|FA Premier League||Manchester United|
|First Division||Bolton Wanderers|
|Third Division||Wigan Athletic|
|Football Conference||Macclesfield Town|
|Football League Trophy||Carlisle United|
|League Cup||Leicester City|
|Charity Shield||Manchester United|
The 1996-97 season was the 117th season of competitive football in England.
Arrival into, and exit from the Football League returned after a three-season absence, with one relegation spot in Division Three.
Manchester United won their second consecutive title, despite a spell in the autumn where they lost three games and conceded 13 goals. They won the title by seven points, as Newcastle, Arsenal and Liverpool fell away in the closing weeks. Nevertheless, their tally of 75 points is the lowest ever recorded by a Premier League winner.
Bolton Wanderers returned to the Premiership in superb fashion, hitting 100 goals and taking 98 points. Barnsley were promoted to the top flight for the first time in their history, while Crystal Palace returned after a two-year absence by winning the play-offs.
The decline of Oldham Athletic continued, falling into the third tier for the first time in 23 years, and just three years after being in the Premiership. Grimsby Town and Southend United joined them in relegation to Division Two.
Hereford United were the first club for four years to be relegated to the Conference after finishing bottom of Division Three. Conference champions Macclesfield Town replaced Hereford (two years after Town had been denied entry to Division Three).
This was only the second time that all four divisional champions came from the same historical county, Lancashire. In 1972-73 all four - Liverpool, Burnley, Bolton and Southport - were also Lancashire-based.
On 5 January 1997, Newcastle United were hit with perhaps the biggest shock in their history: Kevin Keegan had resigned as manager. His reason for quitting was that he felt he had taken the club as far as he could. During his five years at St James's Park, Keegan had overseen a revolution in Newcastle's fortunes. On his appointment in February 1992, Newcastle had been second from bottom in the old Second Division and looked favourites for relegation. But he kept them in the Second Division and they were founder members of the new Division One in 1992-93. A superb run of form kept them at the top of the division all season and they went up to the Premiership as Division One champions. Third and sixth-place finishes followed before Newcastle led the Premiership for most of 1995-96, only to be overhauled by Manchester United in the final weeks of the season. He had walked out on Newcastle as they looked well placed to challenge for a league title.
Manchester United collected their fourth Premiership title in five seasons, despite a testing period which saw them lose their 40-year unbeaten home record in Europe against Turkish club Fenerbahçe, suffer elimination from the FA Cup at the hands of Wimbledon, and concede 13 goals in three Premiership games during late October, including a 5-0 hammering by Newcastle United and a 6-3 humiliation by Southampton. Alex Ferguson had built on the success of the previous season's double winning team thanks largely to two new signings - Norwegians Ronny Johnsen (central defender) and Ole Gunnar Solskjær (striker). The two Norwegians were little known outside their homeland when they arrived at Old Trafford. Johnsen proved himself as one of the Premiership's best defenders, while Solskjær made the headlines as he topped the club's goalscoring charts with 18 Premiership goals.
On 18 May, Eric Cantona announced his retirement from playing.
Middlesbrough were relegated from the Premiership after experiencing a unique season. They were on the losing side in both domestic cup finals and were relegated from the Premiership in 19th place, and had managed to finish in the last two of all three major English tournaments. But they would have avoided relegation had it not been for a 3-point deduction imposed in January as punishment for postponing a fixture against Blackburn Rovers within 24 hours of the scheduled kick-off. Chairman Steve Gibson had appealed against the ruling, protesting that too many players were ill or injured for the club to field a full team. But their appeal was rejected.
Brighton & Hove Albion had a traumatic season, the debt-ridden club propping up the League for virtually the entire season. Their precarious financial position had forced the club's directors to sell the Goldstone Ground. Yet on the penultimate day of the season they moved above Hereford United, another club with major financial problems, and the final day of the season saw the two clubs battle it out in a relegation-decider at Edgar Street. Hereford needed to win while Brighton only needed a draw to survive. At half time the score was 1-0 to Hereford but Brighton equalised in the second half against the run of play. The match finished 1-1 and, with the teams level on points, the Seagulls stayed up on goals scored while the Bulls were relegated to the Conference.
Chesterfield, playing in the third tier of English football, reached the FA Cup semi-final. On the way to the semi-final they beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 and Bolton Wanderers 3-2, with a hat trick from a young Kevin Davies. In the semis they met Middlesbrough at Old Trafford. After going 2-0 up Boro bought it back to 2-2, but not after controversy when Jonathan Howard's shot hit the underside of the crossbar and clearly crossed the line, but was waved off by the referee despite the linesman calling it in, as the referee had blown several seconds earlier for a deliberate foul. The match finished 3-3 AET and Chesterfield went on to lose the replay 3-0. Boro's win however led to a defeat in the FA Cup Final, in which a season later they became the first team to lose three domestic finals in a row.
Stockport County, also playing in the third tier of English football, reached the Football League Cup semi-final. In the first round they beat the 'other' cup hero of the season Chesterfield, 4-2 over two legs. In the second round they hammered Division One team Sheffield United 7-3, also over another two legs. The third round they came up against former Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park winning 1-0 in front of a giant away following. Fourth round they met West Ham United drawing the first tie 1-1 at Upton Park before a 2-1 win at Edgeley Park. In the quarter-final County met Southampton at home, in a thrilling match they drew 2-2. In the replay County overcame all the odds to win 2-1, with goals from Brett Angell and Andy Mutch. Playing their fourth Premier League team in Middlesbrough, County looked nervous and lost their first leg at home 2-0, with goals from Mikkel Beck and Fabrizio Ravanelli. In the second-leg, County shocked everyone by taking the lead after 6 minutes, through Sean Connelly. However, missed chances and poor luck eventually saw County out. The Hatters remain the only lower league team to have defeated four top division teams in an English Cup competition. In the other cup competitions County reached the fourth round of the FA Cup, eventually losing to Birmingham City and the Northern Final of the Auto-Windscreens Trophy, this time losing to Carlisle United. Amazingly, their league form didn't falter during this period and despite playing 67 games, County were promoted, finishing second in the league, just two points behind champions Bury, securing promotion with a 1-0 win at Chesterfield's Saltergate, the winning goal headed in by Brett Angell.
Alan Shearer finished as the Premiership's top scorer with 25 goals in 31 games.
|FA Premier League||Manchester United (11/4*)|
|FA Cup||Chelsea (2)|
|Football League Cup||Leicester City (2)|
|Football League First Division||Bolton Wanderers|
|Football League Second Division||Bury|
|Football League Third Division||Wigan Athletic|
|FA Community Shield||Manchester United|
For the fourth time in five seasons, Manchester United won the Premier League title, fighting off competition from Newcastle United, Arsenal and Liverpool, their nearest contenders who finished bracketed together seven points behind them. Aston Villa completed the top five.
Other success stories of the Premier League season included Chelsea, who won the FA Cup to end their 26-year wait for a major trophy and in Ruud Gullit had the first foreign manager to win a major trophy in English football. Newly promoted Leicester City defied the critics who expected them to go straight back down and not only secured survival with a ninth-place finish, but also lifted the League Cup.
Middlesbrough experienced a unique season, they were runners-up in both domestic cups, but a three-point deduction for postponing a league match at short notice just before Christmas ultimately saw them relegated at the end of the season. Coventry City were the lucky team who stayed up at Middlesbrough's expense, while the other two relegation places went to Nottingham Forest after three years and newly promoted Sunderland.
Wimbledon defied the odds to extend their top flight tenure into its twelfth season, with an impressive eighth place league finish (having occupied the top five places for much of the season) and also by reaching the semi-finals of both cups. Leeds United were the lowest scoring team in the Premier League after the early season dismissal of long-serving manager Howard Wilkinson, who was succeeded by George Graham, but they managed to climb clear of the relegation battle to finish 11th. A terrible start to the season cost Ray Harford his job as Blackburn Rovers manager in late October, with interim manager Tony Parkes not securing the club's first win in the league until the following month, leaving them bottom of the division just 18 months after being champions, but Blackburn improved as the season went on and finished a secure 13th.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Qualification or relegation|
|1||Manchester United (C)||38||21||12||5||76||44||+32||75||Qualification for the Champions League group stage|
|2||Newcastle United||38||19||11||8||73||40||+33||68||Qualification for the Champions League second qualifying round|
|3||Arsenal||38||19||11||8||62||32||+30||68||Qualification for the UEFA Cup first round[a]|
|6||Chelsea||38||16||11||11||58||55||+3||59||Qualification for the Cup Winners' Cup first round[b]|
|9||Leicester City||38||12||11||15||46||54||−8||47||Qualification for the UEFA Cup first round[c]|
|14||West Ham United||38||10||12||16||39||48||−9||42|
|18||Sunderland (R)||38||10||10||18||35||53||−18||40||Relegation to the Football League First Division|
|20||Nottingham Forest (R)||38||6||16||16||31||59||−28||34|
Leading goalscorer: Alan Shearer (Newcastle United) - 25
Bolton Wanderers easily won promotion straight back to the Premier League, topping the division for the entire season and being promoted with a club record 98 points. Barnsley took the second automatic promotion spot and earned promotion to the top-flight for the first time in their history, beating out Wolverhampton Wanderers, who had occupied second spot for most of the season until a shocking collapse as the season drew to an end. Crystal Palace won promotion back to the Premier League after a two-year absence, and just a few months after Steve Coppell had returned for his third spell as manager.
Portsmouth finished seventh and just missed out on the playoffs after three successive bottom-half finishes, also reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time in five years. Port Vale finished eighth - one of the highest finishes in their history. Norwich City finished 13th in Mike Walker's comeback season as manager, some dismal results late in the season ending their playoff hopes. Manchester City went through four managers in their first season outside the top flight since 1988-89, finishing 14th after fears of a second successive relegation. Ray Harford returned to management with West Bromwich Albion, securing their survival with a 16th-place finish. Oxford United's early promotion challenge fell away as they finished 17th.
Southend United finished bottom after a poor season and were relegated after six years at this level. Oldham Athletic, who had been in a downward spiral since their relegation from the Premier League three years previously, continued their decline by being relegated in second-bottom place. Grimsby Town were the third relegated side, ultimately going down despite a 4-0 victory in their final match of the season, as fellow strugglers Bradford City also won their final game.
|1||Bolton Wanderers||46||28||14||4||100||53||+47||98||Football League Champions, promoted to FA Premier League|
|2||Barnsley||46||22||14||10||76||55||+21||80||Promoted to FA Premier League|
|3||Wolverhampton Wanderers||46||22||10||14||68||51||+17||76||Participated in play-offs|
|6||Crystal Palace||46||19||14||13||78||48||+30||71||Promoted to FA Premier League through play-offs|
|9||Queens Park Rangers||46||18||12||16||64||60||+4||66|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||46||14||15||17||68||72||−4||57|
Leading goalscorer: John McGinlay (Bolton Wanderers) - 24
Bury won their second successive promotion, returning to the second tier for the first time in thirty years. Stockport took the second automatic promotion spot before the final day of the season despite a fantastic League Cup run that took them to the semi-finals where they were knocked out by Middlesbrough despite winning the second leg, and entered the second tier after nearly 60 years of lower league football, though this achievement was tempered by the loss of manager Dave Jones to Southampton at the end of the season. Capping off the trio of unfancied clubs who won promotion to the second tier, Crewe Alexandra won promotion just three years after being promoted from Division Three, and entered the second tier for the first time since 1896, and the first time overall under a four-division system.
In a season where a host of Division Two clubs made the headlines with cup runs, Wrexham reached the FA Cup quarter-finals, where they were beaten by a Chesterfield side that took Middlesbrough to a replay in the semi-finals after surrendering a two-goal lead which would have mad them the first third-tier club to reach the FA Cup final. Unfortunately, the cup excitement took its toll on the league form of both clubs, who fell short of the playoffs.
Notts County, despite being the pre-season promotion favourites, finished bottom after a horrific season and were relegated to the bottom division for the first time in 26 years. Rotherham United fared no better and would actually have finished below Notts County in most seasons, but the League's adoption of "Goals Scored" over "Goal Difference" for this season spared them that indignity. Shrewsbury Town, who had narrowly avoided relegation in the previous two seasons, were unable to achieve survival a third time and fell back into Division Three. The final relegated club was Peterborough United, as Barry Fry made a less than auspicious start to what would prove to be a long association with the club.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Bury||46||24||12||10||62||38||+24||84||Division Champions, promoted|
|3||Luton Town||46||21||15||10||71||45||+26||78||Participated in play-offs|
|6||Crewe Alexandra||46||22||7||17||56||47||+9||73||Promoted through play-offs|
|15||Preston North End||46||18||7||21||49||55||−6||61|
Leading goalscorer: Tony Thorpe (Luton Town) - 28
Wigan Athletic won promotion and returned to Division Two after four years in the bottom tier, their free-scoring style ultimately being vindicated as they won the title on goals scored, whereas they would have finished in second place the previous year. Fulham missed out on the title due to this change in rules, though the runners-up spot represented a huge improvement over the previous season, where they had been in danger of relegation to the Football Conference for much of the campaign. Carlisle United took the final automatic promotion spot, and made an immediate return to Division Two. Northampton Town won the play-offs, completing a major turnaround in the three years since they only avoided relegation to the Football Conference on a technicality.
At the bottom, Brighton were docked 2 points due to crowd trouble but in the end they survived relegation to the Conference on Goals Scored at the expense of Hereford.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Wigan Athletic||46||26||9||11||84||51||+33||87||Division Champions, promoted|
|4||Northampton Town||46||20||12||14||67||44||+23||72||Promoted through play-offs|
|5||Swansea City||46||21||8||17||62||58||+4||71||Participated in play-offs|
|23||Brighton & Hove Albion||46||13||10||23||53||70||−17||47[a]|
|24||Hereford United||46||11||14||21||50||65||−15||47||Relegated to Conference|
Leading goalscorer: Graeme Jones (Wigan Athletic) - 31
For subsequent transfer deals see 1997-98 in English football.
9 July 1996 - Manchester United make a £12 million offer to Blackburn Rovers for Alan Shearer, with Andy Cole in exchange - an offer which would set a national transfer record. However, the offer is rejected, with Rovers managing director Robert Coar insisting Shearer is not for sale.
26 July 1996 - Jordi Cruyff, son of the legendary Johan, signs for Manchester United from Barcelona for £1.3 million. Coventry City pay a club record £3 million for Leeds United captain Gary McAllister, whose manager Howard Wilkinson uses £2.25 million of the windfall to buy Crystal Palace goalkeeper Nigel Martyn.
10 August 1996 - Lee Sharpe leaves Manchester United after eight years and joins Leeds United. Bruce Rioch is sacked after one year as Arsenal manager following a dispute with the club's board, with his assistant Stewart Houston being installed as caretaker manager.
12 August 1996 - Arsenal sack manager Bruce Rioch after a dispute with the club's directors. Johan Cruyff, recently sacked by Barcelona, is reported to be a target in their hunt for a successor, but coach Stewart Houston will remain in charge of the first team until a permanent successor is found.
14 August 1996 - Managerless Arsenal sign French midfielder Patrick Vieira from Milan for £3.5 million. Frenchman Arsène Wenger, currently in charge of Japanese club Nagoya Grampus Eight, is the last to be linked with the manager's job.
17 August 1996 -
21 August 1996 - Alan Shearer scores his first goal for Newcastle United in their 2-0 home league win over Wimbledon. Local rivals Sunderland beat Nottingham Forest 4-1 at the City Ground.
23 August 1996 - Under pressure Manchester City manager Alan Ball signs Arsenal striker Paul Dickov for £1million to prepare for a Division One promotion challenge.
27 August 1996 - Alan Ball resigns as manager of Manchester City.
28 August 1996 - With his one-year ban from football now over, George Graham is reportedly due to be offered the Manchester City manager's job, 18 months after he was sacked by Arsenal for accepting illegal payments.
29 August 1996 - Dave Bassett, the Crystal Palace manager, is the latest name to be linked with the Manchester City job.
31 August 1996 - The first month of the league season ends with Sheffield Wednesday as Premier League leaders after winning their first three games of the season. Chelsea, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Manchester United complete the top five, following by newly promoted Sunderland in sixth place. Wimbledon prop up the top flight, with Blackburn Rovers and Coventry City completing the bottom three. In Division One, Stoke City lead the way, a point ahead of Barnsley in the early stages of the race for Premier League football. Norwich City, Tranmere Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and QPR complete the top six.
4 September 1996 -
7 September 1996 -
13 September 1996 - Caretaker manager Stewart Houston quits Arsenal, who are targeting Arsène Wenger as their new manager but are waiting to agree a compensation deal with Nagoya Grampus Eight for his services.
14 September 1996 - Alan Shearer faces his old club Blackburn Rovers for the first time since his transfer to Newcastle United, and scores a penalty in a 2-1 home win.
16 September 1996 - Stewart Houston is appointed manager of Queen's Park Rangers.
19 September 1996 - Dave Bassett rejects an offer to manage Manchester City.
20 September 1996 - In a reversal of roles, Bruce Rioch becomes Stewart Houston's assistant at Loftus Road.
28 September 1996 -
30 September 1996 -
12 October 1996 - David Beckham scores the only goal of the match as Manchester United defeat Liverpool 1-0 in the Premier League at Old Trafford.
19 October 1996 - Wimbledon's recent run of fine form continues as they beat Chelsea 4-2 in the league at Stamford Bridge.
20 October 1996 - Newcastle United beat Manchester United 5-0 in a Premier League fixture, which ends the division's longest unbeaten start to the season.
22 October 1996 - Chelsea director Matthew Harding, 42, is killed with four other people in a helicopter crash in Cheshire on his journey home from the club's League Cup defeat against Bolton Wanderers.
25 October 1996 - Ray Harford resigns as manager of Blackburn Rovers, bottom of the FA Premier League just 18 months after being champions, and coach Tony Parkes takes over until the end of the season.
30 October 1996 - Manchester United, unbeaten since they first played in Europe 40 years ago, finally suffer a home defeat in a European fixture when they lost 1-0 at home to Fenerbahçe in their fourth group match of the UEFA Champions League.
31 October 1996 - Arsenal end their first month under Arsène Wenger's management as Premier League leaders on goal difference ahead of Newcastle United, while Wimbledon are close behind in third, Liverpool are fourth (with two games in hand over the top three) and Manchester United are now fifth after two successive hefty league defeats. Sheffield Wednesday's excellent start has ebbed away and they now occupy eighth place just two months after leading the league. Blackburn Rovers are still bottom of the table and winless after 11 games, while they and Coventry City are now joined by Nottingham Forest in the relegation zone after Southampton climbed to a secure 14th place with the 6-3 win over Manchester United playing a big part in their recent improvement. In Division One, Bolton Wanderers remain top of Division One, with the other automatic promotion place now occupied by Norwich City. The playoff places are occupied by Crystal Palace, Barnsley, Tranmere Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
2 November 1996 - Manchester United's two-year unbeaten Premier League home run is ended by a 2-1 defeat against Chelsea.
3 November 1996 - Blackburn Rovers achieve their first league win over the season in style by beating Liverpool 3-0 at Ewood Park, with two goals from a resurgent Chris Sutton. On the same day, Peter Beardsley also appears on the scoresheet twice - as Newcastle United beat local rivals Middlesbrough 3-1 to boost their own title challenge and push their opponents further towards the relegation zone.
5 November 1996 - Dutch striker Bryan Roy is put on the transfer list at £2 million by Premier League strugglers Nottingham Forest.
16 November 1996 - Leicester City's sound return to the Premier League continues as they beat midlands rivals Aston Villa 3-1 in the league at Villa Park. Everton's flagging start to the season is given a much-needed boost as they thrash Southampton 7-1 at Goodison Park. Gary Speed scores a hat-trick, while Andrei Kanchelskis scores twice. Graham Stuart and Nick Barmby score the other goals. Manchester United's three-match losing streak in the league ends when a Nigel Winterburn own goal gives them a 1-0 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford.
20 November 1996 - Terry Venables, who quit as England manager last summer, accepts an offer to take charge of the Australia national football team, but insists that he will continue in his role as Portsmouth chairman.
26 November 1996 - Another FA Cup first round replay upset sees Brighton & Hove Albion (currently bottom of Division Three only six seasons after they almost won promotion to the top flight) lose at home on penalties to non-league Sudbury Town after a 1-1 draw at the Goldstone Ground. However, Whitby Town are not so lucky as they crash to a Duane Darby double hat-trick in the 8-4 defeat to Hull City that followed a goalless draw in the original game.
30 November 1996 - Arsenal remain top of the league as November draws to a close, with Newcastle United, Liverpool, Wimbledon and Manchester United not far behind. Nottingham Forest are now bottom with still only one win from their opening 15 games, while Coventry City join them in the bottom three along with a Blackburn Rovers side who this month finally recorded their first two wins of the league campaign. A Middlesbrough side featuring some of the country's most expensively signed players are just above the relegation zone as midway point approaches during a season where they had been expected to challenge much higher in the table. Bolton Wanderers are still top of Division One, now accompanied in the automatic promotion places by Crystal Palace. Occupying the playoff zone are Barnsley, Norwich City, Sheffield United and Tranmere Rovers.
3 December 1996 - Middlesbrough's slump continues as they lose 2-0 at home to Leicester City.
7 December 1996 - Woking's FA Cup adventure continues with another giant-killing feat, this time a 2-0 win against Cambridge United at the Abbey Stadium. On the same day, Stevenage Borough eliminate Leyton Orient from the competition with a 2-1 win at Brisbane Road.
11 December 1996 - John Scales turns his back on Leeds United after looking set to return to the club where he began his career over a decade ago, and leaves Liverpool for Tottenham Hotspur in a £2.6 million deal.
14 December 1996 - Robbie Fowler scores four goals for Liverpool as they beat Middlesbrough 5-1 in the league at Anfield.
20 December 1996 - Middlesbrough cancel their Premier League fixture at Blackburn Rovers tomorrow, after manager Bryan Robson insisted he could not field a team, as 23 of his playing staff have been hit by a virus.
24 December 1996 - Middlesbrough are charged with bringing the game into disrepute over their cancelled fixture.
26 December 1996 - The key Boxing Day drama sees Gianfranco Zola score both of Chelsea's goals in a 2-0 away win over Aston Villa, Gordon Strachan lead Coventry City to a 3-1 away win over his old club Leeds United, and Manchester United boost their title hopes and deepen their opposition's relegation worries with a 4-0 win at Nottingham Forest.
28 December 1996 - Wimbledon continue to defy the odds and challenge for a place in Europe with a 3-1 away win over Everton. Newcastle United continue to push for the title with a 7-1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur.
29 December 1996 -
31 December 1996 - 1996 draws to a close with Liverpool now leading the Premier League, while a mere five points separate the next six highest clubs - Manchester United, Arsenal, Wimbledon, Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Chelsea. Nottingham Forest are still bottom with a mere two wins so far this season, while Blackburn Rovers remain in the drop zone along with Southampton who have slipped into the bottom three that has been vacated by an improving Coventry City side. Bolton Wanderers are still top of Division One, but Barnsley have cut their lead to just two points. Sheffield United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crystal Palace and an Oxford United side searching for a second successive promotion complete the top six. Manchester City, who had been expected to feature highly in this season's promotion race, are now one point and one place above the relegation zone.
5 January 1997 - Newcastle United are rocked by the resignation of manager Kevin Keegan, who explained, "I feel I have taken this club as far as I can."
8 January 1997 - The 1995 Football League Cup Final participants (Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers) are eliminated from the same tournament at the quarter-final stage by Middlesbrough and Wimbledon respectively. This is the furthest the Dons have ever progressed in the League Cup.
11 January 1997 - Blackburn Rovers continue their revival with a 4-0 home win over Coventry City. Middlesbrough's relegation worries are deepened with a 1-0 home defeat to Southampton, and later this week their survival battle could be toughened by a points deduction.
13 January 1997 - York City, who knocked Everton out of the League Cup this season and Manchester United last season, find themselves on the receiving end of a giant-killing feat when Hednesford Town knock them out of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win at Keys Park.
14 January 1997 - Middlesbrough, bottom of the Premier League, are deducted three points for cancelling their fixture at Blackburn Rovers last month. They are also fined £50,000. Striker Fabrizio Ravanelli claims that his club will now "almost certainly" be relegated. Ravanelli's fellow countryman Gianluca Festa joins Middlesbrough from Inter Milan on the same day for £2.7 million.
15 January 1997 - Kenny Dalglish is named as Newcastle United's new manager.
16 January 1997 - Leicester City pay £1.6 million for Oxford United's 28-year-old defender Matt Elliott.
18 January 1997 - Kenny Dalglish begins his reign as Newcastle United manager with a 2-2 draw at Southampton, costing his own side two valuable points as he looks to become the first manager to win the English league title with three different clubs, while a point for Southampton gives their survival battle a boost.
25 January 1997 - A major upset in the FA Cup third round replay sees Wrexham win 1-0 against West Ham United at Upton Park after drawing the first match 1-1 at the Racecourse Ground, sparking a pitch invasion. However, Hednesford Town's luck finally runs out when they lose 3-2 to Middlesbrough in the fourth round clash at the Riverside Stadium, while a late equaliser for Wimbledon forces a replay for Manchester United.
26 January 1997 - Liverpool's bid for a second double is ended as they are defeated 4-2 by Chelsea in the fourth round replay at Stamford Bridge.
27 January 1997 - Liverpool are beaten by both Rangers and Milan in a six-a-side tournament at the Amsterdam Arena; the Glasgow club's England international Paul Gascoigne limps out of the same competition, putting into doubt his participation in the national side's Wembley match with Italy in February.
29 January 1997 -
31 January 1997 - January ends with Manchester United now top of the Premier League and unbeaten in it since early November. Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle United are their nearest contenders, while Wimbledon have endured a slight setback but have two games in hand to muscle in on the top four. Middlesbrough's three-point deduction for cancelling a league fixture in December leaves them bottom of the table, while caretaker-manager Stuart Pearce has guided Nottingham Forest out of the drop zone with three wins this month, Southampton remain in the bottom three, and Blackburn Rovers have finally climbed clear of the drop zone at the expense of West Ham United. Bolton Wanderers have extended their lead at the top of Division One to 11 points, their nearest challengers being Sheffield United and Barnsley. The top six is completed by Wolverhampton Wanderers, Norwich City and Stoke City.
2 February 1997 - Alan Shearer scores a hat-trick as Newcastle United beat Leicester City 4-3 at home in the league.
4 February 1997 - Manchester United lose their defence of the FA Cup with a 1-0 fourth round replay defeat to Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. Marcus Gayle gave Wimbledon the lead, and Peter Schmeichel looked to have saved United with a last-minute goal, but it was ruled offside. This means that United will not be playing in the FA Cup final for the first time since 1993.
10 February 1997 - Leicester City defender Neil Lewis is sentenced to six months in prison for affray after being found guilty of attacking a man with a bottle in a nightclub brawl.
15 February 1997 - The latest FA Cup upset sees Premier League Nottingham Forest eliminated 1-0 by Division Two Chesterfield at Saltergate, while on the same day fellow Premier League club Leeds United suffer a 3-2 embarrassment at home to Division One Portsmouth, and Division One Birmingham City's FA Cup hopes are ended with a 3-1 home defeat by Division Two surprise package Wrexham.
22 February 1997 -
23 February 1997 - Wimbledon pull of their second surprise win of the month when a Vinnie Jones goal gives them a 1-0 league win over Arsenal at Highbury.
28 February 1997 - Steve Coppell is appointed as Crystal Palace manager for the third time since 1984. February ends with Manchester United still top of the Premier League and Liverpool now their nearest contenders, while Newcastle United, Arsenal and Aston Villa complete the top five. The bottom three main unchanged from the last month-end. Bolton Wanderers remain top of Division One, their nearest rivals now being Wolverhampton Wanderers who are 10 points behind them in second place. The top six is completed by Barnsley, Sheffield United, Norwich City and Crystal Palace.
1 March 1997 - Newcastle United's title hopes are hit by an unexpected blow when they lose 1-0 at home to Southampton.
4 March 1997 - Norwegian striker Steffen Iversen scores a hat-trick as Tottenham Hotspur beat relegation-threatened Sunderland 4-0 at Roker Park.
5 March 1997 - Middlesbrough's survival hopes are given a major boost when they beat Derby County 6-1 at the Riverside Stadium, with Fabrizio Ravanelli scoring a hat-trick. Nottingham Forest's survival hopes are dented when they lose 3-0 at home Sheffield Wednesday, whose hopes of a UEFA Cup place are kept very much alive by the result.
8 March 1997 - Middlesbrough move closer to a first-ever FA Cup final by winning 2-0 at Derby County in the quarter-final. Manchester United's four-month unbeaten run in the lead ends in a surprise 2-1 defeat against Sunderland at Roker Park.
9 March 1997 - In a rare occurrence of an FA Cup quarter-final being contested between two third-tier clubs, Chesterfield run out 1-0 winners over Wrexham at Saltergate. On the same day, Wimbledon move closer to FA Cup glory by winning 2-0 at Sheffield Wednesday, while the end is in sight for Chelsea's 26-year trophy drought as they crush Portsmouth 4-1 at Fratton Park.
10 March 1997 - Premier League strugglers Nottingham Forest sign Dutch striker Pierre Van Hooijdonk from Celtic for a club record £4.5million. In the title race, Liverpool beat Newcastle United 4-3 at Anfield.
12 March 1997 - Recently signed striker Paul Kitson scores twice as West Ham United boost their survival bid with a 3-2 home win over Chelsea.
15 March 1997 - Kevin Gallacher scores a hat-trick in Blackburn's 3-1 home league win over Wimbledon. Middlesbrough continue to push for survival with a 3-1 away win over Leicester City.
16 March 1997 - Sunderland's survival hopes are knocked by a 6-2 defeat at Chelsea.
18 March 1997 - Newcastle are knocked out of the UEFA Cup at the quarter-final stage by AS Monaco FC, who join Inter Milan, CD Tenerife and FC Schalke 04 in the semi-finals. In the one English top-flight match, Stan Lazaridis scores a last-minute equalizer for West Ham United, cancelling out Mick Harford's first goal of the season.
19 March 1997 - Middlesbrough continue their fightback with a 2-1 home win over Blackburn.
22 March 1997 - John Hartson is on the scoresheet twice for West Ham United in a relegation crunch win at Coventry City. Middlesbrough make it four league wins in a row as a Juninho goal gives them a 1-0 home win over Chelsea. Another relegation crunch game sees Sunderland and Nottingham Forest battle out a 1-1 draw at Roker Park.
27 March 1997 - West Ham United buy Northern Ireland midfielder Steve Lomas from Manchester City for £1.6million.
31 March 1997 - Manchester United continue to lead the Premier League for third month-end running, with Liverpool still their nearest challengers. Southampton are now bottom of the Premier League, while Nottingham Forest have slipped back into the drop zone along with Coventry City. Blackburn Rovers continue to move closer to what once seemed like an almost impossible survival as they stand 12th with a six-point advantage over the bottom three and a game in hand. Bolton Wanderers are now just one point away from promotion at the top of Division One, with Barnsley now in second place and well on course for top-division football for the first time in their 101-year history. Wolverhampton Wanderers, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace and surprise promotion contenders Port Vale occupy the playoff zone.
5 April 1997 - Leaders Manchester United suffer a surprise 3-2 home defeat by Derby County.
6 April 1997 - Liverpool's title bid takes a surprise setback when they lose 2-1 at home to relegation battlers Coventry City.
9 April 1997 - Coventry City's survival battle continues with another win over a much stronger opposition - this time Chelsea, who find themselves on the receiving end of a 3-1 defeat at Highfield Road.
13 April 1997 -
19 April 1997 - Manchester United take a huge step towards title glory with a 3-1 away win over their main rivals Liverpool, in which defender Gary Pallister scores twice. Newcastle keep their title challenge alive with a 3-1 home win over Derby County, but Arsenal do themselves no favours as they can only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Blackburn. Southampton and Coventry City draw 2-2 in a relegation crunch game at The Dell.
30 April 1997 - Manchester United look assured of their fourth league title in five seasons, as they finish April top of the league by a five-point margin over Arsenal and Liverpool - and with a game in hand. Newcastle United's challenge is all but over, while Aston Villa's hopes are now completely dead, and the midlanders are now facing a threat of being pipped to even a UEFA Cup place - by Sheffield Wednesday. The relegation battle is still wide open, with West Ham United, Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest occupying the bottom three, and several other teams also fighting to avoid the drop. In Division One, Bolton Wanderers are established as champions with 97 points and 98 goals - 17 points ahead of their nearest rivals Barnsley, who have sealed top flight football for the first time. Wolverhampton Wanderers, Ipswich Town, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace will contest the playoffs.
3 May 1997 - Sunderland play their last game at Roker Park after 99 years and go out on a high by beating Everton 3-0, but are still in danger of Premier League relegation. Their local rivals Newcastle United remain in contention for the league title with a 1-0 win at Arsenal - a result which rules the North Londoners out of the title race. Liverpool remain in it with a 2-1 home win over Tottenham. Paul Kitson ensures West Ham's survival with a hat-trick in their 5-1 home win over Sheffield Wednesday, whose UEFA Cup hopes are ended by the result. Coventry City, meanwhile, are left needing a miracle to save their 30-year tenure in the top flight due to a 2-1 home defeat by Derby County.
5 May 1997 - Manchester United draw 3-3 at home to Middlesbrough in a thrilling game between the leaders (now on the brink of title glory) and a side fighting for every point in a quest for survival.
6 May 1997 - Newcastle's goalless draw at West Ham and Liverpool's 2-1 defeat at Wimbledon means that Manchester United are Premier League champions for the fourth time in five seasons. In Liverpool's defeat, Michael Owen scores the consolation goal in only his second appearance for the club, making him the club's youngest ever league goalscorer at the age of 17 years and 144 days.
11 May 1997 - On a dramatic final day of the Premier League season, Coventry City pull off a miracle survival act by beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at White Hart Lane. Middlesbrough - who would have survived at the expense of Coventry had it not been for their points deduction - go down after being held to a 1-1 draw by Leeds United at Elland Road. Sunderland lose 1-0 to Wimbledon at Selhurst Park, but their fans are left waiting after the final whistle to hear whether their team have survived; when the news comes through that Coventry have won, it is confirmed that Sunderland are relegated.
18 May 1997 - Manchester United are left shocked after their iconic striker Eric Cantona announces his retirement from football six days before his 31st birthday. Cantona, who won four league titles and two FA Cups in five seasons at the club, explained that he had always intended to retire while still at the top.
24 June 1997 - The Premier League's media consultants recommend that the league creates its own television channel by 2001 if it wants to maximise television revenue, claiming that it could generate twice as much revenue this way than the current deal with Sky Sports is raising for them.
7 November 1996: Dave Busst, 29-year-old central defender who suffered a compound leg fracture while playing for Coventry City against Manchester United seven months ago, retires on medical advice after being told that he is unlikely ever to recover to full fitness despite having had 26 operations.
28 April 1997: Peter Shilton, 47-year-old goalkeeper who four months earlier became the first player to reach 1,000 league appearances in English football, ends his professional career after being given a free transfer by Leyton Orient.