How does the Premier League work ? Premier League Beginner’s Guide

How does the premier league work ? The Premier League is the top tier of England’s football pyramid, with 20 teams battling it out for the honour of being crowned English champions.

Home to some of the most famous clubs, players, managers and stadiums in world football, the Premier League is the most-watched league on the planet with one billion homes watching the action in 188 countries.

The league takes place between August and May and involves the teams playing each other home and away across the season, a total of 380 matches.

Three points are awarded for a win, one point for a draw and none for a defeat, with the team with the most points at the end of the season winning the Premier League title.

The teams who finish in the bottom three of the league table at the end of the campaign, are relegated to the Championship, the second tier of English football.

Those teams are replaced by three clubs promoted from the Championship; the sides that finish in first and second place and the third via the end-of-season playoffs.

If any clubs finish with the same number of points, their position in the Premier League table is determined by goal difference, then the number of goals scored, then the team who collected the most points in the head-to-head matches, then who scored most away goals in the head-to-head.

Since the League began in 1992, there have been seven different winners: Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City and Liverpool. Man Utd have had the most success with 13 titles in the 31 seasons so far.

Man City have the Premier League record for the biggest winning margin, when they finished 19 points ahead of second-placed Manchester United in 2017/18.

The narrowest winning margin of +8 goal difference came in 2011/12 when Sergio Aguero’s goal, deep into stoppage time on the final day of the season, gave Man City the title in the most dramatic of Premier League finishes.

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Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal are the only side to have gone the entire Premier League campaign unbeaten. That record season was achieved in 2003/04, when they won the title by 11 points from Chelsea. For more Premier League facts and figures, click here.

There have been four different Premier League champions in the last five years, with Leicester City capping off an incredible sporting story by winning the title in 2015/16.

The unlikely title triumph came a season after the Foxes avoided relegation by only six points.

Man City are the defending champions, having retained the Premier League Trophy by narrowly beating Liverpool for the second season running.

A total of 50 clubs have played in the Premier League, with Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town being the latest to make their debuts, in 2017/18.

Six clubs are “ever-present”, having been in the Premier League since it formed: Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

The teams who finish in the top four of the Premier League, qualify for the next season’s UEFA Champions League group stages.

A fifth-place Premier League finish will put a team into the UEFA Europa League, but the next best-placed teams who have not qualified for Europe, will also enter the competition if the winners of the FA Cup and/or League Cup qualify through their league position.

The team finishing sixth or lower depending on the cup competitions will enter the UEFA Europa Conference League.

how does the premier league work

Premier League Beginner’s Guide

The Premier League (sometimes referred to as the EPL – English Premier League – outside of the United Kingdom) launched in 1992. It quickly grew to the world’s most popular sports league.

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Watch the EPL on Fubo

Consisting of 20 teams, each club plays every other team twice in a season, one match home and the other one away. Therefore, each team plays 38 matches during the course of the entire season that runs from August through May.

Unlike some other European club leagues, the Premier League has no winter break and continues every week throughout the season. However, FIFA imposes international breaks fore World Cup or continental cup qualifying with national teams. Additionally, these FIFA-mandated breaks last roughly one-and-a-half weeks, with five or six throughout the season.


The Premier League has a number of reasons for its popularity. For one, many world-class players come to the league for its competition each week. Then, the international diversity brings in differing play styles for multiple teams. Finally, fans in England and Wales often provide noisy and boisterous crowds.

The Premier League is unpredictable. Relatively speaking, pundits and fans never know where a team will finish. Comparatively, teams in Germany, Spain, Italy and France tend to finish in the top four regularly.

English soccer pyramid

The Premier League teams that finish in the bottom three of the standings each season are relegated to the second tier of English soccer, known as the Championship. The top four teams qualify for the UEFA Champions League, which is the most high-profile club soccer tournament in the world featuring the best teams from Europe competing against each other from the group stages (in September) through to the final in May.

For a more in-depth look at how promotion and relegation works across the soccer world, check out our article on the subject.

how does the premier league work

Qualification to European competition

The top four teams qualify for the Champions League, although the fourth placed team must compete in the Champions League play-off (beginning in August) to qualify for the group stage. The fifth-placed team in the Premier League automatically qualifies for the UEFA Europa League, and the sixth and seventh-placed teams can also qualify, depending on the winners and runners-up of the two domestic competitions (FA Cup and League Cup); if the winner of the FA Cup qualifies for the Champions League, then that place will go to the runner-up, and if the runner-up is also already qualified, then that place will go to the next-best placed finisher in the Premier League. If the winner of the League Cup has already qualified, that place goes to the next-best placed team in the league.

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The UEFA Conference League, the third-tier European competition, can also see an EPL team qualify. The EFL Cup (aka the League Cup, or its current sponsor name Carabao Cup) winner normally is the representative. However, if that club has already qualified to either Champions League or Europa League via another competition, the spot goes to either sixth of seventh place in the EPL. Whether sixth or seventh place gets the Conference League spot further depends on that season’s FA Cup result.

A further place in the UEFA Europa League is also available via the Fair Play initiative. If the Premier League has one of the three highest Fair Play rankings in Europe (based on how few yellow cards or red cards each team receives, as well as the behavior of its supporters), the highest ranked team in the Premier League Fair Play standings that has not already qualified for Europe will automatically qualify for the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round (that typically begins in July).

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