English Premier League

American Sports Fans are Missing out Bigtime!

The richest game in sports pays the winner a staggering $180 million. It’s played every year on a Saturday in May, and is often contested by teams most people outside the UK haven’t heard of.

Last May was Middlesbrough versus Norwich.

Norwich won, securing the remaining promotion spot to English Premier League, aka the Prem, and a big payday thanks largely to the $2.2 billion annual TV rights.

Losers Middlesbrough remain in the second tier Championship. (Roughly comparable to triple A)

(The top two Championship clubs win automatic promotion, with the next four clubs going into the playoffs.)

What goes up also comes down, with the bottom 3 clubs in the Prem, suffering the ignominy of relegation to the Championship.

Often the relegation dogfights are more gripping than the battle for first place as the three clubs in the relegation zone feel the tension building as their remaining games and hopes dwindle.

And this upheaval happens every season, consistently bad performances are met with dire consequences for both clubs and players.

Outside the largest clubs, many player contracts contain relegation clauses that trigger a wage cut if the club gets relegated, so it’s not just pride that gets hurt.

So great are the financial rewards of being in the Prem that clubs who do get relegated, are given parachute payments of around $90 million over 4 years to help balance their books.

And they need it, the step up is extreme and 50% of promoted clubs get relegated their very first season.

America celebrates winners in all walks of life so it’s a little ironic that losing sports teams get a free pass.

In a country that’s a beacon of democracy, the major leagues operate as a closed shop where the only way in is buying a franchise.

Somehow it doesn’t feel very sporting, but of course pro-sports is big business.

Most brands can only dream about the brand loyalty sports teams enjoy and the valuations prove it.

According to Forbes the average NFL team is worth $2 billion, up a massive 38% since 2014.

The average MLB team clocks in at $1.2 billion and is up an even more massive 48% year over year according to the same source.

With that kind of return there’s no incentive for change, hence teams like the notorious 2008 Detroit Lions who lost every game but stayed in the NFL.

Promotion and relegation does fans a huge favour because the system keeps owners honest.

Imagine the Loser Bowl a play-off between the NFL’s worst two teams with the loser vanquished to a second tier league.

And the winner of that second tier league bringing flesh blood to the NFL.

Of course, it will never happen, but it would give under-performing owners and athletes a little added motivation.

And fans are missing out on some serious fun.

Apart from the small but growing number, watching the Prem on NBC.


‘Tis the Season for Pressure

Bring it on! The English Premier League is simply—the most high pressure pro-sports league in the world.

One reason for this is the chance of relegation.

Unlike major leagues in the U.S., each season the bottom three clubs get demoted to the lesser universe of the Championship.

The drop is the worst thing that can happen to a club and their supporter’s pride.

Financially it costs each of the unfortunates around £50 million in lost revenue every year until, and if, they win promotion back to the elite.

So the pressure on the bottom feeders is possibly greater than the pressure on the title contenders.

It’s a high stakes game, and Christmas ups the ante big time as the spectre of relegation looms like a rancid ghost of Christmas Future.

Only once in 21 years has the bottom club at Christmas avoided the ignominy of relegation.

And the coming of Santa heralds a footy bonanza, with clubs playing 4 matches crammed into 10 days.

That’s 10.5% of a 38 game season with 12 points at stake.

It’s the tipping point, and by the time New Year's Day arrives over half the season will have been played out.

Fortunes can change dramatically over this period, especially for clubs with less depth in their squads or carrying injuries.

This intensity is great for fans because every game is played at breakneck speed and demands physical toughness and mental sharps.

On top of this pressure at both ends, the Prem is the league where professional athletes also face the most public personal abuse.

It goes way beyond opponents trash talking each other, although that happens too.

This is abuse that comes in the form of chants sung by thousands of the opposing clubs fans.

Unless you’re playing badly, in which case it could come from thousands of your own club’s supporters.

And nothing is off limit in these bawdy sporting folk songs.

A player’s weight, mental health, sexual proclivities, are all considered fair game.

Hell, a player’s wife’s weight, mental health and sexual proclivities, are all considered fair game.

Here’s a chant they used to sing about Mrs. Beckham:

 Oh Posh Spice is a s*apper,

She digs another fella,

And when she's s*agging Beckham,

She thinks of Mike Grella!

Posh Spice is a s*apper,

She likes to suck a d*ck,

And when she's s*agging Beckham,

She thinks of Michalik!

I don’t think Peyton Manning has to put up with that kind of vulgarity about his missus.

Here’s another classic fans sing when their team plays Liverpool:

In your Liverpool slums

In your Liverpool slums

You speak in an accent exceedingly rare

You wear a pink tracksuit and have curly hair

In your Liverpool slums

In your Liverpool slums

In your Liverpool slums

Your mum’s on the game and your dad’s in the nick

You can’t get a job ‘cos you’re too f**king thick

In your Liverpool slums

And these are among the less abusive examples of a terrible poetry and savage wit.

Football’s working class roots are still the foundations below the shiny surfaces of the multi-million pound stadiums.

Wages are always quoted in pounds per week, as in Luis Suarez just signed a new contract for $200,000 per week.

This is a hangover from the days when a workers wages were paid weekly as opposed to management who got a monthly salary.

But the international oligarchs, who increasingly like buying Premier League franchises, don’t always appreciate the nuances of the game’s social history.

When you've got the private jet, the supermodel and the superyacht, you're not dropping half a billion to buy a bunch of losers.

And it’s not just players who can feel an owner’s wrath.

Managers get fired after the shortest string of bad results and even after decent results that don’t meet expectations.

So far in 2013, 5 out of 20 Premier League managers have been given the boot.

Only 2 out of 38, have held the same job since 2011, as opposed to 14 NFL head coaches.

There’s no such job security in the Prem, but there's loads of gut churning excitement.

So turn on the TV, pull up a chair, enjoy the pleasure that comes from pressure and good luck, unless you’re playing Spurs.

{ We score when Santa wants to}

A very merry Christmas to one and all!