Is it Time to Bid Farewell to the Premier League’s Top Six?
As the Premier League season draws to a close, the inevitability of who the top six clubs will be is once again plain to see.
In the entire history of the Premier League, only Blackburn in 1994/95 and Leicester City in 2015/16 managed to buck the trend and top the table. For the other 25 seasons, it has been one of the two Manchester clubs, Chelsea or Arsenal.
This demonstrates the gulf that exists between the six richest clubs in the country and everyone else. There hasn’t been a single season in which at least two of the current top six, haven’t finished in the Champions League or Europa League places.
Currently, Wolves sit 11 points adrift in 7th place and although this is a very credible performance by the West Midlands club, it does show that all the rest of the Premier League is doing is making up the numbers.
It’s a similar situation in Europe with PSG in France 16 points clear, Juventus 18 points above Napoli in Italy. Ajax and PSV 18 points ahead in Holland and Barcelona nearly 30 points ahead of fifth-placed Sevilla in Spain, and Germany dominated by Bayern where 10 points separate 3rd and 4th places.
There have been rumours of interest by European clubs in a breakaway League, which some would say already exists in the UK. Not so long ago, German publication Der Spiegel ran a story about talks between Europe’s top clubs on the possibility of a breakaway league.
Many of the clubs allegedly involved were quick to distance themselves from the story, but given that most of the big clubs have the interests of their shareholders in mind rather than that of their supporters, the idea will not be seen as one which should be discounted.
The original idea that the vast amounts of money that have come into the game would trickle down to the lower leagues has proved to be just a pipe dream. As in real life, the poor have got poorer and, the rich have got very richer indeed.
With what seems like a weekly occurrence, clubs with solid support and a rich footballing history are finding themselves facing ruin as a result of massive debt. Much of this can be attributed to the fact, that clubs have found themselves needing to pay extortionate wages in order to attract players to reach the promised land of the Premier League.
Before the TV money came along, it was the people who came through the turnstiles who dictated the success of a club, now their contribution is looked at as little more than small change. The Far East market is an almost bottomless pit of merchandise sales to people who will never set foot in Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge, yet whose money is funding the chasm, which grows wider every season between the haves and have nots.
There is a growing crisis which needs to be addressed in British football, and if it means losing the countries top clubs and returning to the state that existed before Sky arrived then it is a price the sport may have to pay.