The English Premier Soccer League

By: Daniel Millions

Regarded as the most popular and richest soccer league in the world, the English Premier League was established in 1992 after breaking away from the traditional Football League. Now in its sixteenth season, the Premier League is capable of attracting the best soccer players from around the world and its top teams compete regularly in the latter stages of Europe's premier soccer tournament, the UEFA Champions League.

Origins of the Premier League: During the 1980s, the reputation of English soccer was at an all time low. Years of misbehavior from fans and a number of related tragedies, had subsequently led to English clubs getting banned from participating in European club competitions.

For this reason the top clubs were unable to sign the best players and they could not complete financially with the major teams in the other European leagues. Consequently, spectator attendances at many of the games began to decline rapidly.

However by 1990, many of these trends began to reverse. The English national team played a great tournament in that year's World Cup, reaching the semi-finals and this encouraged a feeling of renewed interest in the game. UEFA removed its ban on English clubs participating in the Champions League and compulsory seating was introduced in all stadiums to alleviate the problems associated with violence amongst spectators.

In the midst of this renewed optimism, the top soccer clubs such as Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United decided to break away from the existing league structure to capitalize on the influx of television money that was offered by new satellite broadcasters such as Sky TV.

In 1992 all top division clubs resigned from the football league and formed the Premier League. This was a unique structure that effectively created a limited company that was able to negotiate commercial revenue and share the benefits based upon performance.

Structure of the Premier League: The Premier League consists of twenty soccer clubs from all regions across England. They play a thirty-eight match season that begins in August each year and is concluded the following May. All teams compete home and away against the other teams twice.

At the completion of the season, the bottom three teams are demoted to the football league and replaced by the three best teams in that league the following season. The winners of the Premier League are declared the champions and are eligible to play in following season's UEFA Champions League, along with the next top three teams.

Notable Clubs: The most successful club in the history of the Premier League is Manchester United. In the 2007/08 season they won the competition for a record tenth time. The only other teams to win the league are Arsenal, Chelsea and Blackburn.

The Future of the Premier League: By 2008 the top English clubs, through their ability to negotiate ever increasing commercial revenues have created a global sports brand that allows them to dominate European club soccer. In the last four seasons, an English team has reached the final of the Champions League.

However, the impact of this success at the top of the English soccer league is having a detrimental effect on the teams at the lower scale of the league system. Many teams are struggling to survive financially and there is much criticism and concern that the concentration of wealth and power in a small group of teams may have long term negative consequences for the future of the game.

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