A new week and a new guest blogger. Today is the turn of regular MFW commenter Peter Divey (Cobwatch) who looks at the unedifying prospect of the Premier League heading down the US franchise route and, as a result, becoming a closed shop…
Rumours have swirled for years that if the correct combination of teams were to find themselves in the Premier League it would become a fixed franchise, without promotion or relegation.
But, just which football teams are the most desirable? It would be impossible to implement without putting numerous large noses out of joint. The furore would be considerable. Politicians and parliaments would become embroiled. Flak would be everywhere.
The Premier League would no doubt take such an opportunity to correct a few anomalies and future-proof itself:
- It would reduce from 20 to 16 teams
- It would introduce breaks into the season
- Each team would develop its own in-house TV brand to maximise engagement and merchandising
- TV and video highlight packages will become the property of the club after 72 hours
- TV revenue will be organised solely by the Premier League with no club having the right to negotiate private deals with outside broadcasters
- The Premier League would eventually become its own broadcaster, controlling all rights and TV revenue
The first big issue, probably, would be how to invite Celtic and Rangers to join. There would, of course, be lots of hurdles to jump, but I think the Premier League would try hard. Scottish football would, as a result, be decimated, but money talks… so, that leaves only 14 places.
And then how do you whittle them down? And what criteria to use?
Ultimately only one thing matters. The ability to make money, lots and lots of money. So…
And then, there are just six teams who have been ever-present in the Premier League. These would have to be included to form the stable, solid core. So…
Manchester Utd ✅
And already we are down to just eight remaining places. So…
Manchester City ✅, for obvious reasons, are a shoo-in… and then there were seven spaces.
Now it becomes much more difficult. But you want teams with large, passionate fan bases. So…
Newcastle ✅ …and then there were six.
The Premier League will need the ‘Fairy Tale’ team. Rich owners, recently involved in an emotive tragedy.
Leicester City ✅… and down to five.
What of the other London clubs? I suspect the Premier League would demand another. So…
West Ham ✅ Four places left.
But many so-called “big” teams are still missing. Past history and glory remain a factor, whether we like it or not, and the Premier League values the potential to make money above almost anything else. So…
Leeds United ✅ …and then there were three.
But still, there are other factors to consider. Local derbies. Midlands teams? Sheffield? Sunderland? The options are numerous. And should the south coast get a look in? Or, heaven forbid, East Anglia?
I think they’d be keen for the second city to be represented. So…
Aston Villa ✅… and we’re down to two.
And then it gets really tough. Surprisingly tough. Expand the league to 18 teams? No. But history counts, so…
Nottingham Forest ✅ … and only one place left.
Trying to compile this list demonstrated to me why it is unlikely to happen. Too many losers. The heart of the English football cramped and stunted. Scottish football all but destroyed. Too many ramifications and numerous unintended consequences.
But who would the Premier League choose as its final member? Ipswich have fallen too far; our team, Norwich, not a chance. Sunderland, West Brom, Wolves, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Blackburn have all won the Premier League or had cup success at some stage of their history. But if I had to take a stab based on wealth and current status…
I really hope it never happens. A so-called breakaway European Club Super League will be just as tough to create. Which is why I think it all remains pie in the sky.
Football fans severed from hope and denied local battles. Surely that is folly?