It would seem completely ridiculous to compare one sport to another; especially, cricket with football, both of which are poles apart. The IPL fever is rising with the tournament moving into its final stages, similar to the closing moments of the English Premier League. Families being confused about which channel to switch to, just shows the value of both the leagues and the name they’ve made for themselves over the years. The Indian Premier League is still a kid in front of the football league, as the latter has been on for years now.
But there are a few aspects which in my opinion that separate the two leagues, in spite of the excitement and diehard fans that both create.
1) More game, less drama
IPL : Yes, the Indian Premier League is now all about which celebrities should perform, who should be the brand ambassador of the team, the cheerleaders and so on. For example, rather than “Mumbai Indians have a new captain in Harbhajan Singh”, the headlines would read “Harbhajan steals captaincy away from the little master”, to make it sound more dramatic. In a country dominated by family soap operas, it is such news that is a way of life now. A general questionnaire with a few people at a game concluded that most spectators come just to watch the cheerleaders, who are their “source of entertainment”. Also, when transfers are made from one team to another, the motive of the owner is not only to get the player to win games for his side but they have other purposes too. For example, Brett Lee, as good a bowler as he is, he is a good advertiser too. Having him in the team would not only help the team in the league table standings, but help the company earn a few extra bucks as well.
EPL: The English Premier League is more about commitment and less about brand value. The fans of the sport don’t care about how frequently their stars are seen in advertisements, they just want their favorite eleven to deliver, whenever on the pitch. Be it bragging rights or self respect, a win against the opposition is all they crave for at every fixture. Even footballers appear in advertisements, but that doesn’t make them particularly popular; it is what they do on the field that matters.
IPL: This year has witnessed one of the worst schedules made in the league. Playing the same team twice in a row, which has happened one too many times so far, removes the excitement of the fixture. Feelings like vengeance and revenge don’t get enough time to creep in, as the next game is almost immediately played. Though the main feature of the league is that games are played everyday, which has the public involved throughout the season, a better planned schedule wouldn’t hurt anyone.
EPL: Teams from the Premier League compete in various other leagues simultaneously -the Champions League, the FA Cup, Europa League, Carling Cup etc. The schedules of the teams are made in such a planned manner that a team’s progression in a particular tournament is taken into consideration. And so, even though a team is playing 4 or 5 leagues together, their fixtures barely change except for a few rare cases.
3) Fan support
IPL: What is generally noticed around is that, at the start of the tournament everyone don their team’s jersey in pride and walk around the streets. Unfortunately as the teams progress and don’t do well, these sights keep reducing. Though there are people, who stand by their side throughout, you won’t find too many of them. Even at stadiums, you would notice that the Deccan Chargers games don’t run full capacity and with every loss, the tickets sold reduce drastically. People even tend to switch loyalties when they feel their side could make them the laughing stock in their friend circle.
EPL: Out of the 20 teams that play the league format, there are barely 7 or 8 teams that compete for top honors in various tournaments. The aim of the other teams is just to stay in the league and avoid relegation. Even if you’re 20th on the table, even if you’re relegated, whatever may happen, you would be backed by your fans. For example, Wolverhampton Wanderers were the first team to be relegated this season, but still the fans made it to their next game and cheered as though nothing had happened. It is a common sight to see the fans storming the pitch, when their teams manage to escape relegation on the final day of the season, as has happened before, and would also happen today. Why are the fans so excited? If their team just escaped by the skin of their teeth, doesn’t that mean next season could put them in a similar spot? But, no, that doesn’t bother them. Belief takes them through and it’s an emotional battle, that standing by their side throughout the course of the season, sees them through.
Being a great cricket and IPL fan myself, it hurts to see the state of the tournament and I guess it would take a long long time for it to match up to one of the most prestigious leagues in the world.