The irony of any rows between the Premier League and the Football League concerning the way in which money be paid in parachute payments should be paid out of the vast reserves of cash that the Premier League now accumulates from the sal...
The irony of any rows between the Premier League and the Football League concerning the way in which money be paid in parachute payments should be paid out of the vast reserves of cash that the Premier League now accumulates from the sale of television rights is that the very reason for the formation of the Premier League in the first place is was to avoid a great deal of “solidarity” in the first place. Times, however, have changed a considerable amount over the course of the last two decades, and the financial gap has grown to such an extent that parachute payments to the clubs that were relegated from the Premier League became a necessity in order to save them from themselves.
The level of these payments, however, has become a cause for concern. In March, a letter from the chairman of the Football League, Greg Clarke, revealed that from next season, clubs relegated from the Premier League will receive £23m in the first year after the drop (a £7m increase on the current levels), £18m in the second year(a £5m increase) and £9m in the third. By way of comparison, clubs in the Championship who do not get parachute payments currently receive £2.3m a season, League One sides £325,000 and League Two sides £250,000 in what are known as “solidarity” payments. It has been proposed that those payments are increased by just five per cent under the new offer, meaning that clubs relegated from the Premier League would be receiving ten times as much as those that hadn’t been fortunate enough to have as little as one season in the sun.
That the Football League should be jittery about this sort of increase in funding at this particular time is understandable. All three divisions of their competition had a degree of competition running through them that the Premier League, which finishes its season this weekend with practically all of its matches meaning little to nothing, cannot offer. Indeed, the more cynical amongst us might even pause to consider whether there might be some sort of deep-rooted – quite possibly subconscious – desire to make the League as uncompetitive as theirs is. The evidence, over the last few years in the Premier League at least, has been that there is a clear correlation between the amount of money that a football club has to spend on wages and transfer fees. The Football League has, in comparison, been less predictable and more egalitarian.
The result of this has been acres of good publicity for the Football League in recent weeks, and this hasn’t reflected particularly positively on the Premier League. Recent events off the pitch – the retirement of Alex Fergsuon, the sacking of Roberto Mancini and the apparently interminable stories concerning the future of Wayne Rooney – may have papered over a few cracks, but the truth of the matter is that the Premier League has been a stultifying place this season. It is highly likely that the four clubs that will assume the Champions League places for next season will be the four that most would have predicted for most of the season, whilst the three clubs relegated don’t contain any names that would have caused anybody to raise their eyebrows either. As a business, the Premier League is ruthlessly efficient. It seldom resembles a sporting event these days, though, and if people start seriously start asking the question of whether it is still offering the level of entertainment that they might reasonably be entitled to expect from a product that is now priced very much in the “premium” bracket, then that mask of ruthless efficiency might just start to slip a little.
None of this, however, has prevented Richard Scudamore, the Premier League’s all seeing I, from getting involved in the small matter of how the Football League manages its own financial affairs. The League proposed two ways in which the financial gap between those clubs relegated from the Premier League and the rest in the Champion
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