With 5 matches to go most fans agree this is the most exciting Premier League yet. Results have been crazy. Three teams can still become champions and the minor decline of Manchester United has increased the depth of the league. It feels more competitive. Romance is back. The boring ‘Big 4’ is now the exciting ‘big 7’ and so many more matches have top level relevance. Brand success.
Despite the amazing global success story, the main criticism of the Premier League is that the big clubs have increased their powerbase with detrimental effect to the competitiveness of the league over the last 20 years. The gap is growing wider. The proof is in the distribution of points per season.
In the first 11 Premiers Leagues (1992/93>2002/03) the difference between the champions and the last placed team (typically 17th) averaged 41.5 points. The gap only exceeded fifty points in one season (1999/00) when it was 55 points between winners Manchester United (91points) and 17th placed Bradford (36 points).
However, in the recent 10 Premier Leagues (2003/04> 2012/13) the difference between the winners and the last placed team (17th) averaged 51.5 points. In every season except one (2010/11; 40 points) the points gap was in excess of 50 points. The maximum gap was 61 points (2004/05) when Chelsea were Champions (95 points) and WBA were 17th (34 points).
The 10 point difference shown by this seasonal analysis could be described as stretching of the pack. It shows that the league is getting less competitive, possibly as a consequence of the Champions League bolstering the power of a few clubs, aka the big four. The football league has 125 years of history with many different clubs sharing the limelight. The best Leagues, it is argued, have more potential winners in them at the start of the season.
With respect to Mr Scudamore, league integrity is more important for long term branding efforts than the minor decline of Manchester United. It’s a fair trait to want the underdog to succeed so United dominating for twenty years was getting a bit boring for most fans! It was the same back when Liverpool were awesome. Same thing with the Chelsea FA cup run. Can get boring. We like fair.
The same methods were applied to the gap between champions and sixth position to show relative competitiveness. In the first 11 Premier Leagues (1992/93>2002/03), the gap between the champions and the 6th placed team averaged 22.5 points. In the recent 10 Premier Leagues (2003/04> 2012/13) the gap averaged 28 points. Again this shows signs of stretching of the pack across seasons. Both trends require future monitoring. Real competition is integral to sport.
Fellow dreamers will be happy to note that our statistical analysis also shows this Premier League could be the most competitive yet. Clearly, it depends on analytical methods, but if the gap between winner and 6th place is less than 16 points it will be the lowest in Premiers League history (95/96). Currently the gap is 15 points (Liverpool 74 Spurs 59) but City have games in hand, Spurs can crumble and unbeaten United fits. Anything less than 22 points is surely a great result for football. Who ever wins this Premier League will surely deserve it. My romantic neutrality fancies Liverpool if they can beat Manchester City this weekend. Whatever team are crowned Champions, it has certainly been the most interesting season in recent memory. Only one thing is for sure. Next seasons looking very tasty!
|PREMIERSHIP Points distribution analysis (per season)|
|Points||Total points behind Champions|