|FA Premier League||Manchester United|
|Second Division||Wigan Athletic|
|Third Division||Rushden & Diamonds|
The 2002–03 season was the 123rd season of competitive football in England.
- 1 Overview
- 2 England national team
- 3 European club competitions
- 4 Honours
- 5 Final league standings
- 6 Cup finals
- 7 Transfer deals
- 8 Famous Debutants
- 9 Retirements
- 10 Events
- 11 External links
- Wigan Athletic marked their 25th season of Football League membership by winning the Division Two championship and reaching the league's second tier for the very first time.
- Sheffield Wednesday went down to Division Two, just 10 years after reaching the finals of both domestic cup competitions and 11 years after coming two places short of the league title.
|7 September 2002||Villa Park, Birmingham||Portugal||1-1||F||Alan Smith|
|12 October 2002||Tehelné pole, Bratislava||Slovakia||2-1||ECQ||David Beckham, Michael Owen|
|16 October 2002||St Mary's Stadium, Southampton||North Macedonia||2-2||ECQ||David Beckham, Steven Gerrard|
|12 February 2003||Upton Park, London||Australia||1-3||F||Francis Jeffers|
|29 March 2003||Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz||Liechtenstein||2-0||ECQ||Michael Owen, David Beckham|
|2 April 2003||Stadium of Light, Sunderland||Turkey||2-0||ECQ||Darius Vassell, David Beckham|
|22 May 2003||Kings Park Stadium, Durban||South Africa||2-1||F||Gareth Southgate, Emile Heskey|
|3 June 2003||Walkers Stadium, Leicester||Serbia||2-1||F||Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole|
|11 June 2003||Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough||Slovakia||2-1||ECQ||Michael Owen (2)|
Key: ECQ = 2004 European Championship qualifiers, F = Friendly; scores are written England first
European club competitions
- Manchester United - Quarter finals
- Arsenal - Second group phase
- Newcastle United - Second group phase
- Liverpool - First group phase (dropped into UEFA Cup)
- Liverpool - Quarter finals
- Fulham - Third round
- Leeds United - Third round
- Blackburn Rovers - First round
- Chelsea - First round
- Ipswich Town - Second Round
Final league standings
- Main article: Premier League 2002-03
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.
|1||Manchester United (C)||38||25||8||5||74||34||+40||83|
|18||West Ham United (R)||38||10||12||16||42||59||−17||42||Relegation to 2003–04 Football League First Division|
|19||West Bromwich Albion
Updated to games played on 11 May 2003
Source: FA Premier League
Rules for classification: 1st points; 2nd goal difference; 3rd number of goals scored.
(C) = Champion; (R) = Relegated; (P) = Promoted; (O) = Play-off winner; (A) = Advances to a further round; (Q) = Qualified to the phase of tournament
Leading goalscorer: Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United), 25
- Main article: Football League First Division (1992-2004) 2002-03
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 the last game.
|1||Portsmouth (C, P)||46||29||11||6||97||45||+52||98|
|2||Leicester City (P)||46||26||14||6||73||40||+33||92|
|5||Wolverhampton Wanderers (P)||46||20||16||10||81||44||+37||76|
|12||Preston North End||46||16||13||17||68||70||–2||61|
|22||Sheffield Wednesday (R)||46||10||16||20||56||73||–17||46|
|23||Brighton & Hove Albion (R)||46||11||12||23||49||67||–18||45|
|24||Grimsby Town (R)||46||9||12||25||48||85||–37||39|
Leading goalscorer: Svetoslav Todorov (Portsmouth), 26
- Main article: Football League Second Division (1992-2004) 2002-03
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.
|1||Wigan Athletic (C, P)||46||29||13||4||68||25||+43||100|
|2||Crewe Alexandra (P)||46||25||11||10||76||40||+36||86|
|4||Queens Park Rangers||46||24||11||11||69||35||+24||83|
|6||Cardiff City (P)||46||23||12||11||68||43||+25||81|
|21||Cheltenham Town (R)||46||10||18||18||53||68||–15||48|
|22||Huddersfield Town (R)||46||11||12||23||39||61||–22||45|
|23||Mansfield Town (R)||46||12||8||26||66||97||–31||44|
|24||Northampton Town (R)||46||10||9||27||40||79||–39||39|
Leading goalscorer: Robert Earnshaw (Cardiff City), 31
- Main article: Football League Third Division (1992-2004) 2002-03
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.
|1||Rushden & Diamonds (C, P)||46||24||15||7||73||47||+26||87|
|2||Hartlepool United (P)||46||24||13||9||71||51||+20||85|
|23||Exeter City (R)||46||11||15||20||50||64||–14||48|
|24||Shrewsbury Town (R)||46||9||14||23||62||92||–30||41|
‡ - Boston United deducted four points due to financial irregularities
Leading goalscorer: Andy Morrell (Wrexham), 34
- Main article: Conference National 2002-03
- Also promoted to Third Division:
- Doncaster Rovers (playoff winners)
- Main article: FA Cup 2002-03
Football League Cup
- Main article: Football League Cup 2002-03
FA Community Shield
- Main article: 2002 FA Community Shield
Football League Trophy
- Main article: Football League Trophy 2002-03
- Main article: FA Trophy 2002-03
- Main article: FA Vase 2002-03
Summer transfer window
- Main article: List of English football transfers summer 2002
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.
- Wayne Rooney, 16-year-old striker, makes his debut for Everton in a 2-2 home draw with Tottenham Hotspur on 17 August 2002.
- James Milner, 16-year-old winger, makes his debut for Leeds United in a 4-3 away win over West Ham United on 10 November 2002.
- Milan Baroš, 20-year-old Czech striker, scores twice on his Liverpool debut as they beat Bolton Wanderers 3-2 at the Reebok Stadium on 14 September 2002.
- Leon Osman, 21-year-old midfielder, makes his debut for Everton in their 4-3 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on 12 January 2003.
11 August 2002: Tony Adams, 35, retires after spending his entire 19-year career at Arsenal, and was team Captain for 14 seasons.
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.
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.