English Premier League history briefly describes the foundation of the new league, the formation of the Premier League, the satellite rights history and the dominance of the Big Four clubs in details along with some unknown facts about the Premier League.
English Premier League, or simply just the Premier League, is one of the most popular football tournaments in the entire world which is thoroughly followed by millions and millions of fans worldwide. Everyone loves to cheer for their favourite EPL team and hope their best for the team’s success in the league. The fans also follow their favourite players of the team very closely. Everyone who follows Premier League knows almost everything about the recent performance and stats of their favourite teams, and same goes for the League standings of the current season. But most of the football world, even some of the hardcore premier league fans, know a little about the true history of the Premier League. The league has a very rich history which is amazing and a must-know for every fan of the league. And a wise man once said ‘to build the future we have to learn from our past’. So here we will unfold all the details of the English Premier League history since its inception.
English Premier League history
The English football was at their all-time low in late 1980’s when the tournaments faced worst stadium infrastructures and poor facilities. Hooliganism also played a major role in the scenario which resulted in English clubs getting a ban for five years from all the European competition in 1985, just after the Heysel Stadium disaster. In terms of stadium attendance and revenue generation, The Football League First Division fall behind Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A. But the situation started to improve after England reached the semi-finals of 1990 FIFA World Cup. UEFA then lifted the ban on the clubs and Manchester United got the immediate success while achieving the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991.
An extensive report was published on January 1991 for the improvement of the league thus improving the overall revenue. First Division starts to work on the Taylor Report on stadium safety standards which proposed all-seater stadiums with better infrastructures and modern facilities. The top clubs of the First Division considered leaving the Football League after the rise of match attendance and revenues due to the new stadiums, in order to capitalise the flow of the revenue. But the prospect of the new breakaway league was established long before the scenario when ten clubs threatened to leave to form a new “super league” in 1988. But somehow the division negotiated with the clubs and the teams choose to stay in the league.
The foundation of the Premier League
The first major step of the foundation of the Premier League occurred in October 1990 after managing director Greg Dyke of London Weekend Television arranged a meeting with the representatives of the “big five” clubs of the First Division. Dyke met with Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham and Arsenal, and showed the prospect of lucrative revenue from the Television where the larger clubs were featured on national television. He knew it will be great for LWT and proposed a larger share of the television rights money to the clubs. The main plan was to form a breakaway league where the whole revenue of the new league would only be divided between the active clubs of the division. The clubs also found it lucrative as the revenue was shared among all Football League clubs in the First Division.
The big five clubs knew it was a great idea and decided to go with the plan of forming a new league. But they knew it will be pretty hard for them if they don’t get any backup from The Football Association as the league wouldn’t have any credibility without it. Arsenal’s David Dein then held a meeting with the representative of FA to let them know about their plan in details. FA, on the other hand, thought it will weaken the Football League’s position in Europe. While talking about the new plan for forming a new breakaway league, Football League president Bill Fox once told that this is an attempt to ‘hijack’ the English First Division.
The Satellite Rights Scenario
In the very inaugural Premier League season, ITV first offered £205 million which is then increased to £262 for the television rights. But the channel was outbid by the Sky Television plc with a £304m bid for the five-year deal. The channel’s head Rupert Murdoch quickly understood the opportunity to lure new customers with the league which is then the only way to the survival of their loss-making Sky. It is alleged that Tottenham Hotspur Chairman Alan Sugar was silently there behind the deal. Alan was supplying Satellite Dishes to the Sky Television plc that time and had a great relationship with Alan Sugar.
Trevor East of ITV, while talking about their lost bid, once said he has heard Sugar telling Murdoch to “Blow them out of the water” in a telephonic conversation in May 1992 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel London. He said Sugar was the sole guide for Sky’s increased bid. After the bidding Alan Sugar was the only chairman of a big five club to vote for the television rights, which he did in favour for Sky. But on the other hand, many big clubs were not happy as Sky won the television rights as it was a non-terrestrial television service.
The Formation of Premier League
The FA Premier League was officially formed as a limited company on 20 February 1992 after First Division clubs resigned from the old Football League. The league started working from Football Association’s then headquarters in Lancaster Gate. The officials quickly confirmed that the first Premier League season would begin in August 1992 with 22 clubs. Besides all the 19 highest placed teams of First Division that season, the champions, runners-up and playoff winners of the Second Division also got their chance to participate in the inaugural season of Premier League. It was then decided that the Premier League will operate as a single division and the Football League with the rest three. And for that the old Second Division was renamed as Division One, Third Division becomes Division Two, and the Fourth Division became Division Three.
It was then officially confirmed that the promotion-relegation system will remain the same as the old tradition and will continue between the newly formed Premier League and First Division, where three teams will be relegated from the Premier League and top three teams in the First Division will be promoted to the league each season.
The league started in 1992 with 22 clubs in the inaugural season. The members of the very first Premier League season were Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Blackburn Rovers, Everton, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers, Leeds United, Norwich City, Sheffield United, Ipswich Town, Nottingham Forest, Coventry City, Southampton, Wimbledon, Oldham Athletic, Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday. After being relegated from the old first division in 1992, three teams West Ham United, Notts County and Luton Town did not take part in the first season of English Premier League.
The “Big Four” dominance
The English Premier League history will be incomplete without talking about the “Big Four” dominance of the league in the 2000s. Premier League Champions Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool dominated the top four spots in the league from 2002 to 2009. Retired player and manager Kevin Keegan once said “This league is in danger of becoming one of the most boring but great leagues in the world.” while talking about the “Big Four” dominance in May 2008. In defence, the chief executive of Premier League Richard Scudamore then said: “There are a lot of different tussles that go on in the Premier League depending on whether you’re at the top, in the middle or at the bottom that makes it interesting.”
Everton first finished the league in top four in 2005 and then the dominance first destroyed in the 2009–10 season when Tottenham Hotspur became the first team to break in the top four position of the league. The “Big Four” dominance occurred due to the financial ability of the elite clubs to spend more on player purchases and transfers than the other English Premier League clubs. The dominance era also witnessed scenarios like Arsenal winning the Premier League without even losing a single game in 2003–04 season which is the only time the phenomenon ever happened in the history of Premier League.
The new season of 2017-18 is the 26th instalment of the Premier League and is now watched and cheered by millions of fans worldwide. It is natural that we all have huge expectation from the new season but since its inception in 1992, Premier League always gave us a little more than the usual football. Starting from the Invincible Arsenal in the 2003-2004 season, the domination of Manchester United with 13 titles, the marvellous not-so-elite champion of season 2015-16 Leicester City till the amazing win by Manchester City in the 2011-12 season, Premier League never missed a chance to surprise us. So let’s hope for the best in the new season and don’t forget to send your valuable opinion about the English Premier League history in the comment box below.