Exactly 5 years ago today, football witnessed the most expensive transfer deal in sporting history. ‘Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior to Paris Saint-Germain for £190,000,000’ as the headlines read. That is one-hundred and ninety million Great British pounds. A figure that no one imagined being associated with an individual player. That summer was a dark turn for the beautiful game and despite being labelled as ‘historic’ and ‘evolutionary’, deep down, everyone knew it was the start of the end.
The end of great footballing stories. The end of dramatic upsets. The end of a level playing field.
Fast-forward 5 years, football experiences the greatest spending by a singular league in sporting history. £1,900,000,000. 1 league. 20 teams. 92 days. 1.9 billion pounds spent. Breaking all
records boundaries. And so the first revelation of the dark turn establishes itself in the English Premier League. The league that is managed by the best of coaches, past and present, with the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte producing the highest quality of football England has seen. The league that features the best players in the world such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohammed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne, and many more. The league with the most iconic stadiums and some of the best fans. The league that is recognised as “the best in the world”.
However, the recent transfer window has exposed the English league to be a platform for the rich and elite class to assert their dominance globally and dictate football, using money as the main attraction. The total transfer expenditure by Premier League clubs, £1.9 billion, is the same total spent by Serie A, Bundesliga, LaLiga, and Ligue 1. The global domination of English clubs across Europe has been evident over the last few years with all-English Europa league and Champions league ties for two years running and English world champions, with the current season an exception to this trend. The only clubs that can compete with English clubs are the Barcelona’s and the Real Madrid’s, whose owners are either countries or billionaire individuals backed by countries. Either way, slowly, football will become a game for only those that can inject billions. And the Premier League looks to lead the way in this cause.
Who gets most affected by Prem pollution?
The money surrounding Premier league clubs and owners is a staggering amount; however, not all clubs are at fault. The great divide between filthy rich clubs that have an unlimited injection of countless funding and those who only know how much they can invest once they have passed break-even is bigger than ever. The gap is quite clear and its effect is explicitly visible in England’s top league. The most recent victims were Bournemouth FC and Scott Parker, who was fired after earning only 1 point from their opening 4 fixtures. Bottom of the league, Leicester City, are in a similar position after spending years in England’s top league and even winning it a few years back, but due to insufficient spending, are in a crisis with Brendan Rogers selflessly taking the blame after their 5-2 defeat to Brighton. Although, both managers publicly complained that funding was the main reason their clubs were not able to compete having spent £24m and £15m – the lowest and second lowest spending of all clubs.
On the other end of the spectrum are the elite of the elite teams, such as Manchester City and Chelsea who only rely on expensive recruitment for their success. Both clubs have spent relentlessly with Manchester City breaking all ethical guidelines and finding loopholes to avoid fiancial fairplay rules. They do however play entertaining, free-flowing, attacking football, only, at the cost of polluting the league. The figures speak for themselves. Manchester City have won four of the last five Premier League titles and have dominated domestically too. Broke the record for most games without a defeat, most consecutive wins, most points by a title-winning team, most points acquired in a single season, broke their own record for most points acquired in a single season and are on course to breaking more records with the best signing of the transfer window, Erling Haaland. If that wasn’t a handful already…
It is undeniable that the financial pollution caused by some elite clubs is ruining the English Premier league, making other leagues a greater watch as more teams are at a similar level, hence a more competitive and unpredictable league. Coincidence or not, last season’s championship play-off final was the most watched championship match in history with a viewership of 2.24 million people. That’s one English league that finished on a high note.