Premier League’s refusal to listen will damage English game

Premier League’s refusal to listen will damage English game

Rob Fielding says a damaging financial gap between Premier League and Football League continues to be ignored by Premier League chiefs.

Rob Fielding writes…

A new report expresses concern at the widening financial gulf between the Premier League and the Football League but top Premier League officials seem determined to ignore the warning signs.

Average turnovers of Premier League clubs were £100m more than Championship outfits in 2016 and that was before a new bumper TV rights package kicked in…

A report by the BBC says that average turnovers of Premier League clubs were £100m more than Championship outfits in 2016 and that was before a new bumper TV rights package kicked in.

Experts are concerned on two fronts – one is that the Premier League will turn into a rich, closed shop (in the last three seasons, four of the top spenders have finished in the top six) and secondly that Championship clubs are increasingly entering into huge debt in a “gamble” to reach the Premier League riches.

In recent years clubs such as Brighton and Huddersfield have reached the Premier League but with the new bumper rights package kicking in football finance expert Kieran Maguire from the University of Liverpool says that the financial gap will soon become so wide that it will effectively create a “hierarchy of historically rich Premier League clubs” and become a “closed shop.”

However, instead of being concerned by the news that sixteen out of twenty four Championship clubs spend more than 100% of their turnover on players and coaches, the Premier League continues to rattle out the same mantra. It told the BBC that there are “opportunities for ambitious clubs to develop and progress within the football pyramid” and that their financial riches gives top-flight clubs “investment choices”

The Premier League even has the gall to say that the controversial parachute payments which are at least a contributary factor for the massively increased spending in the Championship actually “encourage[s] good governance and sustainable investment.”

Judging by the latest worrying figures from Championship clubs, with well over half the clubs overspending on players, that claim of encouraging “good governance” is miles wide of the mark. Many would argue that parachute payments, rewarding clubs for failure, contribute to that as other clubs overspend to match the spending of those with the benefit of Premier League parachute payments.

The BBC article follows hot on the heels of a Deloitte report that warned of excessive spending in the Championship but this sort of bad news appears to be of little concern to the Premier League bosses.

However, a closed shop in the Premier League could rapidly lead to the same indifference the rest of the world used to pay to Scotland’s annual Old Firm battle while a bankrupt Football League would hardly help provide any new blood to the top flight. Worryingly for a top-flight increasingly concerned with “revenue streams” both scenarios are hardly going to be enticing prospects for broadcasters eyeing future deals with the Premier League. It’s also worrying for cash-strapped League clubs, who, lacking the riches of their top-flight neighbours, would be the first to be affected should the current financial windfall dry up.

So perhaps it’s time for Premier League bosses to ditch the same old cliches and marketing buzzwords and actually acknowledge that this is a problem that needs to be resolved?

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