Mind The Gap ! Saints V City Highlights The Huge Difference Between Premier League Have And Have Not
Friday, 21st Jan 2022 09:59
When both clubs played their opening Premier League fixtures of 2022 a few weeks back the difference between the clubs could not have been more amply illustrated, does football in England have a future ?
In 2021 we yet again repelled a bid from the top clubs in England to join a European Super league and it seemed that this was knocking them back with their tails between their legs.
Personally I felt that we had not won a battle, but had lost the chance to win a war, these clubs wanted to have their cakes and eat them, they didn't just want to join a European Super League, they wanted to stay in the Premier League and also rake in the riches from that as well.
That would have enabled them to build two squads, one for the domestic competitions and one that competed in the ESL, both would have been interchangeable.
The rest of us would have been even more cast adrift than we already are now, we missed our chance, we should have cast them out and made the top flight in English football competitive again.
I do feel sorry for some of the fans of these clubs, Liverpool & Manchester United for instance both have fans that have been there before the Premier League, many of these hate what their clubs have become, they have been priced out of the stadiums and seen their places taken by a transient fan base that differs from week to week as their global supporters clamour to see their idols in the flesh.
Chelsea, Manchester City, Spurs & Arsenal also have fans that have been their since year dot, but they have not been forced out by the high prices, "your grounds too big for you" is a common chant in football, but in these four clubs it could be applied, aside from Chelsea, the other three constantly have empty seats in their stadium and for most games don't sell out or perhaps in Arsenal's case bother to turn up even if they have a ticket.
I generally find that these four club's supporters have a hard core of long term fans who clamour for European Super League glory, sadly I think you will be able to add Newcastle United fans to this number judging by the comments I have seen.
The Premier League has changed greatly over the past decade, clubs like Saints used to cling to the fact that although the chance of winning the Premier League was virtually nil, that we could be competitive in the cups, think again !
Leicester won it last season, but go back 24 years before that and aside from Wigan in 2013 & Pompey in 2008 the winners have come from exclusively from Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea & the Two Manchester clubs, five clubs have carved that pie, occasionally they let one of the minions into the final to make us think we stand a chance, but that is becoming less and less.
The League cup is just as bad, Manchester City have won 5 out of the last 6 finals with only our defeat against Manchester United in 2017 breaking that run up, indeed since 2004, only Swansea in 2013, Birmingham in 2011 and Spurs in 2008 have broken that monopoly by those 5 clubs who dominate the FA cup and this season that continues with the Liverpool V Chelsea final.
So the League cup offers just as little hope than the FA cup and with Newcastle looking to spend billions, the chance of sneaking into Europe in 7th place in the Premier League is going to fade fast in the next couple of years.
The stark fact is that by 2025, we will all be also rans, 13 clubs will make up the Premier League numbers, that is assuming that the likes of City don't get their way and get the Premier League numbers reduced down to 18 or even less.
For the unlucky 13 every season will offer nothing but struggling to stay in the Premier League, the remote hope of reaching a cup final being long gone and the chances of Europe through the League virtually nil.
The likes of Everton & Aston Villa harbour hopes of breaking into the top echelons, but the truth is unless their are two Saudi Arabian community funds they have no chance under the current ownerships.
So when Saints take on Manchester City this weekend, I don't look at this as a chance to have a warm glow because we have got a rare win against a big club, indeed within a few years as the song goes "this really will be our cup final" unless they start offering the last European spot to the bottom 13 club who takes the most points off the big 7, this League will really become meaningless.
The gap could perhaps be highlighted by the recent sale of Southampton Football Club, the reported cost of £100 million can be put in perspective by the fact that is the same price Manchester City paid for Jack Grealish a player who is far from a regular started in City's side.
Indeed if we take a look at the City team who took on Arsenal in the first Premier league fixture of the New Year, the sub's bench alone including Grealish had a combined transfer value of around 220 million.
That is just in the fees paid alone and bear in mind this is just the subs bench, I don't have a calculator big enough to add up the value of the starting XI.
The Saints team that took on Brentford in our first Premier League game of the year including 7 substitutes, had a combined transfer spend of £115 million.
To put all this into perspective Manchester City had paid out more for their substitutes than not only we had paid for our entire 18 players against Brentford, but also how much our new owners had paid for the club.
This highlights the massive differences between not only Saints and City, but also the entire Premier League, Everton have been the club who are trying to get into the big time, yet City's bench was worth two season's transfer spend by the Toffee's.
This is the gulf that we are all facing, we just cannot compete anymore.
So for me English football and the Premier League is at a crossroads, if we all close our eyes and kid ourselves that we have the best league in the World and it is competitive then eventually we will follow the path of the Scottish Premier League, where the rest of the teams other than Rangers & Celtic will virtually die, those clubs can barely raise a crowd of 7,000, they have grown bored with just being cannon fodder and we are heading that way, yes perhaps it won't be a two club monopoly, but it won't be far off, even the likes of Arsenal & Tottenham have fallen way behind the other 4 and will likely be overtaken by Newcastle.
So yes I will cheer on Saints and hope we beat Manchester City, yes if we do actually do so I will get a warm glow, but I will also have the feeling that it is our cup final and that is sad.
We missed the chance a year ago to make English football competitive again, when the chance comes again and it will, then we should not let it pass, we should grasp it with both hands and reclaim the game !
Ask any supporter of a club outside those that harbour European Super League glory, if their club clubs were playing in the FA Cup final, would they really worry of care that some would say that the competition had been devalued due to United, Liverpool etc not taking part ?
I think the answer for us is in the numbers that attended the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final in 2010, football supporters want to see their sides have a chance of winning things, we don't go to games just to see the world's top players tear us apart .
Photo: Action Images
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