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The Club: How the English Premier League Became the Wildest, Richest, Most Disruptive Force in Sports

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  759 ratings  ·  84 reviews
The Club is the previously untold inside story of how English soccer’s Premier League became the wildest, richest, most popular sports product on the planet.
This is a sports and business tale of how money, ambition, and twenty-five years of drama remade an ancient institution into a twenty-first-century entertainment empire. No one knew it when their experiment began, b
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published December 4th 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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4.34  · 
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 ·  759 ratings  ·  84 reviews

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Sumit RK
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everybody knows anything can happen in the Premier League. #Quote

If you are a football (soccer) fan or even if you aren’t, you must be aware of the English Premier League. The Club is the true story of the meteoric rise of the English Premier League from it’s humble beginnings to becoming the richest & the most dominant sporting leagues in the world.

The Club begins before the advent of the Premier League in 1980’s when the game of football in England was in dire straits. The stadiums we
Peter Boyle
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The Premier League is the most-watched football competition in the world, beamed to 185 countries, raking in millions for its wealthy owners. But this wasn't always the case. I'm old enough to remember the late 1980s, when boggy pitches and crumbling stadiums were the norm, and a live game on TV was so rare it was a Big Deal.

Everything changed in 1992. The chairmen of the 22 First Division teams, tired of having to share their meagre TV rights money with the rest of the Football League's 92 club
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Could have been a bit shorter, otherwise this would have been five stars as there is a lot of great information and history on this league. Starting with the decision to award the TV contract to Sky, this book covers practically everything about the business side of the English Premier League. Some interesting points were how now avoiding relegation means just as much, if not more, to the bottom line as winning the championship. The adventures of some of the bigger names such as Manchester Unite ...more
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: football, nonfiction
The Club : How the English Premier League Became the Wildest, Richest, Most Disruptive Force in Sports (2018) by Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg is a history of how the Premier League has become so globally popular.

The book first covers the history of English soccer and particular it's state in the 1980s and what led to the formation of the Premier League. Then the early Premier League up to and including the Bosman ruling that radically changed the number of foreigners. Then the arrival of f
John Tyson
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you have the slightest interest in soccer or count yourself a sports fan in general, I recommend this book unconditionally. The recent history (~1980-present) of European soccer is fascinating because the market dynamics that shaped the sport’s growth are pretty different when compared to the US, with some notable exceptions (e.g., TV rights!)

The reporting is outstanding, and it is chock full of great stories about players, coaches and owners from the past 30+ years of “football”.

Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
[Rounded up from 3.5 stars]

This was a lot of fun! It had a zippy tone that made it easy to get through while not dumbing things down, and it deep-dove enough to help shed some light on references I've heard on soccer podcasts but never fully understood (namely "It was just a bit of banter"). Also, I like that the authors have spent time in the US, because I think the American influence on how the Premier League is presented is important, but I could also see a lot of UK journalists just hand-wav
Clinton Hutchings
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This was a fabulous book! It had everything I wanted: strong emphasis on economics and the business side of the Premier league with a good discussion around various impactful players, managers and owners. An overall brief but nuanced history of the Premier league. While I'm sure I missed a ton due to not being familiar with the players, etc. from the 1990s and early 2000s, I felt like the author used enough explanation for even a new fan of "football" across the pond to follow and enjoy. (Decide ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! I got tired of being abroad during the World Cup and not being about to engage in intelligent conversation about soccer, so last fall I chose a team (Liverpool was a natural choice because of its connection to two other loves in my life: The Beatles and the Red Sox) and finally joined the global conversation. While the business aspect of the rise of the Premier League was interesting, this book was terrific for newcomers to the sport like me to learn about the history of the Lea ...more
Jim Buck
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific primer

I really enjoyed this. Gives an overview of how the Premier League grew to what it is today. I have followed the Premier League for many years, and this helped me understand how it got up and running, and how it has developed.
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some fun nuggets for fans. Spoiler: it's actually about a bunch of different clubs.
Spencer Emmerson
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Simply enthralling. The level of access is second to none and the pacing propels you forward.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Extremely well-researched and reported book that takes you well behind the scenes of the formation of not only the most popular sports league on the planet, but perhaps one of the most well known businesses on earth. Even if you're not too familiar with the names involved, this is a must-read if you're a fan of sports, business books, or want to know how a soccer league from England has taken over the world.
Greville Waterman
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
A rollocking, racy read by two Wall Street Journal writers about the rise and rise of the Premier League.

Predominantly aimed at an American audience the two writers rehash much of what has already been told before elsewhere - mainly it is true to say for the UK market - and manage to repackage it in an interesting and attractive manner.

They have certainly done their homework and have managed to interview most of the main protagonists.

As a football junkie I cannot say that I learned much that was
Elda Mengisto
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
"The rise of the English Premier League is a story about the sports world's wildest gold rush. In the span of twenty-five years, the league's twenty clubs have increased their combined value by 10,000%, from around $100 million in 1992 to $15 billion today...How this happened is a tale of how the country that invented the world's game reinvented it and how a handful of secret meetings in 1992 spawned a crazy quarter century in which money, ambition, and uncommon drama turned an ancient league in ...more
Aaron Mcquiston
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
There is a continuous argument throughout the all soccer (football) world on which league is the best, the most talented, and the most exciting. The English Premier League is in the top three of everyone's list regardless of where they live globally, and this is because two things: talent and exposure. In the last five years even, the EPL is more of a household league because every Saturday there are games broadcast throughout the world. In the US, I know people who get up early, some as early a ...more
Tejas Sathian
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Entertaining business history (with some football mixed in) of modern English football. Hillsborough and the crisis of the sport in the 80s that made changes (terraces, searing, bathrooms) necessary. The founding moments of the Premier League and the big clubs’ breakaway from subsidizing the lower tiers of the game - inspiration from the NFL and its money making machine. The early rich owners: Uncle Jack of Blackburn Rovers and the failures of vision after winning one title, and the small sums r ...more
Hashim Alsughayer
Let me start my review with this: I really liked this book.

I know I took two stars from this book but the entertainment value that I took from reading this book was not a small amount. The book has many positives that would make any fan of the premier league enjoy reading it, or in my case, listening to it.

Although I would not categorize this book as a history book or a book that explains the history of the premier league, but at least I can say that this book gives you most of the important e
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If your interest in the English Premier League (EPL) extends beyond the action on the pitch and into the clubby world of team owners and league executives, then you will love this book. Both authors are seasoned sports writers with a keen eye for the business side of this game they cover for the Wall Street Journal

I've followed the EPL since the late 1990s when the good ol' internet led me to enjoy a raucous broadcast of English soccer action on an otherwise unremarkable weekday afternoon. Over
Jeffrey Robinson
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure, I have the same last name as one of the authors. That's not by accident. Guilty as charged, your honor. That said, allow me this simple statement of fact - The Club is a terrific book. It is not just a sports book about soccer, it is also the story of the business of the English Premier League. Honestly, it's one of the best narrative non-fiction books I've read in a long time, right up there with Liar's Poker and Barbarians at the Gate. It really is that good. Both authors are ...more
David Neto
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting read and fascinating take on the meanders of football's most famous and entertaining league. It helped me embark on a journey of reminiscing about the first foreign games I more or less remember watching, in the mid 90's. It enlightened me about the origins of the institution responsible for producing and selling the most exciting games in world, and how much it changed since its foundation. Like all things, English football is an ever changing body, and as a male humanoid who enjoys ...more
Austin Coad
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is filled to the brim with interesting and detailed anecdotes about the people and institutions responsible for bringing about the global behemoth that is the Premier League today. Robinson and Clegg take a deep dive into the impact different moments the premier Leagues history (such as landmark television deals orchestrated by Rupert Murdoch, the Bosman trial, Russian/Oil Tycoon billionaires, and Leicester City winning the league) shaped the way business, economics, marketing, and cul ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
The vacation list lurched from hiking to money in sports. Two Wall Street Journal authors put together a fascinating story on the 25-year rise of the English Premier League. Unlike the "Mixer," which focuses on the game play, this concerned the financial aspect of soccer. It does a great job explaining the financial intricacies of soccer and how the Premier League prospered in global soccer through its rights deals. The major quibble is there are several anecdotes that repeat in the book, likely ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book was recommended to me on Amazon last Christmas and I reviewed it on my blog. It's a comprehensive account of how the Premier League, England's top sporting division, has grown over the last two decades to become a juggernaut we see before us. If you are a football fan like me, you wouldn't be surprised at the skulduggery involved or vast sums of money swirling around the sport. It forensically takes a look at the Chelsea and Manchester City buyouts, the role foreign managers and players ...more
Dani Casey
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this. So engaging and engrossing - no one has ever told the story of the Premier League like this before.

I’m a Villa supporter - we spent 24 years in the Prem before being relegated and finding ourselves almost bankrupt on more than one occasion, so naturally this book is of interest to me... (at the time of writing this VILLA’S GOING BACK UP!)

It’s more than just the story of money. It’s about the supporters and the sociological impact of the sport and how it has become an absolute monste
Steve Johnson
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't rate many books as five star, unless perhaps written by Graham Greene. If you like English football and have followed the EPL the last quarter century then I believe this is a must read. I thought I knew a bit about the various clubs and characters but until I read this book I knew nothing. This is about the founding of the League and the inner workings of it. There are a few good sporting anecdotes but the real story is the backroom and boardroom story, not what happens on the pitch. A ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding, well researched and written story of the phenomenal growth of the English Premier League from its creation in 1992 from the Football League’s First Division to today. I recommend it for any football (soccer) fan, especially those who rise on Saturday and Sunday to watch the Premier League on NBCSN. The book discusses the many characters instrumental in the league’s growth, both familiar and less so, as well as the forces that threaten it. It isn’t really a spoiler to say those force ...more
Adrian Fingleton
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty good account of the history of the English Premier League, the spiraling revenues and costs, the angst between the big clubs and the small ones, and the inward flood of foreign money as investors decided that they 'had to own' a club so they could hold up their head at dinner parties. Probably the best section is where Leicester crashed the party and, against all the odds, won the thing. Lots of interesting anecdotes, and the authors certainly know their stuff. Obviously a read targeted ...more
CT Ray
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Almost 4 stars but I felt a few chapters could have been dropped and some of the details trimmed to make this a tighter book.

But overall as a fairly new Premier League fan I learned a LOT about the history of the league, the teams, the owners and the players. It's amazing to see how much it's grown over the past decade or so.

The parts I liked the least about the book were the behind-the-scenes looks at the owners. Sorry, but as dramatic as the authors tried to make those scenes, it was hard to s
Saurav Kumar
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a good read from my perspective of an MBA student. It described how money was made from an exciting product which was in ruins(comparatively) few years back. This is story of the birth of Premier League in 1992 and the consequent mega TV deals which it signed all over the globe. Also got to know about the mega ownership deals in the league by the sugar daddys. It showed the rise of Chelsea and Manchester City as European powerhouses. Worth a read for people who are interested in knowing t ...more
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very timely and well delivered.
Another kind of gentrification perhaps. The business approach saved the beautiful game back in 1992. The same mind$et may as well destroy the beautiful game sooner or later. I particularly enjoyed the epilogue. Would there be any place left for TRUE sports fans in the future of the game? Can they even afford to love the game? Can the players, aka modern day slaves, themselves keep up with the changes? It seems like, at the end of the day, everyone but the filthy
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Joshua Robinson is the European sports correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, and has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated.
“The rise of the English Premier League is a story about the sports world's wildest gold rush. In the span of twenty-five years, the league's twenty clubs have increased their combined value by 10,000 percent, from around $100 million in 1992 to $15 billion today.” 1 likes
“The Premier League is a timeless tale of boom and bust, no different from all those other bubbles they warn you about in business-school textbooks. Except, that is, in one crucial respect. In football, the bubble never burst.” 1 likes
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