Is The English Premier League the Best Soccer League in the World?
There is a regular argument in soccer or football as they call it in England, as to which league is the best. Now there are different factors to consider in this argument, so it is necessary to look at the debate for different angles. Does ‘the best’ mean most watched? Or highest revenue? Or best players? The Sports Techie community blog knows the answer is not an exact science, rather an opinion. Let’s take a deeper look and drill down into the different areas:
The biggest measure of the highest individual performance is the coveted Ballon D’or. In recent years, this sought-after award has been subject to a tug-of-war between the footballing geniuses that are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Both of whom ply their trade in the Spanish La Liga, with Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. The last time that a player from the Premier League won the Ballon D’or was back in 2001 when Liverpool’s Michael Owen scooped the award.
According to a report in the Guardian, The Premier League remains “by far the world’s richest football league, its clubs earning approximately €2bn more collectively than those in Europe’s second richest, the German Bundesliga”. With much off this accounted for by huge TV rights sales.
In terms of biggest sponsorship deals, Manchester United’s Chevrolet deal is the biggest shirt sponsorship, which works out at around £53m per year over seven years.
Barcelona recently arranged a deal with Rakuten for a similar amount per season and next highest is Chelsea’s deal with Yokohama Tyres at £40m per season.
Fans love to buy merchandise and football equipment either directly through the club or through sports retailers such as Sports Mark. The more popular the club is globally, the more revenue they will make through merchandise and branded equipment sales.
Although the Premier League has seen a dip in TV viewers in the last year, it is still the most viewed league across the globe. The figures show TV viewing rates for an average game:
English Premier League – 12 million
Spanish La Liga – 2 million
Italian Serie A – 4.5 million
German Bundesliga – 2 million
So those stats show that there is a huge sway towards the Premier League, which is by far the most watched per game.
Team success in Champions League
In much the same way that Ronaldo and Messi have been the main challengers as individuals in recent years, their two teams have dominated Champions League success. Real Madrid have won the trophy on three occasions from the last four years and Barcelona once. The Premier League hasn’t seen a team pick up the trophy since 2012 when Chelsea beat Bayern Munich on penalties.
The signing fees of football players has rocketed in recent years and this year saw Neymar sign for PSG from Barcelona for an astronomical €222m. The current five highest fees are:
Neymar (to PSG) – €222m
Mbappe (to PSG) – €145m (raising to +€45m)
Dembele (to Barcelona) – €105m (raising to +€35m)
Pogba (to Manchester United) – €105m
Bale – €100m
Taking all of these factors into account it seems that global viewers love the Premier League the most but is that because the games are more exciting? With different champions most years, the odd football miracle (Leicester City) and huge managerial characters, they make for good TV. The revenue is dictated by the viewing figures and yet Premier League teams cannot catch up with Spanish Giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.
These two teams remain the teams that most players wish to sign for, although PSG are pumping money into the game to break the transfer records. To conclude, we say the Premier League is probably the best league but the Spanish giants are definitely the best teams right now, with most of the best players.
Sports Techie, I love the fact that the English Premier League broadcasts on TV live on NBC Sports as well as being available online for soccer fans here in the United States and around the world. Thus, it is no surprise they crush the other leagues in viewership numbers.
Premier League, La Liga and Messi jersey’s are everywhere too. The sales of team and player swag is big business and generates both brand awareness and fan loyalty.
I have seen a friendly match between Manchester United and Celtic FC played at Century Link Field in Seattle. I bought a secondary market ticket online for face value. The seats were in the second row on the 50-yard line. A nice fan from the UK sat next to us and asked me if I knew who the silver haired gentlemen was that walked by before the match. It turned out to be Sir Robert Charlton CBE, otherwise known as Bobby. He scored the winning goal for Team England when they last won the World Cup in 1966, the year he also won the Ballon d’Or and the same year I was born. Charlton was a midfielder for ManU from 1956 to 1973.
For sure, Sir Bobby’s largest yearly salary was less what Neymar makes in one game this season for PSG.
I was also able to watch Chelsea FC practice before a friendly against the Seattle Sounders inside the same stadium. I told my partner the guys in front of us on a circle passing the ball around earn over $150 to $175 million in salaries.
Money can change the tides for teams and leagues in a moments notice. Revenue from television and digital media rights, transfer fees, and superstar power, usually equal up to winning. Monaco made a Champions League run last year that almost turned that formula upside down but in the end, Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid defeated Italian powerhouse Juventus in the 2017 final.
Where does the MLS stand in this argument, are they a top ten professional soccer league or not?
One thing is for certain, the EPL is a top-five football league. The question remains though, which way are they trending, up or down that list?
It depends on who you ask, eh.
See ya later sports techie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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