History of the Premier League

History of the Premier League

Reasons for the formation of the Premier League

The English First Division was in existence from 1888, but over a century later, in the early 1990s, the clubs decided that they wanted to form their own ‘Super League’ featuring the top 22 teams in the country. One of the main reasons for this change was that they wanted to grow the league and also develop the beautiful game. There was, however, much speculation that money was a huge driving force in the breakaway of the clubs.

In 1991 the teams signed the Founder Members Agreement, which set up the structure that would form the basic framework of the Premier League. This new league would now be independent from the Football League and the Football Association (FA). It enabled the newly formed Premier League to organise their own sponsorships and broadcasting agreements.

Who were the founding members?

The 22 teams resigned from the Football League on 20th February 1992, and on 27th May that year, the Premier League was established as a limited company. The Premier League signed its first broadcaster deal with pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB, which fuelled the initial rumours that the new league was formed by the lure of extra money.

The first match of the new Premier League was on 15th August 1992, with 22 teams participating. The 22 ‘founding members’ of the Premier League were Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, , Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, , Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and Wimbledon. Only six of these teams – Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – have been present in every season to date.

Sponsorship and broadcasting deals

The league has gone through numerous name changes as the sponsorship deals have changed. The longest-running sponsor was Barclays, which was the title sponsor from 2001 to 2016. During that time, the Premier League was known as the FA Barclaycard Premiership and then The Barclays Premier League. The change of name was due to the sponsor changing names. The sponsorship ended after 15 years, when the Premier League decided to rebrand and not use a title sponsor. Barclays paid £40m a season to be title sponsors.

The magnitude of growth in the Premier League is evident when comparing the first broadcasting deal in 1992 to the 2020 broadcasting deal. Sky and BBC paid £304m for the broadcasting rights in 1992. Eighteen years later, the Premier League generated £1.5bn per season from its local broadcasters, Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime and BBC Sport.

Teams who have dominated the Premier League

Since the inception of the Premier League, there were calls to reduce the initial number of 22 teams down to 20. The thinking behind this move was that there would be more strength vs strength matchups, which are always great for viewership numbers. This change eventually took place at the end of the 1994/95 season, when four clubs were relegated and just two promoted.

During the history of the Premier League, the undoubted kings are Manchester United. They won an incredible 13 titles, with the next best teams, Chelsea, and Manchester City, both winning it five times. Only seven clubs have won the Premier League title, with Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal, Leicester City and Liverpool being the others. There were many great managers during this period, but the standout manager is Sir Alex Ferguson, who was at the helm of Manchester United in all of their Premier League wins.

Most-watched sports league in the world

The popularity of the Premier League is unrivalled by any other league or sport in the world. Each week, 3.2 billion viewers from across the globe watch the Premier League. There are broadcasts going out to 188 out of the 193 countries on the planet. In Premier League history, the amount spent during each transfer window has grown to such an extent that it is more than double what was spent by the second-placed league.

In the 2020 season, the Premier League transfers amounted to £1.14bn. This figure was more than double the £475m spent by the second-placed league, Italy’s Serie A. The popularity of the Premier League has seen the biggest names in football all keen to test their skill in the best league in the world. Players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Steven Gerrard, Thierry Henry, and Michael Owen first came into the limelight during their Premier League careers. These are just some of the stars whose careers were borne out through the history of the Premier League.

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