Why some of the six regular league winners in Europe are not winning this season.

By Tony Attwood

On 6 June 2019 we did quite a bit of boasting.  Indeed the headline of the day said it all.   “We predicted six champions before the season started” we crowed.  “We got all six right,” we concluded.

And in fact that was the second year running we got six out of six.

The six predictions were 

  • England: Manchester City
  • Spain: Barcelona
  • Scotland: Celtic
  • Italy: Juventus
  • Germany: Bayern Munich
  • France: PSG

And all six won in 2019, and again in 2020. 

However the disruptions to the leagues made us miss this season’s predictions, but had we tried for 2020/1 we would have come a right cropper, for we would undoubtedly have chosen the same six again, since they had done us so well in the last two seasons

But a things stand the situation is

Country 20/21 prediction Current position 2020/21 Current leader Gap from leader to last season champion
England Manchester City 1st Manchester City (14 points to second) 
Spain Barcelona 2nd Atletico Madrid 5 points
Scotland Celtic 2nd Rangers 18 points
Italy Juventus 3rd Inter Milan 7 points
Germany Bayern Munich 1st Bayern Munich (2 points to second)
France PSG 2nd Lille 2 points

So instead of getting six out of six as we have for the previous two years we look like we are heading  for two, or perhaps three if PSG overtake Lille.  Although it is quite possible that RB Leipzig might overtake Bayern Munich and stop them winning yet another title.  Leipzig are on a better run than Bayern, but have a worse goal difference.

The question then arises, why, after getting it so right for two seasons with the same six clubs rather boringly winning the league over and lover has it broken down?

The fact is that the clubs in question have been winning their leagues not because of managerial brilliance on a limited budget, but rather through successful managing on a budget above all the rest.

In Spain, Barcelona have hit a financial brickwall.  Their income arises from people at matches and tours of the stadium (an essential element in the tourist diary).  All that has stopped.  Plus Messi is getting older and has spent part of the season in dispute.  The last time a team other than Real Mad or Barcelona won the league was 2014 – Atletico Madrid.

In Scotland, Celtic have not only won the league nine times running, they have done so with an ever increasing number of points.  But suddenly it has fallen apart.  Rangers have recovered from their self-inflicted wounds, and come runners’ up for the last two years.

In Italy Juventus have won the league nine times in a row.  The last time they didn’t win it was 2011 when they came 7th.

In Germany, Bayern have won the league eight times in a row.  In France PSG have won the league eight times in the last nine seasons.

So how have these teams come to dominate so readily?

The most obvious reason is money; for different reasons the top club or the top two clubs have had more money than everyone else – often more than everyone else put together.  As a result competition has died.   But the virus has disrupted financial matters such that other teams can emerge.

In Germany, Bayern Munich fine it hard to fail, but RB Leipzig have been in the top three for three of the last four years, having never appeared in the top three prior to that.  Bayern are the biggest club but Leipzig are part of the Red Bull portfolio

In Italy, Juventus are the team forever tainted with corruption scandals, but are funded by the Agnelli family. 

In England, Manchester City are owned by Sheikh Mansour, of whom it has been said.

In Spain, Barcelona is owned by its members and represents the political and artistic aspirations of its region.  In France PSG is owned by Qatar Sports Investments.  Celtic is a plc.

So the point is, it is not just money that runs the show but the ability and willingness to pump in more money.  And yet, it is certain that some of the long term winners of leagues are going  to be disrupted this year.  At least Scotland, Italy and Spain look to see the dominating team being overthrown.

As for why… the most obvious reason is the lack of crowds.  Crowds as we know from the research, influence referees, and these clubs all have big stadia with noisy crowds.  Take away the crowds, and unless someone is bribing the ref, the games are going to be more fairly refereed – or with bias going elsewhere as other forms of influence are brought to bear.

Gaslighting: how refereeing in the Premier League is manipulated, and why the media never speak about it.