Since its formation for the 1992/93 season, the Barclays Premier League has built a rich history of stand-out football moments. The fast-paced, competitive nature of the league attracts a global following, with matches broadcast to audiences around the world. It has managed to grow on and off the field on the back of hugely lucrative television deals, the current one worth an eye-watering ₤1 billion. Indeed, it was the lure of a television deal that created the Premier League, the English professional game at that point consisting of four divisions called the Football League. In 1992 the top flight clubs of the Football League, the then Division 1, resigned to form the new Premier League of 22 clubs, though promotion and relegation was to remain within the Football League.
Stars Of the Premier League
The Barclays Premier League has attracted some of the biggest stars of the game to grace the stadiums. Typifying its global reach, club squads are now made up of players from all continents. This of course has led to the debate about whether this is good or bad for the English national team, and whether young English players can break through to play first team football. However it is difficult to doubt that players such as Eric Cantona, Thierry Henry, Denis Bergkamp, Yaya Toure and Eden Hazard, to name just a few, have not enhanced the league dramatically.
British talent has also played a huge role, with iconic moments such as David Beckham's goal from the half way line, and more recently Wayne Rooney's bicycle kick against Man City. Add to that Matt Le Tissier, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, then you get to realise the importance British players have had on the development of the Premier League. Alan Shearer still leads the most Premier League goals scored with 260, some record considering the strikers that have played in the league.
Since Brian Deane notched the first Premier League goal for Sheffield United against Manchester United spectators have flocked to see the action. In 1995 the league was reduced to 20 clubs as FIFA insisted domestic leagues reduce the amount of games played. It is a tough league to get promoted to, and an even tougher one to remain in, being quite notorious for promoted clubs to struggle in their first season. However this does not detract from the league, which has produced some classic climaxes to the season at both ends of the table.
Premier League Highlights
The final day of the 2011/12 season will epitomise the Barclays Premier League to many, with the Manchester rivals chasing the title, and the battle for survival still raging. Manchester United did what they needed to do in securing victory against Sunderland to put the pressure on their local rivals. However Manchester City were expected to easily beat 17th placed QPR to claim the title, yet QPR were not going to lay down easily. Under threat of relegation still, QPR incredibly went in to the final few minutes 2-1 up, even though they had been reduced to 10 men early in the second half. Yet Manchester City equalised in the second minute of time added on, before Sergio Aguero netted the winner in the 94th minute and with it the Premier League title. A truly pulsating end to the title chase, while at the other end Bolton could only manage a draw, not enough to overhaul a relieved QPR.
Such moments are not uncommon in this league and is a testament to its competitiveness. In the 2006/07 season West Ham found themselves a massive 10 points adrift from safety with only 9 matches remaining. Yet with new signing Carlos Tevez on board, they dramatically turned it round, sealing their place in the Premier League with a 1-0 win at newly crowned champions Manchester United.
Rivalries are a big part of the hype and success surrounding the Barclays Premier League. On pitch battles between the likes of Roy Keane and Patrick Viera are eagerly anticipated, while inter club rivalries carry on from season to season. Then there are the mangers and the Premier League has had some of the best. Alex Ferguson's tenure at Old Trafford is of legendary status, a time in which he locked horns with top overseas managers such as Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.
It is Mourinho's Chelsea who are the current champions, having quite comfortably taken the 2014/15 title. Yet they still have some way to go to match Manchester United's record 13 titles, including in 1999/2000 when they won by an 18 point margin, the largest to date. In a game full of records and statistics, Manchester United do not have it all their own way, as the title won with the smallest margin was that epic 2011/12 season when Manchester City won on goal difference.
In a league with such high stakes and rewards there have of course been moments of high controversy. In 1995, having been sent-off against Crystal Palace, Eric Cantona took his frustrations out on a Palace fan, incredibly launching a flying kick at the fan in the stand, earning himself an 8 month ban in the process. Sheffield Wednesday's Paolo Di Canio picked up an 11 match ban after pushing over referee Paul Alcock in a Premier League encounter with Arsenal. In 2005 Newcastle team-mates Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer had a disagreement after conceding a goal to Aston Villa that remarkably came to blows.
Ultimately the Barclays Premier League excites and entertains its audience, creating talking points throughout the seasons. The wealth of the league can attract the best talent from around the world, and for many of the clubs, survival in the league is paramount. There are now 7 ever presents left from that first season in 1992/93. These are Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton, Aston Villa and Chelsea, some of the Premier League heavyweights, who will be hoping to remain in this prestigious club.