There was a report Monday that some of the foreign Premier League owners would start to push for the elimination of the relegation and promotion system. Any change in the in the way the Premier League handles its rules would require the support of 14 out of 20 owners. As it stands now, half the first division teams are under foreign ownership.
The League Managers’ Association chief executive Richard Bevan is quoted as saying, “Obviously if I was an American owner and I owned a football club or I was an Indian owner I might be thinking I would like to see no promotion or relegation. My investment is going to be safer and my shares are going to go up in value.” There may be some truth to this on the financial end, but yet, these foreign owners know what the rules are before they invest in a club. They know that there is a possibility that a Blackburn or a Queens Park Rangers could be dropped from the top division if they have a poor season. So why complain about it after the fact?
Obviously, these statements have sent shockwaves through football. For all of the talk, however, I can’t see much coming of these plans. Isn’t the relegation and promotion aspect part of the magic of English football in that any club, no matter the size, can work its way up to the top league? Getting rid of this would be a disservice to those who support smaller clubs.
As an American sports fan, I have found the relegation and promotion system quite unique and very interesting. The threat of being relegated keeps clubs playing hard throughout the entire season and typically the race to see who gets sent down is almost as fascinating as the race for the Champions League. There have been many times when I have wished that Major League Baseball would incorporate some sort of relegation and promotions system so that those greedy owners wouldn’t just pocket the revenue share money without trying to put a competitive team on the field.
The blanket proclamations that Bevan’s makes opens up more questions than answers. How would it be determined what clubs would stay in the Premier League? What if a foreign owner sells his club to an English owner? Could those teams be promoted? In the end, I think this will be much to do about nothing, as the owners must realize that the majority of the fans would be against this, which would lead to supporters purchasing few tickets and less merchandise. That, I would suspect, would hit the owners where it hurts.