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The Spurs Have Come Marching In

Jonathan Woodgate’s extra-time header completed an impressive comeback for Spurs as the North London club beat West London rivals Chelsea today 2-1 to win the Carling Cup.

I don’t want to focus as much on the game itself here as I want to talk about how this result was good for the Premier League as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, Tottenham deserves a lot of credit and this trophy will look great in their cabinet, but as I mentioned yesterday, it’s more important in the broader sense for the 16 teams outside the “Big Four”.

There are three major competitions to be won in England: the Premiership, the FA Cup, and the Carling Cup. Simple multiplication tells us that over the past 12 years, 36 big trophies have been on offer, not counting this year’s Carling Cup.

Guess how many of those trophies were won by “Big Four” clubs.


How about over the past six years (18 trophies)?


These figures work out to be astoundingly high, ridiculous percentages, especially if you’re a neutral fan like me. I want to see different teams win these competitions; it gets boring to see the same teams win over and over again just because they have more money to spend than everyone else.

Worldwide TV rights for the Premiership will be hotly contested by major corporations when they next become available after the 2009-2010 season. The Premier League needs to do a better job of distributing that revenue equally amongst its 20 teams. I would even go as far as to say that all prize money won for playing and/or advancing in the Champions League and UEFA Cup should be distributed equally amongst the 20 Premiership teams as well, rather than having the individual teams who play in European competitions pocketing all of that money for themselves like they do now. It’s a case of the rich only getting richer because the same teams are the ones playing in Europe year after year.

Competitive balance in the Premier League is essential to its growth as not only the most popular league in the world, but the top soccer league in the world as well, something it isn’t right now. You look at the fight for fourth place this season and things change every week. Teams 4-10 are separated by only seven points, and teams 4-8 by just three.

The more teams that are in the running to actually win something, the better. It allows these teams to go out and attract better players because they know they have a chance to win, and that appeals to the athlete and competitor in them. Rather than four teams monopolizing competitions, you could have anywhere close to 10 teams fighting it out for three trophies over the course of a 9/10-month season. This opens up more room for top-quality players; again, simple math tells us that the more teams involved, the more roster spots involved, and the more top-quality players who have somewhere to ply their trade rather than sitting on the bench at one of the “Big Four” clubs or playing elsewhere in Europe for less recognizable prizes.

I understand that if you’re a fan of a “Big Four” team, you like the way things are now. You essentially have a 25% chance to win any major competition in any given year, and that’s great. Let me ask you this though: If you were a fan of anyof the other 16 teams and knew your side basically had a 0% chance to win something, what motivation is there for you to really support that team, to really become a serious fan? It’s difficult to just show up to the stadium every week knowing that your team is just playing games for the sake of playing games, that they don’t have a real chance to win anything when all is said and done.

Great win for Spurs today. I’m excited to see someone break the stranglehold of the “Big Four” and I hope this becomes a continuing trend in England.

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  1. Michael

    February 27, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    And as far as whether I personally am for it or against it, I’m against it in all leagues other than MLS. Promotion and relegation is strictly a soccer-specific concept and doesn’t have any traction in other sports.

  2. Michael

    February 27, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Are you only talking about MLS, or other professional sporting leagues as well?

    I can tell you that in other leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL), promotion and relegation will NEVER happen. It’s just that simple. These major league sporting franchises are loaded with money and would not stand for possibly going down to a minor league based on performance. That would also render the whole concept of player drafts meaningless as well.

    As far as MLS goes, I’d venture to say that at some point in the very, very distant future, relegation and promotion could happen but I still think it’s unlikely.

    The difference between professional leagues in America and Europe is that there is such a gap in quality between major league teams and minor league teams. We’ve seen in the FA Cup and Carling Cup and other competitions across Europe where lower-league teams play top-league teams that the lower-league teams have relatively high chances to win games. In America, you would never see a minor league team beating a major league team in a competitive game in any sport; major league teams just have players that are so much better at their craft.

  3. Alex Hleb

    February 27, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    hey michael this is a little off topic, but what do you think about promotion and relegation in the states? are you for it or against it in the us? do you think its a possibility within the next 50 years or so to have one of the leagues, atleast mls to implement the european system?

  4. dragonki2012

    February 25, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Teh 39 games…
    The world doesn’t want to see Birmingham City(I never wanna see them again) vs Wigan.
    They wanna see Arsenal vs Manchester United.
    The reality is, it won’t happen happen people. Year after year you’d be seeing West Ham against lets say Newcastle, yawn.

    So keep the best league in the world in England and don’t share, it’s okay to be selfish for once.

    And I’m an Arsenal fan, I just wanna congratulate Spurs on the victory. That’s a first of many under Ramos.
    He’s something isn’t he?
    I can tell how much the teams changed by the amount of pounds Huddlestone has lost lol.
    But Spurs beware, just cuz u beat us once in 9 years doesn’t mean it will become a regular thing.

  5. Alex Hleb

    February 25, 2008 at 12:11 am

    i agree with cftv….in 20 years this will be what you will get with football….a superleague..its inevitable…..comprising of..

    arsenal,man u, liverpool, chelsea, celtic, rangers, barcelona, real madrid, valencia, villareal/sevilla, ac milan, inter milan, juventus, roma, lyon, marseille, bayern mun, shalke, and another 2-6 teams from europe for either a league of 20-24 teams and while it will be in a single table, the teams will be in “virtual” divisions(per country) so that the bottom team(lowest points) of each country represented will be relegated to the top league of their country while the top team of that country will be promoted to the “super league”. maybe it will simply be called the uefa league? its inevitable from the business stand point. anyway, theres a trend for globalization.

  6. CFTV

    February 24, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    If the Prem forced teams to give up their share of Champions League Money it would lead to those 4 clubs to start to gaze for other super powers to form a Super League. They would have 2 willing partners in Celtic and Rangers that would be willing to join them because the money would be too good to pass up.

    The Clubs will continue to keep their CL money because its to important for the league to have United, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool games to show on the TV that make the TV contract what it is.

  7. ossie's dream

    February 24, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Keithburkinshawssideburns: “Alex, you’re an Arsenal fan, admit it.”

    Er, yeah, the name Alex Hleb gives it away a little…

  8. ossie's dream

    February 24, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Alex / Dragon – interesting comments. Michael’s post didn’t mention Arsenal once, yet here you are making it all about Arsenal.

    No one begrudges Arsenal’s success (well, OK, maybe a few of my fellow Spurs fans do). But the problem is the way the dice are loaded in the so-called Big Four’s favor – this is the gist of Michael’s post. And he makes a pretty cast iron case. So what was your response – “you all hate Arsenal, boo hoo.”


  9. DannyMackay

    February 24, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Without wanting to jump into the arsenal bashing here – I can’t help but notice a tendancy for Arsenal fans to dismiss every set back (be it 4-0 5-1 or 22) with “that performance just wasn’t us”.
    Any – that doesn’t matter much. What matters is that this CUP FINAL was nearly played in NEW YORK.

    That’s right – before the game39 proposal was launched they discussed playing the league cup final abroad.

    How would Spurs have coped with a flight to New York straight after a lucky thursday night win over Slavia Prague?

    The English game is at risk!

  10. Michael

    February 24, 2008 at 6:06 pm


    Yes, this means Spurs qualify for the UEFA Cup. This is bad news for teams like Pompey, Villa, Everton, City, etc. who are fighting for UEFA Cup berths through their place in the league, because one of those spots is now filled up.

  11. dragonki2012

    February 24, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Spurs, style, LMAO.
    Ok, Michael is a neutral fan who favours the style of United more than anyone else’s.

    Anyway, Arsenal will be back, we’ll always be back and that performance just wasn’t us because of the whole Eduardo situation, imo, but we will be back and score goals.

    Speaking of scoring goals. I think Spurs did something right today. They showed to the world Chelseas inability to score goals this season.

    They couldn’t score at the Emirates, OT and apart from their 6-1 trashing of Man. City I don’t recall anything higher than a 4-4 draw with the Villans.

    The reason goals fallowed Chelsea under Marounhio is because he could get goals from his strikers and the rest of the squad. But A. Grant is only able to stop people from scoring, and he’s managed to even stop his own players from scoring.

    I’m using this result to finally bring out my thoughts on how I feel about Chelsea. They suck. Won’t win anything this season unless they start scoring.

  12. chase

    February 24, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    kids, stop playing, the bottom line is Spurs won and that is our ticket into the UEFA cup for next season….lets see if we can now go on to win the UEFA as well……for me the look on john terry and frank lampard’s faces as they collected their losers medals was priceless…losers!!!!

  13. Ryan

    February 24, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Pardon my ignorance please but does this mean Spurs qualify for the UEFA Cup?

  14. Alex Hleb

    February 24, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    gallas is gallas and even if we admit he should have defended if the penalty was saved, he shows that he cares. and he expressed the emotion that the team and the fans all felt. it was an emotional game, and it wasnt about drawing, it was a culmination of the days events, with one star falling to the pits of despair while another came over adversity and mass criticism to score two goals. it was a rollercoaster and gallas wears his heart on his sleeve. not a wreck, though.if it was man united or chelsea or spuds in that game keith, you wouldnt post your arrogant comments. as far as michael, i think its impossible to be a fan of the game as a whole and still enjoy it. you must have to choose who to cheer for when you watch a game. so if youre watching a game against spuds-chelsea, youve obviously chosen spuds, manu-arsenal, chelsea-arsenal, spuds-arsenal, liverpool-arsenal, fill in blank-arsenal, you would obviously not choose arsenal. and i am just defending my club.

  15. ross

    February 24, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    i watched the game in Edinburgh, the whole pub was rooting for Spurs, not only because of their style of play, but because you guys go on about Scotland having only Celtic/Rangers, the EPL has gone the same way………..Spurs are here and challeging …….and worth it long may it continue

  16. Keithburkinshawssideburns

    February 24, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Alex, you’re an Arsenal fan, admit it. You’re teams inability to deal with defeat or even drawing a game is disgraceful.

    Your captain is such a wreck, he ended the Birmingham game watering the pitch with his eyes.

  17. Michael

    February 24, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    So yesterday I was a United fan, a Birmingham fan, and I hated Arsenal.

    Today, I’m a Spurs fan?

    Get this through your head. I don’t support any one club; I’m neutral and just appreciate entertaining, quality soccer.

    That’s the last time I’ll say it.

  18. Alex Hleb

    February 24, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    you’re a spurs fan. admit it. i knew it. youre bias is so apparent, its disgraceful.

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