I still think that the EPL is the most exciting soccer league in the world, but there are still some problems that need to be addressed to keep it that way. I will be outlining three of the issues with the Premier League that I think exist in this modern money-making league.
1.) Owners: It seems that more and more teams are being snatched up by two types of owners. The first being an owner who is looking to infuse the club with massive amounts of cash and causing an imbalance in available resources; and the second being an owner looking to make a profit off of the club. This second type is predominantly American and there are six of the Premier League teams that have American owners.
This focus on capitalist ideals means that some of these clubs struggle to bring in world class players from around the world. Their primary goal is to balance their finances and bring in a profit rather than to bring in success and trophies.
I know that this is an oversimplification of the situation and that teams like Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal are still able to compete in the league, it also seems that they are not able to compete with those teams that have a rich benefactor. This is also a factor in the ability to compete with the rich continental European clubs, particularly in the transfer market.
2.) Money: With the billion dollar TV deal there is more money coming in to the Premier League than ever before. With all of that money being pumped in, there is an increasing gap between teams in the Premier League and those teams in lower divisions. Parachute payments being given to relegated teams mean that there is also the chance that further gaps will form in these lower divisions with the same teams cycling between the EPL and the Championship.
The gap between the very top teams and those teams at the bottom and even middle of the Premier League table is ever increasing and should be a concern for fans of English soccer. The problem with some of the other leagues, such as Spain’s La Liga, is that there is no competition at the top of the table.
Fans of the EPL should not want to see this happen. There is already the growing concern that this is the case in the Premier League, though I do not think it is nearly as dire. There are more and more teams pushing for the top four places.
With that said, the influx of money into the league has led to five or six clubs competing for the top four spots each and every season and the only way to break into that is to spend big. The two teams that have proven that have been Chelsea and Manchester City. By getting billionaire benefactors they suddenly been able to compete at the highest level and winning trophies. Tottenham Hotspur have spent this summer of 2013 splashing plenty of money; close to $200 million. This they have done in the hope of competing for a top four finish and even challenging for a first Premier League title.
3.) Lack of English players: This is what I feel to be the most troubling aspect of the English Premier League. Recent statistics put the number of English players playing in the EPL at around 30% with somewhere around 250 players.
Many of the other continental European leagues consist primarily of players from the corresponding country. This means that these countries are able to better instill a philosophy within the league that extends to their international team’s setup.
While I’m not a huge fan of international soccer, I have been thinking that it is increasingly important to the further development of the league if England can do well in international tournaments. More English clubs need to be bringing in English players and bringing them through the team. This will increase England’s chances in tournaments and, in turn, increase the quality of play in the EPL.
The Premier League clubs need to start looking more at players in the Championship and bringing some of these players in. The problem is that at the moment English players have an absurd premium placed on them. It is ridiculous that teams have to pay such a high price for a player simply because they are English, but that is the way it is.
So, instead of looking at English players across the leagues, teams are going out and looking for cheap deals they can make with players from other countries. The way the transfer market is now, there are players throughout the world that are of equal quality to English players, but at much more reasonable prices.
Take a look at players such as Jordan Henderson or Andy Carroll, both of which have yet to truly prove themselves, but going for large amounts of money in past transfers. Compare them to a player like Demba Ba who joined Newcastle at a cut rate.
Many of this simply goes back to the first two problems, the owners and the money. Too many owners are looking to get a good deal on a player that can be developed and sold on for massive profit. This is especially the case with teams like Arsenal and Tottenham.
The England national team is the first place to start in developing a national philosophy and this needs to be something other than a typical “English” style of route one soccer or even the typical 4-4-2. Tactically, England needs to move forward.
With this issues being addressed it’s not really a matter that the Premier League is becoming a lesser league, but I do believe these situations do need to be looked at in some way. Financial fair play is not the way to go, since it will keep the status quo, but perhaps more needs to be done with the English way of thinking when it comes to players.
I am still a huge fan of the Premier League and feel that it is the best and most exciting league in the world, but I do want it to remain this way. Seeing so many players moving away from or avoiding coming to the EPL is somewhat troubling. Yet, at the same time it also means that more teams are willing to remain pragmatic in their approach to club finances, which will help in the long term. It will also help with giving some level of parity to the playing field.
Let me know what you think about the Premier League. Are there any issues that I’ve missed? Perhaps you disagree with me. Leave your comments below.