English Football League Reaches 125th Anniversary Milestone With New Season
English Football League sides Preston North End, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Derby County, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley and Notts County "are marking a very special milestone," according to Mike Collett of REUTERS. They will be kicking off the 125th anniversary season of the EFL, the oldest in the world, "and the model on which virtually every other domestic league competition has been based on ever since." On March 2, 1888 Aston Villa Chair William McGregor wrote to 12 of the top clubs, suggesting a league format, and on September 8, 1888 the Football League began "with clubs from the north and midlands." Eleven of the 12 founder members "are still in existence:" Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, which won the first title, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The 12th, the original Accrington club, lasted from 1876 until 1896, "but the town is still represented in the League today by Accrington Stanley in the fourth tier (League Two)." Ranked by attendances, the Championship, which is now England's second tier, "is the fifth biggest division in Europe after the Bundesliga, the Premier League, Spain's La Liga and Italy's Serie A." In all, 114 seasons of league football have been completed with 11 lost to the two World Wars, "and one intriguing fact is that of the 11 original surviving founders seven have spent the majority of their time in the top flight" (REUTERS, 7/30).