2017/18 marks the 26th season of the English Premier League after its formation in 1992. After numerous discussions with football authorities, players and television broadcasters, the First Division clubs resigned from the Football League in May 1992 and the Premier League was formed with the inaugural campaign starting on Saturday 15 August of that year. The inaugural members of the Premier League were: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield Utd, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Wimbledon.
English Premier League football clubs racked up more sales than Spain and Italy’s top divisions combined. As such, accountancy giant Deloitte revealed in a report that combined revenues for football clubs playing in England’s top division rocketed by 32% to €3.9 billion (£2.87 billion, $4.4 billion) in 2013-2014. That is significantly more than Europe’s second wealthiest division, Germany’s Bundesliga, which made €2.3 billion (£1.7 billion, $2.6 billion).
Table 1: Premier League in numbers
Figure 1: Premier League clubs’ revenues 2013/14-2016/17 (amount in pound sterling (million))
Source: Annual Review of Football Finance (2017) 1
Over the years, average size of the revenue is in increasing trend as depicted by the figure above. Commercial revenue grew by 10% in 15/16 season. It exceeded £1 billion for the first time in the league’s history driven by new commercial deals. It is expected to grow by 3% in 16/17. Match day revenue increased to £622 million in 15/16 season due to the enhancement of stadium capacity by the leading premier league clubs. Match day revenue is expected to grow to £640 million in 16/17 season. Broadcasting revenue grew by 10% to £1927 million in 15/16 season as EPL cemented its position as globe’s most celebrated football league. Broadcasting revenue is expected to further increase in 16/17 season.
Foreigners and path to globalization:
In 25 years, English football has been transformed into the sport’s most globalized and lucrative domestic competition. On the opening weekend of May 1992, all but 13 players were from England or Ireland. The number of English players starting matches in 16/17 season decreased to almost 15% . It is often cited that the players like Eric Cantona, Dennis Bergkamp and Gianfranco Zola opened the floodgate for other foreign players. They were revolutionary as they brought dazzling skill to the game and made EPL intrinsically exciting. When Arsene Wenger was appointed as a Manager of Arsenal in 1996, his tactics proved to be revolutionary. Mr. Wenger steered Arsenal to the championship in 1998. It was the first time the top flight tournament had been won by a manager from outside Britain. The trajectory continued as Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez introduced more technical aspects to the game. Especially Jose Mourinho proved to be very successful with his “Park the Bus” tactics. The night of “Istanbul 2004” where Liverpool miraculously won the champions league against AC Milan proved to be a defining tactical approach of Rafeal Benitez. The players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Thiery Henry provided more fluidity to the game and helped EPL dominate other leagues in terms of global presence.
Lately, the arrival of world-class coaches like Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte and Jurgen Kloop has further intensified the excitement of EPL. Last season, notwithstanding the common tactical belief, Antonio Conte reintroduced idiosyncratic 3-4-3 formation, supposedly considered to be orthodox and unpopular. Thanks to his shrewd tactics, Chelsea FC promptly won the title. Likewise, Manchester City has been winning the hearts of global audience with its “tiki taka” brand of football. The season 17/18 is sure to be one of the most exciting in the history of EPL.