FC Bayern Munich host Borussia Dortmund at 5:30 p.m. UK time on Saturday. As the top two Bundesliga sides warm up, Premier League kick-offs end at 3pm – including Nottingham Forest v Wolves, Bournemouth v Fulham and Crystal Palace v Leicester City.
The Bundesliga duel is said to be far more attractive. And yet Bayern and Dortmund have every reason to be jealous of Bournemouth and Co.
For their tenth straight Bundesliga win last year, Bayern earned £79m (€90m) in broadcast and central commercial payments from the league. In the Premier League, bottom Norwich earned £100m in broadcast and central commercial payments. Bottom place in the Premier League now pays better than winning the Bundesliga – or Serie A or Ligue 1. Even in La Liga, the sums Real Madrid and Barcelona made from La Liga have been less than the Big Six of the Premier League.
Officially, there is no European Super League. Instead, the Premier League is quickly taking on that role. Nine of the ten most willing Europeans to spend this year come from England. The Premier League now has 11 of the world’s 20 richest clubs, Deloitte finds – a record for a country. Their latest Football Money League report predicts that all 20 Premier League clubs could soon be among the top 30 richest clubs in the world.
This financial gap isn’t fully reflected in European competitions, though: only two teams from the Premier League have made it to the last eight of the Champions League. In the longer term, however, the performances of the Premier League in Europe are improving significantly: five English clubs have reached the last four Champions League finals. Manchester City’s 7-0 evisceration of RB Leipzig – who are just eight points from the top of the Bundesliga – was a crazy result. But for European clubs, there was perhaps also a chilling glimpse of how financial inequality might eventually manifest itself on the pitch.
Ultimately, it is “more or less inevitable” that the Premier League will turn its financial dominance into sporting dominance, says Stefan Szymanski, the co-author of football nomics. In fact, the financial gap between the Premier League and the rest is widening. Because the gap is increasingly being driven not by viewers and revenue in a league’s home market, but by the eyeballs of the world.
This season, the Premier League became the first major sports league in the world to make more money from overseas broadcasts than domestic broadcasts. The Premier League now earns £1.85bn a year from overseas rights; the second most lucrative European league, La Liga, generates £730m. Serie A, Europe’s premier league 30 years ago, makes just £180m a year from its overseas broadcast rights – a tenth of the Premier League. The Bundesliga and Ligue 1 generate even less.
Just as Spotify and Netflix are helping leading musicians and dramas become popular around the world, globalization also means that the best sports leagues can now capture a larger share of the global market than ever before. The Premier League’s six-year TV deal in the United States with NBC is valued at £2 billion. For US fans who are used to the Premier League, which combines sport and storytelling like no other football league, a move to the Bundesliga is no more appealing than an exchange successor for a mediocre soap. While Premier League recent overseas rights are up 26 per cent, thanks in large part to the US, Bundesliga and Serie A recent overseas rights have actually fallen in value compared to the previous cycle. As the Premier League becomes more attractive abroad, it could even reduce demand for competing leagues.
“The already wide gap between the Premier League and the rest of Europe’s top leagues is likely to widen further,” said Jake Cohen, sports attorney at Mackrell Solicitor. He believes that “the Premier League has only just scratched the surface of the US market.”
For all its global appeal, the Premier League could still be retired. A new independent regulator of English football could create new difficulties for clubs – perhaps by limiting what owners can bring to clubs. Uefa’s new Financial Sustainability Regulations could also cut spending in the Premier League, says Dan Plumley, a sports economist from Sheffield Hallam University.
“I call that financial doping”
Javier Tebas, the president of La Liga, is leading the opposition to what he calls “the Premier League’s unsustainable model, based on massive debt and private equity investments”. Over the five years to 2021, Premier League and Championship shareholders have invested £2.8bn in their clubs, compared to £365m in La Liga. “That’s what I call financial doping, which has caused player salaries to spiral out of control. It is dangerous and financially unsustainable.”
Such spending has indeed had a disastrous effect on clubs like Derby and Wigan, whose attempts to reach the Premier League have failed. But owner investment has also made the Premier League more competitive. While the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 have a “Big One”, the Premier League is still talking about a Big Six, despite Man City’s spending, which Newcastle United could soon turn into a Big Seven. The question of who gets to own clubs is very real; Premier League clubs were too easily bought for deeply dubious purposes. But on the pitch, owners’ investments have enhanced the quality of the Premier League and, in turn, its global appeal.
The biggest risk to the Premier League’s reputation, according to Szymanski, is if the Bundesliga reconsiders its ’50+1′ ownership rule. This limits private ownership to a minority stake in a club – giving fans representation on boards but also effectively helping to cement the position of Bayern, the richest team in the country. If ownership rules were changed – something little seems to have an appetite for – Germany, with its larger population and economy than England, could be best placed to challenge the Premier League.
Football fans have become accustomed to the relative equality between the major European leagues. However, in the global sporting landscape, football is unusual as its major leagues compete against each other for supremacy.
The three major US sports of baseball, basketball and American football each have a league that outperforms all others. So now, cricket, with the Indian Premier League. This is where football could be headed, with the remaining five major European leagues falling further and further behind the Premier League – as are the top leagues in the Netherlands and Portugal, whose top clubs once regularly competed for European titles, done long ago.
In other sports, “the natural balance is a league at the top,” explains Szymanski. “Compared to the Premier League, the other four big leagues are increasingly looking like smaller leagues.”
The Premier League doesn’t need a Super League. But for the continental elite, a Super League could be their best hope of crushing the Premier League.
Source : sports.yahoo.com