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Premier League changes ahead – and they could all come in a rush.

The club that changed football

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Making the Arsenal

By Tony Attwood

We are so used to seeing the Football League and Football Association as mindless monoliths that never change until it is far too late, that the thought of the Premier League contemplating a whole series of changes to its structure and approach is quite breath-taking.

But that is what it looks like as their almighty majesties who run the clubs are trying at least to drag the League into the 16th century.

In my last article I suggested that the British obsession with the individual and the politicisation of the individual and rejection of society as a concept has stopped British clubs and British leagues becoming fan owned, as they are in Germany.

That won’t change, but regulations for greater financial controls of clubs, especially on wages, are now being taken far more seriously than ever before.

With only Arsenal, Fulham, Manchester United, Newcastle, Tottenham, West Bromwich Albion and (relegated) Wolverhampton making a profit last time despite the endless windfalls from TV rights, and with Man City and Chelsea able to buy anyone they want, and thus disrupt the plans of other clubs, there is at last a feeling that something must be done.

We’ve talked before about the salary cap, but that has limited support, and there’s no doubt that a special EU exemption for the league would have to be introduced to achieve it.  Not impossible (since football is seen by the EU as a special category) but time consuming and uncertain.

But a limit on wage rises is possible, as is a limit on the percentage of income that can be spent on salaries. In other words Chelsea and Man City would be stopped from having seasons in which they can spend more than their total income on paying players.

Amazingly, given their long term history of incompetent status quoism, the Football League already has such rules.   League 2 clubs (ie Division 4) are given a transfer embargo if they spend over 55% per cent on salary.  In League 1 (Division 3) the limit is 65%.

In the Championship (Division 2) the clubs are to be subject to their own Financial Fair Play rules and will be fined for non-compliance from 2014.

As for the Premier League Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, would have failed the Financial Fair Play rules this season if they had been operating at full speed.  Portsmouth were, I seem to remember, not invited to play in the Europa League despite winning the Cup.  Rangers in Scotland are also banned from Europe, although judging by their recent results, that is probably a blessing.

All that’s dramatic enough, but there is more.  A move towards a winter break. Roy Hodgson, Sir A Ferguson and Roberto Mancini have all said they’d like one. The problem is that the FA, Premier League and Football League can’t work out where to put all the matches.

The talk is however that if replays were eliminated from the FA Cup in the Competition Proper, that could do the trick.

The Premier League don’t want to budge on the number of teams in the league – although the original plan was for two teams fewer than now.   The Football League refuse to give up on the Reserve Team cup (or League Cup as they call it).  And the FA want to keep their Cup as big as possible.

Of course technically the Premier League could just do it – and then simply drop out of the FA Cup.  Since that would invalidate most interest in the Cup, the FA would be bound to move to accommodate the League.   The Premier League is already saying that they will be happy to start the season a week earlier, so that’s another step forwards.

Another option is for all the bodies concerned to turn on Fifa and Uefa and demand fewer internationals.   Trouble is, despite everyone seeing that Fifa is corrupt and totally anti-England, no one seems to have the nerve to take the bloated crooks on.

There has been one move – the hated friendly in August has come out of the international calendar, so that is one more date, but they are putting in no less than nine weekends with internationals over two years, which causes more problems.  And at the moment we have the Africa Cup of Nations running in consecutive years, which makes clubs want to buy more players to cover for those absences.

Sadly, despite everyone seeing what Fifa is, the Premier League still say that they support the FA if it decides to bid for more final tournaments.

So, will any of this happen?   It is possible.  There is far more drive behind these moves than there ever was behind the extra game a season being played overseas.

 

6 comments to Premier League changes ahead – and they could all come in a rush.

  • nicky

    Tony,
    Your post, I’m sorry to say, outlines a sad outlook on those who are supposed to cast a benign controlling eye on our national game. The FA seems to be fighting a perpetual three-cornered battle with the Football League and the Premier League, while FIFA looks on from its mire of corruption.Too many bodies, each a little empire, determined to survive and rule.
    We can’t do much about FIFA except to continue to expose its evil content but the situation at national level can be redressed if the will is there.
    There is the League Managers Association and there are the Clubs who, between them, ultimately hold the real power. The answer may well arrive via a concerted effort at club level to ensure common sense prevails among ALL our football associations.

  • colario

    @Tony. Good article. Thank you Just one point I don’t understand.
    Where you write “Of course technically the Premier League could just do it.”
    What are you referring to at this point?

  • tezz

    I think its about time our football associations worked together and not agaist each other we need one association not a handful of smaller ones fighting each other its time for a national league where the best teams in all four nations compeated in the one set of leagues with a national FA type cup… The logical follow on from all this would be a national team like we had in the olympics we dont seem to be able to produce enough homegrown players to provide a decent level of football for each of the home countrys. Wales Ireland and Scotland hardly get a look in at the major championships nowdays… England are only just a bit better I know a lot of national pride would have to be swallowed but in the long run i think it would be far better for the home nations….Then for the international brakes why cant we have a 4 week period at the end of the season when the national sides can get together and play a handful of games as a squad if you had 2 games a week during that time you could play 8 games and our team might well start to look like a team and not a group of players thrown together I dont think any of this will happen though not because its not a good idea but because the men in shadows controling the games in each of the associations would realise there postions and power are in danger and would never let that go

  • FinnGooner

    @tess so 4 weeks after season ends that is October- November time? I rather see something like 2 weeks in November and 2 weeks in June, that would be more fair for all national leagues. 2 week break during season.

    @Tony I hope they do something for salary rises, as those will get clubs in trouble.

  • “…we have the Africa Cup of Nations running in consecutive years, which makes clubs want to buy more players to cover for those absences.”

    Rather than buy more players as cover, we could, of course, stop buying African players, and instead buy players from any other continent. There’s lots to choose from. Then, we won’t need to ‘tempt fate’…

    The only African first-team members at present are: Gervinho, Chamakh, and Frimpong.
    The second-named may well be leaving soon, Frimpong’s Arsenal future could be cast into some doubt if Wenger were to purchase a defensive midfielder, which would leave only Gervinho.

    I discussed this about a year ago on another website, when I suggested that maybe Arsenal and other ‘top’ clubs may soon cease purchasing African players.

    Due to The African Cup of Nations, ‘top’ clubs could be/are affected by the loss of players to the point of losing a game or two = losing points = losing out on a trophy.

    I, personally, don’t see the point in ‘tempting fate’.
    Never have, never will.

    Final point – are we already seeing the tide turning, albeit slowly?

  • Mike T

    I accept that Chelsea do spend a huge % of their total income in wages but when did their wage costs ever exceed all income?