Sports

Flop of Premier League’s Promoted Three Exposes Growing Gulf

For just the second time in Premier League history all three promoted sides are heading back down to the Championship after a season that has exposed the growing gulf between English football’s top two tiers.

Burnley and Sheffield United’s relegation has been confirmed with one game to go, while Luton’s mathematical chance of survival means little given the 12-goal swing in goal difference they would need to overtake Nottingham Forest on the final day.

Not since 1997-98 have all three promoted sides been relegated.

Crystal Palace, Barnsley and Bolton perished that season but they combined for a total of 108 points.

Burnley, Luton and Sheffield United have picked up just 66 points between them this season, 17 of which came against each other, smashing the previous lowest tally for three promoted clubs.

Only points deductions for Everton and Forest kept the relegation battle alive in the final months of the campaign as, for the first time, all three relegated clubs failed to even reach 30 points.

A growing financial disparity between the Premier League and the Championship has been pinpointed as the major reason why the leap into the top flight is becoming even harder.

“At the very top of the Championship a club runs at what, £30 million to £50 million costs annually?” Burnley boss Vincent Kompany said.

“Then the bottom of the Premier League runs at what, £150 million to £160 million annually? It’s just a massive difference in everything.”

Burnley did invest heavily in their squad, spending over £90 million on new players last summer.

However, the vast majority of that was splashed on promising prospects who took time to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League, while Kompany’s insistence on playing out from the back attracted criticism for being naive.

By contrast, Luton were cautious with their windfall after a meteoric rise to the top-flight thanks to five promotions in 10 years.

“We got promoted with one of the smallest budgets,” said Luton boss Rob Edwards, who was reduced to tears after a 3-1 defeat at West Ham on Saturday.

“It was a huge gap, a chasm, between us and the Premier League. That won’t necessarily be the case now. We can be one of the stronger teams.”

Luton will not only benefit from over £100 million in broadcasting revenue from this season, but will get parachute payments for the next three years if they fail to achieve promotion again.

The payments — which give clubs 55 percent of their Premier League TV revenue the year after relegation, 45 percent the next season and 30 percent in the third year — are designed to ease the financial damage from falling out of the top-flight.

They are also aimed at giving promoted clubs extra financial security to splash out on trying to be competitive in the Premier League.

But the payments have been heavily criticised for creating a competitive imbalance in the Championship.

Chairman of the English Football League (EFL) Rick Parry has described parachute payments as “an evil that must be eradicated.”

Leicester, Leeds and Southampton, the three sides relegated last season, all finished in the top four of the second tier.

That should come as some consolation to Burnley, Luton and Sheffield United, but exemplifies a problem the English game must get to grips with.

AFP

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