Culling Norwich and co is not the reform Premier League football needs

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With the Premier League eliminating two clubs isn’t as straightforward as Jamie O’Hara supposed, and Norwich shouldn’t need to justify their existence anyway.

The history of professional football is littered with stories of reform. From the introduction of “Trial matches” decide on promotion and relegation in the 1890s with the introduction of VAR in the Premier League two years ago, there has been a constant back-and-forth between clubs’ business interests, maintaining a certain competitive balance and ensuring the game remains attractive enough for people to keep watching. Some of them have worked, such as the introduction of the “two-player rule” for offside in 1925 or the pass-back rule in 1992, but many others have failed.

But a fairly constant theme when it looks like professional gaming could sink into financial trouble has been the suggestion that we should reduce the number of clubs, the idea being that this would lead to an increase in quality while reducing the burden on clubs. overworked players. The idea resurfaces on TalkSport of their rent-a-gob Jamie O’Hara, who seems strangely insulted by the presence of City of Norwich in the Premier League (an ’embarrassment for the Premier League’), claimed that big clubs were starting to ‘get bumpy with irrelevant football games’, then argued that ‘you could get rid of the dross’ because “It’s gone to such heights now,” whatever that was supposed to mean.

Aside from the colossal disrespect of someone claiming to love the game by calling football clubs ‘filth’ or ‘irrelevant’ on a national radio station, this issue needs to be addressed as it keeps coming up. to pose. And there is an extent to which it looks appealing, on the surface. After all, there are only two clubs, right? And it’s not like the numbers haven’t changed before. The Premier League of the Football League was increased to 22 clubs in 1919 and remained so until 1987 when it was reduced to 21, then 20, then 22 for a period comprising the first three seasons. of Premier League, then back to 20 again.

The problem with O’Hara’s half-considered twists and turns is that the impact would be far greater than he probably imagines. It wouldn’t be just two clubs, of course. Throughout the football pyramid, everyone should come down two places. But even for those who don’t care about the health and well-being of the English football pyramid, there would be costs. Premier League television contracts are the most lucrative in the world and their exponential increase in value over the past 30 years has been the turbo that drove the league’s success, and shrinking the Premier League from 20 to 18 clubs would certainly have an impact on that.

Right now there are 380 Premier League games played each season. Eliminating just two clubs would reduce the number of matches from 380 to 306, and although it is common knowledge that the lion’s share of the value of television contracts goes to the “big six” clubs, it is difficult to say. ‘imagine that future television contracts would be increased in value by a 20% reduction in the total number of matches played. Any change in the number of clubs in the Premier League would be impossible for contractual reasons until the next renewal of these contracts, and if there is anything in the widely held belief that these rights are close (or have already come about) a plateau in value, then it becomes hard to believe that the first contract after such a change would be worth no less.

Of course, this kind of proposition is rarely presented in financial terms, and Jamie made no reference to the financial impacts. In terms of player well-being, fewer matches would be a good thing, right? Well yes it would, if there was any reason to believe that the clubs would let this happen. It should be clear from just about everything that has been said on the subject over the past couple of years that fewer games for the sake of gamers couldn’t be much further from the minds of the current generation of players. thinkers of the blue sky.

Clubs are already flying around the world for lucrative preseason friendlies, and when the bigger clubs are talking about reform through Thu 39, Overall project, the European Super League, or any other set of ideas that look great on a PowerPoint presentation but fall apart after many inspections, they never talk about reducing the number of games. They are talking about changing things so the bigger clubs can play more against each other. Taken in isolation – because Jamie didn’t seem to have given his idea enough thought to put it in a larger context – it’s hard to believe that the clubs wouldn’t take gaps in the schedule and just fill them with something else.

The only clubs that would benefit from such a change would be the Big Six, and it’s worth stopping for a moment to think about why all the proposals for reforming the game, whether they emanate from an engine hangover. galactic on the radio or the game itself, always have to benefit a tiny number of clubs at the expense of all the others.

Norwich City doesn’t have to justify its existence to anyone, let alone Jamie O’Hara. They are creditworthy and they won the championship with 97 points last season. When the European Super League emerged earlier this year there were a lot of fans who would have been happy for the big six clubs to go their separate ways and play against each other and their European counterparts in perpetuity, but they didn’t want to. . They wanted to continue their hegemony in national competitions and pull a drawbridge behind them.

And while Jamie was apparently offended that four teams are still chasing their first win of the season, he was very silent that only five Premier League teams have lost more than half of their games so far. There have been statistically more prints than usual so far (28.5% against 24% last season) this season. In other words, one could even argue that the bottom of the Premier League might even seem a bit Following competitive than usual.

But the truth is, none of this is going to happen anytime soon. The Premier League demands 14 clubs vote on any changes, and these turkeys won’t be voting for Christmas any time soon. Indeed, the only realistic way an 18-team Premier League could emerge would be as part of a much larger reform package, of which the number of top clubs would be a relatively minor issue.

The biggest problem with professional football these days is that it has forgotten that it is a sport and that competition is an essential part of it. The game needs a greater redistribution of its more than sufficient financial resources, not yet another adjustment for the benefit of those who are already enjoying all the benefits a football club could want. Maybe it’s time for a few tweaks that reward well-run clubs, rather than those that would only reinforce already grotesque inequalities.

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