It’s finally happened; a quick look at this weekend’s league tables for the Scottish and English Premier Leagues shows that the gap between those in with a shout of glory and the also rans is bigger in England; in Scotland, the third placed team are 8 points behind second place, whereas in England, it’s 9.
This is possibly the least surprising thing to happen in the Premiership ever, since it’s the entire point of the forces unleashed by its formation in 1992; let market forces lead to aggregating resources around a small number of clubs and end the elements of redistribution that maintain a competitive situation.
Everyone else is thus reduced to also-rans; the season boils down to the 6 games in England between the big three, and they expect to win against the others. The title is therefore decided by the outcome of the big games and who has an off day against a team they should beat. Every season has one team who look most likely candidates for ‘they might take a few points off the big teams and thus have a hand in deciding the title race’ but it’s a bit part and no more.
It’s speeding up too; a few years back, people commented on their being three leagues in the Premiership: those fighting relegation, those with a shot at the UEFA Cup and those with a shout of winning the whole thing. Those gradations still exist, but the group at the top has contracted – just as it did in Scotland as first Dundee United and then Aberdeen fell off the pace as the redistributive elements were removed allowing the Old Firm to make the most of their massive fanbases without any support to mitigate those factors for the rest.
We see in Scotland what the end result is; the TV rights suffer as no-one wants to pay the money for a season of games that don’t affect the outcome too much, and want to concentrate on those matches with will have a major impact on the title race. Those big clubs start to suffer from not getting a decent run-out often enough, and they’ll want to clamber aboard a European Super-League proper, as opposed to the lite version in the form of the Champions League. And the rest, bored by a season in which mediocrity is the best they can hope for, will support them, just as most non-Old Firm fans can’t wait to see the back of them.
What’s sad is the utter inevitability of it all. This isn’t an unforseen consequence but something people have been arguing for years. But no. The Premiership is the best League in the world, apparently, and like british fascism, the Scottish League scenario couldn’t happen here. Well it has. Well done to the ostriches concerned.