The Alarming State Of Competitiveness In English Football

We’ve said for a while now that the structure of English football will lead to less competition as each year passes by, and we’re already seeing that.


Paul Sturrock addressed some of the problems over the weekend when he said:

“The three teams coming down have brought a distance between themselves and the rest of us.

“Something has to change, something is wrong. “

“You can look at leagues around Europe and name the teams who will finish in the top three. That is not a healthy situation to be in but it is the reality.”

“You may get an outsider challenging but that is all. Money talks.”

There are really at least 3 groups of teams in England:

  1. The Premier Top 4 – maybe top 5 after this season
  2. The rest of the Premier League
  3. The remaining leagues in England starting with the Championship

And the fact that the 3 relegated teams from the Premier League last season are now the top 3 sides in the Championship, is simply an indication of the increasing gulf between groups 2 and 3 above.

In American sports they balance things, and try to level out the competition and the playing field, if you will,  by giving the worst placed teams in their leagues, the first round draft picks.

This means the worst teams get the to choose the best players coming out of college.

But college sports and draft picks do not exist in countries outside the USA – and the USA are the only country we know of which has big time college sports.

Other counties concentrate almost completely on academics in their colleges, to the exclusion of sports, which very much take a back seat in college life.

So there’s a growing tendency in English football of the rich getting richer  –  and therefore better.

And the only way this can be changed right now, is for a multi-billionaire to come in and buy a team for say £200M, as we have witnessed recently with Man City, and before that with Chelsea.

But there’s something very wrong and distasteful with that.

The current system in place with English football (the same applies to European football),  is that it is moving away from competition – and it’s hard to argue with that premise.

UEFA President Platini’s recent announcements to force clubs to balance their books withing 3 years and then only spend the money they make in the game, will help.

And is was almost comical when Man City’s manager Mark Hughes came out against that idea – well surprise, surprise.

That’s part of the “I’m alright Jack – so don’t change anything” thinking.

And Platini’s changes will probably stop multi-billionaires coming in and buying a team – maybe.

But again bigger clubs make bigger money, and therefore will buy the better players and the trend will continue.

At some point this need to be addressed by the football authorities before things get even worse.

A salary cap on each club seems inevitable – it’s just when it will be implemented – and that will all help – but the problem will not be solved completely.

Somehow more of the money earned by the PL clubs through word-wide TV rights, needs to be distributed downstream – trickle down economics if you like.

We don’t know what the solution will be – but something needs to be done – and soon.

Comments welcome.

72 comments so far

  • Stuart79

    Sep 21, 2009 at 11:51 AM

    Comment #1


    There’s always a way round any FIFA regs.

    These billionaire owners will just sponsor the team themselves with huge multi million pound deals.

    That will up their turnover sufficiently to allow them to spend whatever they want on players.

    Money will always talk.

    Ask Neil Diamond…

  • Davy Craig

    Sep 21, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    Comment #2

    If something is done soon Ed can you see European football going the same way as the American Soccer League of the 70s and 80s?

    I think that Platini has a good handle on what is happening to football and is trying to make the game more interesting by limiting the big spenders. I think it will implode if it continues as it is because the amount of money thrown around is just not sustainable.

    What will the likes of Aston Villa, Everton, Spurs etc see as success this season? They are (apart from Everton) spending silly money to try and compete for a place in Europe and hoping to challenge the top 4/5. As Man City are almost certainly going to finish up there this season what will happen in the long term to the team that they pip for a top 4 place? Spend more money to compete or consolidate and settle for less? It cannot go on this way.

    Ourselves and Leeds are two famous names that have seen this happen already partially as a result of spending over our means.

  • lacedaemonian

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:00 PM

    Comment #3

    “But it don’t sing and dance. And it don’t walk.”

    Uefa created this mess with the restructuring of the Champions League. A supposed effort to placate the big clubs and their noises about starting a European super league. Which never would have happened and is a lie.

  • The_Legend_Of_Jonas

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:00 PM

    Comment #4

    I think we’ll see more and more small clubs folding over the coming 10-15 years or so, eventually making way for an ultimate European super league and 1-2 major national leages. That’s unless something drastically changes, which I doubt.

    Money does indeed talk..

  • sirjasontoon

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:01 PM

    Comment #5

    I don’t mind it the way it is….just like life you have the haves and have nots.

    I think what man city have done so far is great for the fans and I bet it’s an exciting time to be a supporter..watching players like Robhino week in week out…they will be unstoppable in a couple of seasons with a decent manager in charge.

    A Few more world class players,give them time to gel together and City will crush the Madrid’s and Man Utd’s no problem.

  • Davy Craig

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:03 PM

    Comment #6


    Good point! I for one would like to see a return to the old style knockout from day one competition but it just won’t happen now.

  • Bigbadbob

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:09 PM

    Comment #7

    What is fascinating is ManU being blown out of the transfer market by Chelsea and now Man City but they still cling grimly on with their unique style of intimidation and pressure on officials and their grip on the media.
    First Arsenal and then Citeh were stiffened by referee controversy but its just brushed aside, it would be entirely different if the results had gone the other way but as the power shifts and the other teams improve, i for one cant wait to see them get their just deserts.
    My point is, there will never be a level playing field in England until they treat ManU and possibly Chelsea, the same as the other teams, but im not holding my breath.

  • Davey Falcus

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:14 PM

    Comment #8

    A change is necessary to save the game but I seriously can’t see it happening. Teams like Manure and Real Madrid have too much pull in the game and will fight it tooth and nail to get the whole salary cap thing dropped.

    For the sake of world football’s future though this needs to be fixed before a number of decent clubs go under because of unsustainable finances.

    If Platini can see this through about balancing the books, it would be interesting to see how teams like Man Utd cope with that seeing how they have hundreds of millions worth of debt.

  • bordeauxtoon

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:18 PM

    Comment #10

    I wouldn’t want the likes of Robinho at our club. He couldn’t even remember which club he had signed for. Motivation ? $$$$
    But football is now big business, and I don’t think we can stop what is happening. Ultimately we’ll end up with a few global teams,- a bit like multinationals. Some owners will see it as a play thing (Abramowich), others as away of making money or State Marketing ( The Gulf States-look at what they’ve done in Athletics). Can’t see anything good in this either way.

  • sirjasontoon

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:24 PM

    Comment #11

    Just Beat me to it Hitman…looks like Harewood is a goer then…not my favourite striker in the world but think he will be a handful in the fizzy’s…If he makes an impact I see this one going long term as O’Neil doesn’t like him much.

  • Stuart79

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:25 PM

    Comment #12

    bordeauxtoon // Sep 21, 2009 at 12:18 PM

    There’s no other way of breaking into the elite. City have to pay more than anyone else until they get established in the PL and Champions league.

    That’s the way of the world I’m afraid.

  • sirjasontoon

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:26 PM

    Comment #13

    “I wouldn’t want the likes of Robinho at our club”.

    Don’t talk nonsense…so if city came in and said right straight swop for LovenKrands you would turn it down?

    Stop being silly.

  • sirjasontoon

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:28 PM

    Comment #14

    Exactly Stu…we have been know to do that ourselves on many occasions…we couldn’t sustain it but teams like City can…Money is no object to them.

  • sirjasontoon

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:29 PM

    Comment #15


  • Partizan

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:38 PM

    Comment #16

    Xisco would have scored at least 7 goals for us till now…..we should have kept him and played Ranger in the cup games instead.

    Xisco could have been a star if pushed the same way Ranger was pushed to the team…..Ranger scored 25+ forr the reserves and youths…..Xisco would have scored 30 only for the reserves.

  • Ross

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:43 PM

    Comment #17

    i’m still..slightly unsure, of Harewood like but bring him in and see what he can do. We need firepower and he’s a big lad so hopefully he can bag a few. Will look forward to the first chorus of “feed the hare and he will score” after he’s bagged his first for us,lol.

    As far as the whole money issue goes, i think its disgusting to see what the likes of Citeh are doing, but put the shoe on the other foot. If we were watching Robinho and co stepping out onto SJP every week we’d be overjoyed and wouldnt give a sh!te what anyone else thought. I dunno, maybe i would…i want to know i support a proud and honourable football club, but at the same time they’ll be up the top of the league come the end of the season. As many others have said, money talks.

  • punk skunk...

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:44 PM

    Comment #18

    The only way forward in england is:
    Top 2 leagues bein’ fed by the 2 lower leagues which would be collegiate teams, a la American sport…The lower leagues full of kids learnin’ their trade & a ‘trade’ if all goes wrong for them (injuries, not makin’ the grade etc)…No bairns with big money ’til they’ve ‘made the grade’!..Therefore:
    More people would go see the lower leagues to see who might come thru from their area, to the ‘big time’…& therefore be less likely to get into financial trouble!..
    …Salary caps for said ‘big time’ operators…& the need to balance the books or no place in the top leagues!..
    …Video evidence & more refs, to cut out all the controversy & ‘big team’ pressure on said refs…
    …Which is ruinin’ the game & potentially puttin’ teams down & out of business…
    …All in all, makin’ for a level playin’ field & helpin’ kids from the respective country come thru to make it to international level…

    …Ah well, doubt it’ll ever happen!..

  • davis_toons

    Sep 21, 2009 at 12:56 PM

    Comment #19

    Bro, Partizan // Sep 21, 2009 at 12:38 PM

    No point talking about the player everybody wants out of this club. Even thou i believe that Xico is a good player if he was been supported throughout his stint in Newcastle. But too bad.

  • Troy Stavers

    Sep 21, 2009 at 1:57 PM

    Comment #20

    Haven’t read other posts and don’t know if i am repeating others comments from previous threads, however i would find it unlikely as most people on here are dense.

    I know it’s not relating to this thread but it’s too topical to forget.

    Barry Moat has no intention of buying us. He is being used, wilfully, by Ashley to undermine Keegan.

    He wants to put pressure on Keegan to settle out of court by making it sound as if the Moat deal won’t go through whilst the Keegan saga remains.

    Don’t be fooled! Keegan can see right through the fat bloke’s motives and I hope he takes him to the cleaners. Cos there is one thing for certain, Ashley can afford it despite what he would like you to believe!!!!

    Hail the Messiah.!

  • G

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:20 PM

    Comment #21

    @Troy Stavers. I agree that Keegan deffo has a case to answer, and I too have heard the Barry Moat rumours, but to be honest I don’t believe a word of them. Heard it all before, and as for the fat blokes motives, I seriously believe he came in with the best of intentions, but made a complete balls of it, and has no idea how to undo the damage he has done. The club is for sale, Moat has been involved (as confirmed by various ‘trusted’ sources), however, he is one of a number of groups (widely believed to be 3, but unconfirmed) hoping to purchase the club. I personnaly dont want Moat, as he cannot raise cash for the overdraft facility, where will he get cash for transfers? He is reputedly an unscrupulous man who will asset strip and sell anything he can anyway.

  • Stuart79

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:25 PM

    Comment #22

    G // Sep 21, 2009 at 2:20 PM

    Luke Edwards reckons that Moat has raised the finance himself and his backers are going to pay for the everyday running of the club.

    He has heard that these backers are billionaires but they don’t want to give Ashley and money.

    Someone else who doesn’t like him then.

  • G

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:27 PM

    Comment #23

    Given what has happened with Notts County today, ‘secret backers’ suggested has alarm bells ringing!

  • Davey Falcus

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:31 PM

    Comment #24

    @Troy Stavers

    I highly doubt what you’re saying is true, no offence. But that to me sounds like a rather elaborate conspiracy theory.

    On two counts:

    1. Mike Ashley has made a complete hash of running our club out of stupidity, yet we’re expected to believe that he could create such a smokescreen as Barry Moats bid..doubt it.

    2. Barry Moat is and has been clearly outlined as a potential bidder out of around 3 (as G pointed out). And I seriously doubt he has any involvement in such a devious plot as your suggesting.

    I personally don’t want Barry Moat in as I get the impression we’d be moving backwards with him in charge seeing how he is skinting himself just buying the club. I hope the American consortium firms up their offer first.

  • Johno Toon

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:31 PM

    Comment #25

    Stuart79 who is luke edwards?

  • punk skunk...

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:36 PM

    Comment #26

    he’s a local journo mate!..

  • Stuart79

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:36 PM

    Comment #27

    Journo for the Journal.

    One of the better ones

  • Johno Toon

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:37 PM

    Comment #28

    Cheers punk skunk!

  • punk skunk...

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:37 PM

    Comment #29

    Sweet Johno!..

  • G

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:45 PM

    Comment #30

    I have absolutely no wish to see MA stay in charge of the toon, however, given the rumours doing the rounds about Moat, I think this may deffo be a case of ‘better the devil you know’. I would dearly love to see somebody buy the club outright and put in a policy with regards to generating funds and buying players, but from the sounds of it Moat is worse at striping and selling than MA. As for secret backers who do not want to be named, or give money to MA, how on earth can they prove proof of finance if they refuse to give thier names and credentials? No offence Troy, but your story reeks of ‘Barry’.

  • batty

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:47 PM

    Comment #31

    TROY nice post agree m8

  • punk skunk...

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:49 PM

    Comment #32

    Interestin’ angle G!..

    …What do y’know about Moat?..

    …Sounds ominous!..

  • Stuart79

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:51 PM

    Comment #33

    Why would he buy NUFC if he couldn’t afford to run it?

    He will have put up alot of his own assets as security for this purchase so if he cannot run it and it hits the buffers he would lose everything.

    Why would he do that?

  • jordi

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:52 PM

    Comment #34


    Back on topic, the top 3 champ teams might be the relegated ones but it’s not as if we’re smashing every team 5- 0 (hello boro 😉 ) is it? Honestly we’ve been lucky with a few of the results so where is the gulf?

    You might also like to point out that those giants of football; Burnley, Birmingham and Wolves are all sitting in safety at the minute in the Prem. And don’t forget the mighty Burnley had the sheer cheek to beat Manure!

    The money in the game now is ruining it in my view but it will keep happening for as long as football remains popular, any regulations brought in to curb it will just be swerved by the big clubs.

  • G

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:53 PM

    Comment #35

    There is loads of stuff all over the internet which suggest’s the guy is only ever involved in any business deal in order to stuff his pockets full of cash and get out of the door with as much in his own coffers rather than the business. Its all rumour to be honest, but there no smoke without fire? A quick search on google seems to provide little in the way of evidence against this? All I am saying is lets treat his bid with caution, remember the way we all heralded MA when he arrived, just cos he bought a couple of tarts and some charva’s a pint in Blu-Bambu he was called a geordie abramovic? A billionaire owner, the only way is up, champions league here we come? Lets just wait and see on the next one eh.

  • toonluvva

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:55 PM

    Comment #36

    Most of the posts were spot on about how too few clubs having too much money, and how certain players are only interested in making big bucks from their employers.
    I would like to point to another area that IMHO has the potential to kill off football. Namely awful referees and assistant refs. I watched the ManU and Chelsea matches on Sunday and felt that the refs in both cases were very poor.
    If that standard of refereeing continues, then it wont be long before fans start thinking that the result of the match will not be decided by the players, but by lousy refs. In that case they will just drift away.

  • Davey Falcus

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:55 PM

    Comment #37

    Let’s just hope your right Stuart,

    But I am siding with G currently. I feel that if Moat could afford to buy us and run us then this would have been concluded weeks ago.

    Again I hope I am wrong, but the negativity is beginning to control me and I fear the worst the more this drags out.

    But hey why worry about things out of our control, as long as the results on the pitch keep coming I will keep a smile on my face!

  • punk skunk...

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:55 PM

    Comment #38

    Ta G,
    i’ll have a scan round the interweb then!..

  • Stuart79

    Sep 21, 2009 at 2:58 PM

    Comment #39

    G // Sep 21, 2009 at 2:53 PM

    There is loads of stuff all over the internet which suggest’s the guy is only ever involved in any business deal in order to stuff his pockets full of cash and get out of the door with as much in his own coffers rather than the business. Its all rumour to be honest, but there no smoke without fire? A quick search on google seems to provide little in the way of evidence against this? All I am saying is lets treat his bid with caution, remember the way we all heralded MA when he arrived, just cos he bought a couple of tarts and some charva’s a pint in Blu-Bambu he was called a geordie abramovic? A billionaire owner, the only way is up, champions league here we come? Lets just wait and see on the next one eh.

    Their all in it to make money G.

    Abramovitch and Arabs at city know they will get their money back when they sell.

    The clubs they sell will be much bigger, better and successful and worth at the very least what they have invested.

  • G

    Sep 21, 2009 at 3:00 PM

    Comment #40

    No probs punk skunk, I can remember there was some stuff on ‘Times Online’ but rumour has it (yes, another one) that Moat’s advisors had them cut most of it pending legal actions, however, a quick google will no doubt find the full unabridged article.


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