Four games into the Premier League season and already Manchester looks like being the pre-eminent town for challenging for the Premier League title with Chelsea, Arsenal et al being a very distant third, fourth etc.
City with their obvious financial backing seem to treat the Premier League as their own personal fantasy football game buying quality player after quality player although credit must go to Mancini for converting them into a potent attacking force with a creative midfield , a solid back four and a world class keeper. Add to that the bench and rest of the squad and the wage bill would make an accountant weep.
Across the city (no pun intended) Sir Alex has re-vamped a United squad which ground our results last season, bringing in the cream of British youth and succeeded in producing a team which has scored thirteen goals in the last two games against established Premier League clubs.
Chelsea are winning matches without looking the potent forceof yesteryear and have the appearance of an aging side and every other club in the division appears to be able to beat each other as results so far this season have borne out.
Whilst this may make it interesting down at the bottom as it did last season and there may well be a healthy competition for the lesser European spots, if the two Manchester
clubs fulfil their potential it could spell the end of the Premier League as we know it.
A look at La Liga would seem to provide a template for how the Premier League may progress. There, Barcalona and Real Madrid contest every La Liga , the last club to win it outside the top two being Valencia in 2003. In Spain the clubs negotiate their own TV deals thereby securing the majority of the Euros.
Already the former members of the G14 (an association of the top 14 clubs which disbanded in 2008) are calling for increased money for clubs whose players make international appearances and if the lack of competition in domestic leagues plus the mismatches in the early European games due to the expanded Champion’s League continues then it is surely only a matter of time before the top 14 or 18 clubs decide to breakaway and form a European league.
The pan European television rights would be enormous and with air travel reducing the distances for clubs to travel the clubs would make it an attractive proposition for media and club owners alike.
The future for the rest of the countries clubs may well switch to being feeder clubs for the bigger clubs and already we see links with clubs in other countries with young players going on season long loans to clubs such as between Manchester United and Royal Antwerp in Belgium.
In other countries such as Australia and the United States other sports such as AFL and NFL operate draft systems and salary cap aimed and establishign equality across the league but these tend to be in sports where it is easy do monitor and govern largely because the game isn’t played anyone else!
Football’s problem would be how you would ensure that the system was fairly enforced across the world a nigh on impossible possibility.
The Premier League has provided many innovations and brought the sport kicking and screaming into the new millennium but its success in attracting mega bucks both from the media and the owners may in the end signal the death knell for universal domestic football.
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