By Kevin Koczwara
ESPN is reporting that this Thursday Premier League Chairmen and owners will meet to discuss an overhaul or reshaping of the Premier League. This meeting is being called to help cement the Premier League and English football as the best in the world. Some of the topics include:
- Relegation parachutes: teams that are relegated are struggling to stay afloat after they are relegated to the second tier of English football because they lose over 40 billion pounds in annual revenue if they are relegated.
- Player prices/wages: teams in the Premier League are in severe debt, some are struggling to stay afloat because they can’t compete with the wages of other clubs in the league.
- Player transfer fees: this summer was a summer of record fees — which every summer is because the value of money is inflated, and the value of talent is inflated– but this year more than ever the league saw a number of record moves that staggered even the most jaded of fans (look at Manchester City’s summer signings and don’t tell me some of those prices are outlandish).
- A Salary Cap is being proposed to handle the wages and transfer issues, making the league more competitive. The league would become one in which it is the team with the best management and development skills, not the one with the biggest purses. This would also invite more determined and smarter owners into the league– think Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots who has expressed interest in Liverpool. The only down side to a salary cap? The league would be hurt in recruiting bigger name stars because other leagues would have the freedom to dish out pretty penny’s for big name stars.
- New Technology: Instant replay, stopped clocks and time keepers could all become apart of the game. This would eliminate a lot of the human errors that occur weekly by Referees and their assistants, but a system needs to be put in place, because who knows who is keeping the time and how well they do (think of all the stoppage of play in the NBA and all the times refs have to fix the clocks.) I am a fan of stoppage time because it gives the game an element of the unknown, but it turns off thousands of fans. My father hates it because he thinks the time is arbitrarily made up, and as a former umpires, we both know that refs want to end a game as soon and smoothly as possible, so adding the correct amount of time isn’t the most important thing on a refs mind. Maybe a clock will help with players like Didier Drogba-the-floppa and force them to stop flopping like fish to slow down the game and waste time. A system will need to be created, a challenge one for coaches like the NFL would be best, with a shorter time allotted to make a decision.
- Goal Bonuses: one thing on the agenda is making the game more entertaining by giving teams bonus points for putting up a bunch of goals. The thinking is people pay to see goals, not stand stills, so why not award teams that Can put the ball in the back of the net? I kind of like this idea, but I am skeptical of it. I want teams to compete each week with one another, nut lay down and roll over on the defensive end for a few points. I like the physical nature of defending. But I would not mind seeing Chelsea have to play at least 2 players in front of the ball if they want to compete for the league title.
- And there is some notion of creating a two-tier Premier League system of relegation and promotion that keeps the teams in contention now in the top tiers and doesn’t kill their revenue. It would also invite Celtic and Rangers into the league, bringing in outside revenue. But this is a long shot and will need to be drawn out more if it will ever happen. We will have to keep our eyes open on the updates this story will surely have.
Former executive chairman of the FA, David Davies, will also be at the meeting to propose some other rule changes having to do with ticket prices and the FA Cup.
- Ticket Prices: Davies wants to bring the loving fans and youth back into the game by giving them fair prices. Tickets in the Premier League and FA Cup have sky-rocketed, leaving many seats empty and fans feeling left outside. One way to stop this is by implementing a ticketing system for younger patrons and match-day buyers. I say this needs to happen because I want to be able to afford a match some day in my life (after airfare and hotels I wouldn’t be able to afford a meal–of course first I will need to be able to pay for the airfare and hotel first). I think Davies will be able to persuade owners to move towards a fairer ticketing process because owners don’t want to see empty seats in their stands or their stands to be full of dispassionate fans. Who wants their stadium to look like the Staples Center during a Lakers’s play-off game? Those aren’t fans, they are rich people who just want to be somewhere important. They also force out the day-to-day fan who will bring in way more revenue on a match-to-match basis (they buy beer and merchandise).
- FA Cup Home Field Advantage: Davies wants to bring the FA Cup back alive. It has died over recent years, becoming a second fiddle for Premier League and other top squads more focused on their league glory. Once the crown jewel of English Football, the FA Cup has become nothing more than a trial ground for young talent of the countries best clubs, a place for reserves to get first team football time. What Davies is proposing is that matches being played by top sides against smaller-clubs in third matches would have to take place at the smaller sides grounds, bringing in big-team revenue to the smaller club, and making the game more hostile for the visiting big club, forcing them to play some of, if not all of, their top-squad players. A welcomed change if you ask me because the FA Cup pits all teams on the same playing field and makes for more entertaining matches. The matches have a David v Goliath feel and an aggressive, much more prideful feel because teams are defending their right to be a club in England in a way.
Let’s see what happens on Thursday, maybe something good will come out of the meeting, maybe nothing will come out of it. But for now, we have to sit and wait and hope that some things are changed. (Mainly all the flopping we do see in the game these days. Is anyone else tired of seeing grown men fall over from the slightest of touches? Grow up you bunch of pansies and stay on your feet and earn a goal.)
As for The Soccer Guys Publishing Schedule, it will from now on be Mondays and Fridays until I find at least one other contributor to take over Wednesdays for me (anyone interested?). I have a lot on my plate right now and can’t be writing about soccer 3 days a week and working on other projects…If only Ig ot paid to do this, then I could do it every day.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through twitter @kkoczwara. Follow The Soccer Guys on Twitter@TheSoccerGuys and on Facebook by becoming a fan of The Sports Guys.