An epic Premier League season, packed with uncertainty and unexpected results throughout, saw most of the unknown factors cleared up following Sunday’s games last week end.
Certainly we learned which three teams are going down to the Championship and also which two of the three sides with a realistic chance making it into the top four have clinched their place.
I say realistic because although mathematically Manchester United can still make it by reaching 71 points, the only team they could just pip is Arsenal who can potentially reach 75 points. However, I believe that with the distraction of the FA Cup Final against Chelsea on the 27th of this month, United will struggle to get more than three points at the most from away games at Southampton and the resurgent Crystal Palace. If that turns out to be the case and they end with 68 points which clearly won’t be enough since Liverpool, Arsenal and City already had more than that after their weekend exploits.
So, I reckon the weekend left us with it being Manchester City as the favourites to join Chelsea and Spurs and I think Liverpool are likely to complete the foursome. City go into the last week on 72 points and have winnable games at home to West Bromwich and away to Watford. I think they’ll probably win them both and so end up with 78 points which is two more than Liverpool can reach, even if, as expected, they win their only remaining game at home to Middlesbrough to take them to 76 points.
The only team able to just possibly, and I mean just possibly, able to stop this happening is Arsenal. But even if they beat both Sunderland and Everton at the Emirates it will only give them 75 points, so they will have to rely on slip-ups by either City or Liverpool. With goal difference similar for all three clubs it looks as though it will need one of the three to have a big win or to suffer a heavy defeat for it to be a big influence.
Since City and Arsenal are both playing early in this week, we may know the final, successful four by now. Just for the record, and I don’t think I’m being at all controversial to say that I think it’ll be Liverpool and Manchester City joining Chelsea and Spurs in the Champions League next season.
With the relegation places decided, I suppose we can turn our thoughts to next season and how we think the unfortunate three are likely to fare in the Championship. Of course for Hull City and Middlesbrough its back to where they were last season, but with the significant parachute payment from the Premier League to help them regroup and re-form. Bearing in mind they were good enough to get promoted only twelve months ago with similar squads, they must both be among the favourites for promotion.
I fear Sunderland may need a couple of seasons in the Championship to settle everything down after successive years of unrest and under achievement. They will need to rebuild their squad since it’s a safe bet that other clubs are already considering which of the relegated squad they want to cherry pick away from Sunderland.
It‘s at this stage of each season the amount of parachute payments given to clubs relegated from the Premier League is under review amidst concerns that the system is being misused.
The ‘Big Six’ clubs, incidentally I’m not sure how clubs qualify for this dubious title, are said to be questioning whether payments of up to £90million for relegated sides is encouraging them to pocket the money rather than invest in their squads to stay up or to regain their Premier League status.
Parachute payments were introduced to safeguard clubs who dropped into the second tier having spent heavily on transfer fees and wages when in the Premier League. Amounts have risen rapidly in the last decade from £32m to the £91m earmarked to be paid over three years to relegated clubs. But questions are increasingly being asked about whether the parachute payments are actually being spent as intended by encouraging clubs to invest in players to make the Premier League more competitive.
Hull City is being cited as an example, having sold Jake Livermore and Robert Snodgrass in January to record an overall transfer profit of £7.7m since winning promotion.
Also, some people with memories are talking about clubs such as Blackpool in 2010-11 “playing the system”. In that season, Blackpool spent only £3.5m on new players when they moved up to the Premier League. When they were relegated from the Premier League Blackpool’s owners indicated they would use the parachute money to develop a new training ground and invest in players. However, five years later there’s no new training ground and the club is in League 2!
It seems as the whole question of parachute payments and how they are spent by the receiving clubs needs sorting out and I understand there is to be a meeting this week where informal discussions will take place when clubs’ Chief Executives meet at a Premier League shareholders meeting. I’m pretty sure that doing away with parachute payments is unlikely but there may be a new deal designed to make sure clubs who invest in their squads are better protected.
We shall see…….
Chelsea winning the Premiership proves to be very lucrative, here is a breakdown on how much money has been won, 146 million pounds over the season, it is made up from revenue shared by all clubs at the start of a new season 38 million plus 40 million for winning the Premiership plus 21 million from tv revenue, overseas rights money contribute another 47 million bringing the grand total of 146 million. The relegated clubs get their share of the money with bottom club Sunderland claiming 97 million, Middlesbrough 99 million and Hull city 101 million. Nice work if you can get it.
As the football season comes to the end we need to find some winning bets as all premier league games kick off at the same time on Sunday, I am going for a four timer with Arsenal to beat Everton, Liverpool to beat Middlesbrough, Tottenham to win away at Hull City, and Champions Chelsea to bring their season to an end by defeating Sunderland.