First of all, a quick, somewhat belated, Happy New Year to the readers of EPL Talk, my fellow writers, and, of course, The Gaffer, to whom I’d like to express my gratitude for inviting me to be a member of his 2009 squad. I look forward to sharing news, opinions, and participating in debates regarding the greatest sport in the greatest league that we all follow.
Those festive pleasantries provide me with a nice transition into my first contribution for 2009, and a hot topic for some debate. According to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS), the English Premier League is the top football league in the world for the second consecutive year.
The IFFHS generate a ranking using a statistical formula based primarily on the performance of teams from the various national leagues in continental tournaments. The recent strong performances of English teams in International club competition, particularly the European Champions League, has resulted in the EPL dominating the ranks for the past couple of years.
Before we even take a look at the breakdown, most ardent followers of the game would not be too challenged in throwing together a list of the usual suspects from the best leagues around the world. Off the bat, most people would guess that we could expect to see the EPL joined by the top flights from Italy, Spain, Germany, Argentina, and Brazil, but the order as ranked in this study may throw a few surprises.
Here is the list of the top ten national leagues according to the IFFHS 2008 report:
The rankings may raise some eyebrows to say the least and has the potential to spark many other debates and ideas for future articles.
It is not exactly shocking to see the EPL, Serie A, and La Liga in the top four, but I must admit to being a little surprised to see the Spanish top flight fall to fourth spot behind Argentina, and the Dutch Eredivisie (one of my personal picks outside of the EPL) not even able to crack the top ten. Many people will make the case for Serie A or La Liga to be the strongest in the world, though it is interesting to review the summary of the results to get an insight into the reasoning behind the standings.
There is no doubt that the streets of Buenos Aries and Rio De Janeiro are the breeding grounds for some of the most talented footballers on the planet, but I have always somewhat doubted the strength of the respective domestic leagues purely because it seems that the top talents jet to Europe to earn their stardom and riches. Thus far, the elite players of South American football have had limited, or at least mixed, success in the English top flight, but there can be no questioning their influence on the Spanish and Italian leagues, dating back at least 20 or 30 years.
Maybe the high rankings of the Argentinean and Brazilian leagues are simply a reflection of the constant stream of talent produced in these countries. After all, their respective success at the International tournament level speaks for itself. A call-out to the Mexican league is also in order where typically it seems that not so many players are ‘exported’.
However, on the domestic front, this study really confirms what I, and maybe (or maybe not) many of the followers of this site, already realize; that the EPL is the strongest and most sought after domestic club league in the world. The English top flight is a massive worldwide product that is ever increasingly difficult to quantify. The reception that Manchester United received recently in Japan as they embarked on the FIFA World Club Cup mission is just an example.
Champions of the World and the World’s Greatest League
The English League Championship Promotion Playoff Final is dubbed the richest football match in the world, as the winner attains a pass to the Promised Land, albeit in many cases a temporary one. Television rights to the EPL are unrivaled in terms of global domestic competetions.
Team for team, player for player, coach for coach, there really is nothing quite like the English Premier League.
Agree? Disagree? What are your top 5 leagues? Is the EPL deserving of the top spot? What about the MLS of the USA ranked just below the leagues of Angola, Ivory Coast, and Finland?
You know what button to hit below and we look forward to hearing from you….Cheers!