As far as public relations go it hasn’t been a great month for the English Premier League. From meetings involving only the elite clubs or the so called big six, to a super league and now pay per view TV fans and clubs will rightly be questioning just what is going on with the most popular league in the world?
Project Big Picture was halted in its tracks earlier this month but as most observers have commented it isn’t dead in the water and will most probably resurface with different negotiations. But something else has now surfaced from those initial meetings with the big six clubs which is that the other 14 Premier League clubs were not notified of the first meeting. Simply being kept in the dark, which is odd in that in this day and age that is a hard thing to do, and so it proved. There is also a feeling of us and them and that cannot be good for the league even if it is good for the big six.
And who are the big six? Liverpool historically are and certainly in the last 18 months have reinforced that fact by winning .the Champions League and the league title, but it took them 30 years to win the latter. Manchester City would have been laughed out of the big six room 8 years ago, but wealth has landed them a meeting, and true they have won plenty of league titles now to be included. Chelsea’s strengths seem more fitted to the 2000s than the past decade and indeed in the present day but there are enough kids donning their shirts and the club still has the power to buy some of Europe’s best players.
Manchester United are with Liverpool the biggest club in England, so it feels like a no brainer to include them, but they have also been a shadow of their great sides for the past seven years. And then we have the curious cases of both Arsenal and Tottenham. History is putting them in that room because Arsenal have not won a league title for 16 years and next year Tottenham will be celebrating 50 years without a league title. Whilst a club like Everton for example may not be in favour wouldn’t the Merseyside team have a good shout of being in the room compared to Tottenham?
There is also talk of a European Super League. Money is king in football and the clubs taking part will become mega rich, winners of the competition could walk away with over £100m. In essence a super league would feel like the present day Champions League except there is one sticking point, there will be no relegation or promotion. Whilst one could expect the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona to participate,what value do the other teams have, except for being really good in this present time to qualify?
With no promotion though it means that teams in Europe who do not make the elite cut will always feel second rate and will always end up with second rate players. There will be no hope although domestic leagues could become more competitive as teams out of the top 5 would strive to upset the ‘balance of the elite’. Also going back to England, they have initially been quoted 5 clubs for the Super League. So which big six club misses out? Questions questions. A Super League wouldn’t mean the end of the Champions League though but a re branding where the top teams simply would not take part. But UEFA will be frustrated and sadden if this goes ahead, as they will lose sponsor power and an undermining of their elite competition- but how can they react?
There is an agreement in place until the 2024 edition of the Champions League so one would think that a Super League couldn’t start until 2025, but this is football and anything can happen.
Finally the pay per view nonsense has to stop, and this isn’t in favour of the fans. In England Sky and BT have never shown every Premier League game live and the PPV is only about showing those extra games that wouldn’t normally be shown live to fans for an extra fee. There seems little wrong with it, although the price does seem unfair. At £14.95 per game that seems quite steep to just watch one match on television. One hopes that the price will be lowered but die hard fans are not helping that fact given that PPV viewing figures are showing that 40,000 are watching each game- so for the clubs this is a huge success. The aim was always to have roughly the same viewing figures as the attendance in grounds.
A future worry for PPV would be if clubs get greedy with television and decide that the biggest games will no longer be free. After already paying a subscription to a service this would feel like a hard slap in the face. Could we for example have a PPV situation where Manchester City and Liverpool are playing each other in a title crunch game?
Given that even the Champions League final isn’t shown on terrestrial TV anymore nothing can be ruled out of a game which has sadly turned to opportunism and greed bang in the middle of a pandemic.
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