Over 20 years ago, a collection of top-flight clubs built the world of football as we know it. A league based on selling the sport to the world, funded by a new wave of TV deals.
It also opened a pandora’s box, spinning the sport out of control.

Not to oversimplify things, but the Premier League came into existence to follow the model of American sports.

Rather than in a sporting manner, they followed the explosion of TV and ad revenue.

Until the 1990s, sports existed in a weird state. Financial instability ran rampant, as no one understood how to market the product. Using the NBA as an example, the league teetered on collapse until a new batch of stars arrived to sell the sport.

Photo: Liverpool

At least, that’s part of the vision that supposedly fueled the competition’s creation. However, a fundamental part of the league’s creation is and has always been the monopolization of the sport at the highest level. The league broke away to ensure that the top clubs of England would never be burdened with sharing their revenue across the footballing pyramid. 

As the league’s history continues to show, the Prem is the ultimate end of the sport, an end where the Super League came into existence in 1992 and has ruled since.

Humanity incorporated sports into our lives from an early stage and continues to keep its iron grip on us. Since then, the marketization of an important cultural cornerstone remains a key for all those involved.

The luxury of football stems from how intertwined clubs are with local communities. Therefore, we see them more as community goods than enterprises. While turning a profit remained a goal, clubs tended to still be viewed by all as icons of cities.

American sports represent a different beast. Some existed as part of the community; the post-war era brought the leagues we know. Anything and everything related to sports became entirely reliant on the money they brought in; fans be damned.

Perhaps the best comparison for the state the English top flight found itself in is the NBA of the 1980s. A league mired in failing organizations and controversies bailed out by a TV deal reliant on new stars.

PHOTO: Statista

Rather than needing new stars, Rupert Murdoch, amongst others, they realized the need to better receive TV revenue. In 1988, Murdoch’s ITV won the Football League’s TV rights for just around 47 million pounds. By the time the Prem found Sky as their new partner, the breakaway league landed a deal worth more than 304 million pounds.

This became the breakaway league’s promise: Allow us into the football pyramid and reap the rewards. Even if English clubs failed to dominate European competitions right away, this Premier League remained a long-term project. Join now, and in 20 years, you will be kings of Europe.

Just as the NBC and other deals saved the NBA, Sky became the Prem’s savior. In the next 20 years, both sides would make each other dominant forces in sports.

For as much as people rightfully complain about the Super League, little scorn is reserved for the Prem. After all, aren’t they just following the league’s example?

As discussed previously, clubs started as key parts of the community where identities were created. Due to that, the stability of all clubs became paramount to the larger pyramid. All clubs shared revenue to keep the sport stable and alive, even if it meant the top division paid more.

Yes, clubs paid their fair share to keep clubs they may never have known alive, but the sport remained a community good. As such, the stability from the top down mattered to the English FA. Clubs moved up and down the pyramid but failed to face the threat of relegations killing clubs.

The Premier League promised that if the wealthiest clubs prosper, the rest of the pyramid will.

Forget the league paying its share of dues; if you’re lucky enough to make it to the Prem, you can pay off your debts.

It’s the same old fallacy of trickle-down economics that dominated the era that birthed the Premier League. As much as people hate the Super League, the message remains the same at the heart of both leagues. For sports to be profitable in a certain way, clubs must be allowed to monopolize the sports.

PHOTO: The Telegraph

Teams become fodder the moment they get relegated because that’s not who matters in this case. A parachute payment staves off some of the pain, but that high fails to last. Clubs push themself to bankruptcy to achieve top-flight status, while the Prem’s elite keep their statuses. 

When you break it down, little differences exist between the promises of both breakaway leagues.

Perhaps if the league didn’t touch the heartbeat of the sport, fans would be protesting the Premier League.

Stemming from the moment that contract became the word of the land, the sport would never be the same. It’d be naive to say this expansion would never have happened; it’s a reflection of our world.
As the Prem continues its financial hegemony, the rest of Europe remains two steps behind in all aspects, desperately waiting for the chance to catch up.

PHOTO: Getty Images

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