Football is the world's largest and most popular sport, growing yearly with more and more spectators and fans alike. Countries all over the world have elite leagues featuring the top teams in the nation, with world class players competing at the peak of their physical performance. The best of the best all over the world is found in England.
The Premier League, formed in 1992, is widely considered around the globe as the finest football league for English professional football teams. Sponsored by Barclays Bank, it is also known as the Barclays Premier League or simply the English Premier League. The confederation behind the league is the Union of European Football Associations and features teams from England and Wales.
The Premier League features 20 clubs who each play 38 matches yearly from August through to May. Each team plays each other opponent twice, once at their home stadium and once on the road. Games are usually on Saturdays and Sundays and are usually played to sold out crowds. Occasionally games will be played on week nights as well.
Standings and Scoring
Scoring is as follows: 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and no points for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points accumulated during the season. Any ties are broken by goal differential and then by total goals scored. The bottom 3 teams are dropped every season to the Football League Championship (FLC) and replaced by the top three finishers in the FLC.
Top Teams and Titles
The most well-known and world-renown teams in the Premier League are Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. They are known as the Big Four and have become household names across the world, each with a fan base that extends far beyond England. Part of the draw of the Premier League is that smaller outlying teams have a chance to compete with these juggernauts, a great way to connect fans all over the country. Manchester United has won the most titles with 12, and are the most recent winners during the 2011-12 season. Arsenal and Chelsea are next with 3 titles each.
Games are watched around the world by legions of fans who follow their teams religiously. A huge part of the Premier League are television and merchandising rights, worth millions each year. Asia and Europe are the two largest fan bases in the world, and it would not be uncommon to find many fans sporting jerseys of their favourite players or driving cars with team flags affixed to their windows. Sky Sports in Europe and ESPN broadcast live games, while highlights are shown by Sky Sports and the BBC.
BSkyB and BT Group have secured the rights to broadcast the 2013-14 season, a deal worth 3 billion. The league itself is the most profitable football league in the world, and the fourth among all professional sports.
Every season the Golden Boot award is given to the player who scores the most goals that year. Player of the Season, Manager of the Season and Golden Glove are other top awards offered each year.
Ryan Giggs has played in the most seasons and has won a record 12 championships. Alan Shearer holds the record for most goals scored, followed by Andrew Cole and Thierry Henry. Other fan favorites include Christiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen.