There are twenty clubs in the Premier League. They all play a minimum of forty games a season …. that’s assuming some clubs get knocked out of the two domestic Cups in the first round. But the reality is that the top clubs play far more games than the bottom clubs and there is a far greater demand on their playing staff.
The top clubs generally:
- Have more domestic Cup games because they go further.
- Have many more games due to involvement in European competitions.
- Have far more members of their squad on International duty …. and depending what year it is, this could be a significant amount of games.
- Have far more intensive pre-season tours and competitions in order to promote their brands … which results in less opportunity for players to enjoy a healthy break from the effects of a demanding season.
And yet all Premier League clubs are restricted to the same number of players in their squads. The squad numbers may be enough for clubs in the bottom half of the Premier League but is that so for clubs in the top half? The congestion of the fixture list experienced by top clubs is also far more difficult and demanding to manage for the top clubs.
Clubs such as Spurs, City, Pool, Chelsea, Arsenal, United, and maybe one or two others, need at least two full teams within their squads to cope with the demands of the competitions they are involved in. The top six clubs would almost require three full teams to allow players to recover from injury and maintain full fitness as the season progresses.
The way that the ‘powers-that-be’ in football continually look to make more money out of the game makes one wonder where it will end. It has been painfully obvious to anyone involved in the game that money dictates what happens in football.
It’s very rare these days for any top club to field its best eleven players for two or three consecutive matches let alone a series of matches. The amount of games faced by clubs prevents it. It’s ironical really because one team beating another may not mean they are the better club …. just that they had more of their first eleven players available on the day. Play the same game a week later and the result could well be very different.
It’s interesting to note that Leicester City won the league after being knocked out of both domestic cups early (FA Cup in the third round and after their third match in the FL Cup) and with no European football to contend with. That has to be a huge advantage to any club with decent players, a good manager, and only one competition to focus on.
Some European leagues enjoy a mid-season break. The only time English clubs get a rest is during International breaks …. which does not benefit the top clubs at all.
Due to the International program, domestic Cups, and European commitments, the top Premier League clubs are never able to get a clear run in the league due to the continual interruptions of everything else. Much of this is unavoidable but some re-thinking of International friendlies and competitions could ease the problem …. maybe.
So how can the game of football be structured in such a way that the top clubs are not disadvantaged by their own success?
One way would be to restructure English football so that there are five divisions, each of which would have fewer clubs participating and which would confine promotions and relegations to two clubs instead of three. Another way would be to increase the size of the squad Premier League clubs are allowed to use. I’m not sure what either of these options would mean for the economics of each club.
Anyway, it’s just a thought and I’m sure there will be many more from VS members.