The Premier League is an English professional league for men's association football clubs. At the top of the English football league system, it is the country's primary football competition. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the English Football League (EFL; known as "The Football League" before 2016–17). Welsh clubs that compete in the English football league system can also qualify.
The Premier League is a corporation in which the 20 member clubs act as shareholders. Seasons run from August to May. Teams play 38 matches each (playing each team in the league twice, home and away), totalling 380 matches in the season. Most games are played on Saturday and Sunday afternoons; others during weekday evenings. It is colloquially known as the Premiership and outside the UK it is commonly referred to as the English Premier League (EPL).
The competition formed as the FA Premier League on 20 February 1992 following the decision of clubs in the Football League First Division to break away from the Football League, which was originally founded in 1888, and take advantage of a lucrative television rights deal. The deal was worth £1 billion a year domestically as of 2013–14, with BSkyB and BT Group securing the domestic rights to broadcast 116 and 38 games respectively. The league generates €2.2 billion per year in domestic and international television rights. In 2014/15, teams were apportioned revenues of £1.6 billion.
The Premier League is the most-watched football league in the world, broadcast in 212 territories to 643 million homes and a potential TV audience of 4.7 billion people. In the 2014–15 season, the average Premier League match attendance exceeded 36,000, second highest of any professional football league behind the Bundesliga's 43,500. Most stadium occupancies are near capacity. The Premier League ranks third in the UEFA coefficients of leagues based on performances in European competitions over the past five seasons.
AFC Bournemouth, Stoke and Swansea are the only clubs to have remained in the Premier League since their first promotion, having played 2, 8 and 5 seasons (out of 25) respectively.
a: Founding member of the Premier League b: Never been relegated from Premier League c: One of the original 12 Football League teams d: Club based in Wales
From 1993 to 2016, the Premier League had title sponsorship rights sold to two companies; Barclays was the most recent title sponsor, having sponsored the Premier League from 2001 through 2016 (until 2004, the title sponsorship was held through its Barclaycard brand before shifting to its main banking brand in 2004).
Barclays' deal with the Premier League expired at the end of the 2015–16 season. The FA announced on 4 June 2015 that it would not pursue any further title sponsorship deals for the Premier League, arguing that they wanted to build a "clean" brand for the competition more in line with those of major U.S. sports leagues.
As well as sponsorship for the league itself, the Premier League has a number of official partners and suppliers. The official ball supplier for the league is Nike who have had the contract since the 2000–01 season when they took over from Mitre.
Managers in the Premier League are involved in the day-to-day running of the team, including the training, team selection, and player acquisition. Their influence varies from club-to-club and is related to the ownership of the club and the relationship of the manager with fans. Managers are required to have a UEFA Pro Licence which is the final coaching qualification available, and follows the completion of the UEFA 'B' and 'A' Licences. The UEFA Pro Licence is required by every person who wishes to manage a club in the Premier League on a permanent basis (i.e. more than 12 weeks – the amount of time an unqualified caretaker manager is allowed to take control). Caretaker appointments are managers that fill the gap between a managerial departure and a new appointment. Several caretaker managers have gone on to secure a permanent managerial post after performing well as a caretaker; examples include Paul Hart at Portsmouth and David Pleat at Tottenham Hotspur.
The league's longest-serving manager was Alex Ferguson, who was in charge of Manchester United from November 1986 until his retirement at the end of the 2012–13 season, meaning that he was manager for all of the first 21 seasons of the Premier League. Arsène Wenger is now the league's longest-serving current manager, having been in charge of Arsenal in the Premier League since 1996.
Rules for classification:1st points; 2nd goal difference; 3rd number of goals scored. (C) = Champion; (R) = Relegated; (P) = Promoted; (O) = Play-off winner; (A) = Advances to a further round. Only applicable when the season is not finished: (Q) = Qualified to the phase of tournament indicated; (TQ) = Qualified to tournament, but not yet to the particular phase indicated.
Italics denotes players still playing professional football, Bold denotes players still playing in the Premier League.
The Golden Boot is awarded to the top Premier League scorer at the end of each season. Former Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer holds the record for most Premier League goals with 260. Twenty-four players have reached the 100-goal mark.
Since the first Premier League season in 1992–93, 14 different players from 10 different clubs have won or shared the top scorers title. Thierry Henry won his fourth overall scoring title by scoring 27 goals in the 2005–06 season. Andrew Cole and Alan Shearer hold the record for most goals in a season (34) – for Newcastle and Blackburn respectively. Ryan Giggs of Manchester United holds the record for scoring goals in consecutive seasons, having scored in the first 21 seasons of the league.