Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Spurs Have Come Marching In

Jonathan Woodgate’s extra-time header completed an impressive comeback for Spurs as the North London club beat West London rivals Chelsea today 2-1 to win the Carling Cup.

I don’t want to focus as much on the game itself here as I want to talk about how this result was good for the Premier League as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, Tottenham deserves a lot of credit and this trophy will look great in their cabinet, but as I mentioned yesterday, it’s more important in the broader sense for the 16 teams outside the “Big Four”.

There are three major competitions to be won in England: the Premiership, the FA Cup, and the Carling Cup. Simple multiplication tells us that over the past 12 years, 36 big trophies have been on offer, not counting this year’s Carling Cup.

Guess how many of those trophies were won by “Big Four” clubs.


How about over the past six years (18 trophies)?


These figures work out to be astoundingly high, ridiculous percentages, especially if you’re a neutral fan like me. I want to see different teams win these competitions; it gets boring to see the same teams win over and over again just because they have more money to spend than everyone else.

Worldwide TV rights for the Premiership will be hotly contested by major corporations when they next become available after the 2009-2010 season. The Premier League needs to do a better job of distributing that revenue equally amongst its 20 teams. I would even go as far as to say that all prize money won for playing and/or advancing in the Champions League and UEFA Cup should be distributed equally amongst the 20 Premiership teams as well, rather than having the individual teams who play in European competitions pocketing all of that money for themselves like they do now. It’s a case of the rich only getting richer because the same teams are the ones playing in Europe year after year.

Competitive balance in the Premier League is essential to its growth as not only the most popular league in the world, but the top soccer league in the world as well, something it isn’t right now. You look at the fight for fourth place this season and things change every week. Teams 4-10 are separated by only seven points, and teams 4-8 by just three.

The more teams that are in the running to actually win something, the better. It allows these teams to go out and attract better players because they know they have a chance to win, and that appeals to the athlete and competitor in them. Rather than four teams monopolizing competitions, you could have anywhere close to 10 teams fighting it out for three trophies over the course of a 9/10-month season. This opens up more room for top-quality players; again, simple math tells us that the more teams involved, the more roster spots involved, and the more top-quality players who have somewhere to ply their trade rather than sitting on the bench at one of the “Big Four” clubs or playing elsewhere in Europe for less recognizable prizes.

I understand that if you’re a fan of a “Big Four” team, you like the way things are now. You essentially have a 25% chance to win any major competition in any given year, and that’s great. Let me ask you this though: If you were a fan of anyof the other 16 teams and knew your side basically had a 0% chance to win something, what motivation is there for you to really support that team, to really become a serious fan? It’s difficult to just show up to the stadium every week knowing that your team is just playing games for the sake of playing games, that they don’t have a real chance to win anything when all is said and done.

Great win for Spurs today. I’m excited to see someone break the stranglehold of the “Big Four” and I hope this becomes a continuing trend in England.

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