How I Fell Out Of Love With The Premier League

Last updated : 17 May 2010 By Carolina Tiger

I know that some will say that my dislike of the Premier League is just sour grapes because the Tigers have just officially got an (R) next to their name on the league table, denoting 'Relegated', but they would be wrong.

I would like to think that regular readers of my articles will know that this isn't a knee-jerk reaction to my club's current predicament but more a malaise at the inequity of the Premier League and all that it entails.

Since the euphoria of a play-off win two seasons ago and a few historic wins, the cold reality of what is needed to be a part of a wealthy and exclusive club has left a nasty taste in the mouth.

From the vanity and smugness of a chairman that bought into the idea that as a club, Hull City could compete on a level playing field with teams that had built their Premiership credentials over many years, to the arrogance of fans of the so called elite of the division.

Now don't get me wrong, at times it was invigorating and sublime. Bernard Mendy's raking runs down the flank at Anfield in our first season where he destroyed Andrea Dossena, turning him inside and out, or Geovanni and Marlon King running West Brom ragged.

The victory over Arsenal at the Emirates and the feuding that followed the Gunners' referee-aided victory in the F.A. Cup - the fixtures against Arsenal have been some of the most fun and have been a joy to be behold as a football fan, partly because of the extra element of the drama involved.

This season the whole team in the game against Manchester City at the KC Stadium, where you would have been mistaken for thinking that the team full of top internationals were in amber and black. Jimmy Bullard's goal celebration in the return fixture is one that will live on as a classic celebration for years to come.

Myhill's super-human display thwarted Spurs at White Hart Lane, and Michael Turner's effort at Molineux where he got in the way of everything was herculean.

Seeing some of the best footballers in the world play at the KC has been a delight. Wayne Rooney's exquisite display in both of his games this season demonstrated just why he is one of the best strikers in the world. Frank Lampard's performance and phenomenal goal in Chelsea's first Premiership appearance in Kingston upon Hull were majestic. Jermain Defoe's dismantling of the Hull City defence was a clinical master class in the striker's art.

However, the vast inequity of the the Premier League far outweighs the highlights of what could and should have been a glorious two seasons for the Tigers.

When the club won promotion everything in the news highlighted the play-off final as one of the wealthiest individual ties in the world of football, with the winner reaping the reward of a £60million pay day.

The money should have meant financial security and stability for the club for seasons to come. Some shrewd signings and contract dealings would mean that if the club didn't manage to survive to fight for a second season in the Premiership, the funds might allow the club to yo-yo back.

The reality of the Tigers' seasons in the Premier League sun are very different: Poor signings by a chairman who was wrapped up in the razzmatazz of the Premiership; dodgy dealing and ridiculous agents' fees; greedy and feckless players out to make a fast buck at the expense of the club. But they're just the problems of Hull City.

The real problem is the Premiership itself: The false belief that it is the best league in the world, that the Premier League-obsessed media perpetuates, ad infinitum the idea that it is the best league in the world when it is just the wealthiest league in the world.

Unfortunately, the wealthiest league in the world is a misnomer because for all the Premier League's so-called wealth it is also the most indebted league in Europe: almost 50% of debt in European football is in the Premier League, with most of that with the top four clubs.

The division's elite maintains its top four status due to huge debts whilst the rest of the division tries to keep up with them. The Premier League is a division in serious need of reform. It needs one of its so called big four (biggest debt four) to really struggle for a season and be relegated.

In 2008 before the recession Manchester United were in debt by £453million in bank borrowings - over half of the entire Premier League's total borrowings from banks - and £152million in debt from other loans. Chelsea, had £620million in bank loans and personal loans of £90million. Arsenal were the least in debt of the top four with £268million in borrowing in part because of financing the Emirates Stadium. Liverpool were in debt to the tune of £43million in bank borrowings and £13million in other loans.

Now people will say that because of the huge turnover of these companies they can carry these huge amounts of debt and still be competitive. This is only because they are successful, something that they they have helped to perpetuate with the Champions League.

Since the Champions League has opened up to more teams eligible to take part the top four has become more solidified. This year is the exception but can you really see Liverpool not buying their way out of their current situation during the summer?

The Premiership's top four can remain in that position because they buy some of the best players in the world. This precludes the rest from ever entering this elite group, unless they have a huge oil sheik to bankroll their attempt, such as Manchester City. I would hate to be Spurs' accountant if they fail to do well for another season.

Harry Redknapp is a very good manager but he does like to spend money to produce his successful teams. You only have to look at Portsmouth who are reaping the rewards of the excess that he started at Fratton Park. Pompey's reported debts of £138million is gross, in the extreme. How a club of Pompey's size could ever think they could compete with the likes of the top four is ridiculous yet they tried and are facing the possibility of having no club.

This is what the Premier league does to good football teams: it bloats them and then disgorges them out the other side in debt and destroyed. Just look at Leeds United, Portsmouth, Southampton, Leicester City and the rest. The Premier League is an old boys' club that has only a few members allowed to win anything and they help to perpetuate it.

I read recently about the Premiership and its so called merits and this is what it said: "World's best players - no, World's best manager - no, Highest average attendances - no, most success in club international tournaments - no, Best business model - no, Best at self promotion - yes."

I think that sums up the Premier League. Until the current inequity is destroyed then I will be happy to spend my time fighting it out with teams on a more level playing field in the Championship. Unfortunately, I can't see the top four letting that change.