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EPL - The Best League in Europe

“Five days shalt thou labour, as the Bible says. The seventh day is the Lord thy God’s. The sixth day is for football.”

Anthony Burgess

The Best League in Europe

Week in and week out, football leagues around the world strive to showcase a beautiful spectacle of  sport we love and adore – Joga Bonito! European clubs have caught the eye with their sheer grace and poise, delivering on every promise of passionate football, both on and off the pitch. Entertainment at its unrivalled best –Wayne Rooney’s hotbed to Luis Figo’s pig head to Ashley Cole’s air gun to Joey Barton’s pants down! European football’s financial prowess and competitiveness has attracted the best pool of playing talent from around the world making it the commercial entity that it is today.

A healthy debate rages around the league which holds the bragging right to being the best in Europe and around the world. Each of them in their own respect are synonymous to a rubik’s cube – countless twists and turn but when set right portray a poignant picture. That the English Premier League rules the roost is indeed a bold statement but numbers do tell a story don’t they? . I base my argument around three criteria’s – European Success, Revenue Generated and Competitive Balance.

European Success

Performances in The Holy Grail of European Football i.e the Champions League is a measure of how well teams have transitioned to the big league. Pride aside, lucrative prize money lies in store for teams progressing to the final stages (Inter walked away with a cool 50 million Euros for their exploits in 2009-2010) ; prosperity in the age of austerity!. Here’s a breakdown of team performances in the past 5 years in Europe.

10 points – Winner 5 points – Runner Up and 2.5 points – Semi Final spots.

Round 1 : EPL and that by a distance! With as many as five clubs making the right noises as opposed to the solitary reapers of Spain , Germany ,France and the Milanese.

Revenue Generated

Today’s world is generally described by the well known adage of “Money Talk, everything else Walks”.  However, sport ceases to defy – just ask Real Madrid – money is no guarantee for success. 5 straight years as class toppers on the Money League and yet not a semi final spot in the Champions League in the interim !  Teams awarded points based on their revenues as listed in Deloitte’s Money League 2006-2010.

Round 2 : EPL ,although the Bundesliga may having a thing or two to say about that. ‘Lizenzierungsordnung’ is a policy that has been adopted with a fair share of success –leading to soaring profits in the Bundesliga but has come at the cost of no team winning the Champions League since Bayern Munich in 2001. Overall , four teams from the EPL have constantly featured in the top 10 of the Money League in the past few years and that combined with success on the pitch makes keeps them among the upper echelons of footballing icons . The big two of La Liga have ascertained themselves firmly at the top but doomsday looms large for the best of the rest unless the collective sale of TV rights takes off in the anticipated direction.

Competitive Balance

In the words of Szymanski (2001) , competitive balance is a reference to the balance between the sporting capabilities of teams. There is more uncertainty of outcome if teams are evenly matched; something that keep us glued on to the killer content that sport provides. In an industry, the Concentration Index (C5 Index) determines the dominance of the top five companies . In footballing terms , it is a measure of the inequality between the top 5 clubs and the rest of the league . It is calculated as the total points won by the top 5 clubs / total points won by all clubs. The ratio lies between 0.25 to 0.55 with a lower number indicating that there is more equality in the league.

English Clubs0.370.370.380.3530.365
Spanish Clubs0.3740.34720.3390.3360.344
Italian Clubs0.350.3520.35890.35720.328
German Clubs0.3750.3830.3730.3750.3965

Round 3 : La Liga takes the honours but only because one of the most simplest and fundamental method of calculating competitive balance has a drawback . It does not take into account the inequalities between the top 5 teams!. The two horse race that it has been in La Liga  recently gives the other leagues more of a challenging stake . Note : The ratio is for a 20 team industry and the Bundesliga being contested between 18 teams  hampers accuracy. The Italian League benefitted from a lower ratio on the backdrop of Juventus finishing last with 94 points in 2006.

End of Bout – EPL wins on points!

Overall, EPL teams have taken centre stage in Europe in the past couple of years. Yes, they have had their fair share of problems but none to the scales of match fixing and extensive racism which have brought the sport into disrupt (Italy Match Fixing, Samuel Etoo racism Spain or even having to contend with the sad depression to death – Robert Enke, Bundesliga).

Agreed that the biggest names in football ply their trade in Spain but has that gone on to guarantee their teams the success they warrant in Europe with the money they spend on wages (hint Madrid!)?

On a lighter note, EPL still has its own jewel in the clown –  Super Mario!

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