2001–02 in English football

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Football in England
Men's football
FA Premier League Arsenal
First Division Manchester City
Second Division Brighton & Hove Albion
Third Division Plymouth Argyle
Football Conference Boston United
FA Cup Arsenal
Football League Trophy Blackpool
League Cup Blackburn Rovers
Charity Shield Liverpool
  2000–01 Flag of England.svg 2002–03  

The 2001–02 season was the 122nd season of competitive football in England.



Arsenal cruise to title glory

In what had earlier been one of the most closely fought Premiership title races for years, Arsenal won the championship by a seven-point margin. Their crown was won in the penultimate game of the season when they beat defending champions Manchester United 1–0 at Old Trafford. Four days earlier, they had also won the FA Cup with a 2–0 victory over Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.

Their top scorer, Thierry Henry, was on target 24 times in the league alone.

One downside to the season was Arsenal's failure to progress to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

Sir Alex puts off his retirement

Sir Alex Ferguson announced in February that he would be postponing his retirement as Manchester United manager by at least three more seasons after he signed a new contract as manager. The news came just after United completed an impressive revival in the Premiership which saw them rise from ninth to first in the space of two months.

On 8 December, United stood ninth in the Premiership – 11 points behind Liverpool, who had a game in hand – and had lost five of their seven previous games in the aftermath of a 1–0 defeat at home to West Ham United. Even a UEFA Cup place appeared beyond reach. An eight-match winning run, however, saw United cruise to the top of the Premiership and they were soon challenging a three-horse race with Liverpool and Arsenal. They remained in the title race until the penultimate game of the season, when they lost 1–0 at home to Arsenal and surrendered the title crown to their opponents.

United's failure was largely put down to the inability to find a suitable replacement for Jaap Stam, the Dutch central defender who had been sold to Lazio for £16.25 million just after the start of the season. Another disappointment was the failure of Juan Sebastián Verón, at £28.1 million the most expensive player ever to sign for an English club, to never live up to his hefty price tag. On a positive note, Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy lived up to his £19 million price tag by scoring 34 goals in all competitions during his first season at Old Trafford, breaking the club record that had been set by Dennis Viollet 40 seasons earlier.

After the season concluded, rumours began to circulate that Ferguson was about to break the English transfer record once again and sign Leeds United central-back Rio Ferdinand in the hope that his side would return to their winning ways in 2002–03.

Ipswich fall from grace

A year after qualifying for the UEFA Cup and earning George Burley the Manager of the Year award, Ipswich Town dropped back into Division One. The Suffolk side had looked doomed by Christmas after winning just one of their first 18 Premiership games. Then came a turnaround in form which saw them win seven out of eight fixtures and climb to 12th place, suggesting that they were safe. But another decline set in, and this time Ipswich were unable to halt it. Their relegation was confirmed with a 5–0 defeat away to runners-up Liverpool on the final day of the season.

Joining Ipswich in Division One would be already doomed Derby County and Leicester City, both going down after six seasons in the Premiership, the last of which had seen three different men take charge of the team.

West Brom and Birmingham back in the big time

West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City, who had last played in the top flight in 1985–86, were finally promoted back to the top division with Albion as Division One runners-up and Birmingham as playoff winners. In an ironic twist, Albion had overtaken another local rival in Wolverhampton Wanderers, which had been out of the top flight even longer, in the race for the run for second place by winning seven of their final nine league games. Birmingham's triumph was sealed by a penalty-shoot out win over Norwich at the Millennium Stadium. They followed champions Manchester City, managed by Kevin Keegan, into the Premiership.

Back to back for Brighton

Brighton & Hove Albion secured successive title winning promotions. This was a massive turnaround for the fortunes of the club which had between 1996 and 1998 finished second bottom of the football league and were on the verge of going out of business.

The Battle of Bramall Lane

One of the seven Albion in their promotion run came on 16 March 2002, against Sheffield United. This match would turn recent English football history, .

ITV Digital crisis plunges league clubs into turmoil

The collapse of debt-ridden ITV Digital in May 2002 plunged many Football League clubs into turmoil. The likes of Bradford City, Bury, Nottingham Forest, Watford, Barnsley, Lincoln City and Port Vale filed for administration, fearful that the drastic loss of revenue would put them out of business.

Of all the troubled clubs, Bradford City's situation was the most precarious. The West Yorkshire club had debts of £36million and had failed to meet a deadline for a takeover deal. It seemed inevitable that the Bantams, who had gone into liquidation in 1983, would endure a total collapse and lose their place in the Football League. Their only hope was for the Football League to ignore their financial plight and allow them a place in Division One for the 2002–03 season.

Dario reaches managerial milestone

On 20 November 2001, Dario Gradi took charge of his 1,000 competitive game in charge of Crewe Alexandra in Division One. Gradi had arrived at Crewe in June 1983, and he reached this landmark just four months into a season which had already seen a total of more than 20 managerial changes in the Premiership, Division One, Division Two and Division Three. Crewe ended the season by being relegated to Division Two but the club's directors showed no intention of parting company with the longest-serving manager at any Football League club.

Wimbledon get go-ahead for Milton Keynes move

Just after the end of the Division one season, a three-man panel of The FA gave permission for Wimbledon FC to move from their historic South London home to Milton Keynes. The move sparked outrage among Wimbledon supporters, who formed their own club – AFC Wimbledon – in response to the controversial plans of chairman Charles Koppel.

League tables

FA Premier League

Arsenal won their second Premier League title in five seasons, as well as their second double in the same period, after a remarkable season in which they fought with the rest of the top six for the title right up until the final stages. They scored in every Premier League game, were unbeaten away from home, and finished the league season with 13 successive wins - and also had the satisfaction of clinching the title with a win over Manchester United at Old Trafford in their penultimate game. Liverpool's second-place finish was their highest for 11 years, ironically ending Manchester United's top-two run which had started after theirs had ended. United had rallied well and led the league for a while after losing six league games between mid September and early December, but a few dropped points in the final two months of the season meant that they just couldn't get the better of Arsenal in the title race. Newcastle United, meanwhile, finished fourth in their third season under the management of 69-year-old Bobby Robson, their highest finish for five years.

Leeds United and Chelsea had to settle for UEFA Cup qualification after losing ground in the closing stages of the title race. Though it wasn't obvious at the time, Leeds's failure to qualify for the Champions League would trigger a financial implosion that would eventually see them relegated to the third tier and almost be expelled from the Football League within five years.

For the first time in 12 years, and the first time since the foundation of the Premier League, all three newly promoted top division sides avoided relegation. Blackburn Rovers fared the best, finishing 10th and winning the League Cup, thereby qualifying for the UEFA Cup. Fulham survived relatively comfortably, though a 13th place finish was considered underwhelming, as their being managed by the highly-regarded Jean Tigana and a substantial investment in players had caused most pundits to tip them to challenge for the European spots. Bolton Wanderers' strong start to the season meant that they survived in 16th place, despite their lackluster form for much of the rest of the season.

Leicester City's final season at Filbert Street, their home for 111 years, ended in relegation after just five league wins. Joining them in Division One were their local rivals Derby County, who had coincidentally been promoted alongside them six years earlier. Derby had finished not far above the relegation zone in the previous two campaigns, but Leicester had been a top 10 side as recently as two years before their relegation, when they had also won their second League Cup in four seasons.

Last to go down were Ipswich Town, who had revived themselves mid-season after a disastrous start, but were unable to halt it after another slide towards the end of the campaign and any hopes of survival were ended on the final day of the season when they were crushed by Liverpool, just one year after qualifying for Europe (albeit they would return to Europe via the Fair Play Award). Sunderland, who had fallen just one place short of Europe in the last two seasons, came just one place away from relegation.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsQualification or relegation
1 Arsenal (C)3826937936+4387Qualification for the Champions League first group stage
2 Liverpool 3824866730+3780
3 Manchester United 3824598745+4277Qualification for the Champions League third qualifying round
4 Newcastle United 3821897452+2271
5 Leeds United 38181285337+1666Qualification for the UEFA Cup first round [lower-alpha 1]
6 Chelsea 38171386638+2864
7 West Ham United 38158154857953
8 Aston Villa 381214124647150Qualification for the Intertoto Cup third round
9 Tottenham Hotspur 38148164953450
10 Blackburn Rovers 381210165551+446Qualification for the UEFA Cup first round [lower-alpha 2]
11 Southampton 38129174654845
12 Middlesbrough 381291735471245
13 Fulham 381014143644844Qualification for the Intertoto Cup second round
14 Charlton Athletic 3810141438491144
15 Everton 3811101745571243
16 Bolton Wanderers 389131644621840
17 Sunderland 3810101829512240
18 Ipswich Town (R)38992041642336
Qualification for the UEFA Cup qualifying round [lower-alpha 3]
Relegation to the Football League First Division
19 Derby County (R)38862433633030Relegation to the Football League First Division
20 Leicester City (R)385132030643428
Source: Premier League
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored.
(C) Champion; (R) Relegated.
  1. Since Arsenal qualified for the Champions League, their UEFA Cup place as FA Cup winners defaulted to Chelsea, the losing finalists.
  2. Blackburn Rovers qualified for the UEFA Cup as League Cup winners.
  3. Ipswich Town qualified for the UEFA Cup qualifying round as the winners of Premiership Fair Play League by The Football Association, one of the UEFA Fair Play ranking winners.

Leading goalscorer: Thierry Henry (Arsenal), 24

First Division

Manchester City managed to make an immediate return from the previous season's relegation, and returned to the Premier League as champions. West Bromwich Albion built on their surprise play-off appearance the previous year, achieving automatic promotion to the top-flight for the first time since 1986 at the expense of local rivals Wolves, who had looked all set for promotion just weeks earlier, but went out of the playoffs against Norwich. The play-offs were won by Birmingham City, finally earning promotion after two successive disappointments, and also returning to the top flight for the first time since 1986.

Burnley finished seventh for the second season running, only missing out on the playoffs on goal difference. Local rivals Preston finished eighth, with former Scotland manager Craig Brown now at the helm after David Moyes left for Everton.

Stockport County endured a dismal season despite the high-profile appointment of Carlton Palmer as manager, and fell into Division Two. Barnsley also went down, despite a play-off final appearance only two years previously. The final relegation spot was filled by Crewe, who for once were unable to pull off a survival act.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsPromotion or relegation
1 Manchester City (C, P)46316910852+5699Promotion to the Premier League
2 West Bromwich Albion (P)46278116129+3289
3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 462511107643+3386Participated in play-offs
4 Millwall 462211136948+2177
5 Birmingham City (O, P)462113127049+2176
6 Norwich City 46229156051+975
7 Burnley 462112137062+875
8 Preston North End 462012147159+1272
9 Wimbledon 461813156357+667
10 Crystal Palace 46206207062+866
11 Coventry City 46206205953+666
12 Gillingham 461810186467364
13 Sheffield United 461515165354160
14 Watford 461611196256+659
15 Bradford City 461510216976755
16 Nottingham Forest 461218165051154
17 Portsmouth 4613141960721253
18 Walsall 4613122151712051
19 Grimsby Town 4612142050722250
20 Sheffield Wednesday 4612142049712250
21 Rotherham United 4610191752661449
22 Crewe Alexandra (R)4612132147762949Relegated to Second Division
23 Barnsley (R)4611152059862748
24 Stockport County (R)466832421026026
Source: [ citation needed ]
Rules for classification: In the Football League goals scored (GF) takes precedence over goal difference (GD).
(C) Champion; (O) Play-off winner; (P) Promoted; (R) Relegated.

Top Goalscorer: Shaun Goater (Man City) - 28 [1]

Second Division

Brighton earned a second successive championship, despite the loss of manager Micky Adams early in the season - however, they would also have to cope with the loss of replacement manager Peter Taylor after the season ended. Reading earned the runners-up spot after four seasons in Division Two, and the play-offs were won by Stoke City who, despite this success, sacked manager Gudjon Thordarson immediately afterwards (leaving Reading in the odd position of being the only top six side to start the 2002–03 season with the same manager that they had at the start of the 2001–02 season).

QPR came out of administration at the end of a season where they finished a respectable eighth in their first campaign at this level since the 1960s, featuring in the race for a playoff place until the penultimate game of the season. Wigan Athletic finished a disappointing tenth after successive playoff appearances, but kept faith in manager Paul Jewell to deliver promotion in his second season at the helm.

Cambridge United were cut adrift early in the season, and never looked to have much chance of surviving. Long-time Division Two members Wrexham never recovered from a bad start, and also went down. Bury suffered a financial crisis off the pitch and the effects of this ultimately affected the team's performance and sent them down to the League's bottom tier. The final relegation spot was filled by Bournemouth.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsPromotion or relegation
1 Brighton & Hove Albion (C, P)46251566642+2490Promoted
2 Reading (P)46231587043+2784
3 Brentford 462411117743+3483Participated in play-offs
4 Cardiff City 46231497550+2583
5 Stoke City (O, P)462311126740+2780
6 Huddersfield Town 462115106547+1878
7 Bristol City 462110156853+1573
8 Queens Park Rangers 461914136049+1171
9 Oldham Athletic 461816127765+1270
10 Wigan Athletic 461616146651+1564
11 Wycombe Wanderers 461713165864664
12 Tranmere Rovers 461615156360+363
13 Swindon Town 4615141746561059
14 Port Vale 4616102051621158
15 Colchester United 4615121965761157
16 Blackpool 461414186669356
17 Peterborough United 461510216459+555
18 Chesterfield 4613132053651252
19 Notts County 4613112259711250
20 Northampton Town 461472554792549
21 Bournemouth (R)4610142256711544Relegated
22 Bury (R)4611112443753244
23 Wrexham (R)4611102556893343
24 Cambridge United (R)467132647934634
Source: [ citation needed ]
Rules for classification: In the Football League goals scored (GF) takes precedence over goal difference (GD).
(C) Champion; (O) Play-off winner; (P) Promoted; (R) Relegated.

Leading goalscorer: Bobby Zamora (Brighton and Hove Albion) - 28

Third Division

Plymouth and Luton were involved in a close fight for the divisional title for the whole season; ultimately Plymouth won out, with Luton taking the runners-up spot and making an immediate return to Division Two after going down the previous season. The third automatic spot was closely contested between Mansfield and Cheltenham; Mansfield were the ultimate victors despite some poor results late in the season, but Cheltenham would win promotion anyway through the play-offs.

This was the final season where only a single team would drop out of the League into the Conference. Ultimately there proved to be little drama about who would go down, as it became obvious from the first few weeks that Halifax Town were doomed, never managing to earn enough wins to have any serious chance of survival.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsPromotion or relegation
1 Plymouth Argyle (C, P)4631967128+43102Promoted
2 Luton Town (P)4630799648+4897
3 Mansfield Town (P)46247157260+1279
4 Cheltenham Town (O, P)462115106649+1778Participated in play-offs
5 Rochdale 462115106552+1378
6 Rushden & Diamonds [lower-alpha 1] 462013136953+1673
7 Hartlepool United 462011157448+2671
8 Scunthorpe United 461914137456+1871
9 Shrewsbury Town 462010166453+1170
10 Kidderminster Harriers 46199185647+966
11 Hull City 461613175751+661
12 Southend United 461513185154358
13 Macclesfield Town 4615131841521158
14 York City 461692154671357
15 Darlington 4615112060711156
16 Exeter City 4614131948732555
17 Carlisle United 461216184956752
18 Leyton Orient 4613132055711652
19 Torquay United 4612151946631751
20 Swansea City 4613122153772451
21 Oxford United 461114215362947
22 Lincoln City 4610162044621846
23 Bristol Rovers 4611122340602045
24 Halifax Town (R)468122639844536Relegated to Conference
Source: [ citation needed ]
Rules for classification: In the Football League goals scored (GF) takes precedence over goal difference (GD).
(C) Champion; (O) Play-off winner; (P) Promoted; (R) Relegated.
  1. New club in the league

Leading goalscorer: Steve Howard (Luton Town) - 24

Diary of the season

From Division One to The Premier League:

Manchester City
West Bromwich Albion
Birmingham City

From Division Two to Division One:

Brighton & Hove Albion
Stoke City

From Division Three to Division Two:

Plymouth Argyle
Luton Town
Mansfield Town
Cheltenham Town

From The Football Conference to Division Three:

Boston United

Relegated teams

From The Premier League to Division One:

Ipswich Town
Derby County
Leicester City

From Division One to Division Two:

Crewe Alexandra
Stockport County

From Division Two to Division Three:

AFC Bournemouth
Cambridge United

From Division Three to The Football Conference:

Halifax Town

Transfer deals

1 August 2001
2 August 2001
3 August 2001
9 August 2001
10 August 2001
14 August 2001
16 August 2001
24 August 2001
31 August 2001
3 September 2001
14 September 2001
24 September 2001
19 October 2001
30 November 2001
7 December 2001
24 December 2001
29 December 2001
23 January 2002
30 January 2002
8 February 2002
18 February 2002
6 March 2002
18 March 2002
28 March 2002
18 April 2002

For subsequent transfer deals see 2002–03 in English football.

Managerial changes













Famous debutants


9 November 2001: Tony Ford, 42-year-old midfielder with one of the highest appearance records of any postwar English footballer, retires from playing after leaving Rochdale and following their manager Steve Parkin to Barnsley as his assistant and deciding that he was not capable of playing second tier football.

19 February 2002: Roberto Di Matteo, 31-year-old midfielder who was Chelsea's record signing for £4.9 million in 1996 and scored for them in FA Cup final wins in 1997 and 2000, retires after 17 months out of action having failed to recover from a broken leg suffered in a UEFA Cup game in September 2000.

21 April 2002: Stuart Pearce, 40-year-old left back who had been in league football since 1983 and was an England international for more than a decade until his last appearance in 2000, retires at the end of an illustrious career with ended on a high as he helped Manchester City win promotion to the Premier League as Division One champions. His final game was against Portsmouth at Maine Road, in which he missed a penalty that if scored would have been the 100th goal of his professional career that had also taken in spells with Coventry City, Nottingham Forest, Newcastle United and West Ham United.

10 May 2002: Lee Dixon, 38-year-old right back who signed for Arsenal in January 1988 and played more than 600 games for them, retires after winning his second double in five seasons (and his fourth league title) for the North London club.

11 May 2002: Matthew Le Tissier, 33-year-old striker who spent his entire professional career at Southampton since 1986, retires after scoring 162 goals for them but never managing to win a major trophy or play in a European competition, though he did manage several England appearances in the 1990s.


Related Research Articles

The 2001–02 FA Premier League was the tenth season of the competition. It began with a new sponsor, Barclaycard, and was titled the FA Barclaycard Premiership, replacing the previous sponsor, Carling. The title race turned into a battle among four sides – Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle United.

The 2003–04 season was the 124th season of association football in England.

The 2002–03 season was the 123rd season of competitive football in England.

The 2004–05 season was the 125th season of competitive football in England.

The 1977–78 season was the 98th season of competitive football in England.

The 2007–08 season was the 128th season of competitive football in England.

The 2000–01 season was the 121st season of competitive football in England.

The 1992–93 season was the 113th season of football in England. The season saw the Premier League in its first season, replacing Division One of the Football League as the top league in England. Every team in the Premier League played each other twice within the season, one game away and one at home, and were awarded three points for a win and one for a draw.

The 1994–95 season was the 115th season of competitive football in England.

The 1996–97 season was the 117th season of competitive football in England. Promotion to and relegation from the Football League returned after a three-season absence, with one relegation spot in Division Three.

1840s – 1850s – 1860s – 1870s – 1880s – 1890s – 1900s – 1910s – 1920s – 1930s – 1940s – 1950s – 1960s – 1970s – 1980s – 1990s – 2000s – 2010s

The 1991–92 season was the 112th season of competitive football in England.

The 1985–86 season was the 106th season of competitive football in England.

The 1983–84 season was the 104th season of competitive football in England.

The 1980–81 season was the 101st season of competitive football in England.

The 1976–77 season was the 97th season of competitive football in England. This year The Football League revamped the tie-breaking criteria for teams level on points, replacing the traditional goal average tie-breaker with one based on goal difference to try to encourage more scoring. Coloured red and yellow cards were introduced for the first time in domestic English football.

The 1993–94 season was the 114th season of competitive football in England.

The 1997–98 season was the 118th season of competitive football in England.

The 1998–99 season was the 119th season of competitive football in England.

The 2010–11 season was the 131st season of competitive football in England.


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