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Football in England

Throughout the globe, England is notorious as the country where soccer, the most popular sport, emerged for the first time. The majority of the citizens are keen on soccer: people of all ages play it and support their favorite teams. None of the nations has the same huge number of clubs. Here, there are more than 40.000 of them. The roots of the modern soccer can be traced back to the 15th century when the ball game spread around England as a competitive sport between two neighboring villages. The so-called pitch was perched between two settlements even if it was distant from both of them. The game had no strict rules so injuries of varying severity were not uncommon. The Crown and the church stood against the running of such competitions due to their atrocity.

In England, the development of modern soccer started in the 19th century. Aimed at the enhancement of students’ physical condition, the game was a part of curriculum in independent schools and universities at the time. However, every single teaching facility had their own game rules, which hampered the organization of competitions between schools. Rugby School established written rules in 1845. Cambridge students came up with the first common soccer rules in 1848. According to the regulations, teams were composed of 15-20 players. The particular game situations allowed handball for footballers, yet it was forbidden to cross the field with it. The play of that time resembled rugby rather than present-day soccer. The oldest existing club Guy’s Hospital Football Club was founded in 1843. In 1857, the first genuine football club FC Sheffield emerged.

Football Association (FA), the main body for rules creating and football development, was established in London in 1863. In 1866, the offside regulations were changed: a player was caught offside if there was one or two players before him at the moment of touching the ball. Later in 1857-1877, Sheffield Code was introduced. The document enumerated strict rules concerning corner and free kicks. FA reduced the number of players to eleven in 1870. A year after, handball was banned. It was only a goalkeeper who preserved the right to play with both hands,yet not more than two steps with ball were allowed. These alterations resulted in rugby clubs leaving the Football Association. Two separate sports consequently evolved — Rugby football and Association football.

According to the English Football Association, the size of a ball had to fit within certain parameters since 1872. The first match between two national teams was held on November 30, 1872. Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow hosted the historic meeting between the Scottish and English teams, which finished in a 0:0 draw.

Since 1874, the matches started to be held under the guidance of coaches. The further work on the common soccer rules was maintained as well. The changeover break was introduced in 1875. Sheffield hosted their first match with electric lighting at Bramall Lane in 1878. Coaches were awarded the right to send off players in subsequent years as well as they started using whistles. The positions of two line umpires were created in 1883. A free kick was applied as a penalty for rules violation and it could have been performed with both hands. Injury time and penalties regimentation for various fouls appeared in 1897.

Football Association regulates all the soccer processes in the country. The English Football Association is one of the oldest existing organization in the world. All professional clubs oblige to have the FA membership. Semi-professional and amateur clubs have the right to join the football union. In 1888, FA stepped in with the establishment of the first ever professional football league in the world — The Football League. Other English leagues sprung up in later years. Today, all of them are streamlined in the form of pyramid, thereby allowing teams to transfer from one league to another according to their achievements. Providing a chance to proceed to a higher league, this indicates that the teams are granted the same rights regardless of their status.

Football Association is a member of UEFA and FIFA and, what’s more, they have their own representative body in IFAB (International Football Association Board). FA competencies include national team’s management and the organization of the FA Cup, the major cup competition in England. FA is the organizer of three more championships in the framework of the Football League: Championship, League One and League Two.

Before the creation of the Football Association, there were no unified football rules. The first meeting, which was organized by the representatives of various clubs, was held in London. The founding members needed six meetings to compile the first set of rules. The created set of rules forbade some tricks related to the struggle for the ball and the handball. This was the reason for the exit of some clubs from the union, which later organized the Rugby Football Union. The new rules officially came into force in January 1864.

The English soccer went through tough times in the 1980s. Stadiums were in precarious condition and posed a danger to the audience. In this regard, English clubs were suspended from participation in the European cups tournaments in 1985. The ban lasted for five years. In the years of the crisis, many top players have moved to foreign clubs. In 1990, the Taylor Report, which contained guidelines for security measures at the stadiums, came into force.

The entire league system includes 24 levels, in which not only English but also Welsh teams are represented. Additionally, the leagues can be divided into divisions with different number of teams.

The world-famous Premier League, which is also called The Premiership, reflects the highest level of the football pyramid. The EPL has its own self-governing body and is not subordinated to the FA. The Premier League was founded in February 1992. This led to the separation of the First Division from the Football League. The first matches were held in August of the same year. Since then, the season traditionally begins in August and ends in May. The English top-class league has 20 best clubs in its composition. Three of them leave the league at the end of the season and transfer to Championship.

Six out of the forty five teams that participated in the league became champions. Leicester City and Blackburn Rovers won the championship once, Manchester City became the champion twice, and FC Arsenal — three times, FC Chelsea boasts five league titles. Manchester United became the absolute champion in the Premier League, winning the championship 13 times. Flash fact: the English coaches have never managed to win the league. Tottenham Hotspur, FC Arsenal, Manchester United, FC Chelsea, FC Liverpool and FC Everton have never been eliminated to the Championship.

The debut Premier League season saw 22 teams competing against each other. Brian Deane stood out as the first goalscorer in the opening match between Sheffield United and Manchester United. At the request of FIFA, the number of participants was reduced in 1995. The four teams from the bottom of the table were eliminated and only two clubs from the Championship came instead. The other offer of the Football Association to reduce the number of participants to 18 was rejected. The reserve teams of professional clubs took part in the Premier Reserve League matches in 1992-2012. Since the 2012/2013 season, it has been replaced by the U-21 Premier League.

Not only English clubs are allowed to partake in the Premier League. Swansea City from Wales was the first non-English member. In the 2011 playoff finals at the Wembley Stadium in London, Swansea won 4-2 against FC Reading and was admitted to the Premier League. In 2013, another Welsh club, Cardiff City, secured an early qualification in the 43rd round match against Charlton Athletic, which ended in a goalless draw.

The Premier League is not subordinated to the governing bodies of the FA. This is an independent organization, which is led by the participating clubs. Each club has one vote when balloting for the rules changes or when discussing the details of contracts. Each club elects their own chairman, executive director and board of directors. The Football Union has no influence on the processes taking place inside the Premier League. But the FA has the veto power in the election of club management and if the changing the rules occurs. Premier League has a representative body in the UEFA clubs’ forum as well.

During the season, each team goes through 38 games. Each team meets the other twice: at home and on the opponent's field. In the same way, 10 meetings are held each matchday, making 380 games per season. For each victory a team gets three points, for a draw — one. Clubs are ranked in the standings according to the number of points scored. If the number of points for several clubs is the same, then the decisive indicator is the difference between the goals scored and goals conceded. With the same goal difference, the number of goals scored is identified as a priority. If there is an issue with the title, qualification to the European Cup or relegation, and the above-mentioned figures are equal, the playoff stage is to be held. The teams play one match on a neutral lawn for the right to take a higher position. But still, there have been no prerequisites to apply this rule so far. The first placed team is awarded the champion title. What’s more, the Premier League contestants finishing at the last three places by the season’s end appear in the Championship — the second most powerful division in England. Three teams from the Championship replace them in the EPL. The two best teams from the table proceed automatically, while the third newcomer is determined through a knockout stage. The knockout stage is held among the teams who finished in the 3-6th places in the season.

The Premier League provides the teams with the opportunity to qualify for the European club tournaments (Champions League and Europa League). The number of qualified teams depends on the country's position in the UEFA rankings. According to the table, the four best teams proceed to the Champions League. Two extra places guarantee the Europa League spots for the teams ranked 5th and 6th. The team from the seventh place is permitted to partake in the UEL if the qualification through the FA Cup or the League Cup will be secured by the team occupying a higher position in the championship.

The history of the Champions League has the records of exceptions to the qualification rules. Thus, having won the 2004/2005 Champions League season, FC Liverpool was granted a chance to defend the title in the next season as well, despite the fact that the team took the fifth place in the English championship table.

TV broadcasts play an important role in the financing and development of the league. The Premier League has a multimillion television audience worldwide. It has the greatest viewer rating in 200 countries worldwide. Sports betting on the Premier League is also a big hit throughout the globe.

Due to the swaps of the title sponsors, the name of the major English division changed three times. From 1993 to 2001 it was called FA Carling Premiership. In 2001-2004 the league carried the name Barclaycard Premiership, from 2004 to 2016 it was first called Barclays Premiership, then Barclays Premier League. Since the contract with the last sponsor hasn’t been extended in 2016, the standard designation Premier League is used now.

During the first season of the Premier League in 1992, only a few foreign players played in the teams. By the 2004/2005 season, the number of legionnaires increased to 45%. At the 2002 World Cup, which took place in Japan and South Korea, 101 footballers represented the Premier League, and none of the leagues had as many representatives as the EPL at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. 21 players were a part of the England national team.

With 260 goals Alan Shearer heads the list of the EPL top scorers of all time. During his long soccer career he appeared in FC Southampton, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United. He is followed by Wayne Rooney, Andrew Cole, Frank Lampard, Thierry Henry, Robbie Fowler, Jermain Defoe, Michael Owen, Les Ferdinand, Teddy Sheringham and others. Frenchman Thierry Henry is the only foreign player who made it to the top 10 best scorers. Time and again, online betting on the top scorer stands in the limelight of fans. Players like Gareth Bale, Ryan Giggs (Wales) and Frank Lampard played over 600 matches. David James, Gary Speed ​​(Wales), Emile Heskey, Mark Schwarzer (Australia), Jamie Carragher, Phil Neville, Rio Ferdinand are in the list of the most frequently appearing players as all of them took part in more than 500 games. The goalkeepers who did manage to keep a clean sheet in the majority of games merit attention. Petr Cech was able to complete more than 150 meetings without conceding a single goal. More than 100 clean matches were played by Joe Hart, Tim Howard and Pepe Reina. Other successful goalkeepers are David de Gea, Simon Mignolet, Mark Schwarzer, Hugo Lloris, Edwin van der Sar, Ben Foster, Joe Hart, Ben Foster, etc.

Football League is the second in the hierarchy of English football. Founded in 1888, it is the oldest football league in the world. In September, the first season kicked off with 12 teams participating in it: FC Accrington, Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa, Preston North End, Wolverhampton Wanderers, FC Burnley, Notts County, FC Everton, FC Stoke, Blackburn Rovers and Derby County.

The rapid spread of football in the country led to the appearance of the Second Division in 1892. In 1920, the Third Division was added. It was renamed the Third Division South a year later due to the emergence of the Third Division North. By this year, the country launched the first ever services of soccer betting. In the late 1950s there was a merger, which resulted in the creation of the Third Division and Fourth Division. Today, the Football League is divided into the Championship, Football League One and the Football League Two.

The Football League Championship is the second major division after the EPL in England. Currently, 24 clubs are in the Championship. The standard round system is used here, i.e. each competitor holds 2 games with each championship team during the season. Three points are granted for the victory, one point is added to the rankings for a draw result. No points are granted for a defeat. Two clubs residing in the first and second place at the end of the season, are eligible to participate in the Premier League. The teams ranked 3rd to 6th go for the knockout stages to determine the third candidate. In this case, the third placed team meets the 6th line, while the 4th place of the table clashes with the 5th. Each gaming pair plays matches at home and away, the winners meet in the final. AFC Sunderland, FC Reading and Newcastle United won the Championship trophy twice.

Being the second most powerful division in the structure of the Football League, Football League One occupies the third place in the hierarchy of the English football. Football League Two is one level lower. In both competitions, there are 24 clubs that hold 46 rounds at home and away during the season. Live betting on matches is available during each round. A three-point system is used for the teams’ ranking. At the end of the season, the two League One teams with the most points are granted the right to compete in the Championship. Places from third to sixth are fighting for a probable class promotion in the knockout. The last four teams will be replaced by the first four teams from League Two. At the same time, the three best teams move directly, the fourth is determined in the knockout between 4-7 places. Teams ranked 23rd and 24th are dropped out to the Conference National (National League). They also lose the status of a professional club.

The National League is the fifth league in England. It stands on the top level of the National League system, which includes non-professional clubs. There are 24 teams in the National League who are fighting for promotion in the class. Conference North and Conference South are one level lower. Northern Premier League, Southern Football League and Isthmian League are found even lower.

The two main cup competitions in England are the FA Cup and the League Cup, which is also called the Carabao Cup. The FA Cup (Football Association Challenge Cup) was established in 1871-1872 by the Football Association. During the tournament teams from the lower leagues meet with teams from the Premier League, however, the betting odds indicate the success of the top teams more frequently. The FA Cup was the first competition in the history of football. The record number of participants was witnessed in the 2011/2012 season as 763 teams fought for the title. In this step-by-step tournament, the pairs of participants are determined randomly. The draw also determines which team will play in front of the home stands. If the match ends in a draw, the winner will be determined in the return match on the field of the second team. If the ordinary time ends with a draw in the second match, additional time will be assigned and, if necessary, a series of penalty shoot-outs will be awarded.

Teams from amateur leagues start the FA Cup in August with an extra preliminary round. Participants must be the FA members, the team has to achieve the results of a certain level and should have a playing field that meets all requirements. The higher the league, the later the respective teams enter the competition. The extra preliminary round is followed by a preliminary, four qualifying rounds, six regular, two semi-finals and a final. Clubs from League One and League Two enter the FA Cup in the first round, teams from the Championship and from the Premier League start from the third round. The final is held in May. The FA Cup winner will play in the group stage of the Europa League. Arsenal won the most cups - 13 times. Manchester United became the winner 12 times, Tottenham Hotspur - 8 times, Liverpool, Chelsea and Aston Villa - 7 times.

The Football League Cup (EFL), also known today as the Carabao Cup, is held under the auspices of the Football League. For this reason, the number of participants is limited to the 92 FL teams and the Premier League clubs. The competition is held under the knockout system. Each round, with the exception of the semi-final, consists of one match where in the case of a tie in the regular time of the match, an additional one is appointed. If the winner is not determined after two halves of 15 minutes, he is set in the penalty shootout. League Cup starts with a preliminary round if the number of participants in the first round is odd. The teams from the Football League Two usually play in the preliminary round. All clubs from other divisions of the Football League will start their way into the EFL Cup from the first round. In the second round, Premier League clubs join the winners. The contestants of the European competitions step in during the third round. The teams will play with each other at home and away only in the semi-final, all other rounds consist of one event. The winner of the tournament qualifies for the Europa League. FC Liverpool won the EFL Cup 8 times, Aston Villa, FC Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City - 5 times.

The English national team has existed since 1872, when they played their first match against Scotland. Having been the first international match in the history of soccer, the fixture ended in a 0-0 draw. Later Football Association joined FIFA, the international federation of football. However, certain contradictions between the two organizations led to the exit of England in 1928. This was the reason why the national team did not participate in the first three world cups. After the Second World War, the FA was modernized as a special committee responsible for the management of the team was created. In 1946 the English Football Association rejoined FIFA. Walter Winterbottom became the first official coach. The first game against the national teams of other countries demonstrated that the development of football in England leaves much to be desired. At the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, England suffered two defeats in the preliminary stage and failed to pass further to the final stage. Having lost 3:6 in the home game with Hungary in 195, England was once again defeated by the same opponent in the away match. The 1:7 defeat became the largest in the history of the English team. At the 1962 World Cup in Chile, England was more successful with reaching the quarterfinals. Fans were granted the access to the live broadcast of the 1962 World Cup as sports betting offices opened nationwide. The British eventually lost to the Brazilians, who became the world champions. The hosts of the next 1966 World Cup, which took place in England, won the title. In the finals, the English defeated the national team of Germany with a 4:2 score after the extra time. This championship was the only one where England made it to the final. The English team failed to qualify for the World Cups in 1974, 1978 and 1994.

The European championships are even worse than the world championships for the British. Their best performance resulted in the third place in the 1968 European Championship in Italy. The 1996 European Championship made them reach the semi-final. The British national team failed to qualify for the 1960 European Championship. The squad also failed to pass the qualification barrier in 1964, 1972, 1976, 1984 and 2008.