Premier League Betting Guide 2021-2022
The Premier League isn’t just the foremost division in English football, it is also considered to be one of the best leagues anywhere in the world. It is one of what is referred to as the ‘big five’ leagues in Europe, sitting alongside Ligue 1 in France, Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga and Serie A in Italy as being one of the few divisions that the world’s top players will consider moving to. Such is the amount of money swirling around English football that the Premier League is arguably thought of as the most prestigious of the five leagues because of how much players can earn playing in England over any of the other major European countries.
It’s no surprise, of course, given that the Premier League was founded in 1992 when the biggest teams had a clash with the Football League over money. The link between the two organisations has remained amicable, with the bottom three teams in the top-flight at the end of the season being relegated into the Football League to be replaced by three teams from the Championship, which is the highest division within the structure. Between 1992 and 2021 49 different teams played in the Premier League, though only 7 of them actually won it during that time. Manchester United have been the most dominant team since the leagues inception, winning it thirteen times in 20 years.
The Premier League is the richest and most watched club football competition in the world, it is responsible for over half of bets placed on football. Therefore as you can imagine the bookies compete fiercely for punters custom, but you shouldn't just bet with anyone as there are some stand out betting companies for Premier League betting, our recommendations, and why, are shown below. Further down you can find a detailed guide to the competition and its history.
Best Premier League Betting Sites
Here you can find our suggested online bookmakers for betting on the Premier League. Our aim is to give a balance of different options to suit a range of punters and how they like to bet. You can find a detailed guide to betting on football in our football guide.
If you like to bet in a more understated way then BetVictor have to be at the top of your list. They go by the tag line of the 'gentleman of bookmakers' and this is entirely true, providing a professional betting experience with very good value and deep markets, but without throwing it all in your face.
BetVictor are a safe option if you want to choose a site and know you are getting above average odds and fantastic choice on a regular basis, without needing to check between brands all of the time.
They do not advertise many promotions, instead choosing to focus on providing value on a more basic level, but what they do well is personalised offers. If you bet with them on a regular basis, such as weekly on the Premier League, you can expect to receive free bets and bonuses suited to you, which lets face it is more useful.
If you want a bookie with flashy promos in your face, someone like Paddy Power, then you will find BetVictor too sterile, but if you want to be left alone to bet in your own way this is a top site.
Betfred have in some ways fallen behind in recent years when you look at the site and design, but one thing they are still top of the tree for is football. They have a lot of heritage and history in this niche and they know exactly what punters want and how to deliver it. For example, they have one of the longest and most successful offers in Double Delight / Hat-Trick heaven and this tells you they know what works.
The bookie was around long before the Premier League began and their knowledge of English football is unbeatable, that means expansive markets, advance ante-post outrights and specials and some very good competitive pricing. For regular bettors throughout the season they are also one of the very best for added value offers.
Being a giant they also have high limits, a good range of banking options and all of the major features you expect from leading brands these days. If you wanted to bet on Futsal or water polo then choose another bookie, but if you mainly bet on footy, racing and the traditional British sports this is a very good home.
If you are looking for a serious professional online bookmaker where you can rely on having expansive markets, huge in-play depth and good consistent odds with both high and low limits, then you really can't beat Bet365.
This isn't the site to go to if you like lots of price boosts and flash-in-the-pan offers, but if you want access to long terms promotions that provide consistent value, along with pretty much every betting feature you can imagine (365 in fact invented most of them), then you will not find better.
In terms of lines available on individual matches Bet365 are leagues above the rest of the field. This means you can back almost any concoction of scenarios that takes your fancy. If you want to bet ante-post on outrights or specials, again this is the site that tends to have the most advance markets, decent reliable prices and lots of choice.
Over the last few years William Hill have really reinvented themselves and are now deserving of a recommendation as one of the best Premier League bookies. They genuinely do have everything a punter needs to enjoy high level football wagers and get the most out of them.
As you would expect from a bookie of their size they have all of the features from cash out to streaming, literally tons of banking options, news, stats, etc., but the real reason to bet with them is the value you get from their offers. In recent times Hill's have excelled over their competition with betting promotions, and within that the best of these have been for the Premiere League.
Basic prices are usually average but when you factor in the hundreds of boosted lines, free bets and offers this becomes one of the best propositions for backing Premier League markets. Each year before the season starts they also tend to have some of the very best outright deals.
Why People Love To Bet On The Premier League
There are countless reasons why punters love betting on the Premier League, with one of the chief ones being that the games are seemingly relentless. There are only a few weekends during the season when the Premier League doesn’t offer games to supporters: international breaks and the early rounds of the FA Cup. The rest of the time you can expect to watch Premier League teams in action at least every weekend, with midweek games also common during the week. That means that bettors are presented with one of their favourite things when it comes to placing wagers, which is choice.
You can break Premier League betting into numerous different categories, with the first being the ante-post bets on the overall winner. Despite the fact that the league was only won by 7 different teams out of the 49 that took part in it between 1992 and 2021, every time a campaign gets underway there’s a feeling that any number of clubs will have a chance of finishing the season as champions. On top of that, the argument of who is likely to get relegated rages on throughout the campaign and usually goes right down to the wire. You can place bets on both who will win the entire competition and who will no longer be a part of proceedings when May rolls around.
There’s also the race for the top four, which has been intense every year since the Premier League was first founded. Admittedly the top four hasn’t necessarily been relevant the entire time, but certainly in the modern era of the top-flight it has been crucial for a team’s hopes of making money and signing the best players, considering that a top four finishes offers Champions League football. Even away from the top four there’s still plenty to play for, including the Europa League places for teams that are able to compete in Europe’s second-tier competition. All of that gives punters plenty to think about before a ball has even been kicked.
Then, of course, there’s the individual matches themselves. Whether you fancy a wager on players to be given yellow cards, the final score in a specific game or even an accumulator bet that takes into account the result of all matches being played on a weekend, you’ll be presented with nothing but options if you get yourself involved in the Premier League. All of which is to say nothing about the likes of bets you can place on the top scorer at the end of the season, the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets and the manager with the most Manager of the Month awards. It’s a competition that offers virtually limitless choices for you bets and plenty of opportunities to place them, hence its popularity.
The History Of The Premier League
It’s impossible to talk about the history of the Premier League without also mentioning the First Division, given that it was that competition that the one we’re talking about was borne out of. By the time the 1980s rolled around in English football, the top-flight had suffered almost a decade of going backwards in terms of facilities and fan behaviour. Hooliganism was common, culminating in the Heysel Disaster of 1985 that saw 39 people die during a match between Liverpool and Juventus when Liverpool supporters ran at their opposite number and a wall collapsed in the dilapidated Heysel Stadium that UEFA had chosen as the venue for the European Cup final.
The disaster was actually about far more complicated issues than just crowd behaviour, but it was seen as an embodiment of the problems in English football at the time. It occurred when both attendances at First Division matches and revenues being generated by the clubs in the league were behind those of both La Liga and Serie A, resulting in the best players not being interested in playing in England and even the top English players looking abroad for the betterment of their careers. The biggest clubs in England were starting to looking for ways to become more like business ventures, so they needed a cleaner image to help them achieve this.
The Shift To Commercialism
As the 1980s neared its zenith, the top clubs were beginning to realise that there was real money to be made from the commercialisation of the game. Manchester United had made Martin Edwards the club Chairman in 1980 and then Chief Executive in 1982 and he began the process of shifting the perception of the club and preparing it for the future. At the same time, Irving Scholar and David Dein were doing something similar at Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal respectively. They started the process of applying commercial principles to the way that clubs were being administered.
One of the main things that the three clubs did was start to demand more power from the Football League and by threatening to create a breakaway league they were able to organise a 50% share of television sponsorship income from 1986 onwards. This proved to be a crucial element, with television coverage being worth £6.3 million over two years in 1986 but increasing to £44 million over four years when a new deal was signed in 1988. The top clubs had manoeuvred themselves into a position to take 75% of that money, meaning that the amount of money earned from television coverage had moved from around £25,000 per club before 1986 to £600,000 after 1988.
The Top Clubs Consider A Move Away
One of the biggest changes to the way that clubs worked was also one of the most tragic. In 1989 96 Liverpool supporters died after police mismanagement of the FA Cup semi-final match between the Merseyside club and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield. A thorough review of how it happened was carried out by Lord Justice Taylor, with the Taylor Report suggesting that a move to all-seater stadia around the country was for the best in terms of the safety of the watching public. Whilst this was an expensive move for the clubs to cope with in a financial sense, it did allow them to make football a much more ‘sanitised’ experience that the whole family could begin to enjoy.
That was all still to come, of cource, but when the negotiations over the TV rights began ahead of the 1988-1989 season the top ten clubs entered into them buoyed by the threat of creating a breakaway ‘super league' if they didn’t get what they wanted. Whilst the Football League was able to persuade them to reconsider, the money man at the country’s top football clubs began to realise that they might be able to profit from a restructuring of the top-flight. In 1990 representatives of Liverpool, Manchester United, Everton, Tottenham and Arsenal, the clubs that were considered to be the most powerful, met with the MD of London Weekend Television, Greg Dyke, to discuss a path forward.
The Premier League Takes Shape
Greg Dyke was convinced that it would be more lucrative for LWT to be featuring England’s top clubs on the TV as often as possible, whilst the clubs themselves were lured with the promise of increased television money. The notion of creating a breakaway league was one that appealed to both parties, but they were also more than aware that they would need the backing of the Football Association in order to maintain any credibility as a competition. Fortunately, the FA and the Football League were enduring a strained relationship at the time, so the FA saw it as an opportunity to weaken the other organisation.
The result was that a proposal was made at the end of the 1990-1991 Division One season to create a new league that would bring more money in for all of the top-flight clubs. On the 17th of July 1991 the clubs in the First Division signed The Founder Members Agreement and set in motion the establishment of the new Premier League. The key was that the new organisation would have the ability to negotiate commercial deals separately from both the Football League and the FA, especially when it came to broadcast rights and sponsorship. The hope was that this added income would allow English clubs to begin to compete with teams across Europe once again.
The New Division Is Formed & Broadcast Rights Are Signed
All clubs in the First Division resigned en masse from the Football League before the formation of a limited company called the FA Premier League on the 27th of May 1992. The Football League, which had been in operation since its formation 104 years earlier, was to be broken up for the first time. Professional football in England now offered the top-flight, which was the newly formed Premier League, and then the three remaining divisions that made up the Football League.
The biggest loser in all of this turned out to be Greg Dyke and LWT. Dyke had been one of the driving forces behind the new competition, meeting with the top clubs two years earlier and promising them increased money from the TV rights if they were to breakaway. Yet when the bidding for the rights to broadcast footage of the newly formed Premier League took place, LWT lost out to BSkyB who won with a bid of £304 million. To add insult to injury, LWT didn’t even get the highlights package as that went to the BBC.
The First Premier League Season
Before a ball was kicked it was agreed that there would be no change in the format of the competition. Rather, the same number of teams would compete in the Premier League as did in the First Division, with the same system of promotion and relegation also being kept. So it was that 22 teams competed for the first league title in the 1992-1993 campaign, with the following being those teams:
- Aston Villa
- Blackburn Rovers
- Coventry City
- Crystal Palace
- Ipswich Town
- Leeds United
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
- Norwich City
- Nottingham Forest
- Oldham Athletic
- Queens Park Rangers
- Sheffield United
- Sheffield Wednesday
- Tottenham Hotspur
Spare a thought for Luton Town, Notts County, and West Ham United, the three teams that were relegated from the First Division and the end of the previous season and therefore missed out on the new-look top-flight.
FIFA Asks All Leagues To Align
As the 1990s developed, FIFA began to feel that the quality of football being offered at its flagship tournaments, such as the World Cup, wasn’t as good as it could be. The organisation believed that domestic leagues were asking their teams to play too many games during the season, which in turn impacted on the tiredness of players ahead of the summer tournaments. As a result. FIFA asked all governing bodies to reduce the number of games in a season by limiting the number of teams that were taking part in the top-flights around the world.
The Premier League decided to listen to FIFA’s request and at the end of the 1994-1995 season four teams were relegated from the top-flight. Just two gained promotion from the second-tier, by now confusingly called the First Division, meaning that the Premier League now consisted of 20 teams rather than the previous 22. 11 years later and FIFA made the same request again, this time for all leagues to have 18 teams in them. On this occasion the Premier League was having none of it, however, and decided to keep 20 teams. The Bundesliga followed suit, meaning that only Serie A and La Liga dropped to FIFA’s requested 18-team divisions.
The ‘Top Four’ Emerges As Important
The Premier League found its feet well enough during the 1990s, but by the turn of the millennium a definite look to proceedings had begun to take shape. The emergence of the so-called ‘top four’ clubs of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool meant that they dominated qualification for Europe’s top competition, the Champions League. Indeed, only once out of the six season between 2003 and 2009 were all top four places in the Premier League not taken by those clubs. The only teams that gained Champions League qualification other than those four teams during the 2000s were Leeds United, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton.
Such was the extent to which the top four were seen to be dominating the league that the one-time Newcastle United and England manager declared in 2008 that it ran the risk of becoming a ‘boring but great’ league. The result was that the Chief Executive of the league at the time, Richard Scudamore, said that there were enough tussles at the top, middle and bottom of the league to ensure that it remained exciting. He’ll certainly have felt justified in his response, considering that seven of the eight finals of the Champions League between 2005 and 2012 featured an English club, suggesting that the Premier League was one of the strongest in Europe.
Money Begins To Dominate
In the 2003-2004 season Arsenal achieved something that hadn’t been managed in the top-flight since it became the Premier League when they went through an entire season without losing a single game. It earned the team the nickname ‘The Invincibles’ and suggested an era of dominance for the Gunners was just around the corner. Sadly for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal, the shape of the entire league was about to be thrown into chaos thanks to the arrival of a Russian billionaire named Roman Abramovich as the new owner of Chelsea Football Club.
Having finished 6th, 6th and 4th before Abramovich bought the club from Ken Bates, Chelsea soon started spending millions of pounds in order to strengthen the club’s playing squad. The result was a 2nd place finish in the season Arsenal became Invincible before a league win the following year. That was backed up with a defence of the league title the year after as well as four FA Cup wins in six seasons. Even Manchester United, who had been the dominant force in the Premier League since the division’s formation in 1992, struggled to compete with the dominance of Chelsea on the back of Abramovich’s billions.
Things Are Shiekhen Up
Just as the big teams in the Premier League were beginning to adjust to the presence of Chelsea and the financial dominance that they had in the market, a new player arrived on the scene to mix things up even further. A company named Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited spent a reported £200 million buying Manchester City Football Club on the 1st of September 2008, ploughing hundreds of millions into the transformation of the playing squad and gradually propelling the Cityzens into the upper echelons of the Premier League table.
The club didn’t enjoy success quite as quickly as Chelsea had after the Abramovich takeover, failing to win their first trophy until they picked up the FA Cup at the end of the 2010-2011 season and not winning the top-flight for the first time until the year after. Nevertheless, the Premier League now had an entirely different look to it, with Manchester City and Chelsea able to blow all the other teams out of the water in terms of the amount of money being spent on the recruitment of players. The only club that was able to compete on any level was Manchester United, who enjoyed their own financial success thanks to commercial deals done around the world.
It is impossible to talk about the Premier League without mentioning Alex Ferguson. The Scot arrived at Old Trafford as Ron Atkinson’s replacement in 1986 and began to gradually exert his influence over Manchester United. Having finished 11th in the First Division in his inaugural season, Ferguson took United to 2nd the year after before they returned to 11th at the end of the 1988-1989 campaign. Folklore suggests that he was on the verge of being sacked by the United board when his team defeated Crystal Palace in the 1990 FA Cup, leading to his first silverware at his new club.
Manchester United will be forever grateful that the board held fire on puling the trigger, with the Glasgow born manager going on to make the Red Devils one of the most successful clubs in England in the decades that followed. Not only did he shape the Premier League by lifting the trophy thirteen times as a manager, Ferguson was also responsible for the phrase ‘Fergie Time’ thanks to his team’s ability to score winning goals in the dying moments of a match. Even when both Abramovich was at Chelsea and Sheikh Mansour had taken over at Manchester City, Ferguson was able to wring every last drop out of his Manchester United squads and won three more titles before he retired at the end of the 2012-2013 season.
The Impossible Made Possible
Between 2005 and 2015, the list of Premier League winning clubs looked as follows:
- Manchester United
- Manchester United
- Manchester United
- Manchester United
- Manchester City
- Manchester United
- Manchester City
The dominance of the richest clubs in football was obvious for all to look at, with many believing that the Premier League had completely lost any sense of competitiveness. What the division needed more than anything else was for a club to step up to the plate and break the dominance, though the likelihood of that happening was slim in the extreme.
Step forward Claudio Ranieri and Leicester City Football Club. The Italian had earned the nickname of the Tinkerman thanks to his insistence on rotating his players on a regular basis during his time at Chelsea more than decade earlier, but when he was installed as the Leicester City manager ahead of the 2015-2016 season he realised that he had a core of talented players that he could work with on a regular basis. He therefore eschewed the need to ‘tinker’ and played the core players throughout the season.
Before the 2015-2016 Premier League campaign began, you could have got better odds on Elvis being found alive and well and performing a concert than on Leicester City winning the Premier League. Even as the season progressed and the Foxes kept winning the bookmakers didn’t really believe they’d lift the trophy and failed to adjust their odds enough to cope with the bets being placed on it actually happening. It wasn’t the best of days for the bookies, therefore, when Ranieri’s side won the title by 10 points ahead of Arsenal and 11 clear of Spurs.
Liverpool and Man City Take The League To A New Level
With the arrival of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City in 2016 and Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool in 2015 the level at the top of the Premier League began to reach levels never before seen.
Manchester City won 32 out of 38 games on their way to consecutive titles in 2018 and 2019 and Liverpool then matched that feat in 2020. In 2018 City achieved a record 100 points winning the league by a record 19 point margin scoring a record 106 goals in the process. They also won 18 games consecutively between August and December 2017. They then achieved 98 points in 2019 scoring 95 goals, beating Liverpool with an astonishing 97 points and 89 goals in second place. Third placed Chelsea ended with 72 points in 2019, 26 points adrift of the leaders.
Liverpool turned the tables in 2020 in an outstanding season that saw then too win 18 games in a row between October 2019 and February 2020. They set or equalled a number of records, such as, recording 24 consecutive home wins and leading the by a record 25 points at one stage. In a special season that saw the leage suspended for three months due to corona virus Liverpool became the team to win the league the earliest in terms of games, with 7 remaining, while also the latest in terms of time, claiming the league on the 25th June 2020. Liverpool won the league with 99 points with an 18 point margin, both one below Man City's record. Man City finsihed second, off the pace of Liverpool, but they still achieved 102 goals.
A new bar seems to have been set for teams wanting to win the Premier League. Between 2017 and 2020 the average number of points for the Champions has jumped to 99 points.
Corona Virus and The European Super League
The 2020-21 season took place for the most part behind closed doors due to the various lockdowns and restriction in place at the time to mitigate the pandemic caused by corona virus. Over the course of the season several games were cancelled, especially around the busy Christmas period due to positive cases, for the large part the season went ahead as normal but with most matches behind closed doors.
It was a season that didn't produce the highs and new records seen in previous season, possible due to the lack of crowds and compacted schedule. Injuries ruined Liverpool's season on the back of their 2020 title win and it was only Manchester City that managed to find any significant form, winning the league with 86 points, the lowest since Leicester in 2016. The record attendance for the whole season was 10,000, and that was only on the last day. Given the year or so that people had gone through, however, it was a welcome sight to see fans back in stadiums.
The season will be remembered for a new breakaway European Super League that formed and then dissolved in less than 2 days. Headed by Real Madrid and Juventus, six Premier League clubs joined to create a new closed league for Europe's elite teams. There was immediate backlash from fans, other clubs and national leagues against the idea and the PL clubs quickly withdrew. It still lead to Man United's game against Liverpool being cancelled in April due to fan protests, particularly notable as at the time protests were not allowed due to lockdown restrictions, indicating the strength of feeling. It is, however, ironic as the Premier League itself was a breakaway league founded around money, which has in itself created these mammoth clubs that now seek to go it alone. Strong penalties were introduced for any team that tries to breakaway again in future, but even then I doubt you have heard the last of the ESL.
How The Premier League Is Structured
The structure to the Premier League is key to its success thus far, with each club being an equal shareholder of the Football Association Premier League Ltd corporation. That means that all clubs receive one vote on all of the important issues such as any rule changes. The Football Association generally tends to leave the Premier League alone over most issues on a day-to-day basis, but it does boast a veto as a special shareholder when it’s time to elect a new Chairman, a new Chief Executive and when new rules are adopted.
Representatives from the Premier League attend UEFA's European Club Association, with those representatives chosen according to the UEFA coefficients of the various clubs. That European Club Association elects members to the UEFA Club Competitions Committee, which, as the name suggests, is behind the various operations of the competitions run by UEFA. These include both the Champions League and the Europa League. When the Premier League decides to do something such as introduce goal-line technology or the Video Assistant Referee, the 20 clubs in the league that season as well as the FA cast votes on whether it should happen or not.
The Format Of The Premier League
The Premier League season runs from August through to May. The format of the divisions sees each club play all of the others twice: once at home and once away. That leads to each club playing 38 games across the course of a season for a total of 380 games.
Teams are awarded 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss, with the points being added up at the end of the season to dictate where each club finishes. If two or more teams end the season on the same number of points then the goal difference of each team will be taken into account. If that still can’t separate them then goals scored will come into play.
If they remain inseparable at that stage then they will finish in the same position, unless it’s the case that they’re competing for the championship title, a relegation spot or qualification for Europe. In that instance the two teams will have to play a play-off match at a neutral venue.
As mentioned elsewhere in this piece, teams are subject to relegation if they finish in the bottom three places of the division at the end of the season. They are replaced ahead of the following season by three teams from the Championship; namely the top two teams and a third team decided after a series of play-offs between the clubs that finishes from third to sixth.
Qualification For Other Competitions
Premier League teams are automatically entered into both the Football League Cup and the Football Association Cup, joining the latter competition at the 3rd round stage. Clubs can also qualify for the top two competitions in Europe according to their league finish.
The top four teams in the Premier League gain automatic entry into the group stage of the Champions League. This hasn’t always been the case, with the number of clubs making it into the group stage being dictated by England’s coefficient at the time.
The Champions League is limited to having five teams from any single nation in the competition. As the winners of the Champions League and Europa League gain automatic entry into the Champions League, this can mean that there could be up to six clubs from England in the competition. If that is the case then the team that finished fourth in the Premier League relinquishes their position in the tournament.
The FA Cup winners qualify for the Europa League, as do the team that finishes fifth in the Premier League. If the FA Cup winners have already gained a position in either the Champions League or the Europa League then the team that finishes sixth enters the Europa League instead. The same is true of the winners of the League Cup, meaning that the Europa League berth goes to either the sixth or seventh placed team in the Premier League depending on the FA Cup result.
The Premier League winning side is invited to take part in the Community Shield, a friendly match that takes place the weekend before the start of the top-flight season. It is traditionally played between the league winners and the FA Cup winners, but if the same team wins both then the team that finished second in the Premier League takes the FA Cup spot.
The Premier League Trophy
There are two trophies maintained by the Premier League. The genuine trophy is awarded to the team that wins the league, whilst there is a second one that is an identical replica and remains in the control of the Premier League itself. The reason there are two trophies is because the Premier League sometimes goes to the final day, which means that there needs to a trophy at the grounds where the two different clubs are playing so that either of them can be presented with it.
Asprey of London are the jewellers responsible for the creation of the current Premier League trophy, which stands at 76 centimetres in height when placed on its associated plinth. It is 43 centimetres wide and 25 centimetres deep, weighing in at 22 pounds. The additional plinth weights 33 pounds.
The trophy is made of sterling silver and silver gilt, while the plinth is made of a semi-precious stone called malachite. The plinth boasts a silver band, on which the names of all of the previous winners are engraved. The trophy wears a crown of gold, with two lions sitting atop the two handles. The idea is that it represents the three lions of English football - the third lion being the captain of the winning team who hoists the trophy aloft. The trophy boasts ribbons in the colours of the winning team.
As well as the Premier League trophy, other awards are given out during the season. Every month a Player of the Month, Goal of the Month and Manager of the Month are chosen, whilst at the end of the campaign the best Manager, Player and Goal of the season are selected. The Golden Boot goes to the player that scores the most goals, the Playmaker of the Season award is handed to the player who has the most assists and the Golden Glove goes to the goalkeeper that has notched up the most clean sheets.
Coverage of Premier League games has become a much more complex issue since the days of Greg Dyke promising the top clubs more money and better coverage. Whilst BSkyB has been a constant presence from a broadcasting point of view since the division was first formed, it has had to content with numerous challengers since then.
Unlike countries such as Spain, in which each club has the ability to sell its own television rights, the Premier League sells its rights to television companies on a collective basis. The result is that the lesser teams get less money than their equivalents in, for example, Spain. In the UK the rights are split into thirds, with the first third being given out to clubs equally, the second being distributed according to league position (with the team finishing top getting twenty times more than the team finishing twentieth) and the final third being paid out according to how often teams are shown on TV.
Overseas rights are also sold, with the money earned being split equally between all clubs. The amount of money earned from the sale of TV rights has increased exponentially over the years, with the first package being sold to BSkyB for £304 million in 1992 for three seasons and increasing to £5.136 billion for three seasons in 2015.
Because of Sky’s seeming monopoly on the TV rights, a decision was taken to force the Premier League to split its matches into ‘packages’ that the various corporations then buy. For the 2019-2020 season the matches were split between Sky, BT Sport and streaming service Amazon in the UK, with the BBC boasting the highlights package. Sky and BT paid £4.464 billion for their packages.
Whilst you’ll doubtless have picked up on this throughout this piece, it’s worth mentioning just how much money there is in the Premier League. It boasts a larger revenue than any other football league in the world, with all clubs offering a combined revenue in the 2009-2010 season of €2.48 billion, for example. By 2013-2014 the net profit archived by the Premier League had reached nearly £80 million, which was significantly more than all other leagues on the planet.
That is, in part, down to the fact that the league is home to some of the world’s richest clubs according to the Deloitte Football Money League. In 2009-2010 seven of the twenty richest clubs were based in England and playing in the top-flight. For the 206-2017 season alone the central payments made to clubs exceeded £2.3 billion, with each side receiving a flat fee of more than £35 million just for taking part in the competition. They then received a ‘nominal’ fee of over £1.9 million per finishing position, in addition to TV appearance payments.
Between 1992 and 2021 the most expensive player signed by any club was Paul Pogba, who Manchester United bought from Juventus for £89 million in 2016. The most expensive defender was Harry Maguire, signed by Manchester United for £80 million in 2019, whilst the most expensive goalkeeper was Kepa Arrizabalaga who Chelsea spent £71.6 million on in 2018. The most expensive player sale during that period was Philippe Coutinho, who Barcelona bought from Liverpool for £106 million in 2018. It dwarfed the £86 million spent by Real Madrid on Gareth Bale in 2013 and the £80 million that the same Spanish side gave to Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo four years earlier.
Premier League Stadiums
In order to play in the Premier League stadiums need to meet certain criteria. They have had to be all-seater venues since the 1994-1995 season. A record average attendance was set in the 2013-2014 season when 36,695 people on average were attending each Premier League ground.
Obviously the constantly changing nature of the Premier League means that it’s impossible to write about the grounds that are in use with any sense of certainty, given that one team could be sitting in the middle of the table one season and then be relegated the next. As a result, here’s a quick look at some of the more iconic stadiums in use by Premier League teams:
There’s an argument that Anfield has the most fascinating history of all of the Premier League football grounds for one simple reason: when it first opened it was the home of Everton Football Club, but when they went through a dispute over the rising rent with the owner, John Houlding, they left and set up their own stadium across Stanley Park. That caused Houlding to start his own football club: Liverpool. The two teams have been fierce rivals ever since, though Everton still have some catching up to do in terms of trophies.
The ground is the home to the world famous Kop, which was the largest single-tier section in England for a time and is known for helping influence football matches in Liverpool’s favour. It became all-seater after the Taylor Report, but maintains its charm. It has been overtaken at Anfield in terms of the number of supporters that it can house by the Main Stand, which was redeveloped ahead of the 2016-2016 season and can now house roughly 20,500 supporters. The Centenary Stand was renamed as the Kenny Dalglish Stand in 2017.
- Opened: 1884
- Capacity: 54,074
- Record Attendance: 61,905 (1952)
Arsenal’s former stadium was almost as storied as Anfield, but they left it in 2006 to move into the Emirates Stadium elsewhere in North London. It’s an impressive, if soulless, arena that cost around £390 million to build. The club had been planning to move from Highbury since the late 1990s after Islington Council wouldn’t give them planning permission to expand the ground any further. The move to make it less soulless and give it more personality began in 2009 as a process of ‘Arsenalisation’ was undertaken. The aim was to restore the Gunners’ history and heritage at the venue.
Some supporters believe the move to the Emirates held the club back for a time, largely because the Gunners were unable to secure any public funding for the cost and it fell on Arsenal to find the money in the form of a loan. Despite the fact that they were able to gain sponsorship in the form of naming rights from Emirates airline, a good chunk of the money came from player sales and limited player purchases. The number of people who have attended games at the Emirates since its opening is difficult to confirm, with the Gunners releasing the information of the number of tickets sold rather than the amount of people actually inside the ground for matches.
- Opened: 2006
- Capacity: 60,260
- Record Attendance: 60,161 (2007)
Officially called the City of Manchester Stadium but given the name of Etihad Stadium because of a sponsorship deal between Manchester City and the airline of the same name, the stadium was built as a venue for the Commonwealth Games when they were hosted by Manchester in 2002. After the Games were over the process of converting it to a football stadium began, involving the removal of the athletics track and the lowering of the level of the ground so that an extra section of sets could be installed. City moved in to the stadium in time for 2003-2004 season after £40 million was spent on the conversion process.
Since then it has undergone numerous changes to expand it and make it a stadium that is seen as suitable for a club of City’s stature, in spite of the fact that they rarely sell it out at present. Owned by Manchester City Council, a deal was signed in 2010 to allow the club to spend up to £1 billion redeveloping it. That has involved renovations of pitch itself as well as the hospitality areas, plus the addition of new seating to make it the fifth-largest ground in England. One of the unique aspects of the ground is the roof, which is held in place by a ‘ground-breaking’ tensioned system. It gives the stadium an iconic look that has been seen by fans attending to watch the likes of the 2008 UEFA Cup final, the 2015 Rugby World Cup matches and, of course, Man City’s games.
- Opened: 2003 (as a football stadium)
- Capacity: 55,097
- Record Attendance: 54,693 (2016)
Considering the size of the city, it’s quietly remarkable that Liverpool boasts two stadiums that deserve to be on this list. Goodison Park might not be as old as Anfield but arguably has even more claims to fame. It has sorted more games in the top-flight than any other stadium in the country, for example, and it is also the only football ground to have a church protruding between two of the stands. St. Luke’s Church can be seen between the Gwladys Street Stand and the Goodison Road Stand, stopping the Blues from playing games early on a Sunday. It is also the only club ground in England to have hosted a World Cup semi-final.
Having opened its doors for the first time when Everton left Anfield in 1892, the stadium has undergone several changes over the years. Obviously it joined all other stadia in moving to an all-seated venue after the Taylor Report. It has always been a venue for developments and trying new things, such as in 1958 when it became the first ground to install undersoil heating in England. Nowadays there are four separate stands at Goodison Park, with the two mentioned earlier being joined by the Bullens Road Stand and the Park End Stand. How long Goodison will remain in place for is something of some debate. In 2016 it was confirmed that the club would move to a new site at Bramley-Moore Dock, but no movement has yet occurred on that front.
- Opened: 1892
- Capacity: 39,572
- Record Attendance: 78,299 (1948)
Manchester United have called Old Trafford home since the venue opened its doors in 1910; though supporters weren’t overly pleased to see their team lose 4-3 to Liverpool there in the inaugural match! It hosted the FA Cup final on a number of occasions during its early years, including in 1911 and 1915. The gourd was quite heavily bombed during the Second World War, having be requisitioned by the army for use as a depot. Repairs were completed by 1951 and by 1959 a roof had been added to the Stretford End. Even so, the changes and alterations that occurred at Old Trafford in the post-war years saw the stadium’s capacity decrease even whilst the experience for fans got better.
As the football club began to enjoy a resurgence during the 1990s, Manchester United’s hierarchy reacted accordingly and improved facilities throughout the ground. That included the demolition and re-building of the North Stand, with the aim being that the stadium should be ready to host both a quarter-final and semi-final when England hosted the European Championships in 1996. The stadium’s most recent expansion came about in in the mid-2000s that saw its overall capacity increase to more than 70,000, making it the biggest football venue not only in England but also in the entire United Kingdom. The current capacity sits just a couple of thousand seats short of when standing was allowed and a record crowd of just shy of 77,000 people watched the Red Devils play Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1939.
- Opened: 1910
- Capacity: 74,994
- Record Attendance: 76,962 (1939)
Despite the club spending hundreds of millions of pounds developing the playing staff since Roman Abramovich took over as owner in the mid-2000s, Stamford Bridge remains relatively unchanged from the stadium that first opened in 1877. Obviously it has been modernised in the extreme and facilities such as those for hospitality supporters have been brought up to date, but the general layout and feel of the ground remains much the same. As well as FA Cup finals and Charity Shield matches, Stamford Bridge has also hosted games from countless other sports such as American football and rugby union.
Obviously the move to being an all-seater venue after the release of the Taylor Report limited the capacity somewhat, with the amount of people that can legally fit inside the venue nowadays being nearly half of the 82,905 that attended the match against Arsenal in 1935. There have been plans for Chelsea to leave Stamford Bridge over the years, but they have all been shelved for various reasons. Instead the club is planning to expand the ground to around 63,000 seats by the 2023-2024 campaign. As things currently stand the stadium is made up of the Matthew Harding Stand, the East Stand, the Shed End and the West Stand.
- Opened: 1877
- Capacity: 41,631
- Record Attendance: 82,905 (1935)
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
The most modern stadium on our list, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was built on the site of the club’s former ground, White Hart Lane. Spurs played their games at Wembley whilst the new ground was being built, with the opening being delayed repeatedly due to construction delays. Eventually it opened for the senior team with a match against Crystal Palace that Spurs won 2-0, having hosted a couple of friendly games before that. Built in an asymmetrical bowl style in order to maximise the number of hospitality suites and areas, it cost around £1 billion to build.
In 2015 Tottenham confirmed that the stadium would be used to host a minimum of two NFL games a year in an agreement with the American sport’s league. The club signed a 10-year agreement with the NFL that runs until 2029. The stadium’s roof is made up of a cable net that is held in place by a compression ring that has an elliptical shape. The design of the ground was intended to maximise the sound, much like at a concert venue. The hope was that it would allow for an intimidating atmosphere on match days. The South Stand is for home supporters and has enough room for 17,500 people, making it the largest single-tier stand in England.
- Opened: 2019
- Capacity: 62,062
- Record Attendance: 60,044 (2019)
Premier League Trivia & Stats
It’s important to distinguish between the Premier League and the old top-flight known as the First Division when looking at all aspects of the league, including trivia and stats. Here’s a look at some of the key moments and points of interest from the Premier League over the years:
- Most Titles: Manchester United
- Most Wins As Manager: Alex Ferguson
- Largest Stadium: Old Trafford
- Record Attendance: Stamford Bridge
- All-Time Top Scorer: Alan Shearer (260 goals in 441 appearances)
- Most Clean Sheets: David James
- Biggest Winning Margin: Manchester City by 19 points in 2017-2018
- Closest Title: Manchester City (2011-2012 by goal difference)
- Fewest Points In A Season: Derby County (11 in 2007-2008)
- Most Home Points In A Season: 55 (Chelsea in 2005-2006, Manchester United in 2010-2011, Manchester City in 2017-2018, Liverpool in 2019-2020)
- Fewest Away Points In A Season: 3 (Derby County in 2007-2008)
- Fewest Defeats In A Season: Arsenal (0 in 2003-2004)
- Most Defeats In A Season: 29 (Ipswich Town in 1994-1995, Sunderland in 2005-2006, Derby County in 2007-2008, Sheffield United in 2020-2021)