Football in England

Football in England

Football is the national sport of England and plays a significant role in English culture.


The sport is almost always referred to simply as "football"; it is unusual for it to be called "soccer" and it is only referred to as "association football" in very limited circumstances. Any unqualified reference to football in an English context should be read as a reference to association football rather than to any other member of the football family of sports. The only other members of this family played to any great extent in England belong to the rugby football sub-family, and are usually referred to as "rugby". The title and remainder of this article refers to "football" in its English sense.

History of English football

The modern global game of Football was first codified in 1863 in London. The impetus for this was to unify English public school and university football games. There is evidence for refereed, team football games being played in English schools since at least 1581. An account of an exclusively kicking football game from Nottinghamshire in the fifteenth century bears similarity to association football. England can boast the earliest ever documented use of the English word "football" (1409) and the earliest reference to the sport in French (1314). The modern passing game is believed to have been innovated in London [ [Cox, Richard (2002) The encyclopaedia of British Football, Routledge, United Kingdom] ] [ [ History of Football ] ] and England is home to the oldest football clubs in the world (dating from at least 1857), the world's oldest competition (the FA cup founded in 1871) and the first ever association football league (1888). For these reasons England is considered the home of the game of football.

Football was played in England as far back as medieval times, with the first account of a football-like game coming in 1280, and references to "foot balls" dating as far back as 1314. By the 16th centuries references to organised teams and goals had appeared. The 19th century saw the origins of codification of the game, by members of the nation's public schools and universities//. The Cambridge Rules were created in 1848Fact|date=June 2007, the Sheffield rules in 1857 and the Football Association was founded in 1863. That led to the foundation of the FA Cup in 1871, and the England team played the world's first international match, against Scotland, the following year.

The late nineteenth century was dominated by the growing split between the amateur and professional teams, which was roughly aligned along a North-South divide; northern clubs were keen to adopt professionalism as workers could not afford to play on an amateur basis, while Southern clubs by the large part stuck by traditional "Corinthian" values of amateurism. Eventually, in 1885 the FA legalised professionalism, which led in turn to the foundation of the Football League by twelve clubs in 1888. Preston North End were inaugural winners in 1888-89, and also were the first team to complete the Double. Aston Villa repeated the feat in 1896-97.

The League expanded over the next 25 years as football boomed in England, from one division of twelve teams in 1888, to two divisions of 40 by 1914; during this time sides from the North and Midlands dominated, with Aston Villa, Sunderland, The Wednesday and Newcastle United all winning three or more league titles in the period leading up to World War I. During hostilities, competitive football was suspended but games were still played at a regional and less official level.

The inter-war years were dominated by Huddersfield Town, Everton and Arsenal, who won 11 of the 18 league titles contested between them, with Huddersfield and Arsenal each grabbing a hat-trick, and Arsenal taking five in total, as well as two FA Cups. The national stadium at Wembley was opened in 1923, with the "White Horse Final" being the first FA Cup final to be played there. By the turn of the thirties, the League expanded to include two whole new divisions and 88 clubs, and the national side started to play sides from outside the British IslesFact|date=June 2008. However, the FA's resignation from FIFA in 1928 meant that England did not contest any of the first three World Cups.

The post-war years were dominated first by Manchester United (three titles and an FA Cup) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (two titles and two FA Cups), although the former's progress was halted by the 1958 Munich air disaster. However, during this time English football was being outstripped abroad; England lost 1-0 to the United States at the 1950 World Cup, and then 6-3 to Hungary at Wembley in 1953. English clubs had little success in the European club competitions set up; The Football Association and the Football League persuaded the 1955 English champions Chelsea from participating in the first European Cup competition (1955/56). Chelsea's successors as English champions, Manchester United ignored such advice and reached the semi-final of the 1957 European Cup, where they lost to the eventual winners Real Madrid. The following season, United defeated Red Star Belgrade in the quarter final only to be decimated in the Munich Air Disaster when returning from Belgrade. Their patched-up team proved no match for A.C. Milan in the semi-finals. Subsequent European Cup campaigns by Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1959 and 1960 ended in the first round and the quarter finals respectively. A London XI and Birmingham City did reach the finals of the first two Inter-Cities Fairs Cup tournaments.

Modernisation followed in the 1960s, with revolutions in the game such as the George Eastham case allowing players greater freedom of movement, and the abolition of the maximum wage in 1961. Tottenham Hotspur became the first club to win The Double in the 20th century in 1960-61, and the first English club to win a European trophy, the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1962-63. The most marked success of the era, however, was Alf Ramsey's England side, which won the 1966 FIFA World Cup on home soil after controversially beating West Germany 4-2 after extra time, the first and only time the national side has won the trophy.

Two years later Manchester United became the first English club to win the European Cup, while Leeds United and Arsenal both enjoyed success in the late sixties and early seventies. However, it was Liverpool who came to dominate the game from the early seventies onwards, for nearly two decades; they won 11 titles and four European Cups between 1972 and 1990. Other successful sides in the 1970s and 1980s included their rivals Nottingham Forest, who won a title and two European Cups in the late seventies, and Everton, with two titles in the mid eighties, and Aston Villa with a European Cup in 1982. However while club sides thrived in European competition, the national team struggled, failing to qualify for both the 1974 and 1978 World Cups,

By this time serious problems had surfaced. The rise of hooliganism marred the game throughout the seventies and eighties, with attendances dipping. The nadir came in 1985, when Liverpool fans' hooliganism, combined with poor policing and infrastructure, led to the deaths of 39 Juventus fans before the European Cup final, in the Heysel Stadium disaster; English clubs were banned from Europe for five years as a result. England's own ancient and poorly-built stadiums were responsible, along with other factors, for two disasters, one at Bradford in 1985 and the other at Hillsborough in 1989, killing 56 and 96 people respectively.

The post-Hillsborough Taylor Report forced the conversion of stadiums to all-seater; at the same time, the money from television coverage was increasing rapidly. These, combined with England's relative success at the 1990 World Cup, reaching the semi-finals only to lose on penalties to West Germany, and a concerted effort to drive out hooliganism reinvigorated the national game. In the spring of 1992, the top 22 clubs resigned "en masse" from The Football League, forming a new top-level competition overseen by The FA and named The FA Premier League (from 2007, simply the Premier League). The Premier League came to be dominated by Manchester United in its first decade, who won eight titles and four FA Cups (including two Doubles) and a Champions League title between 1993 and 2003.

Although this boom brought wealth to the game, clubs' financial success also became more polarised, particularly after the collapse of ITV Digital in 2002, which led to lower-division clubs being put into administration and one or two facing near-bankruptcy. This polarisation has occurred even within the Premier League, with it becoming dominated by Manchester United, Arsenal (winning two doubles in 1998 & 2002, and a league title unbeaten in 2004), and Chelsea (who were bought by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2003 and won back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006).

Despite the success of the domestic game, and a resurgence in fortunes for English clubs in Europe (Liverpool won the Champions League again in 2005), the national team's fortunes have been decidedly mixed, with them missing the '94 World Cup entirely. They had their best post-1990 performance coming in Euro 96, where they were knocked out in the semi-finals on penalties by Germany; penalty shoot-out defeats went on to haunt England at the 1998 World Cup, Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup as well. Most recently England failed to reach the finals of the European Football Championships to be held in 2008 following a laclustre display throughout the qualifying campaign, with manager Steve McClaren being sacked from his position of head coach as a result.

League system

The Football League, established in 1888 by Aston Villa director William McGregor, was the first professional football league in the world. Since its founding, however, many other leagues have been founded in England. Over recent years there has been an increasing effort to link all these leagues together in a Pyramidal structure allowing promotion and relegation between different levels. The primary motivation for this drive is to maintain the possibility that any club in England may dream of one day rising to the very top, no matter what status they currently hold. There are around 40,000 clubs registered with the FA - this is 11,000 more than any other country; even without taking relative population into account, England has more football clubs than any other country in the world. [ [ FIFA Big Count 2006] , p12]

Premier League

The Premier League was founded in 1992 after England's top clubs broke away from the Football League in a successful effort aimed at increasing their income at the expense of clubs in the lower divisions. Links with The Football League were maintained, and each season the bottom three clubs are relegated from the Premier League and replaced by three from the Championship. The Premier League is contested between 20 clubs each season. The current champions are Manchester United. Each club in the Premier League in any given season owns one twentieth of a share in the league itself, meaning that they are all supposedly equal owners with equal rights and responsibilities.

The Football League

Although the oldest league in the world, The Football League now ranks second in the hierarchy of English football after the split of England's top clubs in 1992 to form the FA Premier League. The Football League has 72 member clubs evenly divided among three divisions, currently named the Championship, League One and League Two.

English football league system

Below the Football League is what is commonly known as "non-League football". This term is confusing, as it refers to those clubs outside the (Football) League, although they still play in organised league competitions. In recent years, the top few levels have been consolidated into the National League System, operated by the FA. Most clubs in the Conference National division are fully professional, the remainder are semi-professional.

There is automatic promotion and relegation between League Two and Conference National, and for several levels below the Conference, although this becomes more irregular further down the league system. The non-League system is often known as the "pyramid", because the number of leagues at each level begins to increase as you go down through the levels, with each league covering a smaller geographic area.

Amateur football

Although the Football Association abandoned a formal definition of "amateur" in the early 1970s, the vast majority of clubs still effectively play as amateurs, with no financial reward. The Amateur Football Alliance is the largest organised of such competitions, being particularly strong in the London area.

Smaller-sided versions of the game such as five-a-side and Futsal are becoming increasingly popular too. These are often played informally, but there are many competitive small-sided leagues running across the country.

Reserve leagues

Many teams operate reserve teams in separate leagues; in some lower levels of the pyramid, reserve teams play against first teams. The top division for reserve teams of professional clubs is the FA Premier Reserve League. Beneath that operate the Central League, and the Football Combination, which cover the north and south of England respectively.

Youth leagues

Many club sides have Academy (youth) teams; the top level of youth football is the FA Premier Academy League, consisting of Premier League and Football League club's Academy sides, which operates at U18 and U16 levels (although the latter is non-competitive). The next level below the Academy League is the Football League Youth Alliance, in which the remainder of Football League clubs field their youth teams. There is also the FA Youth Cup, a nationwide cup competition for U18 teams.

Beyond organised football

Football in England is not just a spectator sport or the preserve of official leagues and clubs, but a sport attracting mass participation at many different levels and in a wide variety of forms, including Sunday league football and five-a-side football.

Cup competitions

The two most important cup competitions in England are the FA Cup and the League Cup, but several other national cups are targeted at clubs at different levels.

The FA Cup, first held in 1872, is the oldest and most respected national cup competition in the world. It is open to around 600 clubs in the higher levels of the pyramid. The FA Community Shield is played each August as a one-off match between the FA Cup winners and the Premier League champions.

The League Cup (currently known as the Carling Cup) is England's second major cup competition, and is contested by the 92 Premier League and Football League clubs. The winners of both main cup competitions qualify for the UEFA Cup, and both are considered as important tournaments.

The Football League Trophy is a competition for clubs in Football League One and Football League Two.

The FA Trophy is open to clubs in the top four levels of the National League System, and the FA Vase is for clubs in the next couple of levels below that. These competitions replaced the FA Amateur Cup, which was the leading competition for amateur non-League teams for many years. Representative teams from leagues lower still, mostly at county level, contest the FA National League System Cup, and the FA Sunday Cup is for Sunday league football teams.

Defunct national cup competitions include:
* Full Members Cup
* Super Cup
* Anglo-Italian Cup
* Anglo-Scottish Cup
* Texaco Cup
* Watney Cup

Qualification for European competitions

Clubs who do well in either the Premier League, FA Cup or League Cup can qualify to compete in various UEFA-organised Europe-wide competitions in the following season (as well as continuing to play in domestic competitions). The number of English clubs playing in Europe in any one season can range from seven to eleven, depending on the qualification scenarios. Currently, England is awarded the following places in European competitions:

In addition, once in a European competition, it becomes possible to qualify for others:
* All the winners of the Champions League Third Qualifying Round go forward to the Champions League
* All the losers of the Champions League Third Qualifying Round go forward to the UEFA Cup
* All the winners of the UEFA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round go forward to the UEFA Cup
* Any clubs playing in the Champions League that finish third in the group stage go into the UEFA Cup Round of 32

England national team

Women's football

The first recorded women's football match in England was more than 100 years ago but it is only in recent years that women's football has begun to receive some serious attention, in the form of televised matches (such as the FA Women's Cup final and matches of the national team), international games being held at larger stadia and, to a lesser extent, the comedy film "Bend It Like Beckham".

Burton Brewers' 57-0 loss against Willenhall Town on March 4, 2001 in the West Midland Regional Women's Football League, Division One North may be a British record for the biggest defeat in a football match [] .

tadia of English football

easons in English football

The following articles detail the major results and events in each season since 1871–72, when the first organised competition, the FA Cup, was created. Seasons in "italics" are wartime seasons, when official national competition was suspended, although regional football continued.


* [ A history of English football]

ee also

* National Football Centre
* Sport in England
* Football in Europe
* Football in the United Kingdom
* Football in London
* Football in Yorkshire
* The National Football Museum
* Football Supporters' Federation
* Football records in England
* Timeline of English football
* PFA Players' Player of the Year
* FWA Player of the Year
* PFA Young Player of the Year
* Futsal in England
* English Footballers who have Scored in a European Cup Final

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