One of the main differences between the top sports league in the UK compared to those across the other side of the Pond in the USA, is the factor of promotion and relegation. Because the major American sports leagues began the franchise system some time ago, with the NHL, NBA, MLS and of course NFL, follow this method then they do not have the worries of relegation, promotion and can plan ahead knowing where they will be next season.
In recent years, as the money continues to flood into English football, the talk of a franchise system has increased and increased. This is essentially seen as an attempt for the elite clubs to keep onto the money coming into the game and would essentially be a system of the same 20 clubs being in the Premier League season after season with no real punishment for coming bottom. Would you be in favour of this or against? What odds would you get for a good title race? Would it mean a more level playing field where any team/rider could win like the 2019 Grand National ?
My initial reaction to this is one of negativity. As a life long Sunderland fan, the thought of being stuck in a league with no where to go, removing all of those joyous escapes from relegation and the championship title runs disappearing does not sound appealing. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the NFL but not having relegation systems starts to make the league redundant for teams early on and as the season reaches halfway some games become formalities. Imagine watching Wolves vs Crystal Palace with both teams having nothing play for?
But then again, would a Franchise system improve the quality. The teams at the very top level would not be affected as they can plan well ahead knowing that money will flow in, the Premier League payments will be there and they will be playing at the very top level. But what about the middling teams? Knowing there is no threat to relegation teams like Southampton, Wolves, Cardiff, Newcastle etc could throw money at better players and raise the league’s lower end to be more competitive. This would push the bigger clubs to keep improving to get those all important champions league places and all round the money would improve quality.
But then again should the game be all abut money and quality, or should the passion and drama come first? After all the Premier League is growing at a time when the NFL is fading in attendance numbers and TV viewing figures! The answer remains, don’t try and fix something that isn’t broken!