Everything You Need to Know About Premier League Football Before Visiting the UK
Well, I may not be the biggest fan of sports, (unless it is college football-GO DUCKS!) but other people are and I always aim to please. That being said, I think you should most definitely check out what I have to say about the EPL if you plan to go to the UK any time soon.
The English Premier League (EPL) is a bit of a mystery to many sports-loving US residents. We know how important football…ahem, soccer is for fans in the UK, but we struggle to understand the sport in the same context as our friends across the pond.
While soccer is played at all levels in the states, the MLS, our highest pro league, lags behind the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL in terms of viewership and influence.
So, what makes the EPL so irresistible? If you’re a sports fan, traveling to the UK, or simply wish to learn about this globally-elite soccer league, you owe it to yourself to find out more.
Fortunately, you don’t need to look any further. We have you covered with this handy guide to the basics of the EPL.
The Most-Watched League on Earth
The EPL, which is officially sponsored by British multinational bank Barclays, was founded in 1992. The league quickly became one of the most popular pro sports leagues anywhere. Today, the EPL stands at the pinnacle of soccer as the most-watched sports league in the world.
You read that correctly—EPL broadcasts regularly draw more viewers than the NFL. In fact, more than a billion people representing 188 countries tune into EPL matches.
Following Along in the US
Fortunately, you don’t need to be in the UK to catch EPL action. There’s a lot of league coverage in the States, if you know where to look.
NBC Sports has exclusive broadcast rights to EPL contests televised in the US through the 2021-22 season. Matches are shown on cable networks NBCSN, CNBC, and USA, with NBC airing matches on Saturdays during the 12:30-2:30 ET time slot. Spanish language broadcasts are presented on Universo and Telemundo.
Subscribers to the NBC Sports Gold premium service receive exclusive access to 140 matches for the 2019-20 EPL season.
Viewers may also catch select live-streamed matches via Hulu Live, fuboTV, and Sling Blue.
You might be surprised to learn that, just as with the NFL or NBA, wagers may be placed before and during EPL matches in the US where sports betting is authorized.
The Seasons are Long
The EPL consists of 20 soccer clubs. Each club plays every other club in the league twice during the regular season—a home match and an away match—for a total of 38 matches. The EPL season is about 10 months long and stretches from August through May of the following year.
By comparison, the lengthiest single season of a pro team US sport is hockey—an NHL campaign, including playoffs, runs from October to June.
The EPL season does not pause for a winter break like other top European flights. Matches occur every week unless there is an international break mandated by the FIFA, such as the European Championship or World Cup.
Star Players on a Global Scale
The players are the secret sauce that makes the league special. The EPL has a nearly unrivaled ability to attract top talent from every corner of the planet. The diversity of backgrounds among the players leads to a showcase of various strategies and soccer styles.
There’s also exciting variety in the clubs that dominate the EPL from season to season. Other European soccer leagues boast few powerhouse clubs. In La Liga, Spain’s top flight of pro soccer, Barcelona and Real Madrid win seemingly every week. The EPL, like the NFL or MLB, offers some unpredictability.
Setting the Table
The EPL standings, or “table” as it’s called in the UK, are arranged by points. A club earns three points for a win, one point for a tied match, and no points in a loss. The club accumulating the most points at the end of the season is declared the EPL champion.
In the event two or more clubs finish with the same number of points, the table position is determined by goal difference over opponents followed by the number of goals scored. The same position in the table is awarded if two clubs remain gridlocked. This has never occurred when determining the EPL title.
The three clubs finishing at the bottom of the table are banished from the league the following season, a process known as relegation. These clubs go on to compete in the Championship, England’s second-highest level of soccer, until they fare well enough for promotion back into the EPL.
The top two finishers in the Championship table, as well as a third club determined by playoff match victory, are promoted to the EPL for the next campaign.
What else would you like to know about Premier League football in the UK?