Soccer fans worldwide argue over which league is the best, and the debate has extended to English leagues in greater frequency after Real Madrid topped Liverpool 3 to 1 in the Champion’s League final in 2019.
Whether you’re an American MLS soccer fan or already watch teams worldwide, English soccer leagues are said to offer some of the most exciting games in the sport. Learn what makes English football different and what the top leagues in the game are, as well as the top teams.
What Makes the Best English Soccer Leagues?
An increasing number of Americans are getting into soccer in recent years, resulting in the sport’s growing fans. Perhaps it was the U.S. Men’s’ National Team performance at the 2014 World Cup or the fact that more U.S. cities are getting their own teams in recent years. In 2018 alone, major league soccer in the U.S. expanded to include the new Los Angeles FC.
The league plans to include five new teams, expanding from the current 23 teams into a total of 28. The FC Cincinnati will become the 24th team next year, with plans for new teams in Miami and Nashville planned to hit the field in 2020. The MLS is on a fast track to meet their goal of becoming one of the top leagues by 2022.
Not only does this expansion mean there are more soccer fans in general, but more people around the world are also paying attention to the top leagues in the world. The U.S., who hopes to become the best themselves, must learn what competition English leagues hold in store for them. The English football league includes thousands of teams and various clubs.
The main difference between sports clubs and leagues is that a team is organized by a club, and each club can have multiple age groups of players, but all teams share a single name or club. A league, on the other hand, is where a group of clubs come together to play each other. Typically organized based on age groups in kids, English pro leagues are divided based on skill level.
Before we can find the best English leagues available, we need to understand what makes a soccer league great. The following are the 5 most important things to look for. These are the things that come together to make English leagues among the best in the world.
Superb Technical Skills
Professional players in any sport need to have insane technical skills, but the best players also know how to put on a show. Technical skills help teams succeed and get to the top while unexpected shots can surprise and excite viewers.
Each team in a league needs to put on a great show with their skills, but also offer fans a game worth remembering. If there were a clear winner before the game began, what would be the fun in watching the players carry on? The English league is full of great teams, so you never know who will win or lose. This adds a layer of excitement to each game and keeps fans happy.
For a league to be the most popular, fans need to have fun at the games. The easiest way to track enjoyment is based on average attendance numbers, and the English clubs have the highest average attendance in the world, with English Premier topping the charts followed by La Liga and Bundesliga.
Fans don’t need to physically head to a game to find enjoyment; they simply need to tune in. A great league will have a high viewership from around the world, and Premier usually tops in terms of the number of people who watch the games at home with Bundesliga and La Liga trailing close behind.
Whether a team has won either the Champions League or Europa League is a big deal, as only the best compete at this level. Spanish clubs have won more often, with 16 Champion wins, and 16 Europa wins under their belt, but English clubs are close behind with 10 Champion and 9 Europa wins.
Fan-favorite teams have been around for years, and people grow attached to the history of it all. A favorite league that’s been around a while can be passed down from generation to generation of soccer fans, forming cherished family memories. How long the league has been around could also determine a top team with esteem and the highest number of fans.
Top 4 Best English Soccer Leagues
With over 92 soccer clubs in England, narrowing down the list to include only the top 10 best leagues is no easy feat. Each player in these clubs is a full-time professional, but they’re divided into tiers where the best clubs play in the top leagues with an average of 15 teams competing in each division. The system is based on a pyramid of leagues, where the most successful teams rise into higher leagues while low-scoring teams sink down into a lower tier.
It all comes down to performance and promotion, and sometimes leagues in other parts of the country are recognized at different levels by football associations. If a team meets the standard of play in a league and offers suitable facilities in terms of a field (and other costly measures), they can join a league outside their system.
Here are the top 4 best English soccer leagues worth checking out, listed with our top picks first and foremost.
Premier League – Level 1
The premier league in English football is the top level, and the league is 26 years old. One of the oldest and most respected leagues, a very small number of professional players ever make it this far. But the one that does is highly likely to play in the World Cup. The players are top notch and deliver the most exciting games in English football history, and a boring game is rare in this league.
Here, players get the ball downfield quickly in attempts to catch the other team off guard rather than pass the ball around, showing off their fancy footwork skills. Attacking to goal is the only way to score, and it keeps fans on their toes every second of the game. Sure, football players are still skilled in technical skill. But the emphasis is placed much more on athleticism and speed above all.
In fact, people who only watch premier league football find it difficult to get used to the slower paced soccer other leagues in the world, like La Liga, are known for. Fans at these games sit on the edge of their seats and expect drama, action, surprises, and skill above all.
There are no draws, playoffs, of championship series in this league. It broke off from the European league in 1992, and most of the teams in this league today were not always in the top tier. Some, such as Burnley, the Queens Park Rangers, or Leicester City have only been there for a few short years.
It contains 20 clubs in total, all of which were English until 2010. Today, the league includes two Welsh teams as well, the Swansea City team and Cardiff City. All of these players are professionals who play soccer full time, and the season runs from August to May each year.
All the big-named English teams come from the premier league, but there are some teams many Americans probably haven’t heard of like West Bromwich Albion, Hull City, or Stoke City. This tier has the largest clubs and players among the best in the world. Top teams in the premier league include:
Fan-favorite players are usually the most exciting to watch. Top players in this league that fans adore include:
Plus, like any league full of great teams, there are famous rivalries to heat up the game. Some of these teams have been feuding for years and the games that result are unforgettable. The biggest rivalry teams people love to watch play each other include:
When it comes to bringing in money, the Premier League is also the most successful in the world. More people watch these games on TV and attend in person at some of the best stadiums in the world.
English Football League Championship – Level 2
Before the Premier League took over in 1992, the English Football League dominated. It’s the oldest professional association of organized football clubs in the world and was founded clear back in 1888.
Today, it is made up of levels 2, 3, and 4 of the pyramid. The English Football League is full of professional players. It’s divided into three divisions or levels, with 24 clubs in each. They’re commonly called “league clubs” and are split up as follows (which we’ll talk about more in depth below):
The Champion League is at level 2, just below the Premiership. There are 24 teams, all of which play with hopes to wind up in the Premier League. The top two remaining teams at the end of the season are promoted into the top league automatically, and the next best four teams compete in a playoff.
When a team is selected to join the top premier league, the team generates an added $200 million in revenue and gains a serious amount of publicity. All it takes is one game, or sometimes even one moment in time to earn a promotion. High drama games win every time.
Most teams are from Wales and England, and the league consists of 24 clubs. The top teams in the league include:
This league organizes two important competitions: The English Football League Cup and the English Football League Trophy. The winner of the Cup is allowed to participate in the Europa League, and the EFL Trophy is open to any League One or Two clubs.
English Football League One – Level 3
Similar to the Championship League, English Football League One will promote teams to the next level. Three teams are selected to move to the Championship League and four are relegated to Football League Two. Both League One and Two have 24 clubs that compete.
Top teams at this level include:
English Football League Two – Level 4
When it comes to promoting teams to the next level, two teams from League Two are permitted to join League Two while two others are relegated from the English Football League entirely, moving to Level 5 of the pyramid. This is the verge between pro and semi-pro leagues, and teams in this league have been known to move up with some of the most remarkable rises in the history of English football.
The top teams in League Two based on current ESPN standings include:
How We Chose Our Ratings
Accuracy and honesty are important to us, so we search through all the information we can find on the most popular English soccer leagues today and take into account what would make a real American soccer fan enjoy English football the most. Before rating, we factor in research on what makes an English soccer league the best into our system to create a well thought out list.
Ultimately, each league is different. Yet, each offers amazing players who are skilled in the sport and an exciting game that has marked history much longer than American soccer. Check out the six top clubs battle each other or explore other leagues who hope to break into the top tier and you can be sure to enjoy yourself.