Premier League: Parity is dead as the top four reign supreme

Parity in the Premier League is over – it is now time to accept that we have two leagues within one. The haves and have-nots.

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(Photo credit: Peter Woodentop)

The division of Television revenue was supposed to give the self-proclaimed best league in the world more parity, more shocks and more reasons to tune in. However, the opposite effect has seemingly kicked in as the Premier League is divided into the haves and have-nots.

While all sides receive the same basic revenue off television companies around the world, the reality is that the big six are essentially in a different league to the rest. 

Yes, Burnley have played a blinder this season and sit in sixth place, right on Arsenal’s coattails. But that parity has as much to do with Arsenal under-performing – though Burnley do deserve credit for a great season. Even still

Transfer fees

It will surely come as no surprise that during the last five seasons Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool make up the top four of transfer spenders. 

Who is behind them? Arsenal, Everton, and Tottenham. 

So the current top six in the Premier League are sat in the top seven of the Premier League transfer table. 

Even this summer we saw a disparity between the top sides and the bottom sides regarding summer spending. Manchester City spent an estimated £212 million on players. Chelsea also spent over £200 while Manchester United and Everton comfortably broke the £100 million mark. 

Behind them? Liverpool and Tottenham. 

Eight sides are spent less than £40 million this summer and every one of them, apart from Burnley, have been embroiled in a relegation battle this season.

While it is not surprising to see the lowest spenders struggling, it shows the disparity in a league that has prided itself on parity. 

Is it all Leicester’s fault?

When Leicester won the Premier League in 2015/16 football fans across the world were delighted. A fairytale story that crowned the Premier League as the product to watch if you wanted unpredictable results.

Leicester were never meant to win the Premier League. The elite of the Premier League dropped the ball in 15/16, faltering and allowing a smaller side to pick up the pieces. 

While we all loved Leicester taking the title home. It raises the question whether it has made the Premier League’s best more motivated to make sure that never happens again. 

The finances spent since that point has been frightening and it looks like we may never see another ‘Leicester City story’ again. 

Top 4 vs bottom 14

Not one person truly expected Leicester to take the title, but they did. That year the top four won 69 of their 112 games against the bottom 14. This gave the lower sides a points percentage of 0.62. In fact, the bottom 14 sides that season picked up 13 wins and 30 draws – very respectable.

Last season? Well, last season we saw a trend towards the dominance of the big four. 69 wins turned into 85, 30 draws turned into 17 and 13 losses turned into ten. 

This season? So far the top four have picked up 72 victories while drawing 19 and losing just four. A points percentage that sat at 0.62 just two seasons ago now is nearly half that figure – 0.33. 

What about other leagues?

La Liga is probably the most similar league to the Premier League as it has a comparable big four in Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, and Valencia. How do they rank against the bottom 14 of La Liga?

Well, it looks to be almost identical to the Premier League. In 92 games the bottom fourteen sides have picked up 35 points. That is a 0.34 ppg average. 

What does all this mean?

Well, English football fans have often said that the reason the Premier League is the best to watch in the world is because of the unpredictability of their games. Often we saw champions fall to relegation strugglers. 

We have seen in Germany, France, Scotland, Spain and Holland leagues that are split with the top teams and then the rest. The Premier League used to feel different to this.

Now it is not. We have a league that has a 25 point gap between fourth and seventh.

In La Liga, that gap is 17 points. Bundesliga five points. Serie A nine points. Ligue 1 17 points. 

The Premier League is now in serious danger of becoming two separate leagues within one. How much money would even a big side like Newcastle United need to spend to truly compete with the elite of the Premier League?

Once fans accept that there is no hope of breaking into the established elite it could begin to turn them off the product. That in turn affects revenue.

So while we all appreciate watching the big clubs, the Premier League needs to address the parity issues if they want to maintain their title of best in the world. 

Is the Premier League still the best league in the world? Let us know in the comments section below.

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