The Premier League's Unwritten Rules

Last updated : 14 May 2010 By Gerard Bradley

Until the Premier League is composed of 18 rich clubs, with large grounds and multi-million pound backers there are two major categories of clubs recognised - the Elite and the Cannon Fodder.

The Elite are obviously Chelsea, Man. Utd., Arsenal, Spurs, Man. City, Aston Villa and Everton plus anybody else who can rustle up a billionaire to back them. Several clubs have tried to join this group by over-borrowing and over-spending, giving their chairman a brief spell of glory before crashing in flames.

The rest are the Cannon Fodder with relatively small grounds and income but can provide interesting entertainment when the Elite are not playing each other. Also of course this group includes any upstart poor club who might have the gall to get promoted from the Championship.

These then are the unwritten rules that govern these two groups


a) These may be given in Elite v Elite matches
b) They may be given for Elite teams against Fodder
c) They may be given for Fodder v Fodder matches - after all, who cares?
d) No penalties should be awarded for Fodder against Elite teams
e) Dives for penalties should always be given for Elite teams, especially against Fodder.


a) These are given to disallow goals that Fodder dare to score against Elite.
b) They are rarely given to disallow Elite goals against Fodder
c) When Fodder v Fodder it doesn't matter either way does it?

Soft Free Kicks on the edge of the area.

a) Given to Elite v Fodder
b) Never given to Fodder v Elite
c) May be given as much as you like when Fodder v Fodder to give MOTD pundits something to discuss at tedious length.

Yellow and Red Cards

a) Yellow for diving only for Fodder
b) Red cards rarely given for Elite teams v Fodder

Fines for Disciplinary Breaches

a) Rarely given to Elite because they don't miss the money
b) Take as much as possible from Fodder (and lower league clubs too)

These rules help to maintain the status quo and so there is no way that a Fodder club, playing very good football can penetrate the Elite. The only thing they can hope for is to make money by sensible husbandry, which will allow them to return to the Championship and be solvent for a few years and enjoy some football on a level playing field.

So, job well done Mr Kilby, and here's to the next time we dare to trespass and fill our pockets, relatively speaking. It will be like this until there is a European Super League or enough clubs find the wealth to join the Elite in a sizeable league.

I, for one, will enjoy watching and supporting the Clarets as a town and community club, whichever league we are in but I think we would all lose something if a rich foreign owner tried to take us up into the Elite by turning us into a hobby for himself and separating the club from its roots.