2002–03 in English football

2002–03 in English football

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


*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.


*22 July 2002 - Manchester United broke the English transfer record for the third time in just over a year. They paid Leeds United £29 million for central defender Rio Ferdinand.
*4 August 2002 - Leicester City move into their new 32,500-seat Walkers Stadium after 111 years at Filbert Street. They drew 1-1 in a friendly with Athletic Bilbao.
*17 August 2002 - The FA Premier League season begins. West Bromwich Albion's first top division game for 17 years ends in a 1-0 away defeat to Manchester United.
*31 August 2002 - Leeds United sell striker Robbie Keane to Tottenham Hotspur for £7 million.
*7 October 2002 - Peter Reid is sacked by FA Premier League strugglers Sunderland after seven-and-a-half years in charge.
*10 October 2002 - Howard Wilkinson steps down as the Football Association's technical director to become the new Sunderland manager. He names Stoke City manager Steve Cotterill as his assistant.
*12 October 2002 - England open their Euro 2004 qualifying series with a 2-1 win over Slovakia in Bratislava. David Beckham and Michael Owen score for England.
*19 October 2002 - Everton striker Wayne Rooney becomes the youngest-ever goalscorer in FA Premier League history when he scores a last-minute winner against Arsenal, five days before his 17th birthday, to end the opposition's 30-match unbeaten Premiership run.
*9 November 2002 - Manchester City beat Manchester United 3-1 in the last-ever Manchester derby at Maine Road.
*18 December 2002 - The deaths are announced of former Football Association chairman Sir Bert Millichip, 88, and former Leicester City and Shrewsbury Town striker Arthur Rowley, 76, who scored a record 434 league goals during his 19-year career.
*26 December 2002 - Hull City celebrate their first competitive game at their new Kingston Communications Stadium with a 2-0 win over Hartlepool United in Division Three.
*4 January 2003 - Shrewsbury Town beat Everton 2-1 in an FA Cup third round tie at Gay Meadow.
*2 March 2003 - Liverpool win the League Cup for the seventh time in their history thanks to a 2-0 win over Manchester United in the final at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
*10 March 2003 - Howard Wilkinson is sacked as Sunderland manager (along with his assistant Steve Cotterill) after his team won just two out of 20 Premiership matches under his management.
*12 March 2003 - Sunderland appoint former Republic of Ireland national coach Mick McCarthy as their new manager.
*21 March 2003 - Leeds United, 16th in the FA Premier League and £80million in debt, sack Terry Venables after eight months as manager and replace him with Peter Reid, who signs a contract until the end of the season.
*22 March 2003 - Derby County (in Division One) suspend manager John Gregory over allegations of misconduct and replace him with George Burley as interim manager.
*27 April 2003 Portsmouth beat Rotherham 3-2 to win the First Division championship and gain promotion to the Premier League for the first time since the league's inception.
*4 May 2003 - Arsenal lose 3-2 at home to Leeds United, a result which ensures Leeds United's safety and ends Arsenal's defence of the title. Manchester United are crowned league champions for the eighth time in 11 seasons. Sunderland are relegated from the Premiership with a record low of 4 wins, 19 points and 21 goals. Shrewsbury Town are relegated to the Conference, ending 53 years of Football League membership. Exeter City finished 23rd in Division Three and are also relegatead to the Conference - the first club to suffer automatic relegation without finishing bottom of the league. Peter Schmeichel calls time on his footballing career six months before his 40th birthday after helping Manchester City to finish ninth in the Premiership. He was replaced by David Seaman, who left Arsenal on a free transfer.
*9 May 2003 - Derby County confirm that suspended manager John Gregory will not be returning, and his contract is terminated to make way for George Burley to receive the job on a permanent basis.
*17 May 2003 - Arsenal win the FA Cup for the ninth time in their history by beating Southampton 1-0 at the Millennium Stadium.
*26 May 2003 - Wolverhampton Wanderers return to the top flight after a 19-year exile by beating Sheffield United 3-0 in the Division One playoff final.
*17 June 2003 - David Beckham agrees to join Real Madrid in a £25 million deal after 12 years at Manchester United.
*26 June 2003 - Marc-Vivien Foé, who spent the 2002-03 season on loan to Manchester City, collapses and dies at the age of 28 during a Confederations Cup tie for Cameroon.

=England national team=

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

Football League Second Division

Wigan won their first-ever promotion beyond the Second Division, helped by considerable investment in the team. Crewe managed a promotion on considerably less resources, while play-off winners Cardiff were another big-spending team that were able to earn 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. 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.

Football Conference

**Yeovil Town
*Also promoted to Third Division:
**Doncaster Rovers "(playoff winners)"

**Nuneaton Borough "(to Southern League)"
**Southport "(to Northern Premier League)"
**Kettering Town "(to Isthmian League)"

National League System

Transfer deals

ummer transfer window

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

;2 May 2002
*Franck Queudrue from Lens to Middlesbrough, £2.5m;14 August 2002
*Juninho Paulista from Atlético Madrid to Middlesbrough, £6m;30 August 2002
*Tore André Flo from Rangers to Sunderland, £8m;31 August 2002
*Robbie Keane from Leeds United to Tottenham Hotspur, £7m

January transfer window

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

;31 January 2003
*Jonathan Woodgate from Leeds United to Newcastle United, £9m

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

Famous Debutants

* 16-year old Wayne Rooney made his competitive first-team debut for Everton on the opening day of the season, a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur. By the end of the season he was part of the full England side.
* Midfielder James Milner, also 16, played his first game for Leeds United as they won 4-3 at West Ham United in November 2002.


* Alan Ashman, 74, former football manager who took Carlisle United into the old First Division in 1974 and West Bromwich Albion to F.A Cup glory in 1968.
* Sir Bert Millichip, 88, chairman of the Football Association from 1981 until 1996 and a former director of West Bromwich Albion.
* Arthur Rowley, 76, a former centre forward of Leicester City player and Football League record scorer who scored an English league career record of 434 goals.
* Marc-Vivien Foé, 28, Cameroon midfielder who spent the 2002-03 season on loan to Manchester City from French side Lyon, collapsed and died during a FIFA Confederations Cup game. A post mortem revealed that Foé, who had played for West Ham United earlier in his career, had suffered from an undetected heart condition.
* Rob Hindmarch, 41, former Sunderland, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Derby County centre-half, died of motor neurone disease.

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