What is the English Premier League?
In 1888, the Football League was founded in England. For over a century, this league featured the top football (soccer) teams from England and Wales. However, on February 20th, 1992, the top 22 clubs split away to form the FA Premier League and take advantage of a lucrative TV deal. Today, the Premier League is the most-watched sports league in the world. It is also the world’s richest.
20 teams play in the Premier League today. However, these teams can change as the league operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the English Football League (EFL).
Since its inception, 49 teams have played in the Premier League. Six teams have won the title: Manchester United (13), Chelsea (5), Arsenal (3), Manchester City (3), Blackburn Rovers (1) and Leicester City (1). Sir Alex Ferguson, the former manager of Manchester United, is the most successful Premier League coach, boasting 13 league titles.
If you are new to the Premier League, you may notice a few things that make this league unique from the Big 4 North American sports leagues. What is the English Premier League? Well, now that you know some of the basics, here are a couple other things to note about the league.
Fourth is Also Important
In North America, finishing fourth is usually not seen as a sign of success. However, 1st-4th place in the Premier League matters a lot. Of course, the goal is to always come in 1st place, but teams that finish in the top four of the Premier League get to play in the UEFA Champions League.
Why does this matter? Money.
The UEFA Champions League isn’t a league at all, but more of a tournament. It features the top-division football clubs from all over Europe. This annual tournament is immensely popular, attracting millions of viewers throughout the world. This also means lots of money from TV and sponsorship deals.
Teams earn money simply by playing in the tournament, and the prize money increases the better a team does. Due to this, many English clubs try to finish in 4th place or better, solely for the increased funding this placement could provide to them.
The EPL is Only the Beginning
The Premier League is the top division in a long English football league system, known as the “Football Pyramid”. As alluded to earlier, the system works in a hierarchical format, with teams being promoted or relegated between leagues at different levels, depending on performance. This means that it is technically possible for even the smallest team to rise to the Premier League (though it would take years).
Below the Premier League is the English Football League Championship (the top EFL league). Below that is the EFL League One and the EFL League Two, and it just keeps going.
Ultimately, when combing all professional, semi-pro, and regional amateur leagues, it is estimated that there are some 7,000 teams in the English men’s football league system.
Not All the Teams are English
It is also worth noting that you don’t necessarily need to be an English team to play in the Premier League. The Football Association of Wales is relatively small, and as a result, six Welsh clubs have been accepted to play in the English league system. One of these teams, Swansea, has actually reached the Premier League.
However, the Premier League remains an almost exclusively English sports league. Over the years, there has been some talk about whether some Scottish or Irish teams should join, but these discussions have yet to yield any results.
A List of Premier League Clubs (All-Time)
As of the 2018–19 season, a total of 49 teams have played in the Premier League. They are listed below. Current Premier League clubs are bold.
|Aston Villa||Fulham||Sheffield United|
|Barnsley||Huddersfield Town||Sheffield Wednesday|
|Birmingham City||Hull City||Southampton|
|Blackburn Rovers||Ipswich Town||Stoke City|
|Bolton Wanderers||Leicester City||Swansea City|
|Bradford City||Manchester City||Tottenham Hotspur|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||Manchester United||Watford|
|Burnley||Middlesbrough||West Bromwich Albion|
|Cardiff City||Newcastle United||West Ham United|
|Charlton Athletic||Norwich City||Wigan Athletic|
|Coventry City||Oldham Athletic||Wolverhampton Wanderers|
|Derby County||Queens Park Rangers|
Now that you’ve had a chance to look over all the Premier League teams, how about testing yourself? Check out the quiz below to see how many clubs can you name!