Open Mic: Is English Football $elling Out?
Recent events, mainly centered around the purchase of Manchester City and the Cristiano Ronaldo saga, have made us wonder if money is ruining the beautiful game.
Not only is it not ruining football—money is bringing parity and excitement to otherwise predictable leagues.
Since the inception of the Spanish First Division in 1929, a grand total of 58 teams have participated in at least one season of La Liga.
Only eight of these teams have ever finished in first place.
Real Madrid and Barcelona, the league's two most successful clubs, have 49 titles between them in 77 seasons. Six other clubs divvy up the remaining 28, with only four of those six winning the league more than once.
However, since the inception of the Bosman rule in 1995 and the subsequent free flow of players coupled with the increased spending of money, five teams have won at least one league in Spain.
In England, Blackburn Rovers, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have won at least once since 1995. In Italy, five teams have lifted the Serie A trophy in the past 13 years.
Evidently, true parity would involve every single club having a realistic chance of winning their league's championship season in and season out. While top European leagues are far from obtaining this, the modern footballing market has made it possible for teams who were previously also-rans to achieve things which were out of their reach in the past.
In England, foreign investors have flocked to the EPL, injecting the league with their capital and boosting its status as the most successful and talent-filled competition in the world.
Griping about English teams belonging to foreign owners is misplaced. Football is the world's game, and the EPL is one of its most globalized leagues. How fitting is it that the biggest league in the world belongs to the world itself?
Since 2004, at least one English team has reached the Champions' League final. With the recent purchase of Manchester City and the promise of top-tier talent reaching the Citizens in the coming transfer windows, the growing potential for higher quality and parity becomes steadily apparent.
Let the Cristiano Ronaldos and Robinhos of the world bark at the moon about being "slaves to the system". These are men being paid handsome amounts of money to play a game. If they don't like the treatment they are subjected to and want to move on, they should think twice about signing such long contracts.
At best, money in the post-Bosman era is making football and the EPL itself a spectacle employing the world's best, ushering in a golden age for players and spectators alike. At worst, it is a double-edged sword that should be monitored closely before spending reaches ridiculous MLB-like levels.
After all, we wouldn't want Robinho asking a team to top Cristiano Ronaldo's latest 200 million euro contract, would we?
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