Parity in the Face of the English Premier League
There’s always been a sense of inequality among the teams in the English Premier League. Certain big name clubs have always kept the tables on an even keel. Just look at the current situation taking place right now. The best financed clubs always seem to be on top. You don’t see Liverpool suddenly battling Cardiff City for control. Chelsea barely keeping tabs on Sunderland or Arsenal beating back Crystal Palace and trying to keep their spot above board.
Manchester United seems to be redefining that trend currently, but the slide is due to a horrible season with injuries to key players, poor upper management decisions (or lack thereof) and the ever present resentment of the Boss, David Moyes. We can forget thinking that United will see such a dismal performance again, or for any time to come in the near future. They will certainly use their massive financial influence to once again purchase the players needed to pull them from the depths they have seen this season. Be rest assured that for each run a contender makes the top clubs that spend financially will indeed keep that balance maintained.
We’d like to see Aston Villa or Swansea make a run at it and maintain their control into the next season, but it’s not a reality. There is a feeling in the EPL that once a team starts to dominate, that they are emerging as a dynasty. But does it ring true for all clubs? Don’t we want to see some parity amongst the clubs? Or have we come to accept the fact that things in the top four remain that way because those willing to spend (or even have the means to do so) maintain a competitive advantage over the rest of the table.
I think we have come to accept that there is a huge disparity in the EPL. The old saying goes, “If you have the cash, you can buy your trophy.” So what does it come down to? Financial fair play? Equality among clubs? Spending limits and ceiling caps? The new rules aim to prevent clubs from sustaining huge losses in the pursuit of glory. This argument flies in the face of parity. But Financial Fair Play and parity are not the same are they?
By helping clubs make sensible decisions the FFP has created a system that doesn’t keep the teams on an even playing field, it ensures that there is a stop gap for bad decisions. The regulations restrict the losses that clubs can make to a maximum annual figure, currently £39.5m, and are intended to encourage greater prudence in the way clubs are administered. So, take a loss of £39.5m, hope that you made great choices for your club and if the decision pays off, then selling your merchandise because your team is making momentum in the tables will help offset that loss. Or in some cases it really is an investment.
Nothing like gambling away a few million to stay atop the tables.
Now, you might say that the UEFA has set the regulations up to help deter those losses and while it’s true that they withheld prize money from 23 clubs where investigations concluded breaches of the regulations had occurred. The UEFA has a wide array of sanctions that it can levy for breaches, including fines, deduction of points and ultimately disqualification from a competition or exclusion from future competitions. But does this really dissuade those clubs looking to ensure that their future dynasty remains intact?
Now we all know that the EPL is as guilty as any league in Europe as to what their idea of champion looks like. For instance, just qualifying for the Champions League is in effect a championship for the richest of these clubs. A club that qualifies for the final Europa League position is a win for the clubs not rich enough to compete for the title. Even avoiding relegation becomes a championship. Just ask Manchester United. It's the win for clubs too good for the actual Championship League hovering beneath the EPL but not good enough to really compete at a top level.
This poor design exists in part to pool the money with the biggest teams playing the most lucrative games. After all, success sells. It’s hard to bolster up the cash for quality players when you can’t fill your stadium or sell a clubs gear because no one, but the most diehard of fans wants to be seen wearing their colors. It setup an unbalanced system by design. It was a move against parity in English football and will continue to be a disparity for years to come. Heavily financed clubs will succeed because they're willing to spend the cash needed, even if it means losing a few million in the process.
After all, you’re always going to survive the pain of a loss and sure losing is a terrible feeling, but it’s a hell of a lot easier when you’re rich.
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