Believe it or not the Premier League as we know it started 25 years ago, yep it’s been that long.
Surprise surprise Manchester Utd won the league, Arsenal came tenth, (that actually happened) and Wimbledon didn’t even have a club shirt sponsor, far from the glitz and glamour that we see today.
Within that quarter of a century of exciting, thrilling and sometimes awful football there have been a few changes as well, some good (remember the back pass) and some not so good (how many times have they changed the offside rule?)
In all of the many changes one constant remains, one team wins the title and three teams get relegated (aside from 94/95 where four teams got the chop), yes RELEGATION, the word that keeps multi-millionaire chairman up most nights of the year, the word that every fan across the country prays to God they don’t hear come the end of the season.
RELEGATION. RELEGATION. RELEGATION.
47 teams have played in the Premier League, there have been some surprises over the years, Blackpool, Oldham Athletic, and let’s not pretend we aren’t all shocked Bournemouth are there.
No one is immune from relegation
Of those 47 teams there have only been 6 teams that have never left the top tier, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Everton (by the skin of their teeth) so the old adage ‘you’re too good to go down’ doesn’t ring true (ask fans of Leeds and Newcastle United).
In a league that is full of titanic teams most managers have one goal in mind: get to 40 points. Okay, this might not be the goal for a handful of teams in the league but for the rest the season starts with one goal and one goal only: SURVIVAL.
For the last 14 seasons 40 points will see you survive in the league, West ham were relegated in 2002/3 with 42 points but since then it’s been a safe bet.
It has almost been the championship within a championship: get to 40 points and you can pop the champagne you’ve made it, you’ve survived another year in the most lucrative league in the world, players can buy that Ferrari they have on hold, and the chairman can finally put the deposit on that yacht.
However, miss the 40 points and the rabbit hole is deeper than you could imagine.
Rob Wilson, sports finance expert from Sheffield Hallam University, thinks the total cost of relegation could reach £60m.
It’s a lot worse than that, you lose out on £100m in TV money, sponsors no longer take those calls (yep the director is on another call or extremely busy), you can’t afford wages anymore, and season ticket sales dry up.
Oh yes, the rabbit hole is deep.
The art of staying afloat is big business
There are now managers who are ‘specialists’ in avoiding relegation.
Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce are lauded about how they have never been relegated as a premier league manager and that they guarantee to keep your club safe from relegation (so far so good).
According to numerous sources when taking the Crystal Palace job he asked for a £3 million bonus on top of his £55,000 per week wages, yep keeping a team in the league is big big business.
Very few managers start the season dreaming of winning the title, many managers dream of winning the ‘race to 40 points’
Written by Ade Oladipo
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