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

2017-2018

GP W D L F A GD P
Manchester City 17 16 1 0 52 11 41 49
Manchester United 17 12 2 3 37 11 26 38
Chelsea 17 11 2 4 31 14 17 35
Tottenham Hotspur 17 9 4 4 30 14 16 31
Liverpool 17 8 7 2 34 20 14 31
Burnley 17 9 4 4 16 12 4 31
Arsenal 17 9 3 5 30 20 10 30
Leicester City 17 7 5 5 27 23 4 26
Watford 17 6 4 7 26 29 -3 22
Everton 17 6 4 7 21 29 -8 22
Southampton 17 4 6 7 17 23 -6 18
Huddersfield Town 17 5 3 9 12 29 -17 18
Brighton & Hove Albion 17 4 5 8 14 23 -9 17
AFC Bournemouth 17 4 4 9 15 20 -5 16
Stoke City 17 4 4 9 19 36 -17 16
Newcastle United 17 4 3 10 16 26 -10 15
West Bromwich Albion 17 2 8 7 12 22 -10 14
Crystal Palace 17 3 5 9 12 28 -16 14
West Ham United 17 3 5 9 14 32 -18 14
Swansea City 17 3 3 11 9 22 -13 12
Source: ESPN 15 December 2017

Positions 1-4: Champions League

Position 5: Europa League

Positions 18-20: Relegation

 

English League Championship

2017-2018

GP W D L F A GD P
Wolverhampton Wanderers 21 15 3 3 41 17 24 48
Cardiff City 21 13 5 3 32 16 16 44
Bristol City 21 11 7 3 34 22 12 40
Derby County 21 11 5 5 33 21 12 38
Aston Villa 21 10 7 4 29 18 11 37
Sheffield United 21 12 1 8 34 26 8 37
Leeds United 21 10 3 8 33 26 7 33
Middlesbrough 21 9 5 7 27 20 7 32
Ipswich Town 21 10 2 9 35 32 3 32
Preston North End 21 8 8 5 25 22 3 32
Nottingham Forest 21 10 0 11 31 35 -4 30
Fulham 21 7 8 6 27 27 0 29
Brentford 21 6 9 6 33 30 3 27
Reading 21 7 6 8 28 26 2 27
Sheffield Wednesday 21 6 9 6 26 26 0 27
Norwich City 21 7 6 8 21 27 -6 27
Millwall 21 5 8 8 22 21 1 23
Hull City 21 5 7 9 37 39 -2 22
Queens Park Rangers 21 5 7 9 23 32 -9 22
Barnsley 21 5 5 11 24 34 -10 20
Bolton Wanderers 21 3 7 11 21 40 -19 16
Birmingham City 21 4 4 13 10 30 -20 16
Sunderland 21 2 9 10 26 38 -12 15
Burton Albion 21 3 5 13 13 40 -27 14
Source: ESPN 15 December 2017

Positions 1-2: Promotion

Positions 3-6: Promotion playoffs

Positions 22-24: Relegation

GLOSSARY

GP: Games Played W: Wins D: Draws L: Losses F: Goals For A: Goals Against GD: Goal Difference P: Points

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