Year in and year out it is more clear then ever that English Football has fractured into three tiers that notwithstanding the injection of nouveau cash are for all intent of purpose permanent features. The divisions are:
a. The Money Elites – Represented by Chelsea, Manchester City and the queen bee of them all Manchester United, the money elites dominate the game as they simply have far greater financial recourse than their opponents. While Chelsea and City are essentially the product of foreign capital United thrive on a brand that has become the textbook case of how-to-sell your image. Regardless of the methodology the end result is money in the coffer. Lots of it and what better tool than money to eventually buy enough quality players to offset mistakes in the transfer elites. The Money Elites are footer’s powerbrokers. They own the game in a sense, and in a league with no salary or spending caps, will continue to dictate the future results and league silverware having already secured every EPL title since 2005.
b. The Old Guard – Arsenal. Liverpool and Spurs fall into this category. Each team has a formidable football pedigree (although perhaps less so with Spurs) and march into every season with much fan expectation. Occasionally they will push the Money Elites to the brink as Liverpool did in 2014 or Arsenal regularly do but the Old Guards are limited. They are forced to sell in order to buy and despite some clever cost cutting business strategies, particularly by the Gunners, are ultimately governed by more constrained moneybags, that at the end translate into a glass ceiling with respect to league titles. The Domestic cup realm has brought success but the Cups (FA and League) have declined in stature over the last fifteen years and with the obsession of European football, a phenomenon that will unlikely not abate, this is largely an afterthought. Nevertheless these teams still carry the history of old, a reminder of a time when Footer was less vulgar and more focused on activities on the field, than those of the boardroom. A lost era for now and a source of joy for those who enjoy waxing with nostalgia.
c. The Feeder Teams – This designation includes the rest of the Premier League and now fits historically storied clubs like Aston Villa, Everton, Newcastle and West Ham just as well as it does the yo-yo teams of Leicester, West Brom (who seemed to have settled down) and QPR (who will sit out the next season in the Championship but will probably return in 2016 so I will still count them as an EPL hangover). While many of these clubs have developed exciting brands of Football (Swansea and Crystal Palace for example) their principal function is to furnish the bigger boys with quality players, while systematically navigating the expected loss in performance that comes from bleeding your team dry. Southampton seems to have mastered this skill and boasts what is arguably the best academy development system in the English game but unfortunately for their supporters and lovers of a more diverse league these clubs will almost certainly not break the top four let alone win the title. This may change with the arrival of a billionaire saviour who has the wherewithal to transform the club into another Manchester City. However real fans are unlikely to hold their breath in anticipation.