2002–03 in English football

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Football in England
Men's football
FA Premier League Manchester United
First Division Portsmouth
Second Division Wigan Athletic
Third Division Rushden & Diamonds
Yeovil Town
FA Cup Arsenal
Football League Trophy Bristol City
League Cup Liverpool
Community Shield Arsenal
  2001–02 Flag of England.svg 2003–04  

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



Diary of the season

England national team

DateVenueOpponentsScoreCompetitionEngland scorers
7 September 2002 Villa Park, Birmingham Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 1–1F Alan Smith
12 October 2002 Tehelné pole, Bratislava Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia 2–1ECQ David Beckham, Michael Owen
16 October 2002 St Mary's Stadium, Southampton Flag of North Macedonia.svg  Macedonia 2–2ECQ David Beckham, Steven Gerrard
12 February 2003 Upton Park, LondonFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 1–3F Francis Jeffers
29 March 2003 Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz Flag of Liechtenstein.svg  Liechtenstein 2–0ECQ Michael Owen, David Beckham
2 April 2003 Stadium of Light, Sunderland Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 2–0ECQ Darius Vassell, David Beckham
22 May 2003 Kings Park Stadium, Durban Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa 2–1F Gareth Southgate, Emile Heskey
3 June 2003 Walkers Stadium, Leicester Flag of Serbia and Montenegro (1992-2006).svg  Serbia and Montenegro 2–1F Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole
11 June 2003 Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia 2–1ECQ Michael Owen (2)

Key: ECQ = 2004 European Championship qualifiers, F = Friendly; scores are written England first

European club competitions

UEFA Champions League


UEFA Intertoto Cup


FA Premier League Manchester United
FA Cup Arsenal
Worthington Cup Liverpool
Football League Division One Portsmouth
Football League Division Two Wigan Athletic
Football League Division Three Rushden & Diamonds
Football League Trophy Bristol City
FA Trophy Burscough
FA Vase Brigg Town
FA Youth Cup Manchester United

League competitions

FA Premier League

Manchester United, unbeaten in the league after 22 December, overhauled Arsenal during the final three months of the season to clinch their eighth Premiership title in 11 seasons, while the other two Champions League places went to Newcastle United and Chelsea. Going into the UEFA Cup were Liverpool (who made an excellent start to the league, going unbeaten in their first three months before a sudden collapse) and Blackburn Rovers, along with FA Cup runners-up Southampton (who also achieved their best Premiership finish of 8th place) and Fair Play award winners Manchester City (who finished an impressive ninth on their Premiership comeback). Southampton had not played in European competitions for nearly 20 years, while Manchester City's last European campaign was a quarter of a century ago.

Everton finished seventh in their first full season under the management of David Moyes, the club's highest finish for seven years, in a campaign where the club was the centre of national media and public attention following the performances of 17-year-old striker Wayne Rooney, who became the youngest full England international after the season's end.

Compensation for Arsenal after their spectacular failure to retain the league title came in the form of retaining the FA Cup – the first side to do so for 21 years.

Leeds United's season was plagued by a loss of form and mounting debts, and having to sell several key players, as they slipped to 15th place – their lowest finish for 10 years and a stark contrast to the previous five campaigns, where they had never finished outside the top five. Manager Terry Venables was axed towards the end of March after eight months in charge, with Peter Reid taking over for the final weeks of the season to secure survival and earn himself a permanent contract. Aston Villa's 16th-place finish was their lowest for eight years, although their strong home form ensured their survival in the Premier League.

Sunderland's season started badly and got worse as they finished with a record Premiership low of 4 wins, 19 points and 21 goals, losing their final 15 league games in the process. The Wearside club went through three managers, with Peter Reid (one of the league's longest-serving managers) leaving in early October to be replaced by Howard Wilkinson, who lasted just five months before Mick McCarthy was appointed. They were joined by West Bromwich Albion, who attained just 26 points in their first top flight season for nearly 20 years and won just three times in the league after September. Last to go down were West Ham United, who went down with 42 points – the highest points tally of any club to be relegated from the Premiership under the 20-club format.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsQualification or relegation
1 Manchester United (C)3825857434+4083Qualification for the Champions League group stage
2 Arsenal 3823968542+4378
3 Newcastle United 38216116348+1569Qualification for the Champions League third qualifying round
4 Chelsea 38191096838+3067
5 Liverpool 381810106141+2064Qualification for the UEFA Cup first round [lower-alpha 1]
6 Blackburn Rovers 381612105243+960
7 Everton 38178134849159
8 Southampton 381313124346352Qualification for the UEFA Cup first round [lower-alpha 2]
9 Manchester City 38156174754751Qualification for the UEFA Cup qualifying round [lower-alpha 3]
10 Tottenham Hotspur 381481651621150
11 Middlesbrough 381310154844+449
12 Charlton Athletic 381471745561149
13 Birmingham City 38139164149848
14 Fulham 38139164150948
15 Leeds United 38145195857+147
16 Aston Villa 38129174247545
17 Bolton Wanderers 3810141441511044
18 West Ham United (R)3810121642591742Relegation to Football League First Division
19 West Bromwich Albion (R)38682429653626
20 Sunderland (R)38472721654419
Source: Premier League
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored.
(C) Champion; (R) Relegated.
  1. Since Liverpool qualified for the UEFA Cup via the league, their place in the UEFA Cup as League Cup winners reverted to the league and was awarded to Blackburn Rovers as the highest-placed team not already qualified for European competitions.
  2. Since Arsenal qualified for the Champions League, their place in the UEFA Cup as FA Cup winners went to Southampton, who were the FA Cup runners-up.
  3. Manchester City qualified as the highest-ranked team not already qualified for European competitions of Premiership Fair Play League by The Football Association, the top association among UEFA Fair Play ranking winners.

Leading goalscorer: Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United), 25

Football League First Division

Portsmouth won the Division One title by some distance, passing manager Harry Redknapp's old club, West Ham, on the way down and ending their own 15-year exile from the top flight. They were rarely outside the top two at any point of the season.

Leicester City earned a somewhat controversial promotion, as administration and a Creditor's Voluntary Agreement wrote off much of their £30million debt. Partly as a result of this, the League would introduce a 10-point subtraction for any teams entering administration from the next season onwards. The play-offs were won by Wolves, returning to the top flight after nearly 20 years and finally allowing owner Sir Jack Hayward to see the return he wanted on his years of investment. Their opponents, Sheffield United, were semi-finalists in both domestic cups.

Gillingham enjoyed their most successful season to date, finishing a club record eleventh place in the division, the highest in their history. Despite having some of the lowest attendances in senior football after the relocation to Milton Keynes was announced, Wimbledon managed a 10th-place finish in the league, but then went into administration – putting the future of the club under yet more doubt.

Grimsby were relegated, after struggling in the division for five years on extremely limited resources. Both Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday suffered awful starts to the season (Brighton managing only a single win from their first sixteen matches), and despite good runs of form late in the season, neither were able to survive, although Brighton at least had the satisfaction of staying in the hunt for survival up to the last game.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsPromotion or relegation
1 Portsmouth (C, P)46291169745+5298Promotion to 2003–04 FA Premier League
2 Leicester City (P)46261467340+3392
3 Sheffield United 462311127252+2080Qualification for First Division Playoffs
4 Reading 46254176146+1579
5 Wolverhampton Wanderers (O, P)462016108144+3776
6 Nottingham Forest 462014128250+3274
7 Ipswich Town 461913148064+1670
8 Norwich City 461912156049+1169
9 Millwall 461991859691066
10 Wimbledon 461811177673+365
11 Gillingham 461614165665962
12 Preston North End 461613176870261
13 Watford 461792054701660
14 Crystal Palace 461417155952+759
15 Rotherham United 461514176262059
16 Burnley 4615102165892455
17 Walsall 461592257691254
18 Derby County 461572455741952
19 Bradford City 4614102251732252
20 Coventry City 4612142046621650
21 Stoke City 4612142045692450
22 Sheffield Wednesday (R)4610162056731746Relegation to 2003–04 Second Division
23 Brighton & Hove Albion (R)4611122349671845
24 Grimsby Town (R)469122548853739
Updated to match(es) played on 11 May 2003. Source: Soccerway
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored.
(C) Champion; (O) Play-off winner; (P) Promoted; (R) Relegated.

Leading goalscorer: Svetoslav Todorov (Portsmouth), 26

Football League Second Division

Wigan won their first-ever promotion beyond the Second Division. Crewe managed a promotion on the back of their famed youth policy while play-off winners Cardiff were another big-spending team that were able to earn promotion, beating QPR in the final.

Tranmere Rovers had to settle for seventh place – not even enough for a playoff place – despite collecting 80 points, a tally which at times had been enough for some teams to win automatic promotion. Plymouth Argyle and Luton Town both achieved top half finishes a season after promotion.

An ill-advised managerial change mid-season helped send Northampton down. Mansfield Town's first season out of the bottom division in over a decade ended as their previous spell had; with immediate relegation in a season awash with over 160 goals where they had no problems scoring goals but unfortunately leaked goals at an alarming rate. Huddersfield started badly, and a financial crisis later in the season helped condemn them to relegation, only three years after they looked Premiership-bound. Cheltenham came close to survival, but a defeat on the final day of the season saw them return to Division Three.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsPromotion or relegation
1 Wigan Athletic (C, P)46291346825+43100Promoted
2 Crewe Alexandra (P)462511107640+3686
3 Bristol City 462411117948+3183Participated in play-offs
4 Queens Park Rangers 462411116945+2483
5 Oldham Athletic 46221686838+3082
6 Cardiff City (O, P)462312116843+2581
7 Tranmere Rovers 462311126657+980
8 Plymouth Argyle 461714156352+1165
9 Luton Town 461714156762+565
10 Swindon Town 461612185963460
11 Peterborough United 461416165154358
12 Colchester United 461416165256458
13 Blackpool 461513185664858
14 Stockport County 461510216570555
15 Notts County 461316176270855
16 Brentford 461412204756954
17 Port Vale 4614112154701653
18 Wycombe Wanderers 461313205966752
19 Barnsley 4613132051641352
20 Chesterfield 461482443733050
21 Cheltenham Town (R)4610181853681548Relegated
22 Huddersfield Town (R)4611122339612245
23 Mansfield Town (R)461282666973144
24 Northampton Town (R)461092740793939
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: Robert Earnshaw (Cardiff City), 31

Football League Third Division

Rushden & Diamonds continued their meteoric rise, winning the divisional title. They were helped in no small part by runners-up Hartlepool suffering a shocking late-season collapse, which cost them the title and manager Mike Newell his job. Wrexham took the last automatic promotion spot and bounced back from the previous season's relegation, as did play-off winners Bournemouth, who beat Lincoln City in the final.

Oxford United were promotion contenders a season after finishing fourth from bottom, but in the end just missed out on the playoffs. Despite almost going out of business, York City managed to finish 10th – their highest finish since relegation to Division Three in 1999. Hull City finished 13th under new manager Peter Taylor, who took over from Jan Molby just before the club completed its relocation from Boothferry Park to the new KC Stadium, which gave the club the highest crowds at this level, although the upturn in form was not enough to get them anywhere near the top of the table. Boston United managed a 15th-place finish in their first season as a league club, despite having four points deducted for financial irregularities.

A shock FA Cup victory over Everton did little to help Shrewsbury, and they finished bottom of the League. Exeter City were bought out pre-season in a high-profile takeover spearheaded by Uri Geller; unfortunately, Geller's associates proceeded to asset-strip the club, and despite a late-season run of form, Exeter fell victim to the first-ever dual relegation from the League.

Yeovil Town, who had spent decades making the headlines by defeating league opposition in the FA Cup, finally reached the Football League as Conference champions. The first Conference playoffs were won by Doncaster Rovers, who returned to the league after a five-year exile with the financial backing of John Ryan, who now had a new all-seater stadium in the pipeline.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsPromotion or relegation
1 Rushden & Diamonds (C, P)46241577347+2687Promoted
2 Hartlepool United (P)46241397151+2085
3 Wrexham (P)46231588450+3484
4 Bournemouth (O, P)462014126048+1274Participated in play-offs
5 Scunthorpe United 461915126849+1972
6 Lincoln City 461816124637+970
7 Bury 461816125756+170
8 Oxford United 461912155747+1069
9 Torquay United 461618127171066
10 York City 461715145253166
11 Kidderminster Harriers 461615156263163
12 Cambridge United 461613176770361
13 Hull City 461417155853+559
14 Darlington 461218165859154
15 Boston United [lower-alpha 1] 461513185556154 [lower-alpha 2]
16 Macclesfield Town 461412205763654
17 Southend United 461732647591254
18 Leyton Orient 4614112151611053
19 Rochdale 461216186370752
20 Bristol Rovers 461215195057751
21 Swansea City 4612132148651749
22 Carlisle United 4613102352782649
23 Exeter City (R)4611152050641448Relegated to Conference
24 Shrewsbury Town (R)469142362923041
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
  2. Boston United had 4 points deducted for financial irregularities. [36]

Leading goalscorer: Andy Morrell (Wrexham), 34

Football Conference

National League System

Step 2 Leagues Northern Premier League Accrington Stanley
Southern League Tamworth
Isthmian League Aldershot Town
Step 3 Leagues Northern Premier League Division One Alfreton Town
Southern League Midland/West Division Merthyr Tydfil
Southern League South/East Division Dorchester Town
Isthmian League Division One North Northwood
Isthmian League Division One South Carshalton Athletic
Step 4 Leagues Northern League Brandon United
Northern Counties East League Bridlington Town
North West Counties League Prescot Cables
Midland Alliance Stourbridge
United Counties League Holbeach United
Eastern Counties League A.F.C. Sudbury
Hellenic League North Leigh
Western League Team Bath
Isthmian League Division Two Cheshunt
Essex Senior League Enfield Town
Spartan South Midlands League Dunstable Town
Combined Counties League Withdean 2000
Wessex League Eastleigh
Sussex County League Burgess Hill Town
Kent League Cray Wanderers

Transfer deals

Summer transfer window

The summer transfer window ran from the end of the previous season until 31 August.

2 May 2002
14 August 2002
30 August 2002
31 August 2002

January transfer window

The mid-season transfer window ran from 1 to 31 January 2003.

31 January 2003

For subsequent transfer deals see 2003-04 in English football.

Famous Debutants


11 August 2002: Tony Adams, 35, retires after spending his entire 19-year career at Arsenal, and was team Captain for 14 seasons. [41]

11 May 2003: Peter Schmeichel, 39, retires from playing after spending 10 of the last 12 seasons in England, the final of which was spent at Manchester City, though he is best remembered for his eight-year spell at Manchester United during which he established himself as a world class goalkeeper. [42]



Chelsea are fined £5,000 for the state of the pitch at Stamford Bridge for their Premier League match against Charlton Athletic on 11 January. Chelsea were going to relay their pitch immediately after the match and had removed the old grass surface, leaving only the sand base on which the new pitch would be laid. Chelsea did not inform Charlton of the poor state of the pitch prior to the game, which Chelsea won 4–1. [44]

Related Research Articles

The 2002–03 FA Premier League was the 11th season of the Premier League, the top division in English football. The first matches were played on 17 August 2002 and the last were played on 11 May 2003.

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

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

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

1998–99 FA Premier League

The 1998–99 FA Premier League was the seventh season of the Premier League, the top division of English football, since its establishment in 1992. Manchester United won a unique treble of the league title, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League. They secured their fifth league championship in seven seasons after losing just three league games all season.

The 1999–2000 FA Premier League was the eighth season of the FA Premier League, and Manchester United secured their sixth Premiership title. Like the previous season, they lost only three league games all season. Unlike in 1998–99 season, they won by a comfortable margin – 18 points as opposed to a single point.

2005–06 FA Premier League 14th season of the Premier League

The 2005–06 FA Premier League began on 13 August 2005, and concluded on 7 May 2006. The season saw Chelsea retain their title after defeating Manchester United 3–0 at Stamford Bridge towards the end of April. On the same day, West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City were relegated, joining Sunderland in the Championship for the following season. Chelsea drew the record they set the previous season, with 29 wins in home and away campaigns.

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

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

The 1983–84 season was the 104th 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 1999–2000 season was the 120th season of competitive football in England.

The 1967–68 season was the 88th season of competitive football in England. Defending First Division champions, Manchester United, became the first English team to win the European Cup, while the First Division title went to their cross city rivals City. West Bromwich Albion lifted the FA Cup this season, for the fifth time in their history. Leeds United won their first two major trophies when they lifted the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and Football League Cup at the expense of an Arsenal side who had not played at Wembley for 16 years.

During the 2002–03 English football season, Liverpool F.C. competed in the FA Premier League.

The 2002–03 season saw Leeds United compete in the Premier League.

The 2002–03 season saw West Ham United relegated from the FA Premier League after a 10 year run in the top flight. West Ham were relegated to the First Division at the end of the season, finishing in 18th place.


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