Manchester City didn’t and won’t ruin football it was never competitive to begin with

Today’s news from Matt Lawton of the Times of Manchester City suing the Premier League has come out of the blue. City’s case against the Premier League could have a seismic effect on English football. But if history is any guide it won’t be long before City is accused once again of ruining football. That claim has flown around ever since Sheikh Mansour brought Manchester City in 2008. But there is a sidenote to that claim. Football, and especially the Premier League has never been that competitive to begin with.

The beauty of the Premier League is that in each game anything can happen. It is not an uncommon sight to see one of the bottom sides take points off those at the top. It’s part of the beauty of the competition. But while that makes the league great the winners of the Premier League each season is anything but a lottery. The competition or competitive balance that the Premier League strives to maintain doesn’t and never has existed. It was routinely won by the same clubs well before Manchester City’s era of dominance began.

Since the Premier League’s first season in 92/93, there have only been seven different winners of the Premier League. Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City and Liverpool are the only teams to win the Premier League since its inception. That’s 7 teams that have claimed the title over 31 seasons. That is far from a lottery in a competition that claims that competitive balance is at its core.

Dynasties have been commonplace in the Premier League since its inception.

Manchester City under Pep Guardiola are currently amid a dynasty. The world champions have won 6 of the past 7 Premier League titles and have created history by claiming four in a row this season. It has been a remarkable run by Pep Guardiola’s side that may see them ranked as the greatest side in Premier League history.

But that isn’t the only dynasty that has unfolded since the Premier League began. Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson dominated the 90’s and 2000’s. Chelsea rose to prominence in the early 2000’s under Jose Mourinho and was funded by Roman Abramovich’s wealth. Dynasties have been commonplace in the Premier League and once City’s era of dominance subsides it’s likely that another club may begin one of their own. That’s how the Premier League works and likely forever will.

It takes money and a lot of it to contend for the Premier League title.

The other misconception that around is that Manchester City’s financial might has meant they have turned the Premier League title into a one-club race. A quick look at City’s title races with Arsenal and Liverpool in recent seasons quickly ends that narrative. Those title races were fought until the final stages of the season in intense battles. Does City’s money help them? Of course, it does. No one can and has disputed that fact. The money helps but the brilliance of Pep Guardiola and his players has been the decisive factor across those title races.

The irony of the current situation is that financial wealth has always been king in the Premier League. Each team besides Leicester City’s famous title win in the 2015/16 season was achieved through exceptional play and won by teams with exceptional financial might. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Blackburn in the 94/95 season and Liverpool have spent large sums of money to win the league. That’s just how it is and always has been. Given how European football has progressed that will likely forever be the case.

No matter how rich an owner and club is there is always someone richer.

Manchester City have decided to sue the Premier League over the Premier League’s current Associated Party Transaction rules. The world champions are seeking to end those rules and seek damages from the Premier League. How the case unfolds will be fascinating to watch from June 10 and could have seismic ramifications on the Premier League and the current APT rules that are currently in place.

Ever since its inception, the Premier League’s financial fair play rules have given the impression that they are in place to maintain the status quo. Whether or not that is true is another debate. But it is now a lot harder for an owner to invest their own money to improve their club. For a long time Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal worked without FFP restrictions and built their place at the top of English football. Chelsea cracked into the monopoly under Roman Abramovich. Manchester City did similar under Sheikh Mansour before FFP rules slammed the door shut.

But as rich owners dominated the Premier League landscape there was always the possibility that a richer owner could come in and change the status quo. Abramovich did this with Chelsea. Sheikh Mansour did it with Manchester City. A quick look at the Premier League’s richest owners list has Newcastle United owners the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund at the top of the list by some margin. But despite their wealth, they can’t invest in their club as they see fit. Whether or not that is right or wrong depends on your point of view.

Manchester City’s legal battle with the Premier League could change everything.

There is the potential that Manchester City’s legal battle with the Premier League could change everything. If they win their case it could enable the richest clubs to value their sponsorship deals without independent assessment. That would vastly boost the amount of money clubs can raise. It would therefore give them far greater sums to spend on players.

Whether or not that is good for the game is a different debate. But if Manchester City do win their case it won’t ruin the competitive balance of the Premier League. As history shows it has never been that competitive to begin with. Each game has jeopardy on its result and that will never change. But the Premier League title has always been shared by the same group of clubs. That won’t change irrespective of what financial rules are in place.

Tags Arsenal Blackburn Rovers Chelsea English Premier League Jose Mourinho Leicester City Liverpool Manchester City Manchester United Pep Guardiola Roman Abramovich Sheikh Mansour Sir Alex Ferguson

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