10 Ways to Make the Premier League More Competitive
We are so often told that the Barclays Premier League is the greatest league in the world, but in reality if you look at the bare statistics, it is actually a closed shop of a division, with just five sides having ever won the English top flight since its inception back in 1992 and one of those, Manchester United, dominating the landscape with 12 league triumphs out of a possible 18 on offer, with another on its way this season.
And so, how can we make the fight for the Premier League title more competitive? Well, we at Bleacher Report have come up with 10 suggestions of our own to shake up the established order in the EPL...
One surefire way of reducing the ability of the financially dominant sides in the Premier League is to reduce their ability to splash the cash when it comes to spending on wages, which represents a disproportionate percentage of the overall turnover at some leading clubs currently, and so it gives them an unfair advantage over other, less well-off clubs.
Implement a salary cap, as many financial experts have been asking for some time now, and those mega-rich outfits at the top of the table will see their influence wane.
Limit on Foreign Players
Return to the system that was implemented at the start of the Champions League era whereby clubs are only allowed to field a certain number of foreign-based players in their starting lineups.
If this were to be introduced in the EPL, then it would severely hamper the so-called "big" clubs that dominate the division by reducing their ability to buy large numbers of Planet Football’s world-class performers and in turn, it would result in a more level playing field across the board.
Reverse Order of Prize Money
Simply turn the current prize-money system on its head so that the team that wins the league earns the lowest share of the overall pot of gold on offer from the Premier League at the end of the season and vice versa.
This will ensure that the rich simply do not just get richer, as has been the case since 1992/93 with only a small proportion of clubs gobbling up most of the cash on offer and getting far richer than the rest in the process, with the results there for everyone to see.
Only One Side to Be Relegated in an Expanded League
How about a slight rejigging of both the size of the league and the rules governing relegation from the English top flight just so as to shake things up a bit in what has clearly become a complacent and slightly staid division these past 20 years?
So to start off we increase the size of the Premier League from 20 back to the 22 teams that it was at its inception 21 years ago, and then reduce the numbers of sides that can be relegated each season from three to one, which would then allow the so-called "smaller" outfits more time in which to settle and assimilate in the division, and in the process become more competitive.
Remember, this is the exact opposite of what football's "big boys" have been calling for in recent years, with the likes of Barcelona and Co. asking for an actual reduction in size in the EPL, so it must be a good thing then!
Introduction of a Winter Break
The Premier League is still, for some unknown reason, the only one of the major European leagues not to have a winter break. However, were one to be introduced, then it would give the smaller teams more time in which to regroup and refuel over the tough Christmas period rather than have their paper-thin squads stretched to near breaking point, with a subsequent downturn in results, while the powerful and rich clubs at the top use their mammoth squads to overcome such hurdles.
But, a winter break would once again level the playing field in this regard and make the minnows at the bottom refreshed as they enter the second half of the campaign, with a renewed ability to challenge the leading clubs and be more competitive across the board.
No January Transfer Window for the Top Four
Why not try a restriction on transfers of sorts? While it would be counterproductive to make this a season-long ban, it could still work by preventing the top four teams on Jan 1 of that season from entering the transfer market for that entire month.
So, while all the other sides would be able to replenish stocks at the turn of the year with a view to making a renewed assault in the second half of the season, the leading pack must simply have to make do with what they had at the start of that campaign, regardless of whether they had an injury crisis or not.
And so, no Nemanja Vidic or Patrice Evra to help out United in the middle of a league wobble as Sir Alex Ferguson did in Jan 2006, but the likes of Liverpool could still bring a Luis Suarez to Anfield as they did to such devastating effect in Jan 2011.
Let’s have a change in the format of the EPL so that rather than the side who finishes the season at the top of the table being crowned as champions, instead they enter an end-of-season playoff system like we see in domestic rugby union and league, as well as in the NFL.
So, the top six sides will fight it out to see who is the real title winner, with the fourth-placed outfit entertaining the team that finished fifth and the third-placed side hosting the sixth-placed team, with those two winners going on to visit the top two in the standings in the semi-finals, before a grand final showdown on a neutral ground.
It would certainly introduce more interest and life into the season, especially campaigns like the present one, where United’s runaway title triumph would not be so certain, while also giving a wider range of teams more opportunity to win the big one.
And, for what it is worth, this system has proved a great success in those aforementioned sports…
Implementation of FFP
If European football’s governing body are serious about implementing their beloved Financial Fair Play regulations that we have heard so much about—and when I say "implementing" I mean the much-publicised penalties being put into effect along with the actual rules themselves—then the power of the EPL’s mega-rich clubs will be reduced.
Clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea with their sugar daddies to splash the clash and buy their way to league titles will no longer have it so easy, which will in turn make the English top flight a far more competitive arena.
Reward System for Producing Young England-Qualified Players
This is the English Premier League after all, and are we not being constantly told that a healthy national team is good for the EPL? Well, if that is the case, then why not introduce a merit system whereby any club that produces a player themselves that then goes on to represent his country at senior international level gets rewarded with a financial payment?
This would in turn encourage teams to both improve the standards of their academies and field English players, with a knock-on effect in the overall quality of their output, as well as a boost to their finances.
No Manchester Unitedâ€¦
OK, only joking, but it would certainly make the English top flight a more competitive environment all round were the all-conquering and dominant 12-time Premier League champions taken out of the equation at the start of each and every season!
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