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Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems For Average Premier League

It’s time the Premier League stepped up and walked the walk rather than just talk the talk.

Flat Season Footie
Do I love English top level football? Of course I do. It’s been my life since I was 6-years-old as a fan, then a player and now as a broadcaster. Although, apart from the wilderness years of the Heysel ban, despite the riches, despite the hype, despite breaking club and world records season in and season out,

I haven’t felt this flat about a season, ever.

This begs the question, how can a league with so much money, such great stadia and improved infrastructure offer so much poor football this season? And is this great league paying too much money to too few genuine top class players while the cream of the crop are going to Spain, Germany and increasingly Italy again, the first time since they were the top dogs in the 90s?

Poll Power
I started a poll on Twitter which should worry Richard Scudamore and co. because I’d guess 90% plus of those who follow me do so because of football. I asked this question…

“Quality of football in the Premier League for the league’s spending power has been?”

Fans voted:

Excellent 6%
Average 58%
Poor 36%

That means a staggering 94% of football fans didn’t think the world’s richest football league was very good, and that should be a major worry for us all.

Why?
For me there are several components.

Firstly, I’m worried that too many average players are coming into the league, not giving any or little value for money.

Secondly, too much money is going out of the league into the pockets of agents looking for a superb payday and if Raiola’s reported £41 million fee for his part in the Pogba deal didn’t disturb you, it should. That’s money going into one man’s pocket, not trickling down the pyramid as we were reassured many times it would.

No trickle-down equals clubs lower down dying. Our unique professional structure is already creaking under the pressure and I fear in years to come, Raiola and co. will be held up as the decadent days when we should have been looking after our own first.

Thirdly, the quality of any league is ultimately judged on its ability to compete in Europe. We aren’t able at all. Two out of the current Top 4 didn’t have any European football, one was abject playing at Wembley, one was demolished by ten goals against Bayern and Man City, with the genius that is Pep at the helm, went out with a whimper rather than a bang.

Compare that to six years in the 80s where six consecutive champions of Europe were English teams, with small squads and relatively small budgets compared to other clubs in Europe and you’ll see the point I’m making.

Money Troubles
Money isn’t only not guaranteeing success, in my opinion it’s making English football bloated, greedy, borderline corrupt and a guaranteed payday for players who simply wouldn’t get into the best teams on the continent.

I think the time has passed when Richard Scudamore can merely wax lyrical about how great the product is, how watched it is and how the tills ring big time for the twenty clubs. We need a Chief Executive that tackles the big issues in the game and makes sure that the old adage “make hay while the sun shines” is adhered to rather than “fuck European success, fuck £41 million for one agent, we’re significantly richer that you!”.

Until the Premier League changes, it will be a victim of its own success

…and like economies around the world in 2008 who thought the good times would never end, the sheer exposure financially clubs have to debt, relegation and potential extinction demands proper accountability rather than reckless spending.

This season for me has been underwhelming, with only Spurs giving me the kind of quality football constantly over the 38 games. Chelsea were about solidity with magic dust sprinkled on top and Liverpool and Man City were great one moment, woeful the next. This is not good enough for clubs with the resources available to them.

Forget net spend, forget “we haven’t spent as much as…”, Juventus are in a Champions League final with a fraction of the budget of many of our teams, so we no longer have any excuses.

The Best or the Richest?
Too much greed, too few world class players, too scared at the bottom to play because of the financial spectre of relegation, too little quality football.

Mr Scudamore, up to you and your twenty chairmen.

Do you want to be the best or richest league in the world? Because with the latter you’re doing fine, with the former you’re going backwards.




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