Is Premier League Football in its Dying Days

I might be completely wrong, but I don’t remember football feeling as tribalistic as it does now when I was younger. Yes, I wanted Liverpool to win every match the club played and I hated Manchester United, but I think the last vestiges of the ‘friendly derby’ with Everton were still there. One of my best friends growing up was a Blue and I really don’t remember the football being a major issue. Nowadays, though, people are locked into the support of their club coming first and foremost. The idea of coming together to fight against something bad feels like it is from another era. It hasn’t been that long since the European Super League debacle, yet the idea of fans coming together in the same way to protest against something similar seems extremely unlikely now. For a long time, supporters were happy to cheer on Manchester City because it meant that Liverpool weren’t winning the number of titles that we deserved in the Jürgen Klopp era. I myself was happier to see Pep Guardiola’s side win it than Arsenal last season because of how irrelevant it was.

Right now, though, it feels as if football as a concept is at risk of coming apart at the seams; at least as far as the Premier League is concerned. I must confess that I am a Liverpool supporter first and foremost, so the extent to which I think about the likes of the Championship or lower, or indeed foreign leagues, is extremely limited. I would be incredibly happy to see wage caps and transfer limits put in place on all clubs around the world, but I’m also not naive enough to think that that would actually happen. There are loads of reasons why it wouldn’t happen, not the least of which is that the footballing bodies are delighted with how much money is involved in the sport as they’re all taking their own share of it. One of the biggest obstacles, though, is the lack of desire from fans of virtually all clubs to put roadblocks in place to ensure that winning isn’t just about who can spend the most money. Instead, most want to see their club at the top of that particular pile as it would mean that they could celebrate trophies, irrespective of where the money came from.

Man City’s Attempts to Burn the Whole Thing Down

I am acutely aware of the fact that I am never going to view aspects of Manchester City’s behaviour with anything other than contempt. I am of the opinion that the Pep Guardiola-managed side has all but cheated Liverpool out of several Premier League titles, meaning that Jürgen Klopp left the club in the summer with just one to his name rather than three. Arsenal supporters will doubtless be thinking similar things about them in the wake of the manner in which Mikel Arteta’s men failed to lift either of the last two leagues in spite of being in position to do so, only to see the club with 115 charges against them nip in and take the glory away. Last week, it emerged that the Manchester club was essentially taking the Premier League to court in order to challenge the associated party transaction rules. These rules are in place to stop owners like Sheikh Mansour from getting a company that he owns to sponsor the football club for tens or hundreds of millions of pounds in order to boost their coffers and comply with the likes of profit and sustainability rules.

They are, say City, unfair. They stop clubs from being able to compete and ensure that the status quo remains the same at the top of the division. Clubs such as Saudi Arabian owned Newcastle United and Chelsea were keen to support City’s legal battle, in spite of the fact that City have won six out of the last seven Premier League titles. Quite what status quo the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal are looking to maintain I’m not entirely sure. The problem is that clubs only think about their own self-interest. If Manchester City win their legal battle, it isn’t sides like Everton, Leicester City or Tottenham Hotspur that are going to benefit. It will only be the clubs owned by countries or reckless billionaires that win titles for the foreseeable future. City, Chelsea and Newcastle United will take it in turns to lift the trophy depending on how much money they’ve been able to spend during the summer, whilst the rest of the league will just by bystanders, wondering what the point of the entire enterprise is given the state of affairs.

The Premier League is no Better Than the Bundesliga or Ligue 1

When Manchester City won the league again this season, it should’ve been a momentous occasion. The club was breaking new ground, winning the Premier League for the fourth time in a row, which is something that no other club had done in England before. Not Liverpool in the 1970s and 1980s; not Manchester United in the 1990s and 2000s; not Chelsea in the Roman Abramovich era. It was, on paper, an incredible achievement. Yet no one outside of Manchester cared a jot. More people watched Jürgen Klopp give his goodbye speech to the Anfield crowd than watched Pep Guardiola’s side lift the trophy. Aside from anything else, it is difficult to take the win seriously when you remember that the club has 115 charges hanging over it from the very competition that was celebrating its victory. In many ways, it feels similar to how supporters in Germany or France must feel when Paris Saint-Germain or Bayern Munich win the domestic title yet again. It sees a collective shrug and most people move on to do something else with their time instead.

How long will it take before Premier League football becomes so entirely predictable that people stop watching? I know that I am barely clinging on to my level of interest with my fingernails, whilst some good friends of mine have stopped watching altogether. When you’re going up against a team that you perceive has cheated, regardless of the actual facts of the matter, then why bother investing your time and your emotions? If a league gets to the point that Manchester United supporters would rather that Manchester City won the title because it means that Liverpool haven’t, or Liverpool fans are happy to see City win it because an Arsenal win would point to their club’s own failures, it is probably time to consider what’s gone wrong. The problem is, the Premier League can’t put the genie back in the bottle now because to do so might well trigger a diplomatic problem. The British government won’t want to upset the Saudi Arabians or those from the United Arab Emirates, spending billions in the country, so where on earth do we go from here?

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