Premier League: Richest league in the world or small-minded bullies?

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Premier League chief Richard Scudamore’s bullish tactics regarding reducing the financial gap between teams in the English Championship have caused commotion amongst the second-tier sides, after a meeting of the clubs on Wednesday.

The Premier League’s television revenue is as high as ever, with current deals amounting to £5.5 billion over the next three years. However, relegated clubs from the top flight, such as Wigan, Reading and QPR this season, are currently liable to receive up to £59 million over four years after their demotion, despite potentially not playing in the Premier League during that time.

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In the current scheme relegated clubs will receive £23 million in the first year, £18 million in the second and £9 million in years three and four. This compares drastically to the £2.3 million a season that current Championship sides are liable to.

The issue of creating a financial gap in the country’s second tier is apparent, with many of the current Championship sides worried that the financial handouts to relegated sides will cause a partition in what is a competitive competition, and see sides yo-yo between the leagues.

The Premier League has made an attempt to narrow the gap three years ago, with clubs who do not receive parachute payments given £2 million in the aim of solidarity. However, parachute payments are set to go up by around 45 per cent from the last deal.

The Football League had come up with two potential ways to overcome the gap in financial reward between teams in the division. They suggested that relegated Premier League clubs would no longer receive their £2 million a year of the Football League’s TV allocation, which would then be split evenly between the other clubs in the division. The other was a salary cap for relegated sides.

It has been revealed that the majority of Championship sides were ready to vote in favour of these proposals, however Scudamore moved the goalposts ahead of Wednesday’s meeting in Walsall.

An hour and a half before the representatives were due to meet, the Premier League chief contacted the Football League’s chairman Greg Clarke, stating that the solidarity money of £2 million would not be awarded to current Championship sides should the new proposals be passed. A hiatus was reached as the Championship sides rejected the offer.

A Premier League spokesman defended Scudamore’s position:

“A generous solidarity offer has been made to the Football League; however if the basis on which that original offer was made materially changes, then it is reasonable to review it.”

It seems like a case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. One of the main appeals of the Championship currently is that it is very competitive and relegated Premier League sides are certainly not guaranteed to bounce straight back to the top flight.

Should that change due to a gap in finances of the respective sides, the second-tier may well lose a lot of its appeal and competitive nature.

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