Football is the most popular sport anywhere in the world, boasting a massive global following that numbers in the billions, alongside many millions of people who actively participate in the game. But over the last three decades one domestic league has risen to the fore, growing exponentially to become a truly global entity. This is the English Premier League as we know it today.
Interestingly, it wasn’t always this way. English football had gone through something of a dark age during the 1980’s, its reputation tarnished by rampant hooliganism. Clubs were also banned from European competitions, following the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985, during the European Cup final between Juventus and Liverpool. Then came the tragedy at Hillsborough in 1989, causing 97 fatalities and 766 injuries.
These key events led to English football undertaking a complete review of safety, resulting in elite stadiums becoming all-seater venues. Given the huge costs involved, leading clubs were also concerned about their economic futures, which in turn prompted them to resign from the Football League en masse, replacing the old First Division with the new Premier League. The new competition was also backed by BskyB, providing vastly improved TV revenues.
Financially powerful clubs
Incredible as it may seem, top tier English clubs only received around £25,000 per year from television rights, prior to 1986. This came nowhere near to serving their ambitious commercial interests, nor the desire of clubs to have more control over broadcasting and sponsorship agreements. During the inaugural 1992-93 season of the Premier League, around £38 million was awarded in prize money amongst all 22 clubs, marking a vastly significant increase.
Ever since the founding years of the Premier League, annual revenues from television rights and prize money distribution have continued to rise exponentially. According to The Mirror, overall Premier League prize money for the 2021-22 season was worth £2.5 billion, while this figure will again increase through the 2022-23 campaign. The eventual champions can expect to make over £160 million, and even relegated clubs will earn in excess of £100 million.
Perhaps most importantly, all 20 Premier League clubs will continue to receive an equal base payment for TV rights, which equated to around £84 million each last season. This has ensured that compared to their European counterparts, top tier English clubs are now far more powerful economically, which in turn allows them to spend or invest more than continental rivals.
Greater sense of competitiveness
Compared to the other elite European leagues, the Premier League is widely perceived to be more competitive. In England there is considered to be a “top six” of powerful clubs, genuinely capable of challenging for the title, whereas elsewhere, that is far from being the case. Highlighting this point, we only need look at the Bundesliga in Germany, where Bayern Munich have won 10 consecutive titles, while Juventus won 9 titles between 2011-12 and 2019-20.
Meanwhile in Spain, the duopoly of dominance largely remains with Real Madrid and Barcelona, largely thanks to both clubs receiving the biggest share of TV revenues and prize funds. While this has gradually begun to change, with more equitable distribution of money between clubs, we are unlikely to see any Spanish equivalent of Leicester City any time soon. They famously defied all the odds, winning the 2015-16 Premier League title.
The sense that anything is possible underpins the popularity of the Premier League, where smaller clubs frequently beat much bigger opponents, which also makes wagering on matches far more interesting. Fans often look to find the best betting websites, comparing the most competitive odds and promotions, based upon detailed reviews covering the broadest options. Indeed, there are often more betting markets available for Premier League matches, than any other competition across Europe.
Massive domestic and global appeal
Various factors have contributed towards the popularity of the Premier League, although its incredible success goes much deeper than its star power, arguably rooted in England itself being considered the home of football. There is an impressively strong domestic audience here, fiercely loyal to their clubs, which also accounts for the full stadiums and high percentage of TV subscribers.
But just as importantly, the Premier League has embraced overseas investment and expertise from abroad, giving the competition an increasingly international feel. This has come via the concerted effort to engage the global audience, broadcasting to more countries around the world than any other league, whilst also serving up a more polished and professional product.
And as most of us already know, sports have increasingly merged with consumerism. Providing the Premier League continues to remain competitive, both on and off the pitch, it will continue to attract and engage more fans around the world. This is a product which consistently delivers, serving viewers with entertaining football and intriguing narratives, combining numerous factors to achieve its popularity.