Despite significant European success in the 1970s and early 1980s, the late 1980s marked a low point for English football. Stadiums were crumbling, supporters endured poor facilities, hooliganism was rife, and English clubs were banned from European competition for five years following the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985. The Football League First Division, the top level of English football since 1888, was behind leagues such as Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga in attendances and revenues, and several top English players had moved abroad.
By the turn of the 1990s the downward trend was starting to reverse: at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, England reached the semi-finals; UEFA, European football's governing body, lifted the five-year ban on English clubs playing in European competitions in 1990, resulting in Manchester United lifting the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1991, and the Taylor Report on stadium safety standards, which proposed expensive upgrades to create all-seater stadiums in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, was published in January of that year.
The number of clubs was reduced to 20, down from 22, in 1995 when four teams were relegated from the league and only two teams promoted. The top flight had only been expanded to 22 teams at the start of the 1991–92 season – the year prior to the formation of the Premier League.
On 8 June 2006, FIFA requested that all major European leagues, including Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga, be reduced to 18 teams by the start of the 2007–08 season. The Premier League responded by announcing their intention to resist such a reduction. Ultimately, the 2007–08 season kicked off again with 20 teams.
The league changed its name from the FA Premier League to simply the Premier League in 2007.
There are 20 clubs in the Premier League. During the course of a season (from August to May) each club plays the others twice (a double round-robin system), once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents', for 38 games. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference, and then goals scored. If still equal, teams are deemed to occupy the same position. If there is a tie for the championship, for relegation, or for qualification to other competitions, a play-off match at a neutral venue decides rank.