English Premier League Meetings Held
England‘s Premier League is widely viewed as being the best soccer league on the planet, including being the most competitive and profitable. This argument is backed by the recent success of English teams in the soccer’s most important judging event, the UEFA Champion’s League. Over the last two seasons, three of the four teams to reach the semi-finals were from the EPL.
This being said, is it possible there is need for radical change? Potential changes to the “future of the game” are the topic of discussion as Premier League club chairmen, chief executives and owners meet this week to figure out what should be done.
The most pressing issue to be discussed centers around the distribution of money generated by the Premier League, as domestic TV deals continue to rise and new sources of wealth are being generated through overseas sales. The popularity of the EPL continues to grow, opening new markets to sell television rights. The evidence of this can be seen here in the US, where sports giant ESPN has begun to broadcast live English Premier League games and Spanish La Liga games each weekend. The question here revolves around the distribution of these newly generated funds? Should the large clubs (like Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool) who are responsible for most of the new interest in the game be given a larger share than the small clubs freshly promoted to the Premier League? One would think so, but in reality it is the smaller clubs who need the money just to survive.
Another proposal which will be discussed is the possibility of doing away with relegation. Unlike American sports where teams are guaranteed play in the top league each year, the English Premier league (and nearly all European sports leagues) use a system of relegation whereby the 3 worst teams each season are “demoted” to the second league (“The Championship” in English soccer) and the 3 top teams from the second league are “promoted” to play in the Premier League the following season. While this may be a strange idea to American sports fans, this system allows for small clubs to make their way up while playing the countries larger clubs and improving financially.
Even more important are the financial implications of a club making it up or falling from the Premier League. Like mentioned above, the Premier League creates huge amounts of TV revenue which is then split between the teams. A team dropping out of the Premier League can result in them missing out on over $67 million. As is evident, such a loss nearly guarantees the collapse of some small clubs. Although the Premier League does currently provide some financial cushion for relegated teams, the payments end very quickly and there has been a call for an improved system.
Salaries and transfer fees are another interesting topic, although there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done about the situation as of now. Once again unlike American sports, European soccer treats players as property, which clubs purchase and groom in order to sell at a profit in the future. Recent wild spending by clubs such as Real Madrid ($302 million in transfer fees, not including player wages), has led to some people within the game calling for a salary/transfer fee cap. The problem remains that soccer runs as a free market and if a club is willing to fork over huge sums of cash for a player, it is the current team’s right to sell him at that price.
One such issue that has shown little progress in soccer is the use of instant replay. First put to use by American Football, instant replay is now used successfully is nearly all major American sports including the NBA, NHL and MLB. You only need to watch one video clip in order to see why their is a major need for video replay in soccer. Check out the infamous Reading vs. Watford “Ghost Goal” which occured in the second division of English soccer last year.
It should be very interesting to see what comes out of these meetings in the coming days. Be sure to stay tuned to Soccer Fanatic’s blog, as we will be sure to keep you up to date on any significant changes to come.