The history of football leagues in England

The number of football divisions in England and the people in charge of them have changed considerably over the years. The top league in the English football pyramid was once known simply as ‘Division One’, with other, higher numbered leagues sitting below this.

All of this changed when the Premier League, sometimes known as the Premiership, was introduced in the early 90s. A number of clubs were unhappy with the way that money was being distributed between different teams in the league.

The formation of the Premier League

The idea of a group of top-flight clubs breaking away from the traditional English football league system and starting up on their own league had been talked about for a significant period of time. Plans were considered in a similar light when conversations were had about a European Super League in 2020.

What finally changed things was the advent of satellite television and the possibility of charging a subscription to fans who wanted to watch their team play matches on television. Traditional analogue terrestrial television did not have sufficient capacity to dedicate enough of its broadcasting time to football. The advent of satellite broadcasting finally changed this.

With the Premier League established, the amount of money circulating in football began to increase substantially. Alongside this, the cost of everything else associated with the game also began to rise. This included player wages, which quickly ballooned into millions and then tens of millions of pounds.

To the irritation of many fans, some of this was paid for by a significant increase in the prices that they paid for season tickets or individual match tickets that allowed them to see their teams play.

The Premier League was instrumental in setting the types of structures that most European countries now run their domestic leagues under.

While no foreign league has gotten as popular internationally as the leagues in England, the Bundesliga and La Liga are examples of football leagues that underwent significant change in the wake of the Premier League being launched for the very first time.

The changes have not been without controversy, though, and the amount of money that the Premier League puts back into grassroots football and player development is a constant source of discussion and debate.

Leagues have increased the amount of money that goes into these activities in recent years, but it still represents a very small slice of the very large sums that clubs turn over.