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The Premiership- Are They Having A Laugh?

By Bristol Boy

And perhaps more to the point, who at & why?

I know, I know, we’ve only just got promoted and now you’re talking about The Premiership. Why?

Well, let’s start with a simple question for everyone: 'Can Bristol City survive in The Championship? Then another, perhaps less straightforward one: 'If they do, is that enough or should we break the bank in an attempt to enter the land of milk & honey?'

Looking at the facts contained in Deloitte's Report, you can see why people have tried.

Just some bullet points:

  • The gap between Premier League income & Championship income for an average club, and for average read mid table, was £56m in 2005/2006 and is set to rise to £70m this season.

  • The Average Weekly wage in The Premier League is £20,000.

  • Five clubs had wage bills exceeding £50m. That’s 20 times what ours was last season.

  • Chelsea are the top payers at £114m or about 45 times ours.

  • Next seasons Premier League revenue will exceed the next richest, Serie A by £680m, at £1.7bn.

As a projection, Deloitte estimate that we will see the first £200,000pw player by 2010.

Liverpool’s new owners borrowed £298m to finance the purchase of the club and will have to find more to build a new stadium.

Arsenal owe RBS £260m for the Emirates.

But that pails into insignificance when you look at the £604m borrowed by The Glazers to buy Man Utd. Still, at least we were spared Michael Knightons ball juggling skills!!

It’s not difficult to see why the Premiership debt mountain is set to top £2billion and why we hope that the TV companies don’t decide that drama and soaps, not Football, are the way forward!!

That’s the gap in income folks, not their total income. How the hell do we compete?

The only answers I can see are:

1) Find another Abramovich or at least someone with an absolute pile of disposable income.


2) Get promoted!

Both solutions may seem like pie in the sky and both a probably as likely as one another, I suppose.

Steve Lansdown made an excellent point recently when he said that he didn’t want BCFC to be financially dependent on it’s shareholders/owners alone and it’s one of the great pub questions: “What if Abramovich wakes up tomorrow morning and walks away?”

The TV money has skewed football to a point beyond any normal business reality. Almost beyond the comprehension of the grass roots fan. That and individuals, no matter how well meaning, that have underwritten massive spending that cannot be justified by their clubs income. Not picking on Chelsea, but while their wage bill may be 45 times ours, their crowds certainly aren’t!

Premier Clubs have just met and are expected to vote that £50m of their TV Money be distributed to Football League members and, whilst I say well done and hallelujah, it makes you realise that less than one year of Newcastle’s wage bill will be spread amongst 78 clubs, probably, no, hopefully, ensuring their survival. I hope that becomes an annual event, at least for the next three years for which this round of sponsorship lasts.

Another question this raises is one that has been asked on many occasions and that’s “Do we have too many football clubs?”

Looking at league attendances, not one of the clubs in League Two averaged over 7,500. Only three in League One averaged over 11,000 and only one more over 10,000.

For a City the size of Bristol with it’s much vaunted “catchment area,” Rovers average crowd was 5,480 (Lowest 4,327 & Highest 9,902) below such footballing giants as Stockport & Walsall. MK Dons, a franchise club with no history according to some and no hope according to others, averaged over 6,000 and were the second best supported club in League One with a brand new stadium beckoning.

Even Shrewsbury’s tired/quaint/dilapidated* *(delete as applicable) Gay Meadow has been replaced with a new stadium and Darlington built new. Do we know why?

Would we be better off if some clubs returned to non-league, folded or even amalgamated?

I can see a bright future for well supported clubs that grasp the nettle and move upwards and ever was it so, but what about the “Cinderella” clubs that produced some of the games great players?

Don’t they have a right to co-exist or is it all down to market forces?

The views expressed in this 'Soapbox' section are those of the author of each article and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bristol City Supporters Trust

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