Ok, maybe a little bit more. I knew the names of some of the teams. I didn't know anything about the players, the cities, the rivalries, nothing. But I needed to learn. And fast. There was a few spots that I went to find out information, but most of them were using terminology that was what felt like lightyears ahead of me.
Side note: If you can tell me about the home grown player rule, this might be a bit elementary for you.
The Premier League is the top level of English soccer, known as the top flight. From there, there are several leagues below the Premier League that subsequently count down (second, third, etc). The second flight is the Football League Championship, known as the Championship. While in other sports, the secondary league doesn't matter, the Championship is key to the Premier League because of promotion and relegation.
At the end of each season, the top three teams in the Championship are promoted to the Premier League and the bottom three teams in the Premier League are relegated to the Championship. Translation-Best teams from the Championship move up, worst teams in Premier League move down.
While that's a really cool feature, it can also mess with the league's cross-town rivalries, which are called derbies. Pronounced "darbies", these matches are normally based on geography.
- For example, the Merseyside Derby is between Liverpool FC and Everton FC. Both clubs are located about ten miles apart in Liverpool.
- The two Manchester clubs, Man City & Man United, have the Manchester Derby. (Surprise!)
- Arsenal and Tottenham participate in the North London derby.
- For the first time ever, the Premier League will have a South Wales Derby with Swansea and Cardiff City.
- Newcastle and Sunderland face off in the Tyne Wear Derby.
While the Champions League is like the NCAA Tournament for college basketball, the Europa League is the NIT. It's another European-wide tournament, but is for the teams that don't qualify for the Champions League. There are multiple ways to qualify for the Europa League from the Premier League:
- Finish fifth in the Premier League
- Win the FA Cup-(an English exclusive tournament) unless you have already qualified for the Champions League. Then the FA Cup runner up will get that spot.
- League Cup winner-League Cup is a tournament between the Premier League and the Championship
- Say the FA Cup winner and runner up, League Cup winner already qualified for Europa. Then the next highest finisher in the Premier League gets the spot.
- Fair Play-Clubs that exhibit exceptional respect on the pitch will get a spot. This is strictly a statistical decision that is calculated based on specific sportsmanship criteria.
(For me, understanding the Europa League is still a work in progress, so don't worry if you're confused.)
Possibly the biggest thing to understand about the Premier League is their fans do not mess around. Their passion is incredible. Imagine the fan bases of every California team merged together-the Raiders, Giants, Lakers, Clippers, 49ers, Kings, and on-all cheering for one team. That's what the Premier League is like in England. Whatever you think about it, just don't be like this guy.
Interested in finding a club to support? Someone once told me, "It's almost like the club picks you, like the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter." If you don't want to wait for your Hogwarts letter, check out the NBC Sports Picker and decide what club will have your loyalty.