Could English Premier League Improve From Following the NFL Example?
Having put up with years of disastrous cup campaigns and over-pampered and overpaid players, England fans are finally beginning to get sick of waiting for change.
The only problem is where should the change come? So much needs altering in the Premier League and England that it is hard to pinpoint any particular area to start working on first.
Here are a few ideas on how the Premier League and the England national side could benefit from copying the National Football League.
The NFL brings up mountains of talent every year thanks to college football. The college game gets just as many fans as a sold out England home game at Wembley. The size of the stadiums may be an advantage, but even the college level is so important to players that it earns tens of thousands of fans every week.
In the UK, University teams play each other and earn crowds of maybe a few hundred people. When senior School teams play, the crowds are generally at less than 100 for trophy finals.
American's care about the grassroots of their sports far more than the UK does. The UK just wants flashy star players immediately, instead of them having the time to develop on a lower level.
Thanks to the size of college football in America, youngsters get their opportunity for a big team only when they have worked hard to earn it rather than walking straight into a first team and millions of pounds. Players have to be something special to earn a scholarship, and then even better to actually have a chance of being picked up by an NFL team during the draft.
If the UK could take this approach, think how many more talented youngsters there would be coming up through the ranks of the top clubs. The most important point is that all of these youngsters would also be eligible to play for England.
The NFL employs a salary cap to keep control of matters to make sure one team can not accrue all the expensive free agents on the market.
In the UK, if a club has money they can practically buy any trophy they want. Chelsea became even more of an English giant following Roman Abramovich's takeover, and now it looks like Manchester City are following in their footsteps.
If the Premier League employed a salary cap, all the star players could play abroad to earn more money, but all the players who play for the love of the game would stay put. The greed that has suffocated English football for so long could finally disappear.
The fees that some teams pay for players is exuberant. Real Madrid bought Cristiano Ronaldo for around £80 million (about $125 million) smashing the world record transfer fee in the process. Of course clubs are going to be severely in debt if the clubs keep spending this way. The fans then end up on the wrong side of the deal, having to pay more for merchandise and tickets to keep the club ticking along.
In the NFL there are no massive transfer fees, but instead teams can trade players or draft picks for other players. If a side drops a player from their roster, another team may pick them up if they feel they could be of use.
It's worked perfectly for the NFL so far. Why can't it work for football?
While there are more trophies to play for in England, the Premier League can still learn from the NFL's example. In the 18 seasons since the Premier League was founded, there have been four different winners of the trophy. In the NFL's last 18 seasons, there have been 12 different Super Bowl winners.
The Premier League would be so much more exciting if it was that close and unpredictable. The league could be like that if there was more time thinking about the young players coming up through the grassroots of the sport, but instead there are too many flashy, rich, foreign players in the Premier League.