Who doesn’t love to watch the English Premier League – the EPL?
The talent of the players, the drama of the contests, the excitement of the competition, the passion, the skills, the crowds, the coaches…it’s got it all.
Enjoy it while you can, because the English Premier League is doomed to fail…it is only a matter of time….
Why will the EPL fail?
There is one reason above all that the English Premier League will fail: money.
Money, (and the standard of competition that the money has been able to buy) has been the EPL’s greatest strength. It has allowed a few teams to purchase the greatest pool of football talent from the four corners of the globe. But ultimately, money will be the cause of the EPL’s demise.
The situation which has existed in the EPL for the past decade where the top four teams are known before the first kick off is the surest way of all to kill a sporting competition, (with the amazing exception of Leicester City in 2016).
And the reason the top four teams are known is that finishing order in the EPL is dependent on bank balance and that’s never a good situation for any sport, any industry, any walk of endeavour.
Without competition, real competition, professional sport dies.
The Glorious Uncertainty of Sport.
There is one thing that keeps people passionate about sport: the uncertainty of the outcome.
Why does sports betting flourish all over the world? Uncertainty of outcome.
Why do people tune in to sporting events where the athletes and teams are closely matched? Uncertainty of outcome.
Why do so many professional sporting competitions build their foundations on the “draft” and “salary-cap” concepts? To retain the uncertainty of outcome.
In the English Premier League, money matters. Without huge sums of cash, teams are just not competitive and it is this widening of the gap between the football “haves” and the “have-nots” which will prove to be the ultimate demise of the EPL.
How will the EPL die?
The first signs of death will be political battles from the teams who are struggling at the bottom of the EPL and in the other English leagues.
First of all there will be a move to limit spending by the top four or five EPL teams, e.g. to introduce a salary cap of some kind. Or they will try to introduce a rule to limit the numbers of professional players from outside of the UK who can play in the EPL.
Fans from teams other than those who support the top four or five EPL teams will become increasingly vocal and demand a change to the rules to ensure all teams have a fair chance to be competitive.
This move will be ferociously resisted by the top teams.
Maybe the end will be triggered by one or two of the top four or five teams being declared bankrupt necessitating a sell off of their players and other assets.
Or maybe the end will be triggered by falling TV ratings as fans look to other sporting contests – particularly to other football leagues – which may offer genuine competition and uncertainty of result.
Or maybe there will be a “perfect storm”…….political squabbling, bankruptcies, collapsing TV audience numbers, decreasing gate takings and dwindling fan interest.
Can the English Premier League be saved?
Yes. But it will demand vision, determination, leadership, drive and the capacity to embrace meaningful, effective change.
The history of professional sport has taught us one thing above all: long term, sustainable success is next to impossible to achieve.
And the reason it is next to impossible to achieve is that no one is prepared to make serious, visionary, effective change when things are doing well: no one wants to change the “winning-formula”.
Just look at the hundreds and thousands of examples around the world where athletes and teams and even National sporting systems were deemed to be invincible and beyond compare and the greatest of all time but then have subsequently fallen, failed and disappeared to become nothing more than a question in a sporting trivia quiz.
The EPL has the opportunity to break this cycle: to not be another casualty of the Performance Clock and in doing so be the shining light for all sport that long term, sustainable success is possible.
The English Premier League’s Obituary.
Pretty soon E.P.L will stand for Expired Professional League and whilst we will all lament its passing, no one can say they didn’t know it was coming.
On a stone somewhere in London, football historians will one day read the following:
“Here lies the EPL. A once great football competition that did not learn from the mistakes of the past and therefore, through arrogance and the belief that success now means success forever, collapsed and died”.