Premier League

The Premier League began in 1992 preceded by the First Division of the Football League that was founded in 1888. Today it holds the status of the best football league in the world. Even though the top clubs in England don’t win the biggest European Cups with same frequency as the top clubs in Spain, the Premier League is still considered to contain the toughest competition overall. (Premier League was earlier sponsored by Barclays Bank, thus the reason for its previous official name Barclays Premier League.)

Basic facts

Founded: 1992 (1888)
Country: England
Organizer: The Football Association (FA)


Football League (1888-1992)
Premier League (1992-)

League records

Most championships: Manchester United (20, Football League is included)
Most played seasons: Everton (116, Football League is included)


The background of the Premier League was a bleak period for English club football. The attendances were record low and the league were notorious for hooligans. In the 1985-86, the league started without a TV coverage since the parts couldn't agree upon a deal. At this time, the biggest clubs in the country began discussions about launching a new independent league.

The establishment of the Premier League meant a historical divide of the top-level division from the Football League. The new league would not be part of the Football League, with traditions going back to the 1880s. Yet, it would continue to be a part of the league system – the worst placed teams in the Premier League would be relegated to the second level and the best placed teams would vice versa be promoted from the second level to Premier League.

New contracts were made with television companies that understood the potential of the game’s popularity. Sky was given the TV rights and they expanded the program to five-hours sessions. The concept were highly influenced by the American NFL broadcasting, features such as Monday Night Football was introduced for the TV audience.

League system

Premier League is since the 1992-1993 season the top tier of the English football league system (before that Division One had the same function). The next three tiers are incorporated in the so-called English Football League (EFL). When follows two additional tiers, which are part of the National League. An overview of the current league system in England is presented in table 1.

Table 1. English football tiers
Club Tier
Premier League 1
Championship 2
League One 3
League Two 4
National League 5
National League North / South 6

Below National League North and National League South follows several other tiers divided by regions.

Teams and players

Teams with most titles

Statistics of all English clubs that have won the Premier League, concerning the period 1993-2022.

Table 2. Clubs and Premier League titles
Club Titles
Manchester United 13
Manchester City 8
Chelsea 5
Arsenal 3
Blackburn Rovers 1
Leicester City 1
Liverpool 1

This is only based on the seasons after the league changed name, see Clubs and English Football League titles. If all seasons going back to the year 1888 would be included the list would look different. Manchester United would still be on top with 20 titles, but Liverpool would come as the second best with 18 titles.

Premier League winners year by year

All winners since first season including collected points per season by the winner.

Table 3. Accumulation of points by the winning team
Season Winner Points
2021-22 Manchester City 93
2020-21 Manchester City 86
2019-20 Liverpool 99
2018-19 Manchester City 98
2017-18 Manchester City 100
2016-17 Chelsea 93
2015-16 Leicester City 81
2014-15 Chelsea 87
2013-14 Manchester City 86
2012-13 Manchester United 89
2011-12 Manchester City 89
2010-11 Manchester United 80
2009-10 Chelsea 86
2008-09 Manchester United 90
2007-08 Manchester United 87
2006-07 Manchester United 89
2005-06 Chelsea 91
2004-05 Chelsea 95
2003-04 Arsenal 90
2002-03 Manchester United 83
2001-02 Arsenal 87
2000-01 Manchester United 80
1999-00 Manchester United 91
1998-99 Manchester United 79
1997-98 Arsenal 78
1996-97 Manchester United 75
1995-96 Manchester United 82
1994-95 Blackburn Rovers 89
1993-94 Manchester United 92
1992-93 Manchester United 84

The league consists of 20 teams (except the three first seasons in which 22 teams were included), which meet each other two times (home and away) per season; 380 games are played in total. Most points by a team in a season, 100 (2.6 per match), were collected by Manchester City in the 2017-18 season.

Top goalscorers

Alan Shearer holds the record in the Premier League with 440 goals from the years in Newcastle. Other notable top scorers are Andy Cole (187 goals), Wayne Rooney (187 goals), Frank Lampard (177 goals), Thierry Henry (175 goals), Robbie Fowler (163 goals) and Michael Owen (150 goals). Extra impressive is Henry with most goals per match: 0,68.

Football League titles

Statistics of all English clubs that have won the Football League, including Premier League, with number of titles and the first winning season concerning the period 1888-2020.

Table 4. Clubs and League titles
Club Titles 1st title
Manchester United 20 1907-08
Liverpool 19 1900-01
Arsenal 13 1930-31
Everton 9 1890-91
Manchester City 8 1936-37
Aston Villa 7 1893-94
Sunderland 6 1891-92
Chelsea 6 1954-55
Sheffield Wednesday 4 1902-03
Newcastle 4 1904-05
Blackburn 3 1911-12
Huddersfield Town 3 1923-24
Wolverhampton 3 1953-54
Leeds United 3 1968-69
Preston North End 2 1888-89
Burnley 2 1920-21
Portsmouth 2 1948-49
Tottenham 2 1950-51
Derby 2 1971-72
Sheffield United 1 1897-98
West Bromwich 1 1919-20
Ipswich Town 1 1961-62
Nottingham Forest 1 1977-78
Leicester City 1 2015-16

In total, 24 clubs have been English league champions.

Only one tier existed until the 1892-93 season, when Division Two was created. For the 1920-21 season the Third Division was created and when for the 1958-59 season the Fourth Division was created. The Division 1, 2 and 3 was before the 2004-05 season renamed to The Championship, League 1 and League 2.


The audience

Soon after the start of Premier League, the terraces for standing were forbidden and instead the whole audience was to sit down to watch the games.

Capacity of Premier League stadiums

Table 4 shows the capacity of all Premier League club stadiums (based on the teams that participated in the league season 2016–2017). Manchester United's Old Trafford is the biggest in the league with capacity for over 70,000 people.

Table 5. The stadium capacities in the Premier League season 16-17
Team Stadium name Capacity
Arsenal Emirates Stadium 60,260
Bournemouth Dean Court 11,464
Burnley Turf Moor 21,401
Chelsea Stamford Bridge 41,631
Crystal Palace Selhurst Park 25,456
Everton Goodison Park 39,572
Hull KCOM Stadium 25,450
Leicester King Power Stadium 32,312
Liverpool Anfield 54,167
Manchester C City of Manchester 55,097
Manchester U Old Trafford 75,653
Middlesbrough Riverside Stadium 33,764
Southampton St Mary's Stadium 32,505
Stoke Stoke-on-Trent 27,902
Sunderland Ellis Short 49,000
Swansea Liberty Stadium 20,972
Tottenham White Hart Lane 36,228
Watford Vicare Road 21,977
West Bromwich The Hawthorns 26,852
West Ham Olympic Stadium 60,010

To put the capacity in relation to the actual audience per match we could take Manchester United as an example. During the 2015/2016 season the average attendance was 75,279. The tickets are mostly sold in season package, but for comparison, a match-day ticket in season 2015/2016 would cost from £22 (Leicester) to £52 (Chelsea).

Attendance per season

The matches in Premier League are well sought after and the big stadiums are regularly full or almost at the competition. The diagram below shows aggregate attendance at games over seven seasons.

diagram audience

The money

Premier League is a league with lots of money involved. The television contracts are extremely expensive and result in big revenues for the association and the clubs. The matches are broadcasted in more than 180 countries. The gap of revenues is huge between Premier League and the EFL Championship (within the 15 years following the initiation of Premier League, the collective revenues for the clubs would grow over 1000%).

The broadcast payments are divided into three parts: 1) Equal share payments – the biggest part which all teams get in the same size; 2) Facility fees – payment for a club being featured in a live match; 3) Merit payments – based on performance.

The money is also generated by ticket sales to the matches and the prices has increased significantly during the Premier League era.

The rise of the Premier League made its members rich and foreign players and managers were imported in a scale never seen before in England. It would forever change the character of the game in the league.


The kit sponsorship revenues from the Premier Legues is enormous and expected to be over €100 million per year. The diagram below shows the total revenues of the Premier League clubs in 2014/2015 (in million pounds).

diagram revenue by club


Millions of pounds are involved in buying and selling players. The diagram below shows the total spending of Premier League clubs in the January transfer window from 2006 to 2016 (in million pounds).

diagram transfer money per year

Qualification for European Cups

The Premier League has four places in the Champions League and one place in Europa League (winners of the FA Cup and the Capital One Cup also qualify for the Europa League).


The three teams placed at the bottom of the table (places 18-20) will be relegated to EFL Championship, the second level.

By Oscar Anderson

Premier League timeline

1888 Football League (predecessor to Premier League) is established.
1992 The league is renamed as Premier League.
1995 The league is reduced from 22 to 20 clubs.

Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg, The Club (2018)