Since Sky brought big time money into the Premier League, it has really changed the landscape of who is capable of winning the EPL. Before Sky…let’s say the early 90’s and before (the old First Division), teams like Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Everton, Aston Villa and in the early 70’s, Derby County all were English Champions. But since it was formed in 1992-1993, only four clubs have won the EPL. And one of those was Blackburn whose owner pumped money in big time to buy top players for a few years. But it was obviously not sustainable.
So, since 1992-1993, Man United have won the title 11 times, Arsenal three times and Chelsea twice and Blackburn once. Really, no other team has made a serious attempt at the title. Not even Liverpool who before the EPL either were champions or at least in the running for it.
So, with this in mind, it seems to be unrealistic for other teams to become competitive enough to challenge for the Championship. They just don’t have the money. So how do the fans of teams like Everton, West Ham, Tottenham, Bolton, deal with this? Are their goals to finish 5th, qualify for Europe, or even just to avoid relegation? Or do they dare dream of breaking into the top four like Aston Villa, Man City and Tottenham are on the brink of?
Anyway the reason I mention this is an idea that I heard passed around very briefly a few years ago, but never got any traction. And it’s an idea that I think has merit and would give teams a better chance of competing.
In towns that have two clubs, merge them into one bigger club.
My home town Sheffield for instance would benefit enormously from this. Right now we have two decent sized clubs – Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United. Wednesday is the slightly bigger club but both of them have enough support to be in the EPL. However, it would be a case of simply surviving if and when they get back to the EPL.
If they merged, the new club would have the backing of the entire city. It would be more attractive for potential new owners with money. Attendances would be higher, matching the top clubs. All of this would lead to a more competitive team and surely a better experience for the fans.
The downside to this is “tradition”. These clubs have been around for about 100 years. It is hard to give up all that history. A percentage of the fans, just wouldn’t go for it and would rebel. But I think the landscape has changed so much over the past 20 years or so, that if clubs continue to operate in the same way, not only will more and more of them go under, but there is practically a zero chance for any of them to compete at the highest level.
Just think about a Sheffield or a Birmingham or a Nottingham that was competing for the EPL Championship, hosting Champions League games against Barcelona, AC Milan, Real Madrid, etc. How exciting would that be? Surely it would be better than playing in the lower leagues or fighting for survival in the EPL?
But then again, maybe history and tradition are more important?