Premiership Season Virtually Over As a Competition
By John NicholsonI am an optimist by nature. To me the glass is always half full, and even if it’s half empty, I will have enjoyed drinking it. I don’t buy into the pervading culture of cynicism that is so fashionable in some circles. Books such as “Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit?” play to the worst aspects of human nature; everything is crap until proved otherwise.The way I look at things is, you might as well have a good time while you can, and get the most of life because it might be the only chance you get. Who knows, you might be a dung beetle next time round, or worse still, a Tory politician. So, as Jim Morrison once said, “you’ve got to get your kicks before the whole shithouse comes down”. However, if you get your kicks by supporting a Premiership club, this is increasingly hard to do because the season is virtually over as a competition already and much excitement has been extinguished.It used to be said that you need 40 points to guarantee survival, but now, with the standard of the Premiership dropping and the superiority of the top two or three growing, this may be the first season that 30 points is enough to survive and almost certainly 33 points will be adequate. This isn’t a blip; it’s been going this way for the last 5 years. 35 would have kept you up last season, 34 the year before that.And let’s be clear about this, it is a terrible situation. The much vaunted “Best League In The World” is becoming a desultory, meaningless haul through 38 games, at least a third of which have no meaning.As this trend continues, most seasons will be ‘dead’ after just over half the season has passed. It’s mid January and we already know that Watford and Charlton are down. The Premiership as a competitive competition is rapidly losing credibility when around a third of the sides are effectively disenfranchised from the competition as early as mid January. Clubs who can’t win anything but can’t lose anything.For clubs already on around 27-30 points they’re almost certain to stay up but will struggle to get a European place without a massive improvement of form. Even if that happened, only a small percentage of fans are interested in UEFA cup football until the knock out stages. Blackburn, like Boro before them have been half empty for their games this year.In other words, a UEFA cup game is not perceived by a majority of fans of most clubs as of sufficient interest to warrant turning up, and so presumably see the achievement of a high enough league position to qualify for it is as not worth the effort either.Increasingly, once survival is all but guaranteed for a club, the rest of their season is a meaningless exercise and of course, this means fans will stay away in greater numbers because the games becomes little more than training matches with nothing riding on the result.How long will it be before the games authorities realize that without a more even playing field and a greater degree of outcome possibilities to the league, it will very quickly become devalued, debased and defunct?John Nicholson writes each week for Football 365 and EPL Talk. You can listen to John’s wonderful stories on episode 30 and 45 of the EPL Talk Podcast, as well as purchase his excellent Footy Rocks book and order one of his unique rock’n roll T-shirts.