With all English clubs possibly heading out of the Champions League at an early stage, questions are being asked over the quality and commitment of players in this country. Between 04/5 and 08/09, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea have appeared in the final, Liverpool twice! But since then, the EPL has taken a backseat, with Chelsea winning in fortunate circumstances in 12/13 being the only success. The league is deemed by a lot of people as the best in the world – but after the latest round of Last 16 games, it seems that Arsenal, Man Utd and Man City are heading out, and Chelsea could too as they only managed a draw with Galatasaray.
Faltering Early in the Champions League
The question is have the English teams been poor, or have others improved? The likes of Dortmund, Olympiakos and Galatasaray have improved, with more money reaching those leagues – but similarly AC Milan, Juventus and Inter have struggled, Juve dropping into the Europa League this season after finishing 3rd in their group. To be honest, you can’t say its the fault of English players as Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal have very few, though Man Utd’s nucleus of players like Rooney, Cleverley, Young, Smalling, Ferdinand, Jones and Welbeck have hardly covered themselves in glory – most performing poorly in the recent game at Olympiakos,
If you watched recent games, English teams were simply outplayed, which was rather embarresing for Man Utd, as Olympiakos are hardly world beaters. Bayern Munich and Barcelona defeated Arsenal and Man City quite convincingly, which was no surprise to some. Is this the FFP rules having an effect? In the last couple of windows Man City have stopped stock-piling players and sold a fair few on, before buying, and others teams have done little business, knowing full well that breaking rules will lead to fines and exclusion. With the TV money increasing this year by 70%, will we start seeing the money flow? David Moyes will hope so, as he needs a fair few signings.
Mistreatment of Fans
Away from European Football – the Premier League is slowly bankrupting fans, with the clubs hoping their blind loyalty will see them continue to flock through the gates. In England you pay for one game what a season ticket costs in Germany. £90+ a game is ridiculous, the bigger teams guilty of this. The challenge is to make football affordable for all, and this message isn’t getting through. It is making it impossible to get to games for the likes of myself and James – with travel involved it would cost the both of us in excess of £100. Its horrid to see fans being drained like this.
The likes of Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all charge more for away fans than their own, often as much as £50. Being a Newcastle fan I have seen these prices, and the fans gripe about paying it when the Magpies only charge as little as £18. The club are also trying to strike a deal with clubs that fans pay the same for away games against each other, I believe Swansea and possibly WBA have agreed to it, however most others seem happy charging the earth to make their profit. This is a key reason why other leagues such as the Bundesliga are better.
Divide between Fans and Owners
The Bundesliga also has a 50 + 1 ruling, where no billionaire can own more than 49%. The other 51% is owned by fans, similar to the Barcelona system, where board members are voted in. This will never be introduced in the EPL as none of the current owners would be willing to give up half of what they have paid hundreds of millions for, so the distance between the fans and the big wigs is a fair old whack, so fans continue to be alienated, like what is happening at Newcastle.
The fact that certain leagues sacrifice profits for the sake of fans being able to enjoy affordable high class football is why the English Premier League will never be the best league in the world – no matter the results on the pitch. Until the fans are given a voice so people like the Glazers, Mike Ashley and Roman Abramovic are not allowed to rule with an iron fist, using clubs with heritage as toys with their spare money.