Premier League Wants To Be The NFL


You may have missed an article by Oliver Kay in The Times this past weekend that featured a very revealing interview with Manchester City executive chairman Garry Cook regarding the future of the Premier League. The headline perfectly sums up Kay’s article: “Vision Of A Breakaway League With No Relegation.”

Here are the revealing quotes followed by my opinion:

  1. “I wouldn’t have promotion and relegation. That’s what central entity is, like the NFL in American football. Once you get central entity, you basically share the wealth.” — What? Promotion are relegation are two of the reasons why the Premier League is so much more attractive to global viewers compared with the NFL. We’ve heard the Premier League mention this idea before, but the reaction from the paying public would be totally against it.
  2. “If you want to become a multi-multibillion-pound empire, you may have to look at changing the model.” — ‘May have to look at changing the model’ is business talk for ‘Definitely will change the model.’ Be forewarned.
  3. “I talk to Richard Scudamore about this all the time: ‘Are we maximising the central entity of the Premier League?’ And he rolls his eyes and says: ‘If only, if only we could, if only we would.'” — Quite a revealing statement from Cook that gives us a peek inside Scudamore’s thought process.
  4. “We’re getting into a situation where there are maybe ten clubs. Do Saudi Arabians want to buy – and no disrespect to these clubs – Stoke City or Derby County? Or do they want to buy Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Manchester City?” — So, let me get this straight. The end goal is to sell all of these major clubs to the Middle East? Could D.I.C. be the first?

While the NFL is what the Premier League wants to be, especially in terms of their TV revenue, the biggest mistake the EPL could make is by creating a central entity. It’s the promotion and relegation which adds so much excitement and drama to the league.

If they Premier League did move to a central entity, a closed league, who would the 14 teams be?

  1. Manchester United
  2. Chelsea
  3. Arsenal
  4. Liverpool
  5. Aston Villa
  6. Portsmouth
  7. Tottenham Hotspur
  8. Everton
  9. Manchester City
  10. Newcastle United
  11. West Ham United
  12. Sunderland
  13. Middlesbrough
  14. Blackburn Rovers

The teams that are currently in the Premier League who would not be included in the central entity, I believe are:

  1. Fulham
  2. Stoke City
  3. West Bromwich Albion
  4. Hull City
  5. Wigan Athletic
  6. Bolton Wanderers

Fulham would not be included due to the small capacity of their stadium. There’s little to no chance of the club leaving Craven Cottage. Wigan’s average attendance is the worst in the league, while I don’t see Bolton remaining in the Premier League much longer based on their current form.

The advantage of a central entity is that the league can have all 14 clubs working together and sharing the TV revenue to build the Premier League brand worldwide. The other advantage is that it would ensure club owners that their football team would continue to generate massive amounts of revenue each year rather than having to worry about the threat of dropping down a division due to relegation.

But by closing the doors on the league, it would break the hearts of the fans of other clubs hoping to be promoted into the top league. Massive clubs such as Leeds United, Birmingham City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and others would be refused the opportunity to see their club regain greatness.

And plucky clubs such as Reading would be prevented from reaching the upper echelons of English football.

Sure, the NFL generates more revenue than the Premier League does right now but that doesn’t mean that the Premier League has to imitate the American football league to achieve success.

What do you think? Share your feedback via the comments link below.

23 thoughts on “Premier League Wants To Be The NFL”

  1. I think these are extremely negative comments made by Cook. And, foreign investors DO value the smaller clubs. Look at clubs like Leicester who have wealthy ownership.

  2. Manchester City’s boss should be more worried about keeping the ‘Big Four’ in the Premier League and not having them break away to form a European Super League.

  3. living in the USA and being a fan of the NFL.. The thing that drew me to watching and loving the EPL and european soccer in general is the relegation battles mixed in with the spots to qualify for Champions League and UEFA Cup.

    When fans of Fulham who have no realistic chance at winning the title but engaging in a Relegation battle is just as exciting it provides great entertainment..

    If the NBA, NFL, or MLB had promotions and relegations it would make the sports infinitely more interesting than they are…

    Teams should never be awarded with playing poorly(draft picks).

    Changing the EPL from its current state would be a terrible mistake.

  4. Would the Winner of this new league be called the WORLD CHAMPIONS?
    A load of ould bollix..will never be allowed to happen…and if it does I might as well start to watch the shoulder pad, kneepad, heemit wearing, pat on the arse throwball meself(yawn)

  5. Can’t say I want to see it happen, just that at some future date it’s likely too. The smaller clubs have no chance of winning, the NFL model will give them that. The real final push will come when the pressure mounts again for a European Super-League. The NFL model will then seem a way to save English Football. I’m not saying again I like it only that it will come.

  6. Getting rid of promotion/relegation in the Premier League(or any other league in Europe, for that matter) will not happen within our lifetime. And as somebody already mentioned, let us hope that the professional leagues in the US borrow the promotion/relegation model some (Garber, are you listening?Don’t tell me it isn’t “feasible” at the moment).

  7. Why would anyone watch a match among the bottom few if relegation were not involved?

    It will sound strange coming from me, but why was Pompey included? Smallest stadium in the league? Not Craven Cottage. Fratton Park. Revenue for Pompey is terrible, and Gaydamak has shown a willingness to splash some cash, but not enough to make the team competitive for a title?

    How will ending relegation mean that everyone can compete for the title? Revenue sharing? Salary Cap? How about reapportioning players around the league like MLS did several times. (ManU is just too good, therefore, Ronaldo can’t play for them anymore. He must go to Portsmouth.)

    If this happens, my interest in the EPL lessens dramatically. (modeling after the NFL, not if Ronaldo moves to Pompey)

  8. Portsmouth is included in the 14 because of their plans for their new ground, which would have a large enough capacity. Plus they have the Russian investor owning the club.

    The Gaffer

  9. This annoys me, I hate Scudamore and Cook. To take away relegation would be a disaster – all the lower teams would never be able to come up, what would West Brom do every 2 years?
    Seriously though one of the great things is the relegation chase, nothing better than watching the last day of the season and then Match of the Day’s coverage of it minute by minute once its all done. Money one day will consume football and break it.

  10. Don’t UEFA and The FA determine UEFA CL and Cup spots? I would hope that the they would not allow a breakaway league to compete in Europe. That should be non-negotiable. You would be left playing for one trophy. The many competitions facing each team was one thing that attracted me to soccer.

  11. This idea does have merit. I can see down the road the EPL becoming a closed model with 18 teams. Probably the biggest reason why there is so much disparity is the nature of the TV deal and promotion/religation. Those who finish at the bottom of the table do not receive the same amount of TV money as those who finish on the top. In all four of the major sports in the USA, each team gets an identical share of TV money no matter where they finish in the stadings.

    A closed league would allow sides who stink and need to improve the ability to do that by avoiding a relagation battle. Those clubs would be able to go out and get younger players and train they up in their academy system and then onto the first team without having to fear getting kicked out of the league b/c they finish last.

    The best plan would be to have a semi open system where every few years the clubs are evaluated based upon a number of metrics that would determine their league status. They could then be replaced by another team.

    Also, promotion/relagation will NEVER happen in any major sport in the USA. The owners would not stand for it at all.

  12. First, the Premier League CAN be like the NFL when it comes to TV revenue. All it has to do is ink a deal with satellite providers to create a package similar to Sunday Ticket and ensure that every game will be available. Every satellite company in the world would sign up for that.

    Second, foreign ownership of smaller clubs has already happened, most notably at QPR. Mittal, I’m sure, has no intention of seeing his investment flounder in the lower leagues. By 2015 I fully expect to see a West London derby against Chelsea that will blow the North London derby out of the water in terms of hype…granted Roman is still having fun with his toy at that time. The point is the biggest returns come from buying a club cheap and pumping the money into them to send them to the Premier League (and the revenue from that). Foreign ownership will die off in a closed system because the ceiling for lower division clubs will be too low.

  13. Does anyone know the details of the Promotion/Relegation system in Argentina? I know they do not promote/relegate every single year, but use a formula based on aggreagate results and averages, etc. If I remember, there was a commotion a couple years ago when River Plate (#1 or #2 team in Argentina) was in a Relegation battle due to a couple years run of poor results . . .

  14. Yes Eric, Mexico uses the same system.

    Since mexico and argentina play two seasons a year, an Apertura and Clausura season, they promote and relegate at the end of the Clausura season. The team with the worst aggregate point total over the previous four seasons (two years) is relegated. As far as promotion from the Primera A to the FMF first division I am not sure how it works specifically but one team goes up a year and one team goes down per the criteria I just mentioned. Relegation/Promotion takes place every year but the average is for a two year/four season total.

  15. Never happen. Ever. A few reasons I can think of?

    1) The big four would never be open to revenue sharing, no matter the circumstance.

    2) A salary cap would establish a level playing field for all teams – because ALL of the quality talent will go elsewhere. Every game will look like Bolton vs. Reading.

    3) Redistributing talent would dilute the three or four strong teams that the PL has to offer in the CL. Therefore, the four English teams go out in qualifying and group play – the league can kiss that CL payday goodbye.

    4) The fans wouldn’t stand for it – relegation and promotion are part of the fabric of British football.

    5) The media and networks wouldn’t stand for it – if relegation is gone, only a handfull of games each week will make a difference. That means lower ratings, then lower ad revenues, eventually impacting the league when it’s time to sign a new deal.

    I think this is a situation where a few execs went out, got drunk, and came up with a stupid, half-baked plan to make more money. It should disappear when they sober up.

    As for adding relegation to the major American sports leagues, I love the idea but it would likewise never happen. Remember, these franchises are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and in some cases billions. Teams are tied into long-term leases or loans on huge stadiums. What incentive does an owner have to risk assets of that magnatude? None…

    Anyway, it’s an interesting thought but none of this will ever, ever happen. Better chance of a SuperLeague coming about, although I doubt that will come to pass either.

    A Super League would destroy the financial and competitive foundations of every league on the continent. All of a sudden, there will be no big name transfers because every team is wary of helping their competition – and every other league will become a glorified feeder organization.

    Anyway, that’s my take.

  16. Over the past 13 seasons, there have been 3 different winners of the Premier League (8x man utd, 2x Chelsea, 3x Arsenal) and 10 different Super Bowl winners (Baltimore, Dallas, 2x Denver, Green Bay, Indianapolis, 3x New England, NY Giants, Pittsburgh, St.Louis, Tampa Bay).

    A closed model allows more sharing and thus closer competition, and also allows teams that have a rough few years to rebuild. The promotion/relegation system leads to an elite few teams that grow in relative power every year and shuts out any other side from every having a hope of winning, and also heavily punishes sides that have a bad year or so (e.g. Leeds). Last year, Miami was the worst team in the league. This season they are in the playoffs. That is the kind of turn around the closed league can give you.

    There's no right or wrong answer. It's just whichever league works for you. As an added bonus to the closed system though, because of the variability season on season, you don't get the glory-hunter fans because you never know who's going to be at the top next season.

  17. @Mark M. : Teams can come up in the EPL. Even Arsene Wenger is able to concede that Aston Villa possibly need to be considered part of the 'Big 5'. So instead of allowing piss poor teams the opportunity to become the 'Champions of the World' as so frequently happens in American sports, the EPL (and specifically promotion/relegation and the cheap investment that comes from those) allows teams to build quality sides over time until they are able to establish dominance — to wit: Aston Villa.

    Also, then you could have something ridiculous like the New York Red Bulls winning the MLS Cup. The Red Bulls lost 11 games and only won 10 last season. And somehow they came to be the winners of the whole season. That should not be allowed to happen. I know that has a lot to do with the playoffs in MLS, but it also has a lot to do with crappy teams being guaranteed staying power.

    Listen, if they want to destroy the EPL then they will switch to a central entity or allow the Euro Super League. As an American, it would be hell to have to watch MLS to get decent soccer because the EPL switched to central entity.

  18. The premier league is more popular than nfl, america has more people that is all.

    NFL is nothing worldwide, I wish people would quit attacking football.

    Attacking football is americas pastime, I have lived there.

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