Premier League Clubs Chasing The Money: Where Will It End?

Off the pitch, it’s been a really poor few weeks for English football. People wanting to renegotiate TV deals, and now suggestions that relegation should be scrapped. How long before the Premier League gains a backbone and stops being the Far East’s cheap hooker?

I’m not even a Bolton fan, yet I was left angry by Ian Ayre’s comments. What right does he have to belittle any club? Bolton have played in Europe. They gave England the great Nat Lofthouse. And they have earned their thread in English football’s tapestry just like Liverpool. As so many have rightly said, Bill Shankly would be far from impressed, and thankfully this view is shared by so many of the club’s fans.

Greed is a discernible trait. Greed for titles and cups I could understand, but not for the dollar. Not because it makes spreadsheets look better in eight month’s time. With this league beginning to suffer from claims of little competition, why anyone would want to further enhance that by redistributing money leads me to instantly question why they’re involved in the game.

If you want more money why not look at improving your own media? Liverpool have their own TV channel and website. Why not hire more staff and produce more original content for your fans abroad to watch? Why must they try to steal money from those around them?

We admire so much of the Spanish game, but we should look at their system of negotiation to see why it just doesn’t work. Racing Santander are given one tenth the TV revenue of Barcelona. How are you to even try and compete with such gulfs in wealth? I enjoy La Liga, but outside of Barcelona and Real Madrid I could not truly see any team taking the league crown.

To make it even worse, now certain foreign investors want us to modify the league structure. Get rid of relegation? Why don’t we just hold glorified training sessions and play out fixtures using dice and math paper like when I was a child? Soccer in England is about relegation- the juxtaposition of survival and defeat. Fans in the stand crying because they know they have to go to Barnsley in December.

Yet it’s also about promotion. I enjoyed watching Blackpool last year, and I even found myself supporting them on the final day as they so nearly reached the supposed impossible dream. You’re now trying to convince me that it would be better to scrap all of that and just self contain our leagues, meaning no team can grow and no team can shrink? If you want Premier League football, then pick one of these lucky 20 — like t-shirts in a shop window.

I say all this as the fan of a Premier League club. I’m all for foreign investment, but not at the cost of my domestic game. If you want to pay Carlos Tevez the equivalent of a three bedroom semi detached house a week that’s fine. After all it’s your money. But don’t play the game and then ask to change the rules.

Otherwise where do we stop? How defined and self contained does our league become? How long before the top half of the Premier League looks like a disinterested lover, turns and says “This isn’t working for us, we want to form a new league with the other top teams in Europe.’ I guess it’s a shame ‘The Champions League’ is already taken. It would make the transition all that smoother.

Even now this isn’t the first instance of the Premier League’s questionable approach. Let’s add one game to the season and play it abroad, like a traveling circus — not so fans can connect with players, but so shirts can be printed and sold by the box load.

Football will always have its questionable characters, people interested in quick money for little work. It is vital that we blindside these people, and show them the coldest of shoulders. After all, the Premier League’s logo incorporates a lion at it’s core, but I’m beginning to think a large pussycat might be more appropriate.

12 thoughts on “Premier League Clubs Chasing The Money: Where Will It End?”

  1. The idea of scrapping relegation is a very poor idea because this is a way that makes every game important. Look at the leagues in the USA…the MLS, NFL, NBA, MLB, etc. where a team can go 0-16 yet still be in the same league as the team that just won the Supporters Shield. Why would there be a reason for fans to attend games late in a season for a team with a record astonishingly bad? In the European Leagues you watch because you could be knocked out; EVERY GAME IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT! This is the way it should be.

  2. Dang it, I just submitted an article about the idea of scrapping relegation.

    I guess i can recap some of what I said here.

    One of the things that has drawn me in as a new fan IS the idea that losing teams have something to work for in order to stay top flight. In American sports it just isn’t so.

    I do understand the idea that finances is a part of what drives this idea of re election but what is the sense of doing this if you still expect to see the same 4 teams at the top?

    Even still what I would like to hear about are clubs who DO stay in competitive shape but have poor finances. How fair is it to have teams like that remain in top flight if they have poor attendance and poor grounds?

    It’s a part of sports. There are many clubs in different sports who have sub par grounds and attendance that still draw crowds but when (and only when) they start winning and have a consistency of winning do those crowds grow.

    I think if the EPL wants to change the culture of how finance plays a role in keeping teams competitive in top flight football, then perhaps they need to change the system to give all teams the chance to be successful instead of the same 5 or 6 teams.

    In American football it could be argued that the salary cap structure has helped keep the game competitive where all teams have a chance to win the championship. Since it was instituted in 1994, one can look at the list of teams that have gone further and see many teams, who before 1994, would not have had a winning season have had some success. In 40 plus years of Super Bowl Championships, 19 different teams (out of 32) have won.

    Maybe this is what the EPL needs…a limit on how much they can spend on acquiring talent and also be made to take some of the money that they get from revenue to improve their grounds without gouging fans.

    Also maybe limits on the roster to prevent stacking. But then, that brings us back to my initial argument :)

    BUT….here is the rub. If ANY kind of change comes to the EPL, it would have to be something that could be adopted worldwide or at least within the region. If a salary cap was to take place, then it would discourage talent from coming and possibly take the edge off of the high caliber of play within the EPL.

    In the end, there are so many factors to be considered before any kind of tinkering with the current system happens.

    1. A salary cap for English clubs would kill the league. The top talent would go to other European leagues to get paid. English clubs would flounder in the Champions League. Their coefficient would decrease. Fewer teams would get CL bids. Its a bad idea. The only way that works is if there was a worldwide salary cap, and that is a pipe dream.

  3. I believe the foreign investors who have invested in the premiership are chasing the TV rights deal. This is what led to the American group buying Liverpool. After 2014 tv rights deal ends, I envisage the big clubs will agreeing their own deals.

  4. Sorry if I have my facts wrong but wasn’t money a factor in the creation of the EPL in the early 90s? Granted the dynamic between the Premiership and the Championship isn’t any different, but there was an actual breakaway that occurred when the current incarnation of the top flight was formed in the early 90s, no? We’re just seeing the same motivations being manifested in more agressive ways.

  5. Scrapping promotion/relegation is the quickest way to promote and reward mediocrity.
    That’s why I have a hard time watching MLS (that and the fact that the league has “conferences”, playoffs, and is still using the Jabulani monstrocity).
    Getting rid of promotion/relegation will devastate English football, worse than instant video replay, salary caps, and other undesirable “changes”.
    The relegation battle at the end of each season (especially since the league title is usually decided come March), is the thing that keeps fans and neutral obserevrs glued to the TV sets. The relegation drama is an absolute joy to watch, year after year.

  6. “…I envisage the big clubs will agreeing their own deals.”

    Not sure how feasible that is. According to the Gaffer, any change like that..

    “……would have to get 14 of the 20 teams in the Premier League to agree to the change (the Premier League requires a two-thirds majority at its annual shareholders meeting….)”

    That means that if a team were to negotiate its own TV deal it could no longer stay in the Premier League. That would be the death of any team. Exactly who would they play? Not likely any Prem team is going to try that.

  7. I don’t understand the surprise here. When the new Liverpool owners first took over the club their statements I the business community was all about taking advantage of the passionate and ignorant Liverpool supporters. Look at what they did and what they are doing to their US teams. It is the blind supporters of the popular clubs that allow this backstabbing behavior to the footbałl supporting community. Liverpool supporters have harmed football multiple times without the help of Americans and now they have an ownership that is all to willing to help.
    We have to blame ourselves. We continue to buy tickets, TV subscriptions and shirts of clubs who cheat cry and blame officials for their shortcomings. If we acted this way our loved ones would be embarrassed but they get thousands of people that don’t even know then defend and thief money at them for doing this. Of course they want to change the rules in their favor. They have millions of people blindly supporting them whatever damage they do. Its the capitalistic way.

  8. Why would clubs not be chasing money? The point (at least for the vast majority of owners) is to run a profitable business, so yes they will keep chasing the money. We as fans have to admit that sports are ruled by money, and then either accept it and move on or leave it.

  9. Speaking from an American perspective, I completely admire and envy Promotion/Relegation. It’s what makes the worst teams worth watching even on the last day. How often does that happen? The intense drama of relegation allows everyone to watch with interest the losing clubs. This is the best aspect of the EPL.

    I understand why Europeans would have a hard time embracing playoffs being unfamiliar with the process. But, the playoffs add the same drama and intensity that pro/relegation do. Only they reward effort from the middle of the tables. The best have already guaranteed their spot in the playoffs so it’s the middle of the table that fights for a spot, usually up to the last match. My Portland Timbers can make the playoffs if they win the next two matches. If they do, they continue their season.

    Another way to look at playoffs is the same as being “promoted” to an extended season or tournament.

    If you included both playoffs to add drama to the middle clubs and pro/relegation to the worst, every club and game would have drama and be interesting until the last day of the season. It would be intense.

    But the EPL has to reckon with it’s business structure that has no salary cap. If you want the best that money can buy, that money will buy more than athletes. It could be the undoing of the league. Unlike MLS which has the cap, and yes poorer quality athletes, they structure the business so that the league is the one entity with each club buying into that business. The EPL has the clubs as a priority not the league. So you’re going to have owners of clubs trying to maximize their profits by allowing more clubs to make more money regardless of tradition.

    Along with the money for talent so does it’s influence for profit.

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