HAS MONEY RUINED ENGLISH FOOTBALL
By Teg Singh
Last year, the Premier League’s Executive Chairman signed a TV deal - a deal worth £1.7 billion per year for 3 years, amounting to a grand total of £5.1 billion. This is football’s richest league, blowing out of the water the previous record for a TV deal in the sport by a staggering £2 billion. The question is – has the money actually helped the sport?
The breakdown of where the money actually goes is astounding – the highest paid team from the recent 2016/2017 season was Chelsea, who received a total payment of £150,811,183 exactly for 28 televised matches. This is a huge comparison to what the lowest earned, Sunderland, who in the season received a total of £93,471,188 for a measly 10 matches. This firstly shows the level of inequality in the Premier League, and how money in football has changed dramatically. Since the inaugural season of the Premier League, the game is hardly recognisably in the midst of transfer scrambles and hype. Take the recent summer transfer window of 2017 for instance, £1.4 billion was spent on transfer fees by Premier League clubs, with Manchester City spending a whopping £215 million on new players. Leading experts such as football journalist Jason Burt, state that: ‘the Premier League's “integrity” is at stake’ – indicating that the differences in income from the highest to lowest earners is actually causing a major gulf in the league. The league is therefore becoming ‘predictable’ and ‘boring’ – the teams with money are consistently competing at the highest level, with the examples of Manchester United and Chelsea coming to mind, while the teams receiving less money generally slave away down at the bottom, with survival as a main priority. This was certainly seen with Sunderland, who last season were the lowest receiver of Premier League money, who had previously been in relegation scraps for the past 6 years – it was only until last season where they finally did get relegated. Competition, the main reason why the Premier League was created, is minimal, with only the top five or six (both Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool) the only real teams fighting to win the coveted trophy.
While many say that competition is minute in the Premier League, others compare it to the various top divisions around Europe. Although the Premier League does receive the most money as the richest football league in the world, in comparison to La Liga, the Spanish top division, competition is still much higher. Last season 2016/2017, Real Madrid finished 1st with 90 points, followed by Barcelona with 90, then Atletico Madrid in 3rd with 78. The only real competition was between Barcelona and Real Madrid, proving that while the Premier League is a five or six-team league, the La Liga is very much a two-club division. Closer to home, examples of where the Premier League opened up was seen in the 2015/2016 season where Leicester City won the Premier League. The previous season, they had been bottom of the league and in a relegation scrap, but survived by the skin of their teeth. Fast forward a season, they had won the league by 10 points – showing that money was not the key factor in the Premier League.
Money in the Premier League can only be a good thing, say some, as it allows clubs to attract new players to England which had previously been unthinkable. However, others believe that the money only helps the richest teams become richer and ruins all competition in the league. Money has been poured into the division since its unveiling in 1992, and in the 25 years since, it has completely changed. "Over 25 years, a total of 3,835 players have played at least one Premier League game while 113 different nations – including the Seychelles, Pakistan and Guinea-Bissau – have been represented."