The English Premier League’s Rise to World Dominance

Elliot Broach and Ashwin Vijaykumar, Maroon-News Staff

Traditionally five historic clubs have managed to monopolize contention for the English Premier League (EPL) title.  Since the league’s beginning in 1992 only five teams have raised the Barclays Premier League Trophy. To build a team capable of rivaling for the title, it has often required the financial assistance of a billionaire owner.  Over just the last five years, these oil rich oligarchs have spent almost 3 billion dollars acquiring players alone, ensuring that their teams maintain a spot on the top of the league table.  The success of these teams has therefore meant that they have dominated TV time, garnering a much greater global appeal while they build massive, lucrative fan bases.  With the more recent rapid increase in popularity of the EPL, new investors have swarmed to back teams that typically have struggled to acquire the money necessary to purchase and keep top-level players at their smaller clubs.  As an astronomical number of viewers have began to flock to the EPL, cable companies have responded by dedicating a larger portion of their program time to showing these EPL games.  The rights to show the games for the next three years have amassed a staggering 7.8 billion dollars (1), with a huge portion of that being almost entirely equally distributed among all the clubs that compete in the league.   

Several teams have made bold moves in the transfer market, spending record sums of money on talent they wouldn’t typically have been able to afford.  Mid-tier teams, capitalizing on the allure and fame of the premier league, have succeeded in luring star players from top leagues in the world.  A Player like Dmitri Payet, who led the French top division in assists last season, would have typically been courted and signed by a top EPL team. Instead, he signed a deal that will keep him at West Ham, who finished 12th last season, for the next four years.  Similarly, Solomon Rondon, a top striker from the Russian league, will ply his trade at humble West Bromwich Albion (a team that finished 13th last season), given that the club can now afford to fork out a club record fee to make the move happen.  The widespread appeal of playing in the EPL combined with the significantly higher wages that these teams can now offer has seen a massive influx of similar premier talent from top leagues around the globe.  Formerly, the top teams monopolized the local talent from within the league as well, however with the smaller teams acquiring much greater financial flexibility they can retain the services of their young promising talent. For example, this past month, EPL titan Chelsea lodged a 45 million dollar bid to try and sign 21-year-old John Stones, only to be swiftly rejected by his parent club Everton. A 45 million dollar bid would have been impossible for Everton to refuse just 2 seasons ago.  

This financial trend is strengthening the EPL and has already lead to an enormous amount of upsets in the early days of the season.  With the still heightening competition in the EPL, viewership will continue to increase and will lead to an inevitable super-league where one day the top five may become the top ten.