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Primer to the Premier League

Confused by some of the differences between US and international soccer? Below you will find a quick overview of the Premier League and some of the basic rules to help make your viewing experience on Peacock more enjoyable. Also, don't forget to check out our Terms to Know article where you can brush up on some of the UK jargon used in the sport.

Overview

The Premier League was founded in 1992 and began play in the 1992-93 season. The league is made up of 20 clubs, currently all located in England, though teams from Wales are also eligible to play in the Premier League.

The Premier League is just one part of an entire English soccer “pyramid.” It is the highest tier of soccer in England; below the Premier League is the English Football League or EFL. The EFL consists of the second, third, and fourth tiers of English soccer. 

Format

All 20 clubs play each other twice – once at home and once away – for a total of 38 matches per team, and 380 matches league-wide per season.

Most matches are played on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, though mid-week games (Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday) are occasionally held as well.

The 2022-23 season runs from August 5, 2022 – May 28, 2023.

Points System

Teams receive 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw (what we know as a “tie”), and 0 points for a loss.

Teams are ranked in the table – what American sports fans know as “standings” – in order of their total number of points.

Unlike most American sports leagues, there are no playoffs in the Premier League. The team with the most points at the end of the season is crowned champions of the Premier League. If, at the end of the season, there is a tie in total points between two or more teams with title, relegation, or European qualification implications, the following tie-breakers are used:

  1. Goal difference (goals scored minus goals against)
  2. Goals scored
  3. Points won in head-to-head meetings
  4. Goals scored away from home in head-to-head meetings
  5. Playoff at a neutral venue

European Qualification

Typically, the top four Premier League finishers qualify for the following season’s UEFA Champions League, a prestigious annual tournament featuring the top clubs across all of Europe.

Premier League teams are also eligible to compete in the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Europa Conference League, the 2ndand 3rd-tier European club competitions, respectively.

Relegation & Promotion

Relegation and promotion add a recurring, gut-wrenching storyline to the English soccer season.

An unfamiliar phenomenon in American sports, promotion gives teams the opportunity to climb the tiers of English soccer and rewards teams that do so successfully. Alternatively, relegation punishes teams that fail to perform. Unlike in American sports, where bottom-finishing teams are rewarded with early draft picks, the end of the Premier League season creates extreme pressure for teams that are in or near the relegation zone. There is no top draft pick waiting for them at the end of the season, but rather demotion to a lower league that proves costly.

At the end of each season, the bottom three Premier League teams are relegated to the second tier of English soccer, the English Football League Championship (often referred to as “the Championship”).

The top two finishers in the Championship are automatically promoted to the Premier League for the next season. Teams that finish in 3rd-6th place in the Championship compete in a 4-team playoff, the winner of which is also promoted to the Premier League.

Quick Facts

  • The Premier League began play in the 1992-93 season
  • Founding Members of the Premier League:
    • Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Wimbledon
  • Of the original 22 Premier League teams, six have never been relegated
    • Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham
  • Manchester United has won the most Premier League titles (13) since the league’s creation in 1992
  • Entering the 2022-23 season, Manchester City has won the Premier League title in 6 of the past 11 seasons, and in 4 of the past 5

Important Dates

Opening Day: Friday, August 5, 2022

The 2022-23 Premier League season kicks off on Friday, August 5 at 3pm ET with Crystal Palace v. Arsenal. August 5 is the earliest start to a season in Premier League history.

Boxing Day: December 26, 2022

Boxing Day has been a national holiday in England, Wales, Ireland, and Canada since 1871, but even before that, the tradition of a soccer game the day after Christmas began. In 1860, the oldest club, Sheffield FC, and the second-oldest club, Hallam FC, played a match, which ended in a 2-0 win for Sheffield on Boxing Day. The Football League, established in 1888, adopted the tradition, and games on Boxing Day have been a staple ever since.

Boxing Day is traditionally spent watching sports and eating leftovers with family and friends. There is generally a packed day of Premier League action on Boxing Day, sometimes with all 20 Premier League teams in action.

Boxing Day this season holds extra significance. Due to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the Premier League will take a break from November 14-December 25. Boxing Day will mark the resumption of the Premier League after that 6-week break.

Championship Sunday: Sunday, May 28, 2023

On the last day of the season, all 20 teams are in action, with 10 matches kicking off at the same time.

See the full schedule

 

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