It sucks that summer’s coming to a close, but thanks to the English Premier League many of us still manage to avoid seasonal affect disorder. The most widely watched sports league in the world looks to be as spectacular as ever this year as even more foreign royalty, oil tycoons and financial heavyweights bid for the title this year. Due to the sport and league’s growing popularity and a lack of financial regulations, we have begun to see drastic inequality in the league. Most clubs have literally no hope of winning the title because they can’t match the capitol of the bigger teams. While football has done well to avoid excessive commercialization of the sport like many sports in the U.S. have done, this financial freedom has limited competition to between only the wealthiest of teams.
Manchester City is a prime example of this trend. Generally second best in their own town to Manchester United, and mid-table in the EPL, City looks to challenge for the title with more signings than J.K Rowling had this year. Just this summer’s additions include James Milner, Aleksandar Kolorav, Mario Balotelli, Yaya Toure and David Silva; all world-class footballers. Since the club was taken over by Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 City has splashed about 340 million pounds on transfer fees alone. For me this illustrates how much the EPL means to people. This is an investment that simply will not yield financial gains. The prize money for winning the league title is 16 million pounds, less than they shelled out for Kolorav alone. Further the prize for winning the coveted Champions League, the elite continental tournament in Europe is 7 million Euro. Lastly, the television revenue, which continues to soar, was highest for Manchester United in 2008 and was 48 million pounds. These wealthy owners don’t look to be in it for the annual return.
Clearly, top-drawer football has broken from the traditional business model—of profit. The sport has become so global, and so captivating, that those with the means will take a financial loss in order to chase a title or trophy. For those of us in the stands, or on the couch, this will make for some seriously awesome entertainment as we will be able to see many of the world’s best on the same field. Unfortunately, it leaves little room for the hope that teams with less cash but perhaps great coaching and youth development. Irrespective of your take on how things have become, the 2010-11 season will showcase much of what is good on this earth.