The richest and arguably most prestigious of the world's Footy Leagues, and certainly one of the most high-profile sports events worldwide. But first, a history lesson.
By the end of the '80s, English football was in a bit of a state. Hooliganism was rife both at home and abroad—the French called it la malaise Anglaise: the English Disease. Liverpool fans had been blamed for the Heysel Stadium Disaster in 1985 and English clubs had been banned from all European competition. Revenues and attendance were plummeting and many of the stadia were crumbling, poorly maintained or hopelessly old fashioned, this being one factor in the horrific Bradford City stadium fire of 1985. Tall fences were installed to stop hooligans from invading the pitch, but this practice was stopped after the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989, when 96 people (most of them Liverpool fans) were crushed to death. note The best English players began moving abroad, mostly to Italy or Spain, which were seen as having the best leagues at the time.
There was some light in the gloom, though. England's national team made the top four in the 1990 World Cup, the same year in which the post-Heysel ban on English clubs in Europe was lifted. Manchester United promptly won the now-defunct European Cup-Winners' Cupnote in 1991. After the Hillsborough Disaster, Lord Taylor produced a report which forced all top-level clubs to make their stadia safer, more pleasant places to watch a game (done by removing any lawn seating entirely and having all seating be in chairs) and to take measures to clamp down on hooliganism. Slowly, attendances started to rise as parents began taking their children again, and "normal" non-violent fans were no longer put off.
Then into the mix came the dawn of satellite television, in the form of Rupert Murdoch and his Sky service (still the main British satellite broadcaster). Sky's presence and the increasing quality of the English game meant that TV revenue from football skyrocketed from £6.3m in 1986 to over £44m in 1988. The biggest clubs in the top division felt they weren't getting a big enough slice of the cake, and that The Football League, who had been organizing English football since 1888, weren't doing enough to help, so in the summer of 1991 they decided to break away and form their own league.
The Premier League debuted for the 1992/93 season with 22 members, while The Football League was left with the lower three divisions, now confusingly renumbered so that the second tier of English football would be "First Division". Promotion and relegation between the Premier League and the First Division was maintained, and fans didn't notice any immediate difference beyond the change of names and new logos. Later, a new sponsorship deal with the Football League muddied the waters even further, so that the tiers now read "Premier League -> The Championship -> League One -> League Two".
Money started to flow into the Premier League clubs thanks to Sky's TV revenues, while the number of foreign players began to increase dramatically, particularly after 1995, when a test case at the European Court of Justice established that footballers were not exempt from European Law regarding free movement of labour and services: any EU-citizen footballer could play at any EU club with no restrictions, and any EU footballer could move to another club freely once his contract was up. The case - known as the Bosman Ruling after Belgian player Jean-Marc Bosman who took the case to court - had a massive effect on football throughout Europe, but particularly in England where the Premier League rapidly became the richest league.
In the mid 2000's, the Premier League overtook Spain's La Liga to become the highest-ranked league in Europe according to UEFA. However, recent resurgence from La Liga and Germany's Bundesliga, spearheaded by Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, and Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and underachievement from PL teams in Europe means that there's been a power shift. However, fans of the English game frequently argue that, with only a few exceptions, it's usually the same two or three teams battling it out for the title and beating everyone in their way, while in the Premier League, anyone can beat anyone and there are usually anywhere between four and six teams with good odds of winning the title. While this is up for debate (especially with the emerging dominance of Manchester City and Liverpool in the late 2010s), it is notable that players from European leagues moving to England have noted that it is far more competitive, with one memorably remarking that while in Italy you can shut up shop after going one or two ahead, in England you can't relax even when you're four goals up.
Despite the relatively small size of a lot of England's stadia compared to Europe note the quality of the English game is extremely high and total club revenue annually (as of 2015) is £3.3 billion!note The Premier League's revenue is the fourth highest anywhere in the world, behind the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA - and with a new £5 billion television licensing deal, it's only likely to get richer.
There are problems, of course. The highest-placing teams get the most money, which is logical, but tends to mean that success is self-perpetuating. For years, the so-called "Big Four" - Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City (Liverpool in place of City until about 2010) - historically dominated the top four positions in the league, which in turn meant they all qualified for the Champions League and accumulated even more money. At the other end of the table, smaller clubs promoted to the league usually struggle and are often relegated in their first season. Some clubs have tried breaking their way into the leading pack by spending big in the hope of making up the difference with money earned by getting into the Champions League, but at best have only achieved minor, temporary success, and at worst have undergone total financial meltdown and rapidly fallen away into lower-league obscurity (Leeds United, Portsmouth and Bradford City being the main examples of this).
Historically, the only way to break into the top four seemed to be for a club to be bought by someone with a truly eye-watering amount of spare money to throw around - Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich b(r)ought Chelsea into the top four, and Sheikh Mansour recently did the same for perennial underachievers Manchester City. In Europe they contend against the best teams in the Union of European Football Associations (potentially from as far away as Vladivostok) to win the Champions League, the most prestigious title in world club football - while other associations have their own competitions, the sheer amount of money in European football and self-perpetuating prestige draws the best players like moths to a flame. The Champions League winners also compete for the less prestigious title of World Club Champion. For clubs in positions five, six and sometimes seven (or alternatively, the League Cup and FA Cup winners if they do not already qualify for Europe), there is the Europa League, which was the UEFA Cup until 2009, less popular but still a good alternative for clubs.
For a time, the titles predictably fell to three clubs (namely Arsenal, Manchester United, and Chelsea), with a couple of surprise contenders. In 2011/12, Manchester City won themselves a title in dramatic fashion, and again in 2013/14. In 2015/16, however, Leicester City won the league with a team of so-called castoffs, has-beens, and never-weres. Following this, the Top Four morphed into the Big Six, with a resurgent Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur entering the mix, and although in the ensuing several years Manchester City and Liverpool dominated the tables, where the other four members of the Big Six fell varied wildly, sometimes with teams such as Wolverhampton Wanderers or Sheffield United entering the fray. By the 2019/20 season, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Leicester City were competing for a Champions League place, Wolves and Sheffield were fighting for Europa, and lackluster Arsenal were fighting just to finish in the top half of the table following an uncharacteristically-awful season.
This unpredictability makes the Premier League by far the most entertaining and competitive league in Europe; especially since Bayern Munich, Barcelona/Real Madrid, Juventus, Paris St Germain, and Ajax/Feyenoord/PSV usually run away with their respective leagues - in PSG's case, usually by over 30 points, with only Atlético Madrid challenging the Barca/Madrid hegemony, Napoli and Roma challenging Juventus (while usual contenders Inter and Milan are experiencing a terrible slump), Borussia Dortmund challenging Bayern Munich, and Twente and AZ challenging the Ajax/Feyenoord/PSV trifecta - though Nice and Monaco (in Ligue 1), and Red Bull Leipzig (in Bundesliga) are currently providing additional challenges. This, perhaps, has something to do with the aforementioned television deal and influx/more even spread of finances. Whatever the reason, it has led to the English teams reasserting their noughties dominance in the Champions League in 2017/18, with all five English teams reaching the last 16 (Manchester United finished outside the top four, but reached the group stage by winning the Europa League), a feat unprecedented in the history of the Champions League, and all but Chelsea winning their groups outright, with Liverpool ending up as defeated finalists. Things got even better the following season, as EVERY English side in a group stage reached the last 8 of either the Champions League or Europa League. In the Champions League semi-finals, Liverpool (despite injuries to two of their star strikers) turned around a 3-0 first leg loss to Barcelona to get to the final by tearing them to shreds with a 4-0 victory in the second leg at Anfield; while Tottenham (who were also missing their star striker), came back from an aggregate 3-0 in the second half of the second leg against Ajax to go through 3-3 on away goals, after a last minute injury time equaliser. This led to the first all-English Champions League final in a decade (which Liverpool won), which had been preceded three days earlier by an all-English Europa League final between Chelsea and Arsenal (with Chelsea thrashing Arsenal 4-1, having got to the final after a penalty shootout). This meant the Premier League had provided all four European finalists, something never seen before.
The influx of foreign players also means that Premier League fans get to watch some of the best players in the world every week, but it also means that English talent potentially gets squeezed out - in 1999, Chelsea became the first English club to field an entirely non-English starting eleven and at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, more than eighty Premier League players took part. Some say this has had a detrimental effect on the national team's talent pool. However, this has again been thrown into doubt in recent years by English players coming to prominence in the first teams of the Big Six. And as might be reasonably pointed out, England teams past have never lacked for talent, just energy after a gruelling season with no winter break prior to the 2019/20 season and the ability to play together (the Gerrard-Lampard dichotomy strikes again...). This was further thrown into doubt in 2018 with the national team making the World Cup semifinal - for the first time since 1990 - followed a few months later by qualifying for the Nations League Semifinals from a group which also included World Cup finalist (and the team that they lost to in the World Cup semifinal) Croatia and Spain, and going further than World Cup winners France, semifinalists Belgium and long-standing rivals Germany. This despite being arguably a far less talented group than their predecessors (an abundance of actual team spirit/ability to work together is cited).
April 2021 also saw the announcement that Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Tottenham Hotspur would be joining a European Super League, alongside AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus from Italy, and Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atlético Madrid from Spain. Said league would essentially function as a replacement of the UEFA Champions League, but the founding members would never find themselves cast out of the league due to poor performance. The ESL got off to a poor start when three clubs rumoured to have places set aside for themBayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund (both Germany), and Paris Saint-Germain (France)ruled themselves out. Immediately following these announcements, massive outrage and backlash from the governing bodies, other clubs, and supporters alike ensued, with many criticising the league and its members for what has been perceived as a blatant attempt to ensure none of its members ever lose their way into obscurity due to poor performance, but also because the league was to be capped at 20 teams, making entry very exclusive with at least 12 slots already permanently taken, and effectively ensuring the sheer amount of money and branding at the top level would drown out lower leagues, making miracle stories like the Leicester City title impossible. Within 48 hours of the backlash, Chelsea and Manchester Citynote both announced they would be withdrawing. The other clubs followed soon after, effectively killing the new league, much to the delight of detractors. Although incredibly short-lived, its long-reaching effects have yet to fully developnote , and there very well may still be a shakeup in league structure in the future.
Despite those problems there is no doubt that the current state of the Premier League showcases a remarkable turnaround for football in England since the troubles of The '80s and has helped move England back up to being one of the top footballing nations in the world. It is arguably back ahead of its cousin leagues in Spain and Italy in terms of the quality of football, certainly in terms of attendance and revenue and is now watched all around the world and particularly in the Far East. Now if only the national team could match the Premier League's success...
Current titleholders: Liverpool. Manchester City have clinched the 2020/21 Title.
Nickname: The Gunnersnote
Current Owner: Stan Kroenke
Current Manager: Mikel Arteta
Current Captain: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Current Stadium: Emirates Stadiumnote
2019/20 Position: 8th
Highest Finish: 1st (1997/98, 2001/02 and 2003/04) - Only undefeated season in Premier League history
A very successful north London club who lifted the crown in 1997/98, 2001/02 and 2003/04 (which was achieved unbeaten), all of which was under Arsène Wenger's management. Wenger managed the club for 1,235 games, reaching the 1,000 milestone on 22 March 2014 with Arsenal's fixture at Chelsea (against José Mourinho, no less), and after 22 years of management, he stepped down as Arsenal manager following the 2017/18 season's end. Stan Kroenke, owner of the NFL's Los Angeles Rams, the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, and Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids, holds majority ownership of the club. They currently hold the record for the longest uninterrupted stay in the Top Division/Premier League (dating all the way back to 1919/20, when they were promoted under very controversial circumstances following World War I) and were renowned for finishing in the top four with metronomic regularity. A lack of major trophies (The FA Cups notwithstanding), however, made a number of fans impatient with Wenger, who was perceived as being outdated in his approach and taking the club backwards, something backed up by having every other club of the Big Six finish ahead of them in his final year. Their Arch-Enemy is Tottenham Hotspur, a derby that has led to classic matches in both league and cup competitions. Matches against Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea are also Serious Business to Arsenal's fans. Wenger was succeeded by Unai Emery for a season and a half, during which time Arsenal seemed to be resurgent only to fall apart in 2019, and Emery was replaced by Freddie Ljungberg for a half-dozen games before former captain and former Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta was brought in. Arteta seemed to right the ship at first, winning an FA Cup in 2020 and defeating Manchester City and Chelsea to do it, but 2020/21, however, saw them completely fall apart over the course of the season. Despite a rocky start, things seemed to be going well for them in December, with them enjoying a run of form and climbing up the table, only for them to fall apart at the beginning of the new year. As they tumbled down the league table, they clung to the Europa League as their avenue to the Champion's League, until they lost in the semifinals after a tepid two-leg showing to— who else?— Unai Emery and his Villareal side. Now Arsenal look set to miss out on European football for the first time in twenty-five years, and fan patience with Arteta, the administration, and the players is reaching a breaking point.
- Aston Villa
Nickname: The Villans
Current Owners: Nassef Sawiris and Wesley Edens
Current Manager: Dean Smith
Current Captain: Jack Grealish
Current Stadium: Villa Parknote
2019/20 Position: 17th
Highest Finish: 2nd (1992/93)
Generally a typical mid-table side from Birmingham, the odd flirtation with either end of the table notwithstanding; their highest finish was as runners-up under Ron Atkinson in the first Premier League season. They also mounted a consistent challenge for European places under the management of Martin O'Neill, only to have reverted to old ways since then. The 2014/15 season saw the sacking of manager Paul Lambert after a dire run that left them in the relegation zone. However, ex-Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood managed to keep the team from relegation and took them to the FA Cup final. After a monumentally bad start to the 2015/16 season, Sherwood was fired and replaced by Rémi Garde, former Arsenal player in Arsène Wenger's early years as manager. While he managed to upgrade their performances from 'downright awful' to merely 'very bad', after just 3 wins from 23 games he left the club in March 2016. They were relegated in mid-April following a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United. Chinese billionaire Tony Xia took over the club from former Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner in the offseason and signed Premier League-caliber players like Jonathan Kodjia and Mile Jedinak. Despite the club's overhaul, Villa finished midtable in the Championship, following up the next season with a strong push that saw them finish in a playoff spot, though they lost to Fulham in the final. Xia sold out during the 2018 offseason to a joint venture between Egyptian Nassef Sawiris and American Wes Edens, the latter also being a co-owner of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks. Bruce was ditched after a poor start to the 2018/19 season, with open Villa fan Dean Smith taking over from Brentford. He got them 10 wins on the trot late on in the season (a run ended controversially by Leeds in the penultimate game) and after beating West Brom on penalties, they held off Derby to return. Survived relegation despite seeing to be assured of it by winning late against Arsenal and drawing on the final day as Arsenal defeated Watford. Then, in 2020/21, they shocked the football world by hammering defending champions Liverpool 7-2, a league defeat on a scale Liverpool had only conceded once in the last 60 years. Started the 2020/21 campaign incredibly well, and despite slipping in the table, they still find themselves as one of the form teams on the season.
- Brighton and Hove Albion
Nickname: The Seagulls
Current Owner: Tony Bloom
Current Manager: Graham Potter
Current Captain: Lewis Dunk
Current Stadium: Falmer Stadium (sometimes called American Express Arena after the credit card firm sponsoring it.)note
2019/20 Position: 15th
Highest Finish: 15th (2017/18 and 2019/20)
BHA once had a pretty decent stay in the old First Division, but plummeted soon after, going as far as being just half-an-hour away from being relegated out of the Football League before managing to pull themselves back into the Championship in 2011. Having generally struggled in the lower leagues before moving to the American Express Arena fans were desperate for (after 14 years without a real home, which included two seasons 100 miles away in Gillingham), BHA reached the play offs for the Premier League 3 times over the subsequent 5 seasons, without managing to win them. Come the 2016/17 campaign, they managed to dominate the league alongside Newcastle, where they were able to win the league and achieve promotion. They are known as the Seagulls or the Albion, and have a very fierce rivalry with Premier League side Crystal Palace, known as the M23 Derbynote . They have established themselves as a lower-midtable side in the three seasons hence, and the AMEX has seemed to become a bogey ground for Manchester United. In the 2018/19 campaign, the relegation battle stayed on until late in the season, but thanks to hated rivals Crystal Palace, Brighton survived the season and their PL status continued. 2020/21 has been another season where they have been stationed just above the watermark has followed, though they have managed surprise results against Big Six sides Arsenal and Chelsea.
Nickname: The Clarets
Current Owners: ALK Capital
Current Manager: Sean Dyche
Current Captain: Tom Heaton
Current Stadium: Turf Moor note
2019/20 Position: 10th
Highest Finish: 7th (2017/18)
The smallest club to have been promoted to the Premier League until Bournemouth's promotion in the 2014/2015 season. The club is based in a town in eastern Lancashire so small its population would only fill three of Old Trafford's stands. Despite starting their freshman season (2009/10) well, things went horribly wrong after promotion-winning manager Owen Coyle left and they ended up getting relegated shortly after. They got another chance in the Premier League during the 2014/2015 season, in which they had a number of notable feats, including getting a 1-0 win against Manchester City, who they held away from home earlier in the season from 2 down, who up to that point had scored in every match. They fought hard to stay in the league, but it was not to be. They were next promoted in 2016, finishing the season atop the Championship. They survived the next season, largely off the back of stunning home form (in the league - it could have been in the cup too, but Burnley lost at home to then-5th-tier Lincoln), despite earning only one away point before February (at Old Trafford after their ex-United keeper Tom Heaton stopped a Curb-Stomp Battle on his own), and no away wins until the end of April. They even qualified for the Europa Qualifying Rounds that season, but they didn't manage to make the Group Stage. They've been hanging out in midtable ever since, though in 2020/21 they did have the notable distinction of ending Liverpool's 68 game unbeaten streak at home, the second longest on record, a couple of months shy of four years after it began.
Nickname: The Bluesnote
Current Owner: Roman Abramovich
Current Manager: Thomas Tuchel
Current Captain: César Azpilicueta
Current Stadium: Stamford Bridgenote
2019/20 Position: 4th
Highest Finish: 1st (2004/05, 2005/06, 2009/10, 2014/15 and 2016/17)
Central London-based Chelsea FC is currently owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, making the club one of the wealthiest in the Premier League. The club have presently won five Premier League titles, winning it all in in 2004/05 and 2005/06 under José Mourinho, in 2009/10 under Carlo Ancelotti, in 2014/15 after Mourinho returned from stints at Inter Milan and Real Madrid, and in 2016/17 under Antonio Conte. Although their traditional rivals are Fulham, Chelsea fans tend to look down on their central London neighbors, instead regarding Arsenal or Spurs as their main rivals. Like Manchester City, fans of other sides find them controversial, due to Abramovich splashing money on the team, their (ab)use of the loaning system, and their penchant for "bus-parking" (playing heavily-defensive ball relying on the counter-attack), though Maurizio Sarri brought about a more attacking philosophy during his turn. Chelsea have most recently won the 2018/19 Europa League after an all-London final against Arsenal, but Sarri left for Juventus shortly thereafter. Abramovich then hired former Chelsea midfield legend Frank Lampard, signing him away from Derby County after the latter had lost the Championship playoff final to Villa. Expectations were rather low, but backed by the emerging youth talents, Lampard has by all accounts started his managerial spell in Chelsea well, finishing 4th in an otherwise-lopsided season and making an FA Cup Final appearance (where they lost to Arsenal). Following a transfer window splurge of 222 million pounds, procuring youth talent such as Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, and Timo Werner, expectations were high, but Chelsea find themselves outside the Top 6 following a torrid run of form and several underwhelming performances from said youth talent. This culminated in Frank Lampard's sacking in late January 2021, with former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel taking the reins.
- Crystal Palace
Nickname: The Eagles
Current Owners: Steve Parish (Majority Shareholder), Joshua Harris and David S. Blitzer
Current Manager: Roy Hodgson
Current Captain: Luka Milivojević
Current Stadium: Selhurst Parknote
2019/20 Position: 14th
Highest Finish: 10th (2014/15)
A South London-based club who to date have had five separate spells in the Premier League, more than any other team, and suffered immediate relegation in each of the first four (though were a little unlucky to go down in the 1994/95 season, when there was an extra relegation spot due to league reconstruction). They finally averted relegation in the 2013/14 season thanks to manager Tony Pulis, the ex-Stoke coach who has never suffered relegation with any of his teams. Pulis moved on to West Brom afterwards and Palace have further established themselves in the Premier League mix under former Newcastle manager (and ex-Palace player) Alan Pardew, who succeeded in making them a credible threat to the very top teams, particularly the long suffering Liverpool, until Jürgen Klopp took charge - now it's the long suffering Manchester United, who Palace most recently humiliated 3-1 at Old Trafford.They really, REALLY don't like Brighton and Hove Albion. Have established themselves as a midtable side who are quite capable of beating the Big Six in their home of Selhurst Park with semi-regularity - except for Liverpool, who after dropping a 3 goal lead in the disaster that arguably cost them the title in 2013/14 have since returned every time with malice aforethought. They currently appear to be safe from relegation, but with few aspirations beyond that.
Nickname: The Toffees
Current Owners: Farhad Moshiri (Majority Shareholder), Bill Kenwright and Jon Woods
Current Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
Current Captain: Séamus Coleman
Current Stadium: Goodison Parknote
2019/20 Position: 12th
Highest Finish: 4th (2004/05)
Liverpool's major rivals from just across town. Spent the first decade of the Premier League constantly fighting relegation, but after David Moyes's appointment as manager in 2002 they often challenged for European places, and managed to break into the Champions League spots (at that time occupied consistently by the "Big Four") in the 2004/05 season. Roberto Martínez took over as manager after David Moyes left for Manchester United and constructed an extremely talented team that played delightful attacking football. Unfortunately, their defending was correspondingly dubious; numerous times they took the lead, only to either concede goals and lose or draw, along with a serious problem with playing at home. Under Ronald Koeman, they became the 'best of the rest', spearheaded by prodigiously talented striker Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku then joined Manchester United for £80 million, this move enabling Wayne Rooney to make a surprise return to his alma mater after 13 years away. Despite spending more than £140 million in the transfer market, a disastrous start to the 2017-2018 season meant that Koeman was sacked in October 2017, being replaced by footballing firefighter Sam 'Big Sam' Allardyce. He got the team to the top half but was obviously unpopular due to his rustic game and canned for longtime target Marco Silva, with Rooney's return lasting just one season. Silva was canned after a torrid run in 2017/18, but Duncan Ferguson took the caretaker role, led a trashing of Chelsea just 40 hours later, held Man U and Arsenal, and transferred the job to ex-Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, who has bought them up the table with a run of single goal wins. They currently find themselves jostling with other Big 6 sides for the titular spots, though their hated neighbors have pulled ahead of them by a wide margin.
- Leeds United
Nickname: The Peacocksnote
Current Owners: Andrea Radrizzani (Majority Shareholder) and 49ers Enterprisesnote
Current Manager: Marcelo Bielsa
Current Captain: Liam Cooper
Current Stadium: Elland Road note
2019/20 Position: 1st in Championship (promoted)
Highest Finish: 3rd (1999/2000)
Known as "the Whites" or "the Peacocks", they frequently won trophies in the 60s, 70s and 90s (though they gained notoriety for an extremely brutal playing style - even by the lax standards of the time - under Don Revie), reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League, but crashed and burned spectacularly after overspending in the early 2000s, being relegated in 2004, and then again to League One in 2007, and only avoided being tossed out of the Football League and bankrupted due to Loophole Abuse (which cause the FA to bring in the more stringent financial rules that are in operation today). Got back to the Championship in 2010, but never seemed to look like serious promotion contenders. Their main rivals used to be Liverpool and Manchester United, the two other traditional footballing superpowers of the North, and some fans still believe this is so, to the derision of Liverpool and United fans alike (it being one of the very few things the two groups actually agree on). Nowadays, their rivals are the two Sheffield clubs, and fans quietly acknowledge that the old days of Champions League football and challenging for the title are long gone. Replaced an earlier club called Leeds City... who were tossed out of the Football League and bankrupted just after World War I due to massive corruption, which included bribing league officials and paying their players illegal bonuses. When they began competing for promotion, they gained a reputation for bungling away leads, as they managed to blow nearly-assured promotion, and a nearly-assured playoff spot multiple times over the years, but with famed Argentine manager Marcelo "El Loco" Bielsa they finally played up to their potential and managed to dominate the Championship for all of the 2019-20 season, sealing their definitive return to the Premier League after 16 long years of absence. They promptly threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the league by going to Anfield, home of defending champions and old rivals Liverpool (who were undefeated at home in three years) and going toe to toe with them, forcing them to the finish in a narrow 4-3 defeat. A 4-3 win against fellow new boys Fulham the following week seemingly underlined the point that if Leeds are going to be anything, it isn't boring...
- Leicester City
Nickname: The Foxes
Current Owners: The Srivaddhanaprabha Family
Current Manager: Brendan Rodgers
Current Captain: Wes Morgan
Current Stadium: King Power Stadiumnote
2019/20 Position: 5th
Highest Finish: 1st (2015/16)
The Midlands-based "Foxes" had a good run under Martin O'Neill's management in the late nineties, but things went rapidly downhill after he went north of the border for Celtic in 2000. Leicester got relegated to League One in 2008, but they bounced back the following season and spent the next five seasons in the Championship. After being absent from the Premier League for ten years, the Foxes achieved promotion in 2014, following a miraculous rally that saw them come from bottom into safety within two months. Following a tumultuous offseason that saw their old manager sacked, the club swiftly appointed Claudio The Tinkerman Ranieri, former Chelsea boss, who had never won a top flight title in his 28 year career as a manager. Despite all the oddsnote , most notably the now infamous 5000/1 odds of the side winning the league, the squad made up of mostly bargain buys, cast-offs and supposed has-beens managed to defy all logic and reason to win the 2015/16 title, the first league title in the club's history, and in the eyes of many, a victory for passion and teamwork over money and power in football. Their 2016/17 season wasn't quite so successful, with the worst title defence in over half a century, to the point that Ranieri was sacked in February 2017 (which led to a pretty big backlash pretty much everywhere owing to his popularity). Tragedy struck the club early in the 2018/19 season, when a helicopter carrying widely beloved owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha crashed, killing everyone aboard and leading to mass mourning from everyone in the league. 364 days later, Leicester won NINE-nil AT Southampton, en route to a season challenging Manchester City for second place behind a rampaging Liverpool, ahead of Big Six teams Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United. Ultimately, they fell short of their lofty performance, finishing 5th, and they once again find themselves in the title race.
Nickname: The Reds
Current Owners: Fenway Sports Group
Current Manager: Jürgen Klopp
Current Captain: Jordan Henderson
Current Stadium: Anfieldnote
2019/20 Position: 1st
Highest Finish: 1st (2019/20) - Earliest title win in EPL history (7 games remaining)note
The second most successful club in English football, having won the League 18 times and the European Cup 6 times, but have never the Premier League in its present form, being runners-up in 2002, 2009, 2014, and 2019. Formerly known as the club most likely to come third in any competition you care to name, before a nosedive in 2009-10. Periodically threatened a return to the glory days, including a good record in the Champions League under Rafael Benítez, winning in 2005 and reaching the final in 2007, prior to the arrival of Jürgen Klopp, who with tactical changes, sensible signings, and sheer force of personality turned them into 'Europe's Entertainers'. This was cemented by a Champions League final appearance in 17/18, then a victory in 18/19 (while missing out on the league by 1 point), before rampaging through the league in 2019/20 only dropping 2 points in 27 games before a loss to Watford ended a 44 game unbeaten run, tying the record for most consecutive wins twice, and scooping the European Super-Cup and Club World Cup on the way to the title - even the COVID-19 caused 3 month break didn't stop them, and they won in cruise control, racking up 99 points (one shy of the record). Known for attacking verve, embodied by their lethal front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino a.k.a. 'the Red Arrows', and more recently, ruthless consistency, the sale of star attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142 million, reinvesting in centre-back Virgil Van Dijk, goalkeeper Alisson Becker, and defensive midfielder/defender Fabinho along with creative full-backs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold (the latter coming through Liverpool's academy). The loss of most of their first team to injury during 2020/21, especially the talismanic Van Dijk, and a shock 7-2 hammering by Aston Villa, forced a lot of makeshift solutions. Cue a drastic drop-off as they hit a Heroic RRoD after terrorising Europe for three years mixed with the below-mentioned Heroic BSoD. However, they're still hot on the heels of a Champions League place, grimly piecing their season back together, and occasionally remind everyone just what they're capable of (the 7-0 obliteration of Crystal Palace stands out). Their home stadium of Anfield was medium sized by footballing standards at 45,000 prior to its expansion, but renowned for its raucous atmosphere, leading to a well-earned reputation as an intimidating place to play (they hadn't lost a league match there in 68 games and nearly four years until Burnley found a way in January 2021 - though that led to an extended Heroic BSoD and a horrible home record when they promptly lost the next six home games) and the nickname 'Fortress Anfield'. Owned by Fenway Sports Group, owners of the Boston Red Sox, succeeding the widely despised Hicks and Gillette, who drove the club into bankruptcy.
- Manchester City
Nickname: The Citizens
Current Owner: Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Current Manager: Josep "Pep" Guardiola
Current Captain: Fernandinho
Current Stadium: Etihad Stadiumnote
2020/21 Position: 1st
Highest Finish: 1st (2011/12, 2013/14, 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2020/21) - Most wins (32), most goals (106), and most points (100) in a single season in Premier League history
Perennial underachievers until being bought by Arab Sheik Mansour, after which the team became serious contenders, winning the 2011-12 title under Roberto Mancini and the 2013/14 title under Manuel Pellegrini, capitalising on the faltering at the end of the season of a previously rampant Liverpool side. Fans of other teams find City as controversial because of the team's overwhelming wealth and despite their secure position at the top end of the Premier League, they have yet to translate it to European success, the standard by which every top club is ultimately judged. Have a persistent problem playing against Liverpool, especially at Anfield, the only stadium they've failed to win at since the Mansour takeover, and in general since 2003. Became the first team to break 100 points in the Premier League era in 2017/18, despite stumbling at the end. Came from as many as 10 points behind Liverpool to secure the 2018/19 campaign, only making it certain on the final day. The next season, however, saw City slide back into a battle against Leicester City for 3rd place as Liverpool surged forward and never let the lead slip. In February they also received a sentence from UEFA over their Financial Fair Play transgressions that led to a ban from European competitions for the next two seasons; the ban was subsequently overturned on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, prompting righteous delight/relief from City fans and disgust from almost everyone else. They started slowly in 2020/21, but came back with a vengeance to clinch the title ten points ahead of their Manchester rivals.
- Manchester United
Nickname: The Red Devils
Current Owners: The Glazer Family
Current Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Current Captain: Harry Maguire
Current Stadium: Old Traffordnote
2019/20 Position: 3rd
Highest Finish: 1st (1992/93, 1993/94, 1995/96, 1996/97, 1998,99, 1999/2000, 2000/01, 2002/03, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2010/11 and 2012/13) - Most Premier League titles (13)
The most successful club in English football, who have won the top League a record 20 times, with their 13 Premier League titles all being won under Sir Alex Ferguson. The Glazer family, which also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, holds a controlling stake in the team; however, supporters have unsuccessfully attempted to buy out Malcolm Glazer, the family patriarch and owner of the club until his death in 2014, since he saddled the club with massive debts. After Fergusons retirement, the club has been in a bit of a flux. First, Fergusons chosen successor, former Everton boss David Moyes, was sacked after leading United to their worst ever Premier League finish (7th), which meant the club failed to qualify for any European competition for the first time since 1990. Afterwards, Dutchman Louis van Gaal was brought in to bring back winning ways, and Champions League. He managed the former in his second season (an FA Cup victory), and the latter in his first (4th). However, his reign at the club will always be remembered for his very boring style of football designed to neutralize opponents rather than attack them, to the derision of everyone, particularly the clubs fans. Despite the aforementioned FA Cup victory, van Gaal was sacked two days later after failing to obtain Champions League football. Until mid-December 2018, was managed by former Chelsea manager José 'The Special One' Mourinho. While United finished sixth in Mourinho's first season, outside the Champions League qualifying places, they managed to get into the 201718 CL group stage by winning the Europa League. Man U spent £90million to bring back former youth product Paul Pogba in 2016, and a year later spent £80 million on Romelu Lukaku, who has had a mixed relationship with Mourinho, with Wayne Rooney back at Everton after 13 years. Mourinho was finally sacked after a season and a half in charge, and Ole Gunnar Solskjær, the one who scored United's last-gasp winning goal against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final, was hired as the caretaker for the remainder of the season amid general perplexity, but he quickly steered the ship at United, leading him to become the permanent manager. However, ever since, they have returned to the form held under Moyes and van Gaal, causing cries for Ole's sacking. Despite that, though, the signing of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon gave the Red Devils a much-needed shot in the arm, as they breezed through Club Brugge in the Europa League round of 32 and returned into the race for the last Champions League spot to pretty much everyone's surprise. They finished by claiming it and finishing 3rd. The following season, they found themselves surprise contenders at the top of the table.
- Newcastle United
Nickname: The Magpiesnote
Current Owner: Mike Ashley
Current Manager: Steve Bruce
Current Captain: Jamaal Lascelles
Current Stadium: St James' Parknote
2019/20 Position: 13th
Highest Finish: 2nd (1995/96 and 1996/97)
Owned by (widely hated) SportsDirect tycoon Mike Ashley (although there were recently talks about a takeover by a group led by the sovereign investment fund of Saudi Arabia, which vaporised at the prospect of the 'fit and proper person' test), this team from Newcastle-upon-Tyne is probably most famous for Kevin Keegan's rant in 1995, where with Newcastle 12 points ahead, he declared that he'd "love it if we (Newcastle) beat them (Manchester United)". They let that lead slip. Were eventually relegated in 2009, but came right back up on their first attempt. Alan Pardew, who managed to even get Newcastle into Europe, eventually left to rescue his old club Crystal Palace, causing Newcastle to only barely survive that season on the final day, and go down immediately after (but not before giving Tottenham Hotspur a 5-1 thrashing on the last day). Returned to the big time yet again after only one season down, swapping spots with hated rivals Sunderland, much to their glee. Ever since, however, they've mostly languished in the lower midtable.
Nickname: The Saints
Current Owners: Gao Jisheng (Majority Shareholder) and Katharina Liebherr
Current Manager: Ralph Hasenhüttl
Current Captain: James Ward-Prowse
Current Stadium: St Mary's Stadiumnote
2019/20 Position: 11th
Highest Finish: 6th (2015/16)
South coast club who were regular fixtures (albeit usually struggling against relegation) until some epic mismanagement saw them relegated in 2005, and then again in 2009. Rebounded with back-to-back promotions in 2011 and 2012, though promotion-winning manager Nigel Adkins was controversially axed simply because the owners didn't think he was high-profile enough. However, the new boss, Mauricio Pocchetino, famous for his foul in the 2002 World Cup, helped Southampton climb into the top half of the table. They continued their good form during the 2014/15 season, they turned into unlikely title challengers under the management of Dutchman Ronald Koeman, and though they fell away, finished respectably. Losing yet more star players to clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool didn't seem to impede them again, despite a dismal period from late November to early January (where they only obtained 4 points from a possible 24), they turned it around to finish in their highest ever position and qualify for the Europa League group stage. Things, however, have been tougher since due to the increasing changeover in managers, with veteran Mark Hughes being required to save them with 8 games left of 2017-18 despite reaching the FA cup Semi Final, though he succeeded. However, after just one win in their first 14 games (with the 15th "away" to Spurs, which would produce another routine loss under the interim management, though a last-gasp goal back made it the first time in 8 years EVERY team scored in a PL game round), Sparky got canned for the second time in 2018, the final game seeing them lose a 2-0 lead to draw with Manchester United. Austrian Ralph Hasenhuttl, who had an impressive record in the German Bundesliga with young and unheralded squads, was the next to the role. His first home game saw a win over Arsenal, despite being pegged back twice, their first win since round 4, and the Gunners' first loss since round 2. However, a run of 3 favourable games produced only 2 points after the January window ended without investment despite a prior revival, but the inconsistency of rivals was enough for Southampton to steer away from the danger zone. The next season saw an utterly humiliating 9-0 home loss to Leicester (both Leicester strikers got hat-tricks), and widespread speculation that they would be relegated. However, this was followed by a winning run including at Stamford Bridge, at home to Spurs, and most notably, in the return in Leicester, aided by an astonishing scoring streak by Danny Ings, who barely missed out on that season's Golden Boot. Football is a strange game, sometimes.
- Tottenham Hotspur
Nickname: The Spursnote
Current Owners: Joe Lewis (Majority Shareholder) and Daniel Levy
Current Manager: Ryan Mason (Interim)
Current Captain: Hugo Lloris
Current Stadium: Tottenham Hotspur Stadiumnote
2019/20 Position: 6th
Highest Finish: 2nd (2016/17)
A north London club and Arsenal's main rival. The Spurs were relatively unremarkable for the Premier League's first decade, usually finishing in a mid-to-low position, but became regular challengers for the Champions League first under Martin Jol, and then under Harry Redknapp, though to date have only actually made the top four twice, in 2010 and 2012 (and failed to qualify for the Champions League in the latter after sixth-place Chelsea won it). The 2013/14 season saw Spurs selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for a world record £85.3 million and sacking Andre Villas-Boas after a rocky start. In addition to loathing Arsenal, Spurs also have fierce derbies against West Ham United and Chelsea. They usually play exciting and attractive football, played by a young and talented team (at one point, they had the youngest squad in the division, albeit only by a fraction). They spent the 2017/18 season and most of the 2018/19 season at Wembley Stadium, during which time their usual stadium White Hart Lane was redeveloped into a 61,559-seater stadium, into which they moved in April 2019. After a slow start, the form continued, with Real Madrid beaten at Wembley and the Stamford Bridge taboo ended. During the 2018/19 season, they would go from being 12 minutes away from being knocked out of the Champions League group stage - with two games left - to knocking Manchester City out in the quarterfinals, and then coming form 3-0 down on aggregate to Ajax inside the final half of the fixture to secure a berth to the Champions League final, which they would lose 2-0 to Liverpool (after conceding a penalty thirty seconds in). Things went off the rails for Spurs in 2019/20, with a torrid start that saw them in the Bottom 10 of the table approaching the holidays as well as a Champions League campaign that featured a demeaning 7-2 home loss against eventual champions Bayern Munich (they must really have a beef with London clubs, huh?), culminating in manager Pochettino being sacked just six months after the Champions League Final appearance, with José Mourinho doing little more than earning another place above Arsenal, with Spurs never looking like a CL push. While they looked like serious title challengers to Liverpool in 2020/21, Mourinho's usual mind games and bus-parking failed to work and the champions put them in their place, following which their form collapsed despite clinging to a Top 6 spot - adding insult to injury, Liverpool arrived for the return match a month later on the back of five games without a win, and four without a goal, before promptly stuffing Spurs 3-1.
- West Ham United
Nickname: The Ironsnote
Current Owners: David Sullivan (Majority Shareholder), David Gold and Albert Smith
Current Manager: David Moyes
Current Captain: Mark Noblenote
Current Stadium: London Stadiumnote
2019/20 Position: 16th
Highest Finish: 5th (1998/99)
Despite what the name suggests, they're based in east London, having begun life as the Thames Ironworks Football Club in 1895. "The Hammers" are notable for their devoted fan base and for having contributed several key players to England's only World Cup winning side in 1966, including hat trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst and legendary defender Bobby Moore. The team has featured in most Premier League campaigns and generally finishes mid-table, but have twice suffered relegation on the back of ill-advised managerial appointments (Glenn Roeder in 2003, and Avram Grant in 2011). Recent years have been something of a roller coaster for West Ham. On the one hand, their century-long tenure at Upton Park ended on a high note with a strong performance in the 2015/16 season. Under then manager and former player Slaven Bilić, the club achieved the rare feat of a Premier League Grand Slam by beating Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, and both Manchester teams in a single season. But a move to the London Stadium (the renovated 2012 Olympic Stadium) in the autumn of 2016 would prove tumultuous as both players and supporters struggled to adjust to their new home. The next two seasons would be dogged by uneven form, relegation fears, and simmering discontent among the clubs fans. Veteran manager Manuel Pellegrini took control of the club in the summer of 2018 and made a number of key signings. After another wobbly start, the Hammers began to show signs of consistency and positive attacking play, creating a fresh sense of optimism among fans. By the end of 2019, however, another nosedive in form led to the sacking of Pellegrini and reappointment of former caretaker, David Moyes, who, thanks in part to some canny signings, guided the club to safety once again, even finding themselves ahead of both Chelsea and Arsenal for a significant portion of the season. Their 2020-21 season saw even bigger improvements, with them surprisingly jostling for a Champions League spot against the likes of Leicester and Liverpool. Historically, West Ham don't like Spurs and really loathe Millwall.
- Wolverhampton Wanderers
Nickname: The Wolves
Current Owners: Fosun International
Current Manager: Nuno Espírito Santo
Current Captain: Conor Coady
Current Stadium: Molineux note
2019/20 Position: 7th
Highest Finish: 7th (2018/19 and 2019/20)
Hugely successful in the 1950s, and relatively common fixtures in the top-flight until the mid 1980s. After their first Premier League campaign ended in immediate relegation they survived for a few years in the 2000s/2010s, only to be relegated in 2012, and then relegated again the following year, although were promoted back to the Championship in 2013/14 and have hung out in the lower half of the table. However, in 2017, a Chinese takeover allowed Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes to help engineer the Midlands side's managerial appointments and transfers, and Wolves were successfully able to achieve promotion in early April 2018. Their first season back in the top flight started with a draw at home against Everton and a defeat at Leicester, but they surprisingly managed to snatch two points away from Manchester City despite scoring with an offside handball. Form has bizarrely oscillated - one example being a 7 game run where they lost to Watford, Brighton, Huddersfield and Cardiff, but were very unlucky not to beat Arsenal, cut a 3-goal deficit to Spurs to one goal, and beat Chelsea from behind. Also knocked Manchester United out of the FA cup to make the semi finals, and became the first team to be promoted and then finish in the Top 7 in the next season since Ipswich in 2000-01. They finished in 7th again the following year, and seem to be slipping.
- Fulham (2001-2014, 2018-2019, 2020-21)
Nickname: The Cottagers
Current Owner: Shahid Khan
Current Manager: Scott Parker
Current Captain: Tom Cairney
Current Stadium: Craven Cottage note
2020/21 Position: 18th/19th (Relegated)
Highest Finish: 7th (2008/09)
Probably most famously had a great escape from relegation in 2007/08 under Roy Hodgson, then the following season got into Europe, before becoming runners-up in the 2009/10 Europa League - beating many of the game's most famous names to do so, including a famous 4-1 win against Juventus. The team lost their status as a Premier League club as a poor 2013/14 campaign saw both ex-Spurs boss Martin Jol and René Meulensteen getting the sack. Formerly owned by Mohammed Al Fayed, they were purchased in 2013 by Pakistani-born US billionaire Shahid Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and now also co-owner with his son of All Elite Wrestling. Their first 2 seasons after relegation were ones of struggle, where Fulham held off the risk of a further relegation, but under ex-Chelsea player Jokanovic, they snuck into the playoffs ahead of Leeds, only to lose to Reading. Most recently, they won their way back into the playoff final. They earned a good early win over Burnley, having spent big money on talented platers, but than 8 straight defeats, many of which saw them leak goals left, right and centre, Jokanovic was sacked and replaced by his former manager up the road Ranieri, without knowing he was sacked until the Leicester legend was announced in his place. Ranieri failed to revitalize the club, and barely a hundred days later he was sacked himself, with Jokanovic associate Scott Parker taking his place as caretaker. Went down in early April after losing to Watford, but managed a strong campaign in 2019/20, confirming a Playoff spot. Emerged victorious over Brentford to confirm a place in the Premier League for the 2020/21 season, but were sent packing shortly after.
- West Bromwich Albion (2002-03, 2004-06, 2008-09, 2010-2018, 2020-21)
Nickname: The Baggies
Current Owner: Guochuan Lai
Current Manager: Sam Allardyce
Current Captain: Chris Brunt
Current Stadium: The Hawthornsnote
2020/21 Position: 18th/19th (Relegated)
Highest Finish: 8th (2012/13)
West Midlands-based club, who spent much of the 2000s bouncing between the Premier League and Championship, before establishing themselves as a decent mid-table side under Roy Hodgson before he left to take over England. Best known for their "Great Escape" during the 2004/05 season, where they became the first team to escape relegation having been bottom at Christmas (in fact, they were still bottom going into their final match). They were relegated the following season, however. Under Tony Pulis, they re-established their mid-table status, proving a hard team to break down and a consistent threat to top teams via set-pieces up until a dire end to the 2016-17 season sent them plummeting and, when wins in their first 2 games in the 2017-18 season were followed by a 19 game winless run, Pulis was sacked in favor of Alan Pardew. Having oscillated between stability and PR disasters throughout 8 years in the PL unimpeded, their 2017-18 campaign descended into farce, and Pardew was ditched with one league win in 30 league games, and 10 points adrift with 18 to gain, though Moore gaining 11 of them in his first 5 games, including against Man Utd, Liverpool and Spurs, ensured WBA were only demoted on the final week. They failed to gain promotion in the 2018-19 year, but managed it the following season. However, like Fulham, they were kicked right back down.
- Sheffield United (1992-1994; 2006-2007, 2019-2021)
Nickname: The Blades
Current Owner: Abdullah bin Musa'ed
Current Manager: Paul Heckingbottom (Interim)
Current Captain: Billy Sharp
Current Stadium: Bramall Lane note
2020/21 Position: 20th (relegated)
Highest Finish: 9th (2019/20)
One of the two Sheffield clubs, who contest the Steel City derby (at least, when they're in the same division). Suffered last-day relegation from the Premier League on two separate occasions, the second in very controversial circumstances due to West Ham striker Carlos Téveznote scoring the goal which kept West Ham up at United's expense. Generally enjoyed better fortunes than Wednesday for most of the 2000s, though they only just won back promotion to the Championship, where a blistering start suggested that Wilder could be promoted from League 2 to Premier League in successive seasons (Northampton in 2015-16, Sheffield United since), though the Blades ultimately fell short. Achieved promotion for the 2019/20 campaign and have became notable for merited away results at Stamford Bridge, Goodison, Tottenham, Molineux and Emirates Stadium (and limiting Liverpool and Man City to narrow wins) making a European place far likelier than the relegation that seemed odds on when the season began as they jostle with Big Six sides Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United, and Chelsea, as well as surprise challengers Wolves and Burnley. The following season has been similarly spectacular, but for the opposite reason - they've officially made the worst start in the history of all four of England's top divisions and went down without even having 15 points to their name on their day of assurance.
Promoted teams (Will play in Premier League next season):
- Norwich City: (1992-95, 2004-05, 2011-14, 2015-16, 2019-20, 2021-)
Nickname: The Canaries
Current Owners: Delia Smith, Michael Wynn-Jones and Michael Foulger
Current Manager: Daniel Farke
Current Captain: Grant Hanley
Current Stadium: Carrow Roadnote
2020/21 Position: 1st in Championship (Promoted)
Highest Finish: 3rd (1992/93)
Title challengers under Mike Walker in the first Premier League season, but suffered a spectacular collapse after he left the following year and went down in the 1994-95 season. Came back for one season in 2004/05, before returning again and stabilising themselves in 2011. A torridnote 2013/14 campaign, however, saw the Canaries being too cautious and conservative for their own good and they paid dearly by being relegated on the season's final day. Fortunately for Canary fans, the team redeemed themselves in the Championship thanks to a much more positive play-style under Scottish manager Alex Neil and they achieved promotion after comfortably beating Middlesbrough in the 2015 Playoff Finals. In the 2015/16 season, despite a famous victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford, they were relegated despite doing their part in the final days. Came back for the 2019/20 season, but despite a famous 3-2 win over Manchester City and an earnest devotion to their stylish attacking football, they got kicked right back down immediately. Dominated the Championship the next season, and earned promotion once again by finishing 1st.
- Watford (1999-2000, 2006-07, 2015-2020, 2021-)
Nickname: The Hornets
Current Owner: Gino Pozzo
Current Manager: Xisco Muñoz
Current Captain: Troy Deeney
Current Stadium: Vicarage Roadnote
2020/21 Position: 2nd in Championship (Promoted)
Highest Finish: 11th (2018/19)
Enjoyed success under Graham Taylor in the 80s, and he took them back to the top-flight in 1999, only for them to be immediately relegated. They were promoted again under Adrian Boothroyd in 2006... and got immediately relegated again. Have since done reasonably well in the Championship, though repeatedly fell short of promotion, before finally winning promotion in the 2014/15 campaign. Gained a reputation for their managers having George Jetson Job Security after constantly sacking managers after excellent starts to the season followed by a loss of momentum and the team slipping down to midtable or lower. Went down at the end of the 2019/20 seasonnote , but secured promotion on the first attempt.
Guaranteed playoff spot or better:
Nickname: The Bees
Current Owner: Matthew Benham
Current Manager: Thomas Frank
Current Captain: Pontus Jansson
Current Stadium: Brentford Community Stadium note
2020/21 Position: 3rd in Championship
Highest Finish: N/A
The Bees of Brentford are one of the oldest clubs in all of England, being founded in 1889. Brentford started as a local sportsman's attempt at a permanent team for either football or rugby in the town (one of several). Managed a few spells in the First Division, before being sent down permanently following World War II. Faced serious financial troubles between 1950 and 1970, before finally managing to stabilize and make their way into the Championship following the reorganization of the English Football League. They spent most of the subsequent time in League One, chasing a return to the Championship but failing and than being relegated to League Two in 2007, before returning to League one in 2009, but won their way back into the Championship in 2014, where they have remained ever since. Put together a solid campaign in the 2019/20 season despite the COVID-19 disruption, competing with West Brom, Leeds, and Fulham for automatic promotion and assuring themselves of a playoff place, though they ultimately lost to Fulham in the Final. The very next season, they secured yet another playoff spot, finishing high but not quite enough for automatic promotion. In 2020/21, they secured yet another playoff spot.
- Swansea City (2011-2018)
Nickname: The Swans
Current Owners: Stephen Kaplan & Jason Levien and Swansea City Supporters Trust
Current Manager: Steve Cooper
Current Captain: Matt Grimes
Current Stadium: Liberty Stadiumnote
2020/21 Position: 4th in Championship
Highest Finish: 8th (2014/15)
Became the first Welsh club to ever play in the top division after being promoted in 2011. After almost being relegated out of League Two in 2003 (which would have caused the club to fold due to the financial difficulties they faced at the time), they enjoyed a meteoric rise to the Premier League thanks to their attacking, possession-focused tactics. Having established themselves as consistent mid-table finishers in their first two seasons, Swansea earned their first major piece of silverware when they won the League Cup in 2013, qualifying for the Europa League in the process. They started the 2015/16 season well, but slumped significantly after the first few weeks, eventually leading to the sacking of intensely popular and widely admired manager Garry Monk, who had gone straight from retirement from playing for Swansea to management and had, at the end of the previous season, been tipped for the England job. An upturn in performance following Guidolin's recruitment managed to bring Swansea to safety. After a rough start to the following season, Guidolin was shown the door, and replaced by former USA boss, Bob Bradleynote , before he too was shown the door two and a half months afterwards after failing to re-invigorate the squad. They appointed their third manager of the season in the form of former Bayern Munich assistant manager Paul Clement, and he began with a stunning win away to Liverpool, and Swansea managed to survive after a late revival, ensuring a 7th PL season in a row on the Gower Peninsula. Caused a surprise by signing Portugal international Renato Sanches on loan from Bayern Munich, after the Euro 2016 winner struggled for first team action at the club Clement was a former assistant manager of. He hopes to better Portuguese winning team teammate Eder, who had failed to make impact in a brief spell there before his stunning winner against hosts France in the 2016 final. However, Renato himself was struggling (and passed to a billboard in a game at Chelsea), prompting rumours of his loan being cancelled, and Clement being sacked for Carvahal, himself sacked by Sheffield Wednesday a few days earlier. Eased past Liverpool and Arsenal in successive league games, and had a best cup run in over 50 years including winning one replay 8-1. Sent down on the final day of the 2017/18 season, managed a playoff spot in the 2019/20 season but were defeated by Brentford. Managed another playoff spot in 2020/21.
- Barnsley (1997-98)
Nickname: The Tykes
Current Owners: Chien Lee, Paul Conway, Grace Hung, Neerav Parekh, Billy Beanenote and The Cryne Family
Current Manager: Valérien Ismaël
Current Captain: Alex Mowatt
Current Stadium: Oakwell note
2020/21 Position: 5th in Championship
Highest Finish: 19th (1997/98)
Spent 102 years trying to make it into the top flight of English football, and then were relegated after only one season, having spent virtually the entire season in the bottom three. Did manage a strong FA Cup run in the same season though, reaching the fifth round and knocking Manchester United out along the way. Came close to a return in 2000, but were relegated to the third tier 2 seasons later. Yo-yo between Championship and League 1 nowadays. An FA Cup run to the semi-finals, exactly 10 seasons after the Premier League season, repeating its bright spot of a historic win at Anfield, then ending Chelsea's defence, was their most notable moment since. Earned a playoff spot in 2020/21.
- AFC Bournemouth (2015-2020)
Nickname: The Cherries
Current Owner: Maxim Demin
Current Manager: Johnathan Woodgate
Current Captain: Steve Cook
Current Stadium: Dean Courtnote
2020/21 Position: 6th in Championship
Highest Finish: 9th (2016/17)
An incredible story in its own right, Bournemouth spent most of their history floating around between the third and fourth tiers, the only exception being a brief spell in the second tier under Harry Redknapp in the late Eighties. By the 2008/09 season they looked doomed to extinction, having started their League Two season on -17 points due to financial problems, but after appointing Eddie Howe as manager not only did they comfortably avoid relegation, they secured promotion the next season, and then promotion to the Championship in 2013. They continued doing better and better until in the 2014/15 campaign, they sealed Premiership status for the very first time by winning the Championship. Their first few seasons saw them make higher and higher finishes, but come the 2018/19 season, they seemed to slump back into midtable form, before sliding even further in the 2019/20 season and despite a strong final day showing, were ultimately sent down. Earned a playoff spot the next season.
- Birmingham City (2002-2006; 2007-2008; 2009-2011)
Nickname: The Bluesnote
Current Owner: Paul Suen
Current Manager: Lee Bowyer
Current Captain: Harlee Dean
Current Stadium: St Andrew's note
2020/21 Position: 18th in Championship
Highest Finish: 9th (2009/10)
The other major club from Birmingham. Had quite a few seasons in the Premier League during the 2000s, but could never quite establish themselves despite a League Cup win months before their relegation in 2011. With Villa and Wolves, forms one-third of a trio of Midlands clubs that have benefited from Chinese investment. Benefit is used loosely however at this stage. The investors sacked local boy Gary Rowett just before Christmas with the side near the Play-off places, replacing him with Gianfranco Zola, and Zola saw the team slide towards the relegation zone, resigning after a loss to Burton in the pre anti penultimate fixture, with Brum now just 1 point above the relegation zone. Harry Redknapp came in, and they won their last 2 games to stay in the Championship when a loss in either of them would have seen Birmingham relegated, but was sacked after a slow start to the next season, another one where they survived for definite on the final day.
- Blackburn Rovers: (1992-1999; 2001-2012)
Nickname: The Roversnote
Current Owners: The V H Group
Current Manager: Tony Mowbray
Current Captain: Elliott Bennett
Current Stadium: Ewood Park note
2020/21 Position: 15th in Championship
Highest Finish: 1st (1994/95)
Won the Premier League once back in 1994/95 under Kenny Dalglish, with Alan Shearer on the offense before he moved to Newcastle next season. The only former champions to have been relegated, twice no less; the second relegation came after they were taken over by Indian poultry giant Venky's, who sacked then-manager Sam Allardyce and replaced him with the highly unpopular Steve Kean, leading to relegation the following year, and the club getting through four managers in the following season in the Championship. Relegated again in 2017, with Venkys still owning the club, but immediately returned to the Championship the following year.
- Blackpool (2010-2011)
Nickname: The Seasidersnote
Current Owner: Simon Sadler
Current Manager: Neil Critchley
Current Captain: Chris Maxwell
Current Stadium: Bloomfield Road note
2020/21 Position: 3rd in League One
Highest Finish: 19th (2010/11)
Mostly remembered for the success they had when Stanley Matthews played for them back in the 50s, but they suffered some very troubled times from the late 70s onward, before getting back into the top-flight after a series of promotions in the mid-late 2000s. They went down straight away, albeit with a relatively high points total for a relegated side, partly due to a series of good away wins in the first two thirds of the season, before a spectacular implosion in spring. They were relegated twice in a row as the ownership was losing control and fans were turning against the Oyston family regime that has owned the Tangerines for decades, but snuck into the play offs in league 2, despite continued fan anger at the club's corrupt ownership, after winning their last game when any 2 of 9 teams could have made the play off, and beat Luton dramatically before holding off Exeter in the play off final.
- Bolton Wanderers (1995-1996; 1997-1998; 2001-2012)
Nickname: The Wanderersnote
Current Owners: Football Ventures
Current Manager: Ian Evatt
Current Captain: Antoni Sarcevic
Current Stadium: University of Bolton Stadium note
2020/21 Position: 3rd in League Two
Highest Finish: 6th (2004/05)
A Greater Manchester based club; their first Premier League season was awful, and their second saw them relegated on goal difference, but they established themselves as a pretty good side under Sam Allardyce in the 2000s, reaching highs of 6th place and establishing themselves in the UEFA Cup (now the Europa League). Their fortunes gradually deteriorated after he left however, and they were eventually relegated in 2012. After a dismal 2015/16 campaign, which saw them in 173 million pounds of debt, and handed a transfer embargo to boot, they were relegated to the third tier for the first time since 1993, though they won their way back up next season, and only narrowly avoided going down again in the final minutes of the 2017-18 season, but fell apart the following season, as financial woes got so bad that the certainty of them even playing games was low and their last home game cancelled completely. Things got so bleak that they were at risk of being expelled from the Football League altogether and doomed to extinction (a fate that befell unfortunate neighbors Bury FC, who had been in the Football League for 134 years until this happened), until they were saved in the eleventh hour by Football Ventures buying the team out. The following season was one of total turmoil, in no small part due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but they were relegated to League Two.
- Bradford City (1999-2001)
Nickname: The Bantamsnote
Current Owner: Stefan Rupp
Current Manager: Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars
Current Captain: Richard O'Donnell
Current Stadium: Valley Parade note
2020/21 Position: 15th in League Two
Highest Finish: 17th (1999/2000)
West Yorkshire club who famously survived on the last day of the 1999/2000 season by beating Liverpool. Unfortunately, in a portent of what would later happen to neighbours Leeds United, they then massively overspent on players and underwent financial meltdown, ending up in the Football League's lowest tier by 2007 (though they won promotion out of that division in 2013). Generally chased promotion to the Championship since they knocked Chelsea out of the FA cup in 2015, until a dire end to the 2017-18 season ended promotion hopes and continued into the new year.
- Cardiff City (2013-14, 2018-19)
Nickname: The Bluebirds
Current Owner: Vincent Tan
Current Manager: Mick McCarthy
Current Captain: Sean Morrison
Current Stadium: Cardiff City Stadium note
2020/21 Position: 8th in Championship
Highest Finish: 18th (2018/19)
The second Welsh club to have played in the Premier League. Their constant failures to get promoted to the top-flight were the source of a running joke for many years, until things finally went right in 2013 when they won the Football League Championship and earned promotion. Their owner, Vincent Tan, is a controversial figure for his constant Executive Meddling note , his jeers toward his own players and his lack of knowledge for the game note . However, his decision to sack Malky Mackay has helped vindicate his reputation after details about the former manager's... unsavory text messages came to public light. Despite signing players such as England international Steven Caulker, their first season in the Premier League was a far cry from the success of their rivals Swansea City and the Bluebirds got relegated ignominiously, and have since bounced around the Championship. However, under Neil Warnock, they managed the division's best winning start in 2017, with 5 on the trot, and got a fairer crack of the PL whip in real colours. In spite of their season being destroyed by their marquee signing being killed in a plane crash a day after joining the club, they won back-to-back, a feat not achieved the previous time, but lost late to Crystal Palace to be sent down with one match left to play, bringing an end to their rather tragic season. The following season, they managed a playoff spot, but lost to Fulham.
- Charlton Athletic (1998-1999; 2000-2007)
Nickname: The Addicks
Current Owner: Thomas Sandgaard
Current Manager: Nigel Adkins
Current Captain: Jason Pearce
Current Stadium: The Valley note
2020/21 Position: 7th in League One
Highest Finish: 7th (2003/04)
Another London-based club, who narrowly failed to survive in their first season, before establishing themselves as a decent mid-table side for a few years. However, things quickly went downhill after long-time manager Alan Curbishley left, and they were relegated the following year, then again in 2009. They won promotion back to the Championship in 2012, before their new owner's mismanagement of the club saw them sent back down in 2016, having relied on a partnership with clubs of his in Belgium, Spain and Hungary, where he was losing popularity at a rapid rate. Lost in Playoffs in 2017-18 under the guidance of ex Leeds and West Ham bad boy Lee Bowyer, but earned a shock win over Sunderland with the last action the next year.
- Coventry City (1992-2001)
Nickname: The Sky Blues
Current Owner: Joy Seppala
Current Manager: Mark Robins
Current Captain: Liam Kelly
Current Stadium: St Andrew's note
2020/21 Position: 16th in Championship
Highest Finish: 11th (1993/94 and 1997/98)
Midlands-based club, with rivalries with Leicester City and the two Birmingham-based clubs. Like Southampton they were long time members of the top-flight, but constantly struggled and finally went down in 2001. Contrary to what Monty Python's Flying Circus would have you believe, they have won the FA Cup (in 1987, well after the referenced sketch aired). Their failures to win promotion combined with the cost of building a new ground caused their finances to deteriorate as the decade progressed, leading to them being relegated again in 2012. To add insult to injury they were kicked out of their ground the following year, playing their 201314 "home" games 40 miles away in Northampton. They're now back in their Coventry ground... though they're now tenants of the Wasps rugby union club, formerly playing near London, which bought the ground and moved their home matches there in late 2014. They had a torrid 2016/17 campaign and have gone down to League 2. They last placed in the top 5 in any division in 1966, but Reached the FA cup last 16, including beating Stoke, and placed 6th, thereby earning a playoff place, in 2017-18. They won the play off final, finally getting upward trajectory. Talks between their owners SISU and Wasps had broken down before the 2019/20 season, so they had to move out of Ricoh Arena and arrange a groundsharing agreement with Birmingham City while a new stadium gets planned. On the plus side, while the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak, with each team be allocated points on a Points-Per-Game basis, Coventry finished 1st and achieved promotion to the Championship.
- Derby County (1996-2002; 2007-2008)
Nickname: The Rams
Current Owner: Mel Morris
Current Manager: Wayne Rooney
Current Captain: Curtis Davies
Current Stadium: Pride Park Stadium note
2020/21 Position: 21st in Championship
Highest Finish: 8th (1998/99)
Mostly remembered as the first team that Brian Clough made into title-winners. They were a generally decent side for a few years under Jim Smith, until they were relegated in 2002. Returned for one season after that, which can only be described as a failure of the most epic kind. They most recently made it into a playoff spot, winning the home fixture against Fulham, but losing the away by a greater margin. After Gary Rowett joined Stoke, ex-Chelsea icon Frank Lampard decided the Rams were his first managerial job. They found their way into the play offs, and controversially beat Leeds, in spite of having lost the first leg at home, 1-0, they earned a 4-2 win in a high-octane return, only to lose to Aston Villa. Lampard would leave after that season for Chelsea.
- Huddersfield Town (2017-19)
Nickname: The Terriers
Current Owner: Phil Hodgkinson
Current Manager: Carlos Coberan
Current Captain: Christopher Schindler
Current Stadium: Kirklees Stadium note
2020/21 Position: 20th in Championship
Highest Finish: 16th (2017/18)
Like Preston North End, Huddersfield are an historic team with regard to English football. When the English top flight was the Football League's First Division, they were the first team to win three straight titles (1923/24 to 1925/26), as well as the first team to score an Olímpico (a goal directly from a corner kick) in English history. They have not won a title since, and they began slipping over the next few decades, going down from the top flight in 1972 as far as the Fourth Division in 1975 (the first League Champions to do so). The Terriers spent most of their time in the Premier League era sitting still in the Championship and League One (with a single year in League Two), but in 2012 they won promotion to the Championship. They then climbed the ranks to make it to the Championship Playoff Final in 2017, where they beat Reading 4-3 on penalties. The 2017-2018 season will be their first season in the Premier League, and their first top-flight season in 45 years. They became the second newly promoted team to not concede a goal before the first international break (in the 3 games, wins by 3-0 and 1-0 and a 0-0 draw). They struggled afterwards, but then became the first team to beat Manchester United in the 2017-18 season, and shock late season stalemates at Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge allowed their survival with time to spare. This hasn't occurred the next season though, as their inability to find a goalscorer cut Huddersfield well adrift from the start, and indeed, they suffered the second earliest relegation (one day later than Derby's hapless 2007-08 ensemble), with three wins, two of which were against Wolves, the other against fellow strugglers Fulham, scoring just 18 goals in the process.
- Hull City (2008-10; 2013-15; 2016-17)
Nickname: The Tigers
Current Owners: The Allam Family
Current Manager: Grant McCann
Current Captain: Richie Smallwood
Current Stadium: KC Stadium note
2020/21 Position: 1st in League One (Promoted)
Highest Finish: 16th (2013/14)
Hull first entered the Premier League (and indeed the top-flight) in 2008. The Kingston upon Hull-based team's debut season was mostly remembered for them doing well until then-manager Phil Brown decided to berate his entire team on the pitch during half-time of one match. After that moment, they barely avoided relegation after failing to win a single home game for the rest of the season (winning only once away, at Fulham) before going down the following year having not won a single game on their travels. Hull returned to the top-flight in 2013 under Steve Bruce's management and finished as runners-up to Arsenal in the 2014 FA Cup after being up 2-0 within 20 minutes. While the Tigers went out of the Premier League on the final day the following season, they quickly rebounded and ultimately achieved promotion after beating Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 in the 2016 Championship playoff final. Usually struggling against relegation and being the whipping boy of the League in the first half of the 2016/17 season, including a wince-worthy 5-1 defeat to Liverpool, a change of manager restored fortunes somewhat (including with a 2-0 victory of Liverpool), but it was not enough to stop them from going down. A failed spell under ex-Russia boss Lenoid Slutskiy led to Hull needing another boss change, and risking an untenable back to back relegation and financial ruin after a decade of yo-yoing between the top 2 tiers, though Nigel Adkins has stabilised them since and they were able to stay up in the Championship for next season, only to be kicked down after a truly dismal second half of the season in 2020, with just 6 points in 20 games.
- Ipswich Town (1992-1995; 2000-2002)
Nickname: The Blues
Current Owner: Gamechangers 20 Ltd. (Majority Shareholders) and Marcus Evans
Current Manager: Paul Cook
Current Captain: Luke Chambers
Current Stadium: Portman Road note
2020/21 Position: 9th in League One
Highest Finish: 5th (2000/01)
Norwich's main rivals, and a successful club under Bobby Robson in the seventies, but their first few years in the Premier League were unimpressive, and they were relegated after a really terrible season in 1994/95. They came back in 2000, and finished fifth that year, only to end up back in the second tier the following year, but a torrid 2018/19 campaign saw them finish dead last with only 28 points out of 46 games, which sent them down into League 1.
- Middlesbrough (1992-93; 1995-97; 1998-09; 2016-17)
Nickname: The Boro
Current Owner: Steve Gibson
Current Manager: Neil Warnock
Current Captain: Jonny Howson
Current Stadium: Riverside Stadium note
2020/21 Position: 10th in Championship
Highest Finish: 7th (2004/05)
One of the "North-East Three" along with Newcastle and Sunderland. Were controversially relegated for failing to fulfill a fixture in 1997, but came back the following year and lasted over a decade, generally finishing mid-table (although they reached the finals of the UEFA Europa League (then the UEFA Cup) in 2006, losing to Sevilla in the finalsnote ) before eventually going down in 2009. They won promotion in 2016, only to go down again the following season. Gary Monk was controversially sacked pre-Xmas because Boro thought his style wasn't good enough. Who did they bring in his place? Tony Pulis! Pulis led them to the Championship playoff, though they were ousted by Aston Villa. However, a late slump the next season saw them miss out on one completely, and a new boss needed.
- Nottingham Forest (1992-1993; 1994-1997; 1998-1999)
Nickname: The Forestnote
Current Owner: Evangelos Marinakis
Current Manager: Chris Hughton
Current Captain: Michael Dawson
Current Stadium: City Ground note
2020/21 Position: 17th in Championship
Highest Finish: 3rd (1994/95)
Enjoyed huge success under Brian Clough in the 70s and 80s, but the start of the Premier League brought relegation, and his retirement. Came back twice after that but, aside from a 3rd place finish in 1995, enjoyed little success, and ended up going down to League One in 2005, becoming the first European Cup-winning team to later be relegated to the third tier of their domestic league (they came back three years later). Barely escaped relegation in 2016/17, and most recently made headlines for signing "Lord" Nicklas Bendtner, the former Arsenal striker, and onetime player of the year for his country, Denmark, who only played for them for six months, but scoring 2 goals, before leaving on a free transfer to Rosenborg in Norway. Forest avoided relegation by 2 goals, meaning fans attributed Bendtner, whose goals scored 3 points off top 6 teams Fulham and Newcastle, to their survival. In the next season, they sacked Mark Warburton but than caused a great FA Cup shock a week later, being the first side since Arsene Wenger was Arsenal manager to knock the Gunners, who won 3 of the last 4 iterations of the world's oldest event, out at the earliest possible stage, also Arsenal's first direct defeat in round 3 (ie without a replay) since their famous 1992 loss to Wrexham, which was also done in impressive style with a young side hammering a demotivated reserve group of Arsenal players, with most main men left out completely for the League cup semi final. Aitor Karanka, the ex Middlesbrough boss, came in just a couple of days after that famous result.
- Oldham Athletic (1992-1994)
Nickname: The Latics
Current Owner: Abdallah Lemsagam
Current Manager: Keith Curle
Current Captain: Carl Piergianni
Current Stadium: Boundary Park note
2020/21 Position: 18th in League Two
Highest Finish: 19th (1992/93)
Smallish club based in Greater Manchester who nonetheless spent a few years in the top flight back in the early 90s. They were relegated in 1994 and since 1997 have been in the third tier - the longest period any non top-flight club have been in their division without being promoted or relegated. However, this was ended on the final day of 2017-18. Paul Scholes, a famous devotee, managed just 7 games for them in 2018-19.
- Portsmouth (2003-2010)
Current Owner: Michael Eisner
Current Manager: Danny Cowley
Current Captain: Tom Naylor
Current Stadium: Fratton Park note
2020/21 Position: 8th in League One
Highest Finish: 8th (2007/08)
South coast club, whose fortunes seem to be the opposite of bitter rivals Southampton at any given time. After getting into the Premier League, their fortunes improved year on year, including winning the FA Cup... until their playboy millionairenote owner pulled the plug on them in 2009, sending them into a financial meltdown that made Bradford and Leeds's declines look tame. They were relegated the following year, relegated to League One in 2012 (thanks to a points deduction) and relegated to League Two the year after that, only avoiding bankruptcy when the supporters' trust purchased the club. They were able to win promotion to League One again in 2017, and a former Disney CEO purchased them that summer.
- Queens Park Rangers (1992-1996, 2011-2013, 2014-2015)
Nickname: The Rangersnote
Current Owners: Tony Fernandes and Lakshmi Mittal
Current Manager: Mark Warburton
Current Captain: Geoff Cameron
Current Stadium: Loftus Road Stadium note
2020/21 Position: 9th in Championship
Highest Finish: 5th (1992/93)
Yet another central London club, who were regular fixtures in the top-flight until relegation in 1996. After 15 years of varying fortunes they returned to the Premier League in 2011 with rich new owners, and barely survived the 2011/12 season before things went epically wrong the following season and they were relegated. They returned for 2014/15 after beating Derby County in the play-offs, but crashed out of the league after a brutal thrashing from Manchester City. Formerly managed by footballing stalwart Harry Redknapp, the club is facing an uncertain future as they have enough financial debt to potentially prevent them from playing in the English Football League. However, they continue playing there, albeit as an unspectacular mid-table side.
- Reading (2006-2008; 2012-2013)
Nickname: The Royals
Current Owners: Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li
Current Manager: Veljko Parnovic
Current Captain: Liam Moore
Current Stadium: Madejski Stadium note
2020/21 Position: 7th in Championship
Highest Finish: 8th (2006/07)
Berkshire-based club who were promoted to the top-flight for the first time ever in 2006. Despite a strong debut season, things went wrong the next year and they were relegated. They proved even worse the next time they were promoted, and went straight back down. Finished in a playoff spot in 2017 and made it to the Championship Final, where they lost on penalties, but needed the late-season appointment of Paul Clement to stay in a division which they were last below in 2002, and a subpar start to the next season meant that he was ditched just before Christmas for the second year in a row, having also been at Swansea the previous year.
- Sheffield Wednesday (1992-2000)
Nickname: The Owls
Current Owner: Dejphon Chansiri
Current Manager: Darren Moore
Current Captain: Barry Bannan
Current Stadium: Hillsborough note
2020/21 Position: 24th in Championship (relegated)
Highest Finish: 7th (1992/93, 1993/94 and 1996/97)
The other Sheffield club. Had varying fortunes for the first few Premier League seasons before getting relegated after a pretty terrible season in at the turn of the century (in which they lost 8-0 in an early season game). Currently in the Championship, into which rivals Sheffield United won in 2017, after cruel play off losses to near rivals in 2016 and 2017, but an abysmal 2020/21 campaign saw them finish bottom and go down with a whimper.
- Stoke City (2008-2018)
Nickname: The Potters
Current Owners: The Coates Family
Current Manager: Michael O'Neill
Current Captain: TBA
Current Stadium: Britannia Stadiumnote
2020/21 Position: 14th in Championship
Highest Finish: 9th (2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16)
Top-flight mainstays from Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire until the mid-80s, when they were relegated after an infamously awful 1984/85 season. They then spent the next two decades bouncing between the second and third tiers, before Tony Pulis bought them back into the Premier League in 2008. They've consistently finished in the mid-table since then, though their somewhat ugly footballing style and failure to progress saw Pulis get sacked in 2013. He was replaced by Welshman Mark Hughes, who steadily cleaned away their thuggish reputation by buying former Barcelona players Bojan and Ibrahim Affelay, former Inter Milan attacker Marko Arnautovic and highly rated starlet and talisman of the Swiss national team, Xherdan Shaqiri. This last in particular caused a lot of double takes since Shaqiri is the exact opposite of Stoke's stereotypical kind of player, being tiny even by the standards of tiny technical players at 5'6'', which had led to him being dubbed 'the Magic Dwarf'. For the next few years, they became the team from mid-table that the big teams worry about. Also well known for the meme But can he do it on a cold rainy Wednesday night at Stoke? Relegated in the 2017/18 season after ten seasons in the EPL, with Hughes being sacked at midseason.
- Sunderland (1996-97; 1999-2003; 2005-06; 2007-17)
Nickname: The Black Cats
Current Owner: Kyril Louis-Dreyfus
Current Manager: Lee Johnson
Current Captain: Max Power
Current Stadium: Stadium of Lightnote
2020/21 Position: 4th in League One
Highest Finish: 7th (1999/2000 and 2000/01)
Deadly rivals of Newcastle from just across the county, and relatively regular members of the Premier League since 1996. Challenged for the European spots for a few years in the early 2000s under Peter Reid, but otherwise have generally finished lower mid-table, along with being relegated after two really awful seasons in 2003 and 2006. Spent the past few seasons looking almost certain for relegation before rallying under a new manager to finish safely; First Paolo Di Canio came in at the end of the 2012/13 season, where they obtained 8 points from their last 7 games to secure safety. The following season, after the appointment of Gus Poyet in October, they won 4 of their last 6 games to avoid relegation (which had looked near-certain for most of the season. Unfortunately, another bad run in 2014/15 saw Poyet sacked, with Dutchman Dick Advocaat hired on a short-term contract to help the team survive relegation. While he succeeded, becoming much loved by the fans (who clubbed together to get a massive bouquet of flowers for Advocaat's wife when she reversed her decision to make him retire at the end of the 2014/15 season), a poor start to the 2015/16 season led to his parting company with the club and the safest of safe pairs of hands, Sam 'Big Sam' Allardyce, coming in to guide Sunderland to better fortunes, eventually escaping relegation again after beating Everton 3-0.note . During the pre-season, Big Sam left to become England Manager, and so he was replaced by former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes. Relegated in late April 2017 for the first time in 10 years. They took 364 days to record a home win, beating Fulham 1-0 on December 16 2017, their first home win since December 17 2016. Ironically, Fulham were also the side that Sunderland earned their sole home league win against in 2005-06, their final home league game, and rearrangement of an abandoned match from a month earlier (though they won home games in cup competitions, although only against Cheltenham after extra time, and Northwich). Prior to the win over Fulham in late 2017, Sunderland appointed Chris Coleman, famous for getting Wales into the last 4 of the European Championships, and making them the UK's best side despite generally weaker players than England, aside from Bale and Ramsey. Home form continued to deteriorate in the Championship, however, and they ultimately went down again with a 2-1 loss to Burton Albion in April, going on to finish bottom. Lost the playoff final the next season with the very last action.
- Swindon Town (1993-1994)
Nickname: The Robins
Current Owner: Lee Power
Current Manager: Tommy Wright (Caretaker)
Current Captain: Dion Conroy
Current Stadium: County Ground note
2020/21 Position: 23rd in League One (Relegated)
Highest Finish: 22nd (1993/94)
Their only top-flight season to date did not go at all well, as they were relegated in bottom place after conceding precisely one hundred goals. To add insult to injury, they were then relegated the following year (though like Crystal Palace, this was only due to league reconstruction), and have since spent most of their time bouncing around between the bottom two divisions, as evidenced by their relegation to League Two in 2017. Their stadium is next to a bizarre set of roundabouts called The Magic Roundabout. Gained promotion despite the COVID-19 outbreak shortening the 2019/20 season.
- Wigan Athletic (2005-2013)
Nickname: The Latics
Current Owner: Talal Al Hammad
Current Manager: Lean Richardson (Interim)
Current Captain: TBA
Current Stadium: DW Stadium note
2020/21 Position: 20th in League One
Highest Finish: 10th (2005/06)
Lancashire club who spent the better part of a decade surviving against the odds, always managing to pull off last-day escapes. Unfortunately the 2012/13 season proved a step too far, and they were relegated despite winning the FA Cup. They almost reached the FA Cup final again the next year (beating Manchester City in the quarter-finals, no less), but eventual winners Arsenal put them out on penalties in the semi-finals. Relegated to League One twice in 3 years after horrific seasons (the ill advised appointment of Mackay, and Whelan's laughable and senile defence of his slurs in 2014-15, and despite rebounding with Ulster striker Will Grigg becoming a meme after a great season, they went back down again after their squad didn't adapt). Knocked City out of the cup AGAIN thanks to Grigg (having defeated two lowlier PL sides beforehand) and were too good for League One again. Two seasons later, they were controversially relegated back to League One after being deducted twelve points for entering administration.
- Wimbledon (1992-2000) note
Nickname: The Donsnote
Current Owners: Wimbledon Football Club Supporters Society
Current Manager: Mark Robinson
Current Captain: Will Nightingale
Current Stadium: Plough Lane note
2020/21 Position: 19th in League One
Highest Finish: 6th (1993/94)
South London club who were nicknamed "the Crazy Gang," and the only former Premier League club which is no longer in existence. The club itself became Milton Keynes Dons in 2004 (an occasion that is still very controversial to this day among football supporters), while a Spiritual Successor club, AFC Wimbledon, was formed in 2002. Supporters of both clubs insist there is no rivalry between them despite their history, despite matches still being treated as a big deal. Both clubs met in the same league for the first time in the 2016/17 League One season, splitting the fixtures and with MK Dons finishing ahead by four points. The next season, however, MK Dons went down after a horrendous season, with AFC Wimbledon surviving to the joy of football fans around the world because for the first time ever AFC Wimbledon was in a league above MK. This status only lasted one season, as AFCW survived the drop from League One only on goal difference whilst MK Dons finished third in League Two, thereby reuniting the teams in the 2019/20 League One. The team moved into a new ground, a successor of their old ground Plough Lane, located on the site of the former Wimbledon Greyhound Track, shortly into the 2020/21 season. Chelsea Ladies F.C. (who formerly groundshared with them) will take over Kingsmeadow as the sole tenant of the stadium.