The Premier League is widely regarded as the world’s leading soccer club competition, with TV revenue and sponsorship deals totaling billions, the largest global viewing figures and has boasted some of the best players to have ever played the sport, not bad for a competition formed only 23 years ago.
47 clubs have featured in England’s top tier with five different champions, but that all looked a far cry from its fate when, announcements were made for a break away from the flourishing Football League in 1992.
A dispute over the distribution of TV revenue between the Football League’s top clubs and their minnow counterparts was the catalyst for major change. Despite pleads from the Football League, 20 of the top clubs decided to support the reform and signed up for the inaugural ‘92 Premier League season.
The newly formed league proved fruitful for those involved thanks to boosted sponsorship deals and a cash-injection from blossoming satellite TV provider; Sky. Money helped attract many of the world’s best players and, in turn, form sides capable of rivaling Europe’s elite.
Manchester United won the first two titles before Blackburn Rovers raised a bar, which has never been lowed since. Supported by the financial clout of local steel baron, Jack Walker, Rovers splashed the cash on Britain’s best, such as strike partners Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton and were rewarded by being crowned the 1994-95 champions.
Even though the Lancashire outfit failed to repeat their feat, the money needed to win the league has continued to grow with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and most recently, Manchester City have invested heavily to claim England’s top spot.
The need to invest has caused a gulf between the top sides and the rest with many who attempt to bridge the gap fall by the wayside in spectacular fashion. Portsmouth FC, a small South coast club in relation to the aforementioned, plunged millions of pounds into moving them into the upper echelons of the Premier League but, after an FA Cup triumph in 2008, fall well short and are now recovering in the fourth tier of English football.
The Premier League has been a playground for the rich and talented but also a graveyard for the hopefuls and dreamers. Who will be the next to conquer or fall by the wayside is anybody’s guess, but there will be plenty watching to find out.
By: Toms Young