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The 1981-82 season was the 102nd season of competitive football in England.

It was also the first season that the Three points for a win system was introduced.

Overview

First Division

Three points for a win was introduced for the first time in England. Liverpool made up for the previous season's slip in league form by winning the league championship for the 13th time in their history, fighting off competition from Ipswich Town, Manchester United and Spurs. Liverpool also won the Football League Cup for the second season in succession. The league triumph was made all the more significant by the fact that they had occupied 10th place on Christmas Day.

Their season of triumph was overshadowed, however, by the death of legendary former manager Bill Shankly, 67, following a heart attack in late September.

Middlesbrough and Wolves were relegated as financial problems at both clubs began to mount. They were joined by Leeds United, who had gradually fallen apart in the eight years since Don Revie's departure.

West Bromwich Albion felt the loss of manager Ron Atkinson and key players Bryan Robson and Remi Moses as they slumped to 19th in the league and narrowly avoided relegation. This was just the beginning of a sharp decline for a club who three seasons earlier had reached the UEFA Cup quarter-finals and almost won the league title.

Swansea City were tipped for relegation by most observers as they reached the First Division for the first time in their history, having just completed their third promotion in four seasons. But John Toshack's men had a brilliant first game in the top flight, crushing Leeds United 5-1 and setting the tone for a season which would end with Leeds going down. Swansea, meanwhile, were the most unlikely title contenders, topping the league at several stages of the season before finishing sixth in the final table.

Manchester United paid a British record fee of £1.75million for West Bromwich Albion's 24-year-old England midfielder Bryan Robson. Robson's record-breaking move reflected on how the size of transfer fees had risen dramatically in a relatively short period of time. Less than four years earlier, the British record fee had been the £516,000 that West Bromwich Albion had paid for David Mills. In such a short amount of time, the British record had more than tripled.

Despite Robson's fee the transfer market saw a significant drop in fees as the general economic recession hit the game. Players such as Brian Greenhoff and Len Cantello who had commanded six-figure fees three years earlier were given free transfers to reduce the wage bill when their contracts came to an end. Bristol City were only saved from extinction when eight senior players still on contract from their First Division days agreed to have them terminated.

Everton, who had struggled in the league for the past few seasons, turned to their former player Howard Kendall and appointed him as manager in hope of restoring the club to its former glory.

Second Division

Luton Town ended their long absence from the top flight by winning promotion from the Second Division. Luton's local rivals Watford, owned by Elton John and managed by Graham Taylor, were runners-up and would begin 1982-83 as First Division members for the first time in their history. Also promoted were third placed Norwich City, who ensured an instant return to the First Division.Cardiff City, Wrexham and Orient were the unfortunate three clubs to lose their Second Division status at the end of the 1981-82 season.

Third Division

Burnley, Carlisle United and Fulham enjoyed some success after a string of disappointments by winning promotion to the Second Division.

Going down were Wimbledon, Swindon Town, Bristol City and Chester. Bristol had completed a unique succession of three relegations, while Swindon had been League Cup winners little over a decade earlier. Wimbledon, meanwhile, would not be enduring any more disappointing season for many years after 1982.

Joe Royle, the 33-year-old former Everton striker, began his managerial career at Oldham Athletic.

Fourth Division

Sheffield United began the first phase of their revival by winning the Fourth Division championship, which marked a superb start to the management career of Ian Porterfield. Also promoted were Bradford City, Wigan Athletic and Bournemouth.

Crewe Alexandramarker endured a terrible season and propped up the league with just 27 league points, but the other league members voted in their favour and they maintained their league status.

FA Cup

Tottenham Hotspur retained the trophy, drawing 1-1 with QPR (managed by former Tottenham player Terry Venables) in the first game before winning the replay 1-0.

In the semi-final against Leicester City, Argentinemarker midfielder Ossie Ardiles was booed whenever he touched the ball and after the game returned to his homeland, missing the final along with fellow Argentine Ricardo Villa.[247733]

League Cup

Liverpool added to their league title triumph by retaining the League Cup, with a 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

European football

Defending champions Aston Villa were disappointing in the 1981-82 First Division campaign, and manager Ron Saunders stepped down in February, seemingly thinking that Villa were incapable of salvaging something from their supposedly failing season. But they were still in the European Cup. And his assistant Tony Barton stepped up to the manager's seat and guided Villa to the final, where they beat Bayern Munich thanks to a Peter Withe goal and were crowned champions of Europe to make it six European Cup wins in a row for English clubs.

Successful players



Successful managers

  • Bob Paisley retained the League Cup and won the league title for Liverpool.
  • Tony Barton kicked off his management career by winning the European Cup for Aston Villa.
  • Keith Burkinshaw helped Tottenham win the FA Cup for the second year running.
  • Ron Atkinson ended his first season as Manchester United manager with a third place league position and qualification for the UEFA Cup.
  • David Pleat ended Luton Town's absence from the top flight by guiding them to the Second Division title.
  • John Toshack helped Swansea City finish a remarkable sixth in their first season as a top division club.
  • Bobby Robson continued his success with Ipswich Town by guiding them to runners-up spot in the league for the second year in succession. He was then appointed manager of the England team.
  • Graham Taylor took Watford into the First Division for the first time in their history.
  • Terry Venables guided Second Division Queens Park Rangers to runners-up spot in the F.A Cup.
  • Don Megson took Bournemouth in the Third Division after they finished fourth in the Fourth Division.


Diary of the season

4 August 1981: Nottingham Forest sign 20-year-old midfielder Mark Proctor from Middlesbrough for £440,000.

19 August 1981: Brighton sign Liverpool midfielder Jimmy Case for £350,000.

29 August 1981: The first Football League games of the season are played. Swansea City begin life as a First Division side on a high note by beating Leeds United 5-1. Howard Kendall begins his career as Everton manager by guiding them to a 3-1 win over Middlesbrough. [247734]

27 September 1981: Legendary former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, 67, is admitted to hospital on Merseyside after suffering a heart attack, but doctors treating him are confident that he will make a full recovery.

29 September 1981: Bill Shankly dies in hospital after suffering a second heart attack.

30 September 1981: September ends with Ipswich Town leading the First Division and looking like good bets for winning the title that they narrowly missed out on last season. Newly promoted West Ham United and Swansea City are their nearest challengers, with Nottingham Forest and Manchester United completing the top five. Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland occupy the three relegation places, while defending champions Aston Villa are 16th after winning just one of their opening seven games, and traditional title favourites Liverpool occupy 12th place after just two wins so far this season. [247735] The race for a place in next season's First Division is headed by Sheffield Wednesday, Luton Town and Norwich City, while Watford (who have never been in the top flight) and Oldham Athletic (who were last among the elite in 1923) are giving the top three a run for their money in the Second Division. [247736]

1 October 1981: Manchester United pay a national record fee of £1.5million for West Bromwich Albion midfielder Bryan Robson.

26 October 1981: Liverpool sign 20-year-old Scottishmarker defender Steve Nicol from Ayr United for £300,000.

31 October 1981: Manchester United finish October as First Division leaders, giving fans hope that new manager Ron Atkinson will deliver the club their first top division title since 1967 in his first season as manager. However, second placed Ipswich Town are level on points with them, and have two games in hand. Tottenham Hotspur, Swansea City, Nottingham Forest and West Ham United are also proving to be close rivals for the title. Sunderland, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Middlesbrough occupy the relegation places. [247737] Luton Town's recent excellent form has taken them to the top of the Second Division, heading a promotion race in which Watford stand second and Sheffield Wednesday are third, with the likes of Oldham Athletic, QPR and Barnsley pushing them hard. [247738]

18 November 1981: England seal qualification for the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Hungary at Wembley in their final qualifying game.

30 November 1981: November draws to a close with Manchester United still top of the First Division, though Swansea City are two points behind them with a game in hand. Ipswich Town and Tottenham Hotspur are still pushing them hard, as are Southampton, Nottingham Forest and West Ham United. Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Birmingham City occupy the relegation places, while defending champions Aston Villa are still 13th in the league and Liverpool are 10th. [247739] Luton Town continue to head the Second Division promotion race by a comfortable margin, with Watford and QPR completing the top three. Oldham Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday are close behind them. [247740]

15 December 1981: Swansea City go top of the First Division with a 2-1 home win over defending champions Aston Villa. If "the Swans" win the league this season, they will be the first Welsh side to be champions of the English league and only the fourth side to win the top division title a year after being promoted. [247741]

31 December 1981: 1981 draws to a close with Manchester City top of the First Division and looking like good bets to win their first top division title since 1968. However, just two points separate the top five places that are also occupied by Southampton, Swansea City, Manchester United and Ipswich Town. Bobby Robson's Ipswich Town side have the greatest advantage - fifth in the league but two points off the top position with four games in hand. [247742] Luton Town continue as runaway leaders of the Second Division, while Oldham Athletic have muscled into the promotion zone and are second, with Watford completing the top three. [247743]

7 January 1982: Everton sign 20-year-old midfielder Adrian Heath from Stoke City for £700,000.

31 January 1982: January ends with Southampton top of the First Division which they have never been champions of. Manchester United are a point behind them, while Ipswich Town are two points off the top but still have three games in hand. Manchester City's title hopes remain strong as they occupy fourth place with a two-point gap between themselves and the leaders. Liverpool's resurgence has seen them climb into fifth place (ahead of Swansea City on goal difference). Brighton, in only their third season as a top flight club, have emerged as outside title challengers and good bets for at least a UEFA Cup place as they stand seventh in the league. Defending champions Aston Villa, meanwhile, are going from bad to worse as they occupy 17th place. Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers occupy the relegation places. [247744] Luton Town, Oldham Athletic and Watford head the Second Division promotion race, followed closely behind by Blackburn Roversmarker, Chelsea and QPR. [247745]

9 February 1982: Ron Saunders announces his resignation as manager of defending league champions Aston Villa and is succeeded by assistant Tony Barton.

13 February 1982: Ipswich Town, who are in strong contention for the First Division title, suffer a shock FA Cup exit at Shrewsbury Town in the fifth round.

18 February 1982: Nine days after walking out on Aston Villa, Ron Saunders makes a surprise return to management with their local rivals Birmingham City.

28 February 1982: February ends with Southampton still top of the First Division, with Swansea City's even more surprising challenge back on track after a slight blip as they occupy second place. Manchester United continue to look like good bets for their first title in 15 years as they occupy third place and are six points off the top of the league with two games in hand. Liverpool's resurgence continues as they now stand fourth and are eight points off top place with three games in hand. Arsenal have broken into the top five at the expense of Ipswich Town, while the challenge by Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City has crumbled and they have fallen out of the top five. Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers remain in the bottom three. [247746] Luton Town, Watford and Oldham Athletic continue to head the Second Division promotion race, with their nearest challenge now coming from an unlikely Rotherham United side who have yet to play top division football. [247747]

6 March 1982: Shrewsbury Town's impressive FA Cup run comes to an end when they lose 5-2 to Second Division rivals Leicester City at Filbert Streetmarker.

25 March 1982: Southampton sign 18-year-old Oxford United defender Mark Wright in an £80,000 deal.

31 March 1982: Southampton are month-end leaders of the First Division for the third month running, but Liverpool are closing in on them in second place - a point behind with three games in hand. Ipswich Town have got their challenge back on track this month and are now third, while Manchester United and Swansea City complete the top five. The bottom three of Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers remain unchaged from last month. [247748] Watford have overhauled Luton Town as Second Division leaders, with Sheffield Wednesday now completing the top three. Rotherham United, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United are close behind in the promotion race. [247749]

3 April 1982: FA Cup holders Tottenham Hotspur reach the final for the second reason running with a 2-0 semi-final win over surprise contestants Leicester City in the semi-final, while Queens Park Rangers are the lucky Second Division side who manage to overcome West Bromwich Albion in the other semi-final to reach the FA Cup final for the first time in their history.

30 April 1982: Manchester United agree a £30,000 deal with Irishmarker club St Patrick's Athletic for 22-year-old defender Paul McGrath. Their title challenge, however, is almost certainly over as they now have five games to play and are 10 points behind Liverpool, who have a game in hand. Ipswich Town stand second, Swansea City are third and Southampton complete the top five. Manchester City, who led the league four months ago, are now 10th. Middlesbrough remain bottom of the First Division, but Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sunderland have climbed out of the bottom three at the expense of Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion. [247750] Luton Town's promotion is now almost certain, while Watford are also looking likely to reach the First Division this year - for the first time in their history. Sheffield Wednesday currently occupy the final promotion place, but the likes of Leicester City and a resurgent Norwich City, as well as QPR, are giving them a real run for their money. Rotherham United, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United, however, have been effectively eliminated from the promotion race following a month of poor results. [247751]

15 May 1982: The Football League season ends, with Liverpool champions of the top flight for the 13th time. Going down to the Second Division are Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leeds United and Middlesbrough, whose places in the First Division are taken by Luton Town (who last played at this level in 1975), Norwich City (who went down last year) and Watford (who have never played top division football before).

22 May 1982: The FA Cup final ends in a 1-1 draw between Tottenham and QPR, with Tottenham's line-up not featuring Argentiniansmarker Ricardo Villa and Ossie Ardiles who have withdrawn from first-team action due to hostility aimed at them by fans in relation to the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina.

26 May 1982: Aston Villa lift the European Cup when a Peter Withe goal gives them victory over Bayern Munich in Rotterdammarker.

27 May 1982: Tottenham retain the FA Cup thanks to a penalty from Glenn Hoddle in the replay.

14 June 1982: Alan Smith, a 19-year-old striker rated as one of the finest prospects in non-league football, leaves Alvechurch in a £22,000 move to First Division club Leicester City.

16 June 1982: England open their World Cup campaign with a 3-1 win over France.

20 June 1982: England seal qualification to the next stage of the World Cup by defeating Czechoslovakia 2-0.

25 June 1982: England complete their successful first stage of the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Kuwait.

29 June 1982: England draw 0-0 with West Germany in the first game of the second stage of the World Cup.

5 July 1982: England are eliminated from the World Cup after only managing a goalless draw with host nation Spain. As planned, Ron Greenwood retires as national team manager, and is succeeded by Ipswich's Bobby Robson.

26 July 1982: Luton Town pay a club record fee of £400,00 for Charlton Athletic striker Paul Walsh as they prepare for a return to the First Division after sealing the Second Division title.

National team

Ron Greenwood, 61, retired as England manager after the 1982 World Cup. He was succeeded by the Ipswich manager Bobby Robson.

Deaths

  • 29 September 1981 – Bill Shankly, 68, former Liverpool manager who transformed the Reds into one of Europe's top footballing sides. Shankly had taken Liverpool into the First Division in 1962, and over the next 12 years they were league champions three times, FA Cup winners twice and UEFA Cup winners once. Died of a heart attack
  • 5 March 1982 – Brian Handley, 45, former Aston Villa, Torquay United and Rochdale striker.
  • 31 March 1982 – Dave Clement, 34, former QPR and England full-back who committed suicide after breaking his leg. At the time of his death, he was registered as a player for Wimbledon.


Honours

Competition Winner Runner-up
First Division Liverpool Ipswich Town
Second Division Luton Town Watford
Third Division Burnley Carlisle United
Fourth Division Sheffield United Bradford City
FA Cup Tottenham Hotspur Queens Park Rangers
League Cup Liverpool Tottenham Hotspur
Charity Shield Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur (shared)
Home Championship


League table

First Division

P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 42 26 9 7 80 32 +48 87
2 Ipswich Town 42 26 5 11 75 53 +22 83
3 Manchester United 42 22 12 8 59 29 +30 78
4 Tottenham Hotspur 42 20 11 11 67 48 +19 71
5 Arsenal 42 20 11 11 48 37 +11 71
6 Swansea City 42 21 6 15 58 51 +7 69
7 Southampton 42 19 9 14 72 67 +5 66
8 Everton 42 17 13 12 56 50 +6 64
9 West Ham United 42 14 16 12 66 57 +9 58
10 Manchester City 42 15 13 14 49 50 -1 58
11 Aston Villa 42 15 12 15 55 53 +2 57
12 Nottingham Forest 42 15 12 15 42 48 -6 57
13 Brighton & Hove Albion 42 13 13 16 43 52 -9 52
14 Coventry City 42 13 11 18 56 62 -6 50
15 Notts County 42 13 8 21 61 69 -8 47
16 Birmingham City 42 10 14 18 53 61 -8 44
17 West Bromwich Albion 42 11 11 20 46 57 -11 44
18 Stoke City 42 12 8 22 44 63 -19 44
19 Sunderland 42 11 11 20 38 58 -20 44
20 Leeds United 42 10 12 20 39 61 -22 42
21 Wolverhampton Wanderers 42 10 10 22 32 63 -31 40
22 Middlesbrough 42 8 15 19 34 52 -18 39

Second Division

P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Luton Town 42 25 13 4 86 46 +40 88
2 Watford 42 23 11 8 76 42 +34 80
3 Norwich City 42 22 5 15 64 50 +14 71
4 Sheffield Wednesday 42 20 10 12 55 51 +4 70
5 Queens Park Rangers 42 21 6 15 65 43 +22 69
6 Barnsley 42 19 10 13 59 41 +18 67
7 Rotherham United 42 20 7 15 66 54 +12 67
8 Leicester City 42 18 12 12 56 48 +8 66
9 Newcastle United 42 18 8 16 52 50 +2 62
10 Blackburn Roversmarker 42 16 11 15 47 43 +4 59
11 Oldham Athletic 42 15 14 13 50 51 -1 59
12 Chelsea 42 15 12 15 60 60 +0 57
13 Charlton Athletic 42 13 12 17 50 65 -15 51
14 Cambridge United 42 13 9 20 48 53 -5 48
15 Crystal Palace 42 13 9 20 34 45 -11 48
16 Derby County 42 12 12 18 53 68 -15 48
17 Grimsby Town 42 11 13 18 53 65 -12 46
18 Shrewsbury Town 42 11 13 18 37 57 -20 46
19 Bolton Wanderers 42 13 7 22 39 61 -22 46
20 Cardiff City 42 12 8 22 45 61 -16 44
21 Wrexham 42 11 11 20 40 56 -16 44
22 Orient 42 10 9 23 36 61 -25 39

Third Division

P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Burnley 46 21 17 8 66 45 +21 80
2 Carlisle United 46 23 11 12 65 50 +15 80
3 Fulham 46 21 15 10 77 51 +26 78
4 Lincoln City 46 21 14 11 66 40 +26 77
5 Oxford United 46 19 14 13 63 49 +14 71
6 Gillingham 46 20 11 15 64 56 +8 71
7 Southend United 46 18 15 13 63 51 +12 69
8 Brentford 46 19 11 16 56 47 +9 68
9 Millwall 46 18 13 15 62 62 +0 67
10 Plymouth Argyle 46 18 11 17 64 56 +8 65
11 Chesterfield 46 18 10 18 57 58 -1 64
12 Reading 46 17 11 18 67 75 -8 62
13 Portsmouth 46 14 19 13 56 51 +5 61
14 Preston North End 46 16 13 17 50 56 -6 61
15 Bristol Rovers 46 18 9 19 58 65 -7 61
16 Newport County 46 14 16 16 54 54 +0 58
17 Huddersfield Town 46 15 12 19 64 59 +5 57
18 Exeter City 46 16 9 21 71 85 -14 57
19 Doncaster Rovers 46 13 17 16 55 68 -13 56
20 Walsall 46 13 14 19 51 55 -4 53
21 Wimbledon 46 14 11 21 61 75 -14 53
22 Swindon Town 46 13 13 20 55 71 -16 52
23 Bristol City 46 11 13 22 41 65 -24 46
24 Chester City 46 7 11 28 36 78 -42 32

Fourth Division

P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Sheffield United 46 27 15 4 94 41 +53 96
2 Bradford City 46 26 13 7 88 45 +43 91
3 Wigan Athletic 46 26 13 7 80 46 +34 91
4 Bournemouth 46 23 19 4 62 30 +32 88
5 Peterborough United 46 24 10 12 71 57 +14 82
6 Colchester United 46 20 12 14 82 57 +25 72
7 Port Vale 46 18 16 12 56 49 +7 70
8 Hull City 46 19 12 15 70 61 +9 69
9 Bury 46 17 17 12 80 59 +21 68
10 Hereford United 46 16 19 11 64 58 +6 67
11 Tranmere Rovers 46 14 18 14 51 56 -5 60
12 Blackpool 46 15 13 18 66 60 +6 58
13 Darlington 46 15 13 18 61 62 -1 58
14 Hartlepool United 46 13 16 17 73 84 -11 55
15 Torquay United 46 14 13 19 47 59 -12 55
16 Aldershot 46 13 15 18 57 68 -11 54
17 York City 46 14 8 24 69 91 -22 50
18 Stockport County 46 12 13 21 48 67 -19 49
19 Halifax Town 46 9 22 15 51 72 -21 49
20 Mansfield Town 46 13 10 23 63 81 -18 47
21 Rochdale 46 10 16 20 50 62 -12 46
22 Northampton Town 46 11 9 26 57 84 -27 42
23 Scunthorpe United 46 9 15 22 43 79 -36 42
24 Crewe Alexandramarker 46 6 9 31 29 84 -55 27
P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points


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