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Time For A Radical Re-Think

This controversial piece was put together by my Norwich City supporting brother in law who is a historian.
Any comments?

As one of those persistently irritated by the constantly reinforced myth that professional football came into existence in 1992, the end of the first quarter-century of the Premiership seems an appropriate time to consider its future direction.
Setting aside the perceived strengths of the “best league in the world” – which are wholly dependent upon the inter-related factors of finance and television exposure – a focus on its weaknesses might not only be salutary but provide pointers to the next twenty-five years. Three of these weaknesses are much less well-rehearsed in media circles although there are corners of the once-respected profession of journalism that continue to strike a welcome independent tone.
Firstly, a lack of competitiveness: six clubs dominate, ‘Everton Seventh’ slot into their appointed place and 13 other sides spend the season looking anxiously at the dotted line and wondering whether they should have appointed Sam Allardyce as their manager.
Secondly, the disruptive impact of TV scheduling not only for away supporters but for home supporters who do have other lives to lead
Thirdly, the impact of relegation from the élite on the financial stability of such clubs: the issue currently facing the Norwich City board.


There could be a bold but simple solution: the Premiership (British) becomes a ‘closed’ league of 20 or, even possibly, as few as 16 clubs with no relegation, thus separating the ‘made for TV’ entertainment branch of football from the rest of the sport. The authority to select the chosen few could be exercised by the ‘Big Six’ who would be best placed to provide leadership for the change. A British Premiership would also solve the Rangers/Celtic conundrum as - with their world-wide support - they would undoubtedly be included even if the league were to maximise at 16. The Big Six would effectively ‘franchise’ other clubs to join them in the venture.

Franchising is the basis of all top-level sport in the United States; it works as a business model and appears to work as a sporting model, although the retention of competitiveness is greatly helped by the draft system which it would be difficult – probably impossible – to replicate in a ‘closed shop’ Premiership. It might not be the traditional English/British way but 2018 is a different world to 1992; it might be the logical next step

Where would it leave the un-chosen? I would argue that Norwich City - who could by no stretch of the imagination be selected for the élite – and other medium-sized clubs could, after an initial period of adjustment, become healthier both financially and in their approach to the sport. The mad scramble to join – and avoid being relegated from - the Premiership would disappear and a top division including Stoke City, WBA, Leicester and Southampton from which we could - from time to time - be relegated would provide a good level of competition. Sides could be built, managers could be given time; perhaps we could even start to enjoy football again.

Comments

  • edited December 2017
    The NFL, which is the nearest comparison in American Sport to Football in this country (you want to compare Basketball or Baseball? See how many games those teams play in America, and moan about how many games "soccer" players play! American Soccer is still in its infancy, and still has plenty of wrinkles...) and has a very different structure to our soccer leagues.

    1) Yes, there is no promotion or relegation, but there again, there are only a total of 32 teams, 60 less than in the 4 professional leagues in England.

    2) There is the draft system in the US. The way this works is that the team with the WORST record in the NFL gets the best player. (Not necessarily the best player. A team may have an extremely good quarterback, so may not choose the Heissman trophy winner (the best player in college football), and may take , say, a linebacker.) There are also options to "trade" draft picks within the league. A team might choose to trade there first 4 choice picks for the option of taking the first draft choice. This is all designed to give the weakest teams the best players, thus attempting to keep the league competitive. This draft system us also used in Basketball and Baseball.

    In soccer in this country, and to be fair, worldwide, the best teams also hoover up all the best talent. (Look at the money that teams like Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea spend each season compared to say, a mid table team like Watford. In fact, look how Leicester have been emasculated since they WON the league!)

    But, here's a radical thought, how about this? Instead of giving the most prize money to the team that wins the league, give it to the team that comes BOTTOM of the league? (NOT the teams that get relegated, because that unbalances the Championship. And, for that reason, get shot of the "parachute payments".) Also, make the TV money the same for all teams in the league, like it is in the Football league. I have had a bugbear about the same teams being televised every week since our days in the Premier League. And when each one of those teams that are televised it is worth something like £500k a game. Doesn't sound much, but a team televised a minimum amount of times (3, I think?) earns £1.5m, and the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool etc are getting probably £5m+. There is still the massive benefit of getting into the Champions League, but until a European Super League starts, (and I'm convinced it will) I can see no answer to that.

  • NFL hasnt the history behind it like football does over here or anywhere else in the world. Their draft system if getting pkayers makes sure that the worse team last year has the first pick this year. Can you see that catching on in football?
  • Football in this country is owned and run by The Premier League. Can anyone even in their wildest dreams think that they want “a radical rethink”
  • This controversial piece was put together by my Norwich City supporting brother in law who is a historian.
    Any comments?

    As one of those persistently irritated by the constantly reinforced myth that professional football came into existence in 1992, the end of the first quarter-century of the Premiership seems an appropriate time to consider its future direction.
    Setting aside the perceived strengths of the “best league in the world” – which are wholly dependent upon the inter-related factors of finance and television exposure – a focus on its weaknesses might not only be salutary but provide pointers to the next twenty-five years. Three of these weaknesses are much less well-rehearsed in media circles although there are corners of the once-respected profession of journalism that continue to strike a welcome independent tone.
    Firstly, a lack of competitiveness: six clubs dominate, ‘Everton Seventh’ slot into their appointed place and 13 other sides spend the season looking anxiously at the dotted line and wondering whether they should have appointed Sam Allardyce as their manager.
    Secondly, the disruptive impact of TV scheduling not only for away supporters but for home supporters who do have other lives to lead
    Thirdly, the impact of relegation from the élite on the financial stability of such clubs: the issue currently facing the Norwich City board.


    There could be a bold but simple solution: the Premiership (British) becomes a ‘closed’ league of 20 or, even possibly, as few as 16 clubs with no relegation, thus separating the ‘made for TV’ entertainment branch of football from the rest of the sport. The authority to select the chosen few could be exercised by the ‘Big Six’ who would be best placed to provide leadership for the change. A British Premiership would also solve the Rangers/Celtic conundrum as - with their world-wide support - they would undoubtedly be included even if the league were to maximise at 16. The Big Six would effectively ‘franchise’ other clubs to join them in the venture.

    Franchising is the basis of all top-level sport in the United States; it works as a business model and appears to work as a sporting model, although the retention of competitiveness is greatly helped by the draft system which it would be difficult – probably impossible – to replicate in a ‘closed shop’ Premiership. It might not be the traditional English/British way but 2018 is a different world to 1992; it might be the logical next step

    Where would it leave the un-chosen? I would argue that Norwich City - who could by no stretch of the imagination be selected for the élite – and other medium-sized clubs could, after an initial period of adjustment, become healthier both financially and in their approach to the sport. The mad scramble to join – and avoid being relegated from - the Premiership would disappear and a top division including Stoke City, WBA, Leicester and Southampton from which we could - from time to time - be relegated would provide a good level of competition. Sides could be built, managers could be given time; perhaps we could even start to enjoy football again.

    I think the word that comes to mind is claptrap.
  • cafc999 said:

    NFL hasnt the history behind it like football does over here or anywhere else in the world. Their draft system if getting pkayers makes sure that the worse team last year has the first pick this year. Can you see that catching on in football?

    Don't know why that's a valid argument against a draft style system? The NFL has plenty of history and has made a roaring success of using such a system. It would be tough to implement a similar system in a worldwide game but I think it's something that should be strived for.

    The draft is one of the most exciting days of the NFL calendar. Every fan tunes in to see who their next star players are going to be - it would rake in a whopping amount of viewers across the world if the Premier League had some kind of equivalent.
  • I’m gonna stick my neck out here and say that it won’t happen.
  • @Callumcafc - where are the players coming from in this draft? The NFL entry draft is pretty exclusively college players who have played at a high level for 2/3/4 years. So they are all fairly well known commodities at 21/22.

    There’s no equivalent in football. I can’t imagine any way this could work without either cherry picking all the good young prospects at 16/18 and just letting the Prem. Teams take them, or players breaking existing contracts to take a chance on getting picked in a draft.

    Given the NFL can only have a draft is because of an anti-trust exemption, I’m pretty sure it would be illegal in the UK as restraint of trade, by limiting who you can work for, and depressing salaries for players who have no choice where they can play.
  • If you REALLY wanted a RADICAL rethink of how football you would look at scheduling. In every European league including the Premiership teams play home and home. This somehow would have to change. As many of the previous comments have addressed the NFL, here is how the NFL schedule is created: https://operations.nfl.com/the-game/creating-the-nfl-schedule/

    Not sure if owners/fans would like to see the introduction of an unbalanced schedule.
  • edited December 2017
    I believe FFP, although helpful in keeping clubs from going into administration, also has the effect of making it harder for smaller clubs to get big.

    It keeps the rich clubs who bought their way in (Bournemouth, Leicester, Brighton) and those who bought their way to the elite group (Chelsea and Tottenham) happy, while shutting out those who would follow in their wake.

    This writer does not realize this fact and is falling right into the line of thinking that the rich clubs would LOVE to see. This would secure their profits and secure them from competition.

    A closed league works well in America and relegation would be folly here, in my mind.

    But England is not America and if England did this, football would lose its soul. This writer is a stooge for the rich and he does not even realize it.
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  • methinks the OP had been at Delia's sherry. Think again & repost when sober.
  • You cannot have a draft in football unless you have wage caps too, as in NFL
  • Whether or not the ideas proposed in the opening post are good or bad are up for debate but they do rightfully highlight the problems that have been compounded over the last 25 years.

    John - has your brother in law read Broken Dreams, if not it would make a great late Christmas present. The first chapters detail the stitch-up that led to the creation of the Premier League in the first place, which was basically a wheeze by Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton and Arsenal along with Greg Dyke and the FA to transfer profits from the rest of the Football League into their pockets. Even though Chelsea were not one of the top clubs at the time, then chairman Ken Bates also had his fingers in the right pies to grease the wheels and also how Sky/Murdoch managed to weasel their way into the scheme. Depressing but enlightening reading and explains much of why the problems highlighted in your post came about in the first place.
  • Introduce a points handicap system at the start of the season, with the bottom team starting on zero points and minus points the further you go up the league until the Champions start the next season on -20 points.

    Crap idea, I know, but it would shit up a few of the 'bigger teams'.
  • Maybe an exciting and traditional league of 92 clubs divided into four divisions - all with a theoretical chance of winning by gaining promotion etc. TV money allocated between the clubs according to position.

    Maybe allow one or two new clubs every year to come in at the bottom and replace the worst performing clubs.

    The English 92 - a great idea which could be marketed and admired all round the world!

    Nah - that would never work!
  • The most radical thing English football could do is make decisions for football's sake rather than money.
  • Fiiish said:

    Whether or not the ideas proposed in the opening post are good or bad are up for debate but they do rightfully highlight the problems that have been compounded over the last 25 years.

    John - has your brother in law read Broken Dreams, if not it would make a great late Christmas present. The first chapters detail the stitch-up that led to the creation of the Premier League in the first place, which was basically a wheeze by Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton and Arsenal along with Greg Dyke and the FA to transfer profits from the rest of the Football League into their pockets. Even though Chelsea were not one of the top clubs at the time, then chairman Ken Bates also had his fingers in the right pies to grease the wheels and also how Sky/Murdoch managed to weasel their way into the scheme. Depressing but enlightening reading and explains much of why the problems highlighted in your post came about in the first place.

    Many thanks for all the posts.
    I was a bit surprised at the large number of responses,but not the quality.
    I will look for your book recommendation Fiish.
    I agree with most of Henry Irving's comments and not sure there is need or the will for a radical re-think.


  • Just remember where teams like southampton and Bournemouth were a few years ago. By those radical plans that could never happen again.

    Charlton have an owner with no ambition but we still have a chance to go up through the divisions and look at how our support has dwindled. Now imagine a team that has no chance of going up or down?

    TV companies love the excitement of promotion and relegation too, do you think they would bid loads of money for a sterile competition?
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