The History of the Premier League

By Ayo Matthew

The English Premier League is probably the most glamorous and lucrative league in the World. The league in its rich and illustrious history has attracted some of the best players and managers in the World and continues to do so season in season out. Full of intrigue, drama, and suspense, the English Premier League is one the most-watched and followed leagues in the World. Last season, the league recorded an average attendance of 38,168 with only the German Bundesliga had more.

However, before the English Premier League became what it is today, like raw gold, it went through rough patches in its history which, to a very large extent, continues to shape and affect the direction of the league till date. This historical piece unearths some of the incidents that brought about the birth of the English Premier League. 

The History of the Premier League 1

The English Premier League was born out of some of the most perilous and darkest days in the narrativs of world football. In its early days, precisely in the 1970s and 1980s, the league had various forms of challenges ranging from lack of commercial recognition, delapidated stadia and misappropriation of finances. The teams had to rely on matchday ticket and merchandise sales to get finances as there were limited games on television and it was due to the fact that football authorities believed that, if matches go live on television, it would reduce the number of fans that will come to the stadia. So teams with bigger venues recorded more profits on match days. One of the biggest problems then was also that of hooliganism. 

The History of the Premier League 2

Hooliganism in English football, which was largely influenced by a political group called the National Front, got to a new heights in 1985 in an European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus in 1985 where rioting led to the collapse of a section of the stadium which led to the death of 39 Juventus’ fans and 600 getting injured. In that same year, a fire incident in a match between Bradford and Lincoln City injured 265 supporters and killed 56 supporters in less than five minutes. Consequently, English Clubs were banned for five years from European competitions but Liverpool got six years. In 1989, 96 Liverpool fans were killed and 776 injured in the Hillsborough stadium disaster due to negligence on the part of the stadium managers. Such devastating incidents led to the intervention of the Central Government and a report; The Taylors Report, headed by Lord Justice Peter Murray Taylor was published in 1990. The report made the following recommendations;

  • Stadia should become all-seater. 
  • No Alcohol consumption in view of the pitch.
  • Football should be moved “upmarket so as to follow the affluent middle class in his or her pursuits or aspirations” and this was detailed in the F.A’s; The Blueprint for the Future of Football in 1991. 
  • Modernization is crucial as it is a driving force for the development of English Football which will set the foundations of the Premier League as a global brand. 
The History of the Premier League 3

Central to the birth of the English Premier League was the unstable and dwindling relationship between The English Football League and The FA. With commercialization on the rise, English teams did not take full advantage of the rise and David Dein; Arsenal’s then-deputy Chairman was not pleased by the lack of commercial imagination and foresight by the English Football Chiefs. This led David Dein and other executives from Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool to contact the Chairman of ITV sport; Greg Dyke in order to sell their rights but The Football League heard of their plan and sold their rights to Greg Dyke at far cheaper price to thwart their plan which was to form a breakaway competition. David Dein and Liverpool’s Neil Whyte afterward, proposed a new breakaway league but it was rejected by the F.A. 

After much back and forth talks between the F.A and other football stakeholders in England, the English top division clubs met to create the founders’ agreement under the leadership of Rick Parry. One of the agreements was the democratization of the league in which changes to the league will be decided by two thirds of the majority with a club having just a vote. They also agreed on the redistribution of the television rights and the legal separation from the FA. Consequently, the originally branded “Super League” label was dropped and the Premier League was adopted and established for its first season in 1992. 

The rest, of course, is history.

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2 thoughts on “The History of the Premier League”

  1. The Launch of Premier League:

    Following discussions between the Football League, the players and the TV broadcasters, clubs in the First Division resigned from the league in May 1992 to join the newly formed Premier League. Its first season kicked off on Saturday 15th August.

    The first and second seasons were won by Manchester United. A total of 49 clubs have played in the Premier League since it formed. The only teams who have participated every year to date are Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

    Every season up to 2016-17, the Premier League had a sponsor. From 1993, it was called the FA Carling Premiership. In 2001, the sponsor changed to Barclaycard and it became the FA Barclays Premiership. From 2007, the name changed to the Barclays Premier League. It became simply the Premier League for the 2016-17 season.

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