs.
The first Sky television rights agreement was worth £191 million over five seasons.<ref name="fgrc">Martin Cave. "Football rights and competition in broadcasting", Football Governance Research Centre, University of London. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref> The next contract, negotiated to start from the 1997–98 season, rose to £670 million over four seasons.<ref name="fgrc"/> The Premier League’s current £1.024 billion deal with BSkyB runs over the course of three seasons from August 2004. The league brought in £320 million from the sale of its international rights for the three-year period from 2004-05 to 2006-07. It sold the rights itself on a territory-by-territory basis.<ref></ref> Sky's monopoly was broken from August 2006 when Setanta Sports was awarded rights to show two out of the six packages of matches available. This occurred following an insistence by the European Commission that exclusive rights should not be sold to one television company. Sky and Setanta paid a total of £1.7 billion, a two-thirds increase which took many commentators by surprise as it had been widely assumed that the value of the rights had levelled off following many years of rapid growth. The BBC has retained the rights to show highlights for the same three seasons (on Match of the Day) for £171.6 million, a 63% increase on the £105 million it paid for the previous three year period.<ref>"BBC keeps Premiership highlights", BBC News, 8 June 2006. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref> Sky and BT have agreed to jointly pay £84.3 million for delayed television rights to 242 games (that is the right to broadcast them in full on television and over the internet) in most cases for a period of 50 hours after 10pm on matchday.<ref>"TV deal pays another £84m", Daily Telegraph, 26 May 2006. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref> Overseas and mobile phone rights are expected to fetch several hundred million pounds.
The TV rights agreement between the Premier League and Sky has faced accusations of being a cartel, and a number of court cases have arisen as a result. An investigation by the Office of Fair Trading in 2002 found BSkyB to be dominant within the pay TV sports market, but concluded that there were insufficient grounds for the claim that BSkyB had abused its dominant position.<ref>"BSkyB investigation: alleged infringement of the Chapter II prohibition", Office of Fair Trading, 17 December, 2002. Retrieved on 2006-08-08. (pdf)</ref> In July 1999 the Premier League's method of selling rights collectively for all member clubs was investigated by the UK Restrictive Practices Court, who concluded that the agreement was not contrary to the public interest.<ref>"Sport and European Competition Policy", European Commission, 1999. Retrieved on 2006-08-08. (pdf)</ref>
Promoted as "The Greatest Show On Earth", the FA Premier League is the world's most popular and most watched sporting league, followed worldwide by over a billion people.<ref>Campbell, Dennis. "United (versus Liverpool) Nations", The Observer, January 6 2002. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref> It is widely watched overseas, with matches being shown in 195 countries,<ref>"About Us FAQs", Premier League, 15 July 2006. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref> generally on networks owned and/or controlled by NewsCorp, which owns BSkyB and thus the primary UK and Ireland TV rights. NewsCorp has purchased ad space at some Premier League stadiums to promote Fox Soccer Channel, which is the company's US broadcaster (as in Britain, the rights are shared with Setanta Sport). The Premier League is particularly popular in Asia, where it is the most widely distributed sports programme.<ref>"ESPN-Star extends pact with FA Premier League", The Hindu Business Line, March 21 2004. Retrieved on 2006-08-09.</ref> In the People's Republic of China, matches attract television audiences between 100 million and 360 million, more than any other foreign sport.<ref>"Chinese phone maker's fancy footwork", BBC News, 27 October 2003. Retrieved on 2006-08-09.</ref> Due to this popularity, the league has held two pre-season tournaments in Asia, the only Premier League affiliated tournaments ever to have been held outside England. In July 2003 the Asia Cup was held in Malaysia, featuring three Premiership clubs and the Malaysia national team.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> In 2005 the Asia Trophy featured a similar format, held in Thailand and featuring the Thailand national team competing against three English clubs - Everton, Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers, the latter of whom won the trophy.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Radio coverage of the Premier League can also be heard in the United States on Sirius Satellite Radio.
At the inception of the Premier League in 1992-93, just eleven players named in the starting line-ups for the first round of matches were 'foreign' (players hailing from outside of the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland).<ref>Ron Atkinson. "England need to stem the foreign tide", The Guardian, 2002-08-23. Retrieved on 2006-08-10.</ref> By 2000-01, the number of foreign players participating in the Premiership was 36%. In the 2004-5 season the figure had increased to 45%. On 26 December 1999, Chelsea became the first Premier League side to field an entirely foreign starting line-up,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and on 14 February 2005 Arsenal were the first to name a completely foreign 16-man squad for a match.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
Despite being an English competition, no English manager has ever actually won the Premier League. Only four different managers have won the title as of 2006: two Scots (Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United and Kenny Dalglish, Blackburn Rovers), a Frenchman (Arsène Wenger, Arsenal) and a Portuguese (José Mourinho, Chelsea). Two English managers have achieved second place in the Premiership. They are Ron Atkinson (Aston Villa in 1993) and Kevin Keegan (Newcastle United in 1996).
Over 260 foreign players compete in the league, and 101 players from England's domestic leagues competed in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan. At the 2006 World Cup, the Premier League was the most represented league with more than eighty players in the competition, including 21 of the 23 players in England's squad.
As a result of the increasingly lucrative television deals, player wages rose sharply following the formation of the Premier League. In the first Premier League season the average player wage was £75,000 per year,<ref>"Forty factors fuelling football inflation", The Guardian, 31 July, 2003. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref> but subsequently rose by an average 20% per year for a decade,<ref>"Wages fall, but Premier League still spend big", ESPN Soccernet, 1 June, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref> peaking in the 2003-04 season, when the annual salary of the average Premier League player was £900,000.<ref>"The billion-pound revolution", The Times, 8 June, 2005. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.</ref>
The first few seasons of the Premier League saw the record transfer fee paid by English clubs broken almost every season, a practise that resumed in the first few years of the twenty-first century. The record rose to £3.75million in June 1993 (Roy Keane, Nottingham Forest to Manchester United), £5million in July 1994 (Chris Sutton, Norwich City to Blackburn Rovers), £7million in January 1995 (Andy Cole, Newcastle United to Manchester United), £7.5million in June 1995 (Dennis Bergkamp, Inter Milan to Arsenal), £8.5million in July 1995 (Stan Collymore, Nottingham Forest to Liverpool), £15million - world record - in July 1996 (Alan Shearer, Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United), £19million in May 2001 (Ruud van Nistelrooy, PSV Eindhoven to Manchester United), and £28.1million in July 2001 (Juan Sebastián Verón, Lazio to Manchester United). The record since July 2002 was the £29million that Manchester United paid Leeds United for Rio Ferdinand. Alan Shearer's £15million record lasted nearly five years in England, although his worldwide record was broken within a year. Rio Ferdinand's record lasted nearly four years, before it was broken in 2006 by the summer transfer of Andriy Shevchenko from A.C. Milan to Chelsea for £30 million. The creation of the Premier League, therefore, has seen the record fee paid by English clubs broken 10 times in its first 10 seasons.
 Premiership-Football League gulf
Since its split with the Football League, many established clubs in the Premier League have managed to distance themselves from their counterparts in lower leagues. Owing in large part to the disparity in revenue from television rights between the leagues,<ref name="guardian">Template:Cite web</ref> many newly promoted teams have found it difficult to avoid relegation in their first season in the Premier League. In every season except 2001-02 at least one Premier League newcomer has been relegated back to the Football League. In 1997-98 all three promoted clubs were relegated at the end of the season.
The Premier League distributes a small portion of its television revenue to clubs that are relegated from the league in the form of "parachute payments". Starting with the 2006-07 season, these payments are in the amount of £6.5 million over the club's first two seasons in lower leagues.<ref name="guardian"/> Though designed to help teams adjust to the loss of television revenues (the average Premier League team receives £28 million while the average Football League Championship club receives £1 million<ref name="guardian"/>), critics maintain that the payments actually widen the gap between teams that have reached the Premiership and those that have not,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> leading to the common occurrence of teams "bouncing back" soon after their relegation.
 Premier League clubs
 Premier League champions
For a list of winners and runners-up of the Premier League since its inception, and top scorers for each season, see English football champions.
 Current Premier League members
The following twenty clubs will compete in the FA Premier League during the 2006-07 season.
|First season in|
|First season of|
current spell in
|Arsenal <ref name="seasons">Played in every Premier League season</ref><ref name="founding">Founding member of Premier League.</ref>||4th||1904–05||1919–20|
|Aston Villa <ref name="seasons" /><ref name="founding" />||16th||1888–89||1988–89|
|Blackburn Rovers <ref name="founding" />||6th||1888–89||2001–02|
|Chelsea <ref name="seasons" /><ref name="founding" />||1st||1907–08||1989–90|
|Everton <ref name="seasons" /><ref name="founding" />||11th||1888–89||1954–55|
|Liverpool <ref name="seasons" /><ref name="founding" />||3rd||1894–95||1962–63|
|Manchester City <ref name="founding" />||15th||1899–1900||2002–03|
|Manchester United <ref name="seasons" /><ref name="founding" />||2nd||1892–93||1975–76|
|Middlesbrough <ref name="founding" />||14th||1902–03||1998–99|
|Reading||1st in the Championship||2006–07||2006–07|
|Sheffield United <ref name="founding" />||2nd in the Championship||1893–94||2006–07|
|Tottenham Hotspur <ref name="seasons" /><ref name="founding" />||5th||1909–10||1978–79|
|Watford||3rd in the Championship||1982–83||2006-07|
|West Ham United||9th||1923–24||2005–06|
 Former Premier League members
A total of forty clubs have played in the Premier League between 1992 and 2006. Two other clubs were signatories to the original agreement that created the Premier League, but were relegated prior to the inaugural Premiership season and have never returned to the top flight. For a list of all clubs past and present see List of FA Premier League clubs.
Seven clubs have been members of the Premiership for every season (15) since its inception. This elite group includes Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur. Newcastle United has next longest streak at 14 seasons, since being promoted to the Premier League in 1993.
 Top scorers
|2||Andrew Cole <ref name="playing">Currently active in Premier League team's squad</ref>||198|
|3||Thierry Henry <ref name="playing" />||171|
|4||Robbie Fowler <ref name="playing" />||161|
|6||Teddy Sheringham <ref name="playing" />||146|
|7||Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink <ref name="playing" />||126|
|8||Michael Owen <ref name="playing" />||125|
|As of 08 November 2006.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>|
- Further information: English football champions
Former Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer holds the record for most Premiership goals with 260. Shearer finished among the top ten goal scorers in 10 out of his 14 seasons in the Premier League and won the top scorer title three times.
Since the first Premier League season in 1992-93, eleven different players have won or shared the top scorers title. Thierry Henry won his third consecutive and fourth overall scoring title by scoring 27 goals in the 2005-06 season. This surpassed Shearer's mark of three titles which he won consecutively from 1994-95 through 1996-97. Other multiple winners include Michael Owen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who have won two titles each. Shearer and Andrew Cole hold the record for most goals in a season (34) which they scored in seasons that lasted 42 rather than 38 games. Shearer's mark of 31 goals in 1995-96 is the highest total in a 38 game season.
Manchester United became the first team to have scored 1000 goals in this league after Cristiano Ronaldo scored, in a 4-1 defeat by Middlesbrough, in the 2005-06 season, having been the first team to have conceded a Premiership goal following the League's inception. Manchester United are still the only club to have scored 1000 goals.
 See also
- All-Time FA Premier League Table
- FA Premier League Manager of the Year
- FA Premier League records
- List of FA Premier League stadiums
 External links
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