Becoming A Soccer Fan Pt. 1: The English Football League System
After pestering Brad and another co-worker, the elusive Larry Martinson, to walk me through how to follow the many European soccer leagues in existence, I first received a crash course in the Premier League or English Premier League (EPL) as it’s frequently referred to by folks outside of England. And in the interest of getting better acquainted with the ins and outs of the world’s preferred sport and its most popular league, I’m going to attempt to follow the successes and failures of the English League Championship relegated Aston Villa as they attempt to earn a promotion back into the top flight ranks of the EPL.
Confused? Good, let’s get started.
Most, if not all, European soccer leagues are made up of several tiers of competition. The English Premier League, for example, is part of something called the English football league system or the football pyramid. The pyramid is apparently made up of over 140 leagues and more than 480 divisions, which is absolutely insane, but also kind of cool as it speaks to a fandom far more varied and expansive than anything we see in the United States. Now, I don’t know that any one person knows them all but you really don’t need to know any of the smaller leagues. For the purposes of what we’re doing, we’re going to focus on the two highest tiers. Beyond that, just know this pyramid is something of a feeder system for the two leagues at the top of the pyramid. The second-highest level is the English Football League Championship, or English League Championship for short, and the top-flight level of play is called the English Premier League (EPL).
The final note to be aware of, at the highest level of play, there is a promotion/relegation system based on a team’s end of season standings each year for the EPL and the English League Championship. No one is safe. Sustained performance each year dictates a clubs ability to continue to compete with the best every season in the Premier League, otherwise, they find themselves in the English League Championship looking to earn their spot back next year. Season standings are determined by Wins, Losses, and Draws, which translate into points with certain statistical categories breaking ties between clubs if needed.
Aston Villa F.C. is a team from Aston, Birmingham that was last in the Premier League in 2014. They were relegated down to the Championship League and are now looking to find their way back to compete against the best England has to offer. We’ll learn more about their position in the standings in “Becoming A Soccer Fan Pt. 2: Aston Villa F.C. Fighting for Promotion.”
English Premier League
|Brighton & Hove Albion||17||4||5||8||14||23||-9||17|
|West Bromwich Albion||17||2||8||7||12||22||-10||14|
|West Ham United||17||3||5||9||14||32||-18||14|
|Source: ESPN 15 December 2017|
Positions 1-4: Champions League
Position 5: Europa League
Positions 18-20: Relegation
English League Championship
|Preston North End||21||8||8||5||25||22||3||32|
|Queens Park Rangers||21||5||7||9||23||32||-9||22|
|Source: ESPN 15 December 2017|
Positions 1-2: Promotion
Positions 3-6: Promotion playoffs
Positions 22-24: Relegation
GP: Games Played W: Wins D: Draws L: Losses F: Goals For A: Goals Against GD: Goal Difference P: Points