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Money talks in Super Bowl

Mihir Bose | 11:22 UK time, Monday, 2 February 2009

Modern sports are a marriage between athletic activity and mammon.

The romantics among us like to believe that whatever the money men say, sporting endeavour honed on honest hard work and laced with brilliance, plus a bit of luck, will always triumph.

But no modern sports would be possible without sponsors, broadcasters and advertisers putting in pots of money.

The Super Bowl, the sporting party that brings America together, from the White House to living rooms up and down the land, is the ultimate expression of this.

Yes, the match itself was superb and America will long debate whether it was the greatest ever Super Bowl.

The script could have been written in Hollywood - the underdog Cardinals living up to their reputation for much of the match then scoring a touchdown in the last few minutes that seemed to win it for them, only for the Steelers to score in the final seconds.

But this sporting drama could not disguise the fact that the Super Bowl is ultimately about recognising the men with the purse strings.

The NFL underlined this when, at the end of this match, the Super Bowl trophy, having been carried to the stadium by NFL great Joe Namath, was presented not to the Steelers team or their coach, but the owner, Art Rooney. Imagine Manchester United winning the Premier League and the trophy being given to Joel Glazer.

But then a few days before the Super Bowl, the man who has been the songster of America in recent decades explained why he was attending. He has no interest in football, he just wanted to use the occasion to promote his latest product.

Over the years Bruce Springsteen has often been courted by the NFL. This time he finally consented because, as he admitted, "We have a new album coming out dummy; come on there is a new record out in the stores. So we have our mercenary reasons of course."

For all his disdain for football, Springsteen found this Super Bowl so useful that he held his first press conference for 30 years.

This talk of money was, however, laced with a new fear - that the downturn made this Super Bowl different.

In the week leading up to it over 50,000 jobs were lost in America. A few minutes' drive from the stadium at a union office for carpenters the talk has been about finding jobs. In a state which lost 88,000 construction jobs last year, laid-off workers living on $250 (£175) a week unemployment pay could not imagine getting tickets costing $1,500 (£1,053) each.

The effect of this was to be seen on the party scene that accompanies Super Bowls. The magazines Sports Illustrated and Playboy decided not to host parties, and a study by Price Waterhouse estimated that direct spending on this year's Super Bowl would be $150m (£105m), $50million (£35m) less than at Phoenix and Miami, the two previous Super Bowls.

So why, amidst all this gloom, does the NFL remain confident that the downturn will not seriously threaten its status as America's game?

The reason is that NFL is based on a unique American sporting socialism. It believes, as Cardinals president Michael Bidwell put it to me, in competitive balance between teams; that no team should get so much money that it overshadows the others.

Pittsburgh celebrate

All 32 NFL teams share revenues equally. Individual clubs can earn a bit more in their local markets but not a great deal more.

Neither the Cardinals nor the Steelers earned much more by reaching the Super Bowl. Contrast this with the nearly £30m extra Manchester United earned in winning the Champions League.

The salary cap means most club expenditures are in line. Salaries could be a problem in 2010 when new negotiations are due, there are murmurings about problems with the players union and season ticket renewals will have to be watched. Already clubs are freezing prices and even during this season's play-offs clubs struggled to fill seats.

But NFL bosses remain confident that the downturn will not see too many changes.

One major reason for this is the way the NFL's controls not only regulate debt but ownership. You cannot just fly in from abroad and buy an NFL club. Yes, NFL clubs can suddenly up sticks and move but the owner remains the same.

Look at the Cardinals. Arizona is their third home but they are still owned by the Bidwell family which bought the franchise in 1932. The Steelers have also been in the same family since the 1930s and such long-term family ownership, unknown in the Premier League, is common in the NFL.

This gives the owners a stake in the NFL and its structure. They believe that their clubs are not like restaurants in a high street trying to do each other down, but part of a chain that needs to do well collectively if the chain is to survive and prosper.

And owners like Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots believe that ideas like salary caps could also work in England.

For many in the Premier League this will seem an anathema. The Premier League is successful, it does not need lessons from anyone and the American model is very different - it cannot be imported.

Yet the American idea that sports and money work best not through unchecked capitalism but when there is sharing is an idea whose time may have come.

And with the downturn impossible to predict, even successful brands like the Premier League would do well to look at it.


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  • 1. At 12:49pm on 02 Feb 2009, Kebabble wrote:

    What a pants article Mihir. Not at all interesting.

    American football - True foorball!!

    There is no need for a comparison, our way is the great way, the passionate way. Not a circus act like across the pond.

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  • 2. At 12:55pm on 02 Feb 2009, Badger_of_Doom wrote:

    The NFL system does not translate to football in England, for two clear reasons:

    1. Player recruitment - In the states the NFL draft players out of colleges (and rarely out of high schools) each year, with the team who finishes with the worst league record getting first pick in each round of selections.

    2. The Premiership is not the be all and end all of English football!!!!!!! If you franchise the league then how would you factor in promotion and relegation? Or would the entire pyramid become feeder clubs for the top flight, with the Championship renamed 'AAA', League 1 'AA' and so on...?

    A salary cap in principal would be a good thing though, that much is obvious from the fact that people even consider referring to the top league of English football as a 'brand'. What's become of us? I swear this used to be a game...

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  • 3. At 1:00pm on 02 Feb 2009, Samwell2804 wrote:

    Not a Bad take on Things, keep riding the SuperBowl wave while the NFL is here for its yearly visit to our TV screens?!

    but neverthelees, amidsmt my sarcasim, it was quite an interesting take and article?!

    just dont think it would work over here, too many against it, plus too much of a massive re-structurring job?!

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  • 4. At 1:06pm on 02 Feb 2009, SurfingSharka wrote:

    The NFL is not really comparable to the EPL for one very good reason - in the NFL there is no direct foreign competition for the best players and the most prestigious trophies.

    The EPL has to compete with La Liga and Serie A. If the EPL introduced a wage cap, wave goodbye to the cream of the crop as they pack their bags for Madrid and Milan.

    Such ideas would only serve to relegate the EPL to the second rung of European football and doom us to winning one lucky Champions League title every 30 years.

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  • 5. At 1:07pm on 02 Feb 2009, lorus59 wrote:

    There will be a certain similarity between the big 4 EPL (possibly Man City also) and the way the Americans don’t want new sports like football (soccer) to take them out of their domination of the market. Will the world’s public soon tire of the same teams winning every year? In the NFL every team has the chance to compete with the rest.

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  • 6. At 1:09pm on 02 Feb 2009, theceilican wrote:

    The NFL is a great success story, and the way it's funded no doubt goes a long way towards this.

    But the NFL exists in a vacuum, and the Premier League is just the brightest star in a constellation. If the NFL fixes wages the players have to suck it up and accept what's offered - where else can they go? But if Manchester United quartered Cristiano Ronaldo's salary tomorrow he'd be in Madrid by teatime. It's not a model that transfers into football(soccer), at least not the way we know it.

    Football has a problem in rewarding success too highly, particularly as success so clearly breeds success. The more successfully football as a sport is marketed the wider the gap between top and bottom becomes, but using the NFL as a model to aspire to is nothing more than a wonderful pipe dream.

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  • 7. At 1:12pm on 02 Feb 2009, lincoln_dj wrote:

    all well and good capping salaries in the NFL, since a player unhappy at his wage only has other NFL teams (with the same cap) to choose from. But a cap in the Prem over here will just force all the top players out to Spain/Italy/etc...

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  • 8. At 1:22pm on 02 Feb 2009, danmorehen wrote:

    I think it would be better if money was shared on a more equal basis in the premier league. Then it would come down to the skill and tactical nous of managers rather than who is backed by the richer foreign family. Would Sir Alex have done this well with the budget of Everton or Villa for example. And would O'Neill and Moyes still be fighting to break into the big four if they could spend as much as the top four? I don't think it's a coincidence that Arsene Wenger is the only manager of a 'big four club ' who refuses to pay big bucks for players and Arsenal look as if they are going to slip out of the top four

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  • 9. At 1:33pm on 02 Feb 2009, tapemonkey___ wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 10. At 1:39pm on 02 Feb 2009, calultra wrote:

    There is no doubt that a salary cap along with more equal sharing of revenues would make the Premiership a fairer, more competitive and more entertaining league. The idea of teams not gaining a massive amount of extra revenue from the Champions League is an interesting one and would certainly help the competiveness of European leagues, many of which have become stale due to the massive disparities in revenue between those clubs which qualify for the Champions League and those that do not.

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  • 11. At 1:41pm on 02 Feb 2009, freddawlanen wrote:

    No matter what the bosses of American Football claim, salary caps cannot work in football as it is a world wide sport, differing nations and even continents (think EU) have laws that prevent capping.

    When comparing the American system; including baseball, basketball and ice hockey; you can only do it for smaller sports with fewer teams eg. rugby league, and although most would agree that wages have become obscene now in PL, if it didn't happen here in England it would happen in some other country.

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  • 12. At 1:43pm on 02 Feb 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    Here is the thing about the Super Bowl, it's economic impact on the community which hosts it is over blown, because they don't factor all the normal business which is lost when Locals deside to leave for the week to aviod the crowds.

    Sadly, the game itself is more about selling products than it is about the actual game. In fact, the game itself is not even competative half the time. And what is worse, officiating has decided the outcome a couple of games recently, including last night. I saw that final drive and it looked like Warner's arm was moving forward. It should have been reviewed but wasn't.

    To make matters worse the NFL's popularity is primarily based on gambling. Most of the money bet on the games are illegal since Nevada is the only state in the Union which Sports gaming is allowed. Games are not bet straight up, they usually are bet against the point spread. That way if the team you bet on wins but doesn't cover the spread, you still lose money.

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  • 13. At 1:45pm on 02 Feb 2009, calultra wrote:

    On the point of the best players moving abroad if a salary cap was introduced that would depend on the level of the cap. It would be unlikely to be a cap on what any individual player could earn, so the likes of Ronaldo could still earn as much as he does now. More likely it would be a cap on the total wage bill of a club, so to pay massive wages to a player a club would have to compensate by spending less on the rest of the squad.

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  • 14. At 1:48pm on 02 Feb 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    Re 10.

    I've said it before I've said it again on other blogs. A salary Cap is a Bad idea for any sport to adopt because it promotes mediocrity and not competative balance. I'm sorry, that would be the worst thing Football could do.

    I base this on the fact that the quality of play in the NFL has declined dramatically in the last 16 years since the Salary Cap has been instituted. You still can't tell me that this years Steelers would have beaten the San Fransico Forty Niners of the '80's. Joe Montana would have run them off the field, and I am no fan of Joe Montanna.

    Quality of play has also suffered in the NBA, because teams aren't allowed to keep their best players. This is the said reality of what happens in a league operated with a Salary Cap.

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  • 15. At 1:59pm on 02 Feb 2009, tapemonkey___ wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 16. At 2:00pm on 02 Feb 2009, mattgeordiecat wrote:

    Although I have not been overly keen on some of your writing in the past, I thought that article was brilliant Mihir.

    Filled me in on a topic I have little knowledge of, good insights, and interesting to think how the set up could be applied elsewhere.

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  • 17. At 2:08pm on 02 Feb 2009, lordSUPERFRED wrote:

    It is easy to keep a cap on everthing when you are the only country who seriously plays the game .
    But if you think by wage capping here the rest of the football world would not take advantage then Bose is a bigger idiot than I took him for in the first place .
    Football or soccer as our insular freinds like to call it is a world game and not played and carved up by a few teams in one country

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  • 18. At 2:09pm on 02 Feb 2009, galgenfrist wrote:

    Let's think for a second here. Ignore all bonuses and other ways to circumvent rules like salary caps and take a Premier League footballer earning around 200,000$ per week. That amounts to roughly 10,400,00$ a year. Compare this to Michael Vick's salary ( of 13,000,000$ a year. Hmmm, something smells fishy already.
    The idea that salaries would be brought down to "reasonable" levels by the introduction of a "cap" is not supported by evidence from the very source used to justify said cap. So there you have Ronaldo and Lamps happily making as much money as they were before. What the cap means, however, is that the team's overall wage bill cannot exceed a certain level. From the perspective of the club's finances, that certainly does sound like a reasonable proposition - if you want to bring in more expensive players, get rid of the surplus. And that is exactly what would happen to Premier League clubs. All of those fringe players would have zero to nil chances of getting a shot in and young promising stars would see their prospects of higher pay pushed forward into the future.
    And this says nothing about the structure of the competition. European football is based around the idea that with enough money or enough talent, you can do tremendous things. Fail at either of them and you will be made irrelevant. It certainly raises the inequalities within the game, but it does not prevent poorer clubs from winning competitions (as F.C. Porto aptly demonstrated in 2004). It also allows clubs to rise and fall throughout time. A poor long-run strategy and a European Champion could be playing in the lower divisions in 10 years time. That the American system does not allow. If you are poor and consistently underperform, you are rewarded. That, I think, would not sit well with the European tradition of dreaming that your local club could rise through the tables and eventually have a say in a competitive match at Old Trafford, Nou Camp or San Siro. There are no underdogs in American Sports because you cannot fail. There is no risk, just talent spread around in a more or less ad hoc way in the hope that it wil produce something remarkable.
    That the Americans make such a spectacle of the finals for their competitions is both a reflection of the poverty of the game and of the spectacularisation of the sport. What self-respecting football fan would have Springsteen tarnish the Champions League final with such inane drivel?

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  • 19. At 2:10pm on 02 Feb 2009, AndyPlowright wrote:

    ‘But this sporting drama could not disguise the fact that the Super Bowl is ultimately about recognising the men with the purse strings’

    The fans who support their teams are not recognising the money men. A winning Super Bowl player becomes part of sporting folklore. The people who recognise the money men (never met a female financier, Mihir?) are fellow money acolytes, the media and chaps like Mr Bose.

    The ‘unique American socialism’ exists because the NFL exists within its own boundaries and has no competition. Compare the NFL to the Canadian Football League and it’s like comparing the great West Indies cricket teams of the 1980’s to my local pub Sunday XI when we’re four players short and the landlord’s dog is being roped in to keep wicket. Likewise, the NHL can dictate terms because it has no major worldwide hockey competition and it can introduce the seemingly socialist salary cap and drafting system. The NBA can do the same because it has no competition.

    The Wikipedia entry on salary caps within Europe details all of the potential problems in clear detail:

    Of great note is the issue of promotion and relegation, something which doesn’t occur within the major American sports compared to football, cricket and rugby. I’d argue that what Mihir calls ‘unique American socialism’ is actually more self-preservation of a select few, more akin to the preservation of the aristocracy, and therefore totally non-socialist. With no relegation, there is no danger of lower revenues from TV or players leaving. You know your competitors will not be ahead of you significantly financially. Simply handing out cash fairly to each club doesn’t make the NFL that socialist. Indeed, you can make the case that the English football system is far more along the lines of the American dream, that anyone can make it if they are good enough as well as the possibility of falling from grace if you aren’t good enough. The like of Hull City coming up from the depths of nowhere, countless teams in the FA Cup, Wimbledon’s great triumph in the FA Cup, teams getting relegated, clubs like Leeds or Nottingham Forest living in the shadows after years of glory… you simply don’t get that drama within the NFL, NBA or NHL.

    The Premier League doesn’t need the glitz of the Super Bowl simply because the sport itself provides enough excitement. There was as much passion in the Super Bowl as there was in that glorious blood and thunder Newcastle-Sunderland game at the weekend.

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  • 20. At 2:11pm on 02 Feb 2009, Zulu Warrior wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 21. At 2:17pm on 02 Feb 2009, wpeterm wrote:

    I live in America and watch the superbowl like everyone else. However, the problem with American sports is that because of the way the game is structured and because of the way it's finances work the playing field is artificially level. Teams are rewarded for finishing LAST, not first. As a supporter I like my team winning but I don't really worry if they don't because I know that it will be "our turn" in a few years. When it is all about how you divvy up the money it becomes all about the money. The sport is secondary. Man United have earned ther success over the last fifty or sixty years. They couldn't have done that in America. Last year, for example, derby County would have been given Berbatov and Torres. Just for coming last. Football florishes all over the world and is the most exciting game there is. Except in America where the NSL controls everything and owns all the players. It might look OK to Luton but it kills the essence of the game.

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  • 22. At 2:19pm on 02 Feb 2009, l00py wrote:

    I enjoyed the superbowl last night - work might have suffered for it today though ...

    I have to agree with #4 and #6. The NFL has no real competition within it's own sport which is why they can cap salaries. The premier league has to compete with other leagues for a share of the global soccer market.

    It's kind of ironic that the most capitalist of nations should have such a socialist sports structure.

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  • 23. At 2:21pm on 02 Feb 2009, Joe G wrote:

    Comparrisons between US sport and it's internal workings and British sport is pointless at best. The simple reason is America has the college sport system which works into the draft system.

    US sports can only make pay even, divide profits and create a workable league based on equality because the central sporting organisation controls the birth of players careers.

    If you took the draft system away and gave players the freedom of movement they have in Europe then the entire concept of the NFL Mr Bose talks about would crumple. Teams like The Yankees would take over baseball, the Lakers would become pre-eminent in basketball and so on.

    What is the possible point of looking at a sport that was created to run in an entirely differenty way from its inception to UK football? You might as well say "isn't in interesting to look at how differently UK banks and the Chinese army go about handling internal discipine!

    Can you PLEASE stop making spectacularly obvious points and going on about things you can't seem to grasp in even the basic sense Mr Bose. I actually WANT to write a positive response to one of your articles, truly, but you never give the opportunity!

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  • 24. At 2:21pm on 02 Feb 2009, flenderson wrote:

    Comment #1

    Are you suggesting that the Premiership ISN'T a circus? Hmm...

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  • 25. At 2:27pm on 02 Feb 2009, pilgriminboston wrote:

    It is an interesting idea but I feel that because of the global brand and the competitive nature of other markets, the cap would fail unless it was universally accepted.

    The MLS is a good example. It followed the American structure and suffered from not being able to attract the best players and in turn lost most all of their home grown talent. Now they have 'amended' the rules to allow one star player and there has been some more intriguing movement with some quality gracing each side. It is likely that this will go further as the brand MLS tries to complete with the larger leagues abroad.

    Football can not take on the cap; logistically across nations there would be no fair way to base it across different economic areas.

    The NFL is exciting, impossible to predict and competitive, but its formula can only work in and isolated system.

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  • 26. At 2:30pm on 02 Feb 2009, kwiniaskagolfer wrote:

    No "socialism" whatsoever in American sport (or anything else for that matter), least of all in the NFL. Utterly daft reading on things.

    When the SuperBowl is held as often in Cleveland, Green Bay or Buffalo as it is in the South, when all revenues are shared equally, when facilities for schools football are comparable in the north to those in the sunbelt, then you might be able to claim socialism. As it is, the NFL is an apt metaphor for the States as a whole, with the north and east subsidising the south and west.

    As for salary-capping, other responses have rightly ridiculed that. How can you apply a salary cap in a world where 75,000 turn up at Old Trafford, but only 20,000-odd at Fulham, Bolton, Portsmouth or Wigan?

    Back to the drawing board Mihir.

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  • 27. At 2:37pm on 02 Feb 2009, Rabster wrote:

    The one aspect missing from the blog is the fans. I do not support my team because they win things ( the odd game but not a trophy for years, ahem, decades) but just because they are my *local* team and that is how I was brought up. That is probably largely the case for the NFL but with a limited number of teams in such a huge country they probably have a few "glory hunters." I know gate money alone is not a major factor in revenue but would say Yeovil ever attract 70,000 per home game even if they were a Premier league side?
    Still, good luck to the NFL because British football will hit the skids someday soon...

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  • 28. At 2:40pm on 02 Feb 2009, quaysidecomms wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 29. At 2:50pm on 02 Feb 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    Re Number 21:

    wpeterm you are absolutely spot on in regards to how competative balence in the NFL is artificial. That is one of the reasons, I generally have stopped following the game. Last night being the exception. Every sportscaster in the country like to promote the NFL's parity as if it were a good thing, however I am not convinced. A don't want a league were the stated goal is 32 teams going 8-8. I want to admire great teams, unfortunately the powers that be who run the NFL, the NBA and MLB don't want great teams, they want mediocrity. A dominate team in a sport actually good. It gives every player and team a measuring stick and something to shoot for. It makes victories over that club special. When you take away the dominant teams, the thrill leaves with it.

    I generally prefer a sport like baseball where there is no salary cap. My team has spent millions over the year, but it hasn't lead to any championships.

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  • 30. At 2:52pm on 02 Feb 2009, Vox Populi wrote:

    Totally agree with point 23.

    The comparison between American football's superbowl and English Premier League 'soccer' for the sake of this argument and to draw the distinction, is utterly absurd.

    Different country, different sporting culture, different fan culture, different sport.

    I know that the 'money men' or business people who do profit from the English Premiership do inexplicably look to America for their business and marketing models. No, I do understand it in a way because we share a common language and the USA is a successful and powerful nation. It doesn't mean we have to merge our identity with theirs though.

    The sporting culture of the USA and Britain is completely different, and long may that remain the case.

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  • 31. At 2:56pm on 02 Feb 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    I normally don't advocate government interferce in sports but in the Case of the NFL and NBA, you can make an argument that if the justice department ever decided to envoke the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, these two "leagues" would be considered cartels which are illegal.

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  • 32. At 3:09pm on 02 Feb 2009, quaysidecomms wrote:

    Mihir - I have often wondered how you fit with the BBC - you seem to have no network and no good words of appreciation for any sport. Of course it is never "just a game" these days, but to imply that Springsteen was being wholly mercenary in claiming he only appeared at half time to promote his new album and tour is to appear either disingenous or naiive or both. Springsteen's iconic reputation has long been seen as being as American as, well, Superbowl and this year the timings finally worked for both. Springsteen's sport is well known amonst fans as being Baseball, just as Obama's is the Hoops, but he is a peerless entertainer for any occaission - inaugurals, fundraisers for Cystic Fibrosis, struggling media owners and Vietnam Vets. Notably at almost every show he plays he name checks a local foodbank or good cause and the bucket goes round.
    Of course you can argue he can afford to such "gesture" marketing, but only a very average journalist would take such a cynical swipe at a sports and enternainment culture he has not taken the trouble to understand because he feels it is "not cricket".
    For my part I thought the event was excessive and indulgent, pretty much like most things the US does (putting a man on the moon - for goodness sakes who needs it in the poor slums of the world" I can hear you saying Mihir) but in small doses you have to have a sneaking admiration and sense of awe that, hell, they can do it - just at the Chinese did with their Olympic ceremonies. Sport should be more than just a game, it should be about joy - the sort of joy that people are willing to pay a premium to be lucky to be part of. Save yourself the trouble at the next sporting major you get to fly Club to Mihir, and pass the VIP pass to some-one who can appreciate it.

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  • 33. At 3:11pm on 02 Feb 2009, i_see_red_people wrote:

    Pretty poor article as usual, what is the point of comparing two sports that operate in totally different environments? As you say all American football clubs pull together for the good of the league. Kind of misses the point that we have relegation and promotion which forces the clubs to be more competitive against each other.

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  • 34. At 3:17pm on 02 Feb 2009, jonas18 wrote:

    By bringing in salary caps in the premier league, surely this is just an incentive for the top players both english and foreign to go and play abroad where they can earn more money. If a salary cap is to work it has to be put in at the top by FIFA and UEFA.

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  • 35. At 3:22pm on 02 Feb 2009, Samwell2804 wrote:

    #21 - wpeterm - thats a really good and insightful look and take on the whole affair.

    a good point to be taken in from an Americans persepctive, and a very objective view on how you percieve the game?!

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  • 36. At 3:24pm on 02 Feb 2009, Dojlord wrote:

    Mihir, i'm not sure you've thought this through before suggesting a cap would work in England? A cap couldn't be brought in just for the Premier League.
    It doesn't take a genius to work out that it'd have to be a global cap for all leagues or the decline in the EPL would be horrific.

    I agree that there is an ever widening gulf between the lower leagues and Premiership but there are easier ways to solve the finanical crisis that they face.
    One such idea would be to have standard progessive transfer fees based on players wages. e.g. Man Utd sign a teenager called 'Gunnar B. Orsom' from a lower league club for a tribunal nominated fee and the kid goes onto £10,000 per week. At contract renewal he get's £40,000 per week at this stage Man Utd have to pay another fee based on the wages increase. These payments could be made until the player hits age 21-23 (Basically two or three contract renewals)
    If United sell the kid on, the new club would still have to pay the 1st club a % of the wages increase.

    Naturally if the club rate the player highly enough he is paid accordingly and the lower league club don't lose out if they are forced to sell at Tribunal for a pitiful amount. (John Bostock - Palace to Spurs)

    Thoughts and comments are welcome....

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  • 37. At 3:36pm on 02 Feb 2009, losangelesgunner wrote:

    I could not disagree more. All forced "egalitarian" systems--be they society-wide or specific to a particular business--accomplish is to chop down the elite to the level of the mediocre. It never works the other way around. That's why the NFL is the drab dull affair it is; a finely controlled product, essentially drab filler between TV commercials.

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  • 38. At 3:47pm on 02 Feb 2009, kwiniaskagolfer wrote:

    Post #31.

    They ARE cartels, actively supported as such by the Government. That is the one and only reason they introduced the sham known as drug-testing. MLB also.

    (The Orange are on a terrible trot.)

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  • 39. At 4:14pm on 02 Feb 2009, Shades846 wrote:

    the congress has already looked at the NFL and NBA and they are official monopolies that have government protection bascilly given a free ride and exemption from the sherman act if the NFL was in the UK then the EU would force the opening up of the league.

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  • 40. At 4:28pm on 02 Feb 2009, Crazy Paving wrote:

    Once again Mihir delivers nothing. If you have a basic knowledge of American sport you know that they attempt to keep the playing field level with drafting.

    You cannot compare the EPL with the NFL and I wonder why Bose has tried. The worlds are so different, I'm at a loss as to what he is trying to suggest? The article has no point.

    The EPL may be controlled by money, but look at Villa, patience, good management and solid signings and they are threatening the top 4. I'm sure this season for Villa is one of the most exciting they have had for a while. I for one would not want to see the EPL turn into a lottery each season of who could win through drafting and salary caps.

    Pointless article Mihir, once again, read Tim Vickery and learn something.

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  • 41. At 4:49pm on 02 Feb 2009, Joe G wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 42. At 4:54pm on 02 Feb 2009, Zulu Warrior wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 43. At 4:57pm on 02 Feb 2009, kinglofthouse wrote:

    Little bit off topic but this statistic thing in all American sports drives me crazy. MVP, ERA, number of yards etc. etc. etc. etc. Who gives a monkeys? What was the score and who scored, plus the league tables. I even noted that on "Fox Soccer Channel" here in the US the commentator mentioned MVP. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. I don't care.

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  • 44. At 4:59pm on 02 Feb 2009, kinglofthouse wrote:

    The only reason that "soccer" (I HATE that word) has no chance in the US is really simple. Too long between breaks. No more no less. No time for the commercials.

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  • 45. At 5:02pm on 02 Feb 2009, I dont want a display name wrote:

    SurfingSharka wrote: Such ideas would only serve to relegate the EPL to the second rung of European football and doom us to winning one lucky Champions League title every 30 years.
    As a West Ham fan, I'd settle for winning the Champions League title once every 30 years.
    If there wasn't the financial lunacy in our game, that might be possible.
    Just look at the players we've had to sell, Ferdinand, Carrick and Tevez all playing for the current Champions League title holders, to name just one team benefitting from the current system.
    In fact the current top three clubs have nearly a whole team's worth of ex-WHU players.

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  • 46. At 5:08pm on 02 Feb 2009, Badger215 wrote:

    Whoever had the post that went something like this:

    "Teams like The Yankees would take over baseball [without a salary cap]..."

    Do yourself a favor and don't talk about things you obviously no nothing about. Same goes to all you others who are clumping the MLB in with all other major American sports. Baseball does not have a salary cap, far from it, in fact. And, since you clearly don't know, the Yankess spent about a half a billion dollars on four players this off-season, a glaring example of the sport's economic disparity.

    Besides that, stop saying there was no passion in the Super Bowl just because you've become accustomed to a different sport. Give the players credit when they're literally leaving blood, sweat, and tears on the field just to have the glory of being a champion. See past your bias, and give them the respect they deserve... forget the money.

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  • 47. At 5:11pm on 02 Feb 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    Still A salary cap is a bad idea

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  • 48. At 5:29pm on 02 Feb 2009, flyingEurotrash wrote:

    Good article. I've been saying for years that the Premier League needs to introduce a salary cap. That way, the fans keep the game and the owners are happy. All the teams will be on a more even playing field and will be able to attract world stars, rather than losing them to the "big four". The PL has been selling out for years now, putting money in front of all else. With the money being touted by the likes of Man City, the game is being taken away from the fans and is now just a business. Salary caps control transfer fees, player salaries, keep the clubs from administration and, most importantly, keep the game affordable for the fans.

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  • 49. At 5:31pm on 02 Feb 2009, Zulu Warrior wrote:

    Can I please agree with #23 and #32.
    without being censored?

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  • 50. At 5:42pm on 02 Feb 2009, RedWhiteandermblue wrote:

    The irony is that the sports in the US are too important to leave to our usual free market god, while in the UK, sports fans
    look rather lonely at its altar.

    ""our way is the great way, the passionate way."

    I will grant you that football is a more beautiful game than the NFL, but the way the NFL is organized is hands-down the best of any sports league anywhere, because it's the only one where a loser can confidently expect to be a winner in a few years.

    But, yes, I can't see the system being used in the UK, or anywhere else that lets teams fall and rise through leagues.

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  • 51. At 5:45pm on 02 Feb 2009, RedWhiteandermblue wrote:

    "Little bit off topic but this statistic thing in all American sports drives me crazy. MVP, ERA, number of yards etc. etc. etc. etc. Who gives a monkeys? "

    I have no idea why, but many if not most Yank boys at about the age of eight develop a nerd-like knowledge of sports statistics that lasts in most cases till their dying day. I have to agree it seems an unhealthy obsession, though it's one I still share.

    It may have something to do with the large number of German genes in the American gene pool: finding happiness in numbers and charts. I have no idea.

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  • 52. At 5:51pm on 02 Feb 2009, jcs276 wrote:

    Mihir actually seems to have written a decent article, and has shown that he understands the basic grasp of how sports and economics in the U.S. are so inherently entwined, for better or worse. The fact is, every year, things are geared more and more towards the almighty dollar, and greedy acts like Bruce Springsteen and his awful halftime show continue to grub money. The fact is, he's a terrible singer and is so overrated (always has been), but that's not the point of this, just an interesting aside by the writer, and by me.

    My point is, I don't expect British folks to understand how our system works over here, what with the drafting of players from college in football, how the minor league system works in baseball and hockey, etc. As an American born and bred, I don't pretend to understand how your system works either. But what I do see is that there is such a gross economic disparity between teams like Man Utd and Chelsea, and those like Hull and Blackburn, and that's just in the EPL, without delving into the lower divisions. Maybe it's not realistic to impose a salary cap per se on the league, but at the same time, it is my belief that something must be done, like the NFL and NHL has enacted, to control the absurd salaries that players are getting, for training, playing, and kicking a soccer ball around a field.

    An Americansportfan, I don't expect that any reader on here, unless they are a yank like us, got the reference to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. I don't see how you can honestly say that the quality of play in the NFL has declined, have you watched the last two Super Bowls? Sixteen years ago, the Cowboys were trouncing the Bills, and Leon Lett was making a fool of himself...but Super Bowls previously were usually blowouts. In the last 10 years, think back, there have been very few uneven championship games...I do not understand where you're coming up with this stuff.

    Props to Badger above for saying pretty much what's on my mind, if you don't understand our sports, then don't feel some need to comment and display your ignorance.

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  • 53. At 5:53pm on 02 Feb 2009, RedWhiteandermblue wrote:

    "All forced "egalitarian" systems--be they society-wide or specific to a particular business--accomplish is to chop down the elite to the level of the mediocre."

    The NFL's goal of "parity" sometimes does seem like "parody." But I still think the system is the best available. By evening up the money organization's have to spend, you reward the best organization, which I think is as it should be. The Yankees and Chelsea buy titles. Who cares? What satisfaction can you take in that? The Steelers have preserved and perfected an organization that knows how to pick players and coaches and how to train them. That, it seems to me, is something to be proud of--that an organazations consists of superior "patrons", as one would say in Spanish.

    "That's why the NFL is the drab dull affair it is; a finely controlled product, essentially drab filler between TV commercials."

    You don't like the NFL and this is your way of saying so. There's no reason you have to. Fifty million Yanks love it and find it wildly exciting, (even if we would admit it's too long and too little time is spent actually playing!)

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  • 54. At 5:54pm on 02 Feb 2009, radioactivespooky wrote:

    Our way is not the great way, its more the boring way, the premier league is was of the most predictable league's in the world with relevance to who's going to win it.
    The nfl is the total opposite, its unpredictable every year and the salary cap is key.
    Are you telling me your satisified with a league that only has 4 at most real contenders of winning the top price??

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  • 55. At 6:05pm on 02 Feb 2009, Sam Wanjere wrote:

    Salary caps and sports socialism might be ideas worth exploring, based on any or all of the following:

    1) Is the current profitability of the EPL sustainable?

    2) Will the current league, featuring few rich clubs Vs majority poor survive the credit crunch/recession?

    3) In the wake of GTV's collapse, what would happen to clubs in the absence of TV revenue? Remember too that the PL's chief sponsor, Barclays PLC is struggling financially!

    4) Related to points 1 to 3, how will PL teams tame spiralling wages, when revenue streams are clearly drying.

    Of particular worry is the amount of debt clubs carry, which will prove increasingly harder to service.

    An idea isn't bad because it comes from another country. It would rather be tried then discarded than being left with a "What if?" feeling.

    Its cleat much out-of-the-box thinking is needed to cope with these financial challenges. This article is a good eye-opener.

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  • 56. At 6:34pm on 02 Feb 2009, rsavvy wrote:

    The whole salary cap and riches sharing and draft system works on the premise that there is no concept of relegation. It is a clsoed eco-system. Mr Bose missed this piece of detail entirely.

    In US "franchises" there is no danger of you missing out on revenues by getting relegated. As a result you can absorb bad years without feeling the need to invest in player salaries to get the revenues. the draft system also works because you do not have new clubs coming in.

    It works fine if you are the original owners. there is no chance of starting a small club and see it grow over the years. Also, the franchise system works because the colleges provide the framework for sports.

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  • 57. At 6:35pm on 02 Feb 2009, Richard Steele wrote:

    as a yank, i can tell you one important thing about the nfl, it's not really a sport in the same sense in which football supporters in england, etc. are. the nfl is a television show and it's very good at what it does, but it has little or no roots in the many communities in which it stages it's games. the premier league, the football league and non-league clubs are firmly part of the social fabric of the communities in which they play, generations of supporters can look back to the mid to late 19th century with pride on the many legends and exploits of their cherished football clubs. the nfl, like america itself, embraces the loneliness and disconnected nature of american life; clubs move routinely when the locals are bored or refuse to build another mega-stadium for their wealthy owners. Yes, the nfl makes tons of money and it has rigged a post-season farce to insure that mediocre clubs compete in the post-season tournements (the arizona cardinals finished with a 9-7 record in a rubbish division). without promotion and relegation to insure real competition, american sports consistently reward rubbish clubs to maintain their so-called 'big league' status.
    manchester united will not always be on the top of the heap and as others comments have noted, the premier league is not the end all to be all of english football competitions, not to mention uefa and it's silverware. believe me when i say this, that to replicate the american model is the quickest way to destroy the beautiful game and it's wonderful system of promotion and relegation!
    Gooner 'till I die!!

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  • 58. At 6:37pm on 02 Feb 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    Parity is not always a good thing. I'm sorry. It is more of mediocrity. Trying to create parity by impossing a salery cap only means that Veterans get replace by cheaper less talented players.

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  • 59. At 6:42pm on 02 Feb 2009, TNeile wrote:

    A few points from an American:

    True, with so few NFL teams in a country as large as ours, we do not have the same "local" feel in all parts of the US when it comes to NFL team loyalty. On the other hand, college football (American football) is a thriving sport here, where the fierce loyalty you talk about is more evident and widespread (not that I follow it or NFL football myself). And the Yankees' large expenditures and poor results are a cautionary tale.

    We also find the idea of segregating fans in certain sections rather foreign. You buy a ticket to a game, you can purchase any available seat. No one selling you a ticket would dare ask you which team you support. Supporters are, therefore, fully integrated within the arena or stadium. The downside of that is obvious. The upside is zero hooliganism, racist chanting (that simply does not occur here anymore and is shocking to us when we hear about it... though we're only 50 years removed from it here) and other problems that arise when visiting fans are herded into little ghettoes within a stadium. As I said, I agree there is a large upside to it, as well.

    As for the NFL or Super Bowl being a circus, it is. As is the Premiership. Personally, the only sport I watch is EPL football. I subscribe to Setanta and Fox Soccer Channel, so I probably watch more English football per week than the average Englishman, and I can't get enough. But in our NFL "circus" we draw the line at turning our players into walking billboards. It's foreign to us to see corporate logos on players' shirts, and even on referees' shirts. Watching a match at Emirates with Air Emirates logos flashing all around the pitch all game, while the refs wore Air Emirates patches on their sleeves (very impartial!) reminds us of NASCAR drivers, with logos plastered all over their cars and jackets. We may have to go that route in the future, but I hope not. Maybe it's preferable to advertising interruptions.

    And while you're slagging off Americans (a favorite pastime in your neck of the woods for some reason, which is not ever reciprocated by us), I notice that three of the top four Premiership teams right now are owned by Americans, two of which are run quite well. So, while the insularity of NFL football makes it a bad example for EPL football, there is more common ground than might at first be obvious. And the differences, while not necessarily instructive, are interesting.


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  • 60. At 7:04pm on 02 Feb 2009, armamentarium stultorum wrote:

    Good read.

    For all the discussion of the NFL salary cap, all of you have completely missed the most important aspect of the NFL salary cap, and the reason I'd guess Mr. Bose brought the subject up in the first place...

    The single most compelling thing about the NFL salary cap is that they put it in place BEFORE there was a problem.

    Basically the league felt that not addressing the problem might endanger the longevity of the league.

    That is what has made the most difference. Not the act of the salary cap, not the specifics of the salary cap, that there was a will to address the issue, before it became a problem, timing.

    Mr. Bose is entirely correct to bring this to our attention. European football in particular is pretty much at the EXACT same crossroads that the NFL was.

    The truly amazing thing is that the NFL actually did the right thing, they made bitter medicine face while taking their ounce of prevention, and today they are beaming from ear to ear never having had to face the pound of cure.

    From many of the comments I read here, I don't see the smart decision being taken. The question is what kind of inroads does the NFL make while the EPL is suffering through the pound of cure?

    P.S. -
    Unilaterally acting by the EPL is still good business... Let the salary chasers go to Spain and Italy and collapse their leagues under their burgeoning bank books.

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  • 61. At 7:08pm on 02 Feb 2009, Arctic wrote:

    I think if the Premier League could take parts of this system, the best parts such as shared income and salary caps, then it'd be better for it.

    Much of the US system would never work here of course, they've applied it to their MLS franchises and it works because that's the way Americans understand sport.

    But moving teams to better markets would never be acceptable when the team is effectively 'owned' by the local town or city.

    You talk about families owning teams (franchises) for 60 or 70 years, but the towns and cities they associate with are just as temporary as Premier League owners.

    In fact we have the opposite system and that's as much part of our culture as drafts and tail gate parties are for the Americans.

    But I do think there are good ideas to be taken from this, I particularly admire the idea of removing the financial gap between teams and capping salaries.

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  • 62. At 7:10pm on 02 Feb 2009, saintlymark wrote:

    The biggest reasons that a salary cap wouldn't work in England have to do with the internationalism of soccer. The premier league is not going to handicap English teams going into the champions league and its not going to risk limiting the quality of the premier league by telling clubs that players cannot sign because clubs cannot afford them.

    I do think there is a lot to be said for the NFL system though. Well run franchises can keep together decent teams, and yet all teams have the chance to turn things around and challenge for honours in a few years. Teams have to be well run or they will fade away (look at where the Raiders or the 49ers are right now).

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  • 63. At 7:21pm on 02 Feb 2009, Hughton is my brother - my captain - my king wrote:

    I don't think people seem to understand what a salary cap means. It does not mean that "Cristiano Ronaldo's salary will be quartered". It just means that 4 teams dont hog all the good players and nick the good ones from the rest. Ronaldo would still be paid his £120,000 a week but they would be able to have 22 players on that kind of wage.

    Plus people don't seem to realise that the Premiership has become a monopoly. Yes I grant that Everton and Villa seem to occasionally break the mould but on the whole its a become 4v16. The monopoly has stretched to buying players from clubs that cant afford to keep them.

    I'm a Rangers fan and its almost sickening how we steal players from smaller clubs because there is nothing to stop them doing it. We can have a massive wage bill, as can Celtic, but the others can not.

    It's unfair and a cap would make sure that no clubs go out of business or drop down divisions from stupid spending like Leeds or clubs in Scotland like Gretna and Clydebank. Plus a fairer distribution of money would stop this too and increase competition.

    But all the cynics and people who think that Brown is solely to blame for the economic crisis will reply to this thinking I'm a crazy communist that is living in the stone age...

    And Mihir, I thought it was reasonably interesting and the article itself concentrated on the NFL where as everyone here saw red mist and thought you were attacking England and everyone in it.

    Look people he says "even successful brands like the Premier League would do well to look at it." Not adopt it, LOOK at it. Goodness me, I've never understood the witch hunt directed at Mihir.

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  • 64. At 7:41pm on 02 Feb 2009, woopderitis wrote:

    For some reason, the english fans tend to forget that before the Premiership exorbitant spending on football, the league of pedigree was Serie A. Look what had to happen to give birth to the Premiership. Your article was just that an article with more sentiment than fact finding or accounted dissertation. And that's the unfortunate thing. I am however glad that your readers are more informed than you are. Too many variables involved and stop being a romantic of the NFL. However, something does need to be done with the Premiership before it goes bust. The prestigious balloon it is flying on is much like the economy of late, which is seeing its share of bursts.

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  • 65. At 8:40pm on 02 Feb 2009, king_cantona_73 wrote:

    everyone is complaining that if salary cap is enforced the better players will leave for spain or italy... how bout the salary cap is enforced by UEFA on all the european clubs.... fair enough i think...

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  • 66. At 9:00pm on 02 Feb 2009, RedWhiteandermblue wrote:

    Misterpremiereleague, a thoughtful and interesting post (as were a number of others). Do you find it interesting that you're slagging Yanks for their socialism and mollycoddling of mediocrity? I find it intriguing that many Yanks would say exactly that about European political systems.

    "the nfl, like america itself, embraces the loneliness and disconnected nature of american life;"--well said, though I think you exaggerate the lack of roots of American sports.

    I wonder if both football and the NFL couldn't learn from each other. Here's one for each:

    What the NFL could learn from football:

    Play the &#)* game! (While continuous play will never happen, couldn't we do something to make it a little more continuous?)

    What football could learn from the NFL:
    A league where four teams always win may or may not tend to lose support with time, but it treads on dangerous economic grounds. How many owners willing to lose money to buy a championship will it take to make the whole enterprise unprofitable? And what then? Clearly, no one is going to alter the promotion/relegation system. And the big clubs would never stand for redistribution of revenues (it's that, not the salary cap, that's the key feature of the NFL's "socialism"). But couldn't clubs work together more to try to come up with more solutions to the big money problem, even if it had to be international to work?

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  • 67. At 9:01pm on 02 Feb 2009, Babatunde wrote:

    I used to live in England and I now live in the U.S.What Europe has to do is to make the UEFA Champions League Final as integrated into the European culture like the Super Bowl is integrated into the American culture.

    First, the Champions League Final should be moved to a Saturday or Sunday, this would allow more people worldwide to be able to watch. Also there should be a "Half-time show" somewhere near the stadium. There should also be an amazing performance before the match like the Euros.

    Second, the Champions League final should be advertised and shown on more local channels instead of just sports channels.

    I like how the Super Bowl is such a part of the American culture but I hate American Football, yesterday was a relatively interesting game, which is rare.

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  • 68. At 9:28pm on 02 Feb 2009, Mr. Goo wrote:

    I think this is one of Mihir Bose's stronger articles. Although he sticks firmly to his favourite subjects (money, business etc.). it was nevertheless pretty informative.

    I think Mihir's main problem is that he declares this blog to be his "take" on the issues, but we rarely get anything approaching a "take". There's nothing wrong with a healthy dose of opinion in a blog.

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  • 69. At 9:33pm on 02 Feb 2009, cpeskett wrote:

    #63, good to read a reasonable and balanced response to the usual Mihir bashing.

    I actually believe that a salary cap, applied to all of UEFA, is a good thing. As #63 says, salary caps are never by player, they are by team. You set an absolute maximum total for all players assigned first team squad numbers. Only first team squad players can be picked for a "first team" game, whether it be the PL, the CL, the Carling Cup or the FA Cup. Players need to have it hammered into their heads that it is not all about them as individuals...

    As to revenue sharing, I think that clubs should be able to keep every penny of revenue they generate themselves, but the monies supplied by the various associations (prize money and such) should be more evenly distributed. There is no way that simply winning the Champions League should garner a club 30,000,000 pounds or whatever it was. Make it more about the pride of winning. Better that UEFA puts some of that prize money in the grass roots levels of all of its constituent associations.

    And to the weekly Mihir bashers, I task you to come up with something to say, week-in, week-out, that doesn't get a bunch of people slamming you for the fun of it. Mihir's blogs may not always be great, but until you can produce something that people would much rather read, keep your criticisms to yourself. If you don't like his blogs, don't read them.

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  • 70. At 9:40pm on 02 Feb 2009, SnoopDonnyDog wrote:

    You can't have salary caps in English football because of European football. We would be cutting off our nose to spite our face, unless, of course, it was a Europe-wide cap. Of course, the Americans are merely competing amongst themselves, so they haven't got this problem.

    Another thing that would be anathema to football fans is the fact that, as you point out, Arizona is the third home of the Cardinals. Imagine Man United moving to London. Mind you, they'd be nearer their fans...

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  • 71. At 9:40pm on 02 Feb 2009, tarquin wrote:

    I expected another dull article about how the premier league could liven itself up abroad, but got even less with a simplistic comparison of nfl and football

    I actually watched part of the game because I was bored, and even tho the score was exciting, the game was still a yawn-fest - way too many stoppages, all the entertainment is based in the show of the occasion, then everybody stops while a ball is chucked around for 5 minutes, and the clock goes down about 10 seconds an hour, it's basically a very rubbish rugby league

    I did notice that the chairman got the trophy tho and went 'wha...t?' - he may provide the money but screw that idea

    But I don't get what you want Mihir, salary caps simply because they work in America? - I tend to agree with you on the point about clubs earning vastly different amounts but you'll never past the EU regulations on salaries, and I have no real issue with the salaries, I'd rather it went to the players than the owners

    the american system works for one simple reason - it is insular, like all american products, it can do as it pleases in a limited league with a set number of teams - they are more equal than our premier league teams, but there is no promotion and relegation, no giant killing - would our system even work if the playing field was level? it'd be like watching blackburn-middlesboro every week

    Maybe we could review the vast sums that are given to the higher up teams, but that's about it, and the clubs would have to need to do it themselves

    As for the ownership issue - as much as we all say we want local owners who care about the club, I'm not sure I'd want the same family holding a club indefinitely - it makes me think of a rich texan family akin to 'dynasty' or something, a privileged bunch, indicative of the lack of social mobility

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  • 72. At 9:55pm on 02 Feb 2009, Yossarian wrote:

    Strange that such a blatantly Communistic way of running things is viewed as the reasons the NFL is doing so well...

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  • 73. At 9:58pm on 02 Feb 2009, scarolinared wrote:

    An opinion from a Brit living in the US for 25 years:

    Last 2 Super Bowls have been good viewing, although I was beginning to give up on yesterdays before the Cardinals actually started to attack the Steelers.

    One of the key differences in American sports and football (worlds game) is the relegation system and the drama that it brings to games right to the end of the season. Half the American football games (in a very short season) have very little riding on them and it shows. Teams have either qualified for the play offs or are completely out of the picture and have nothing to play for. With relegation at the bottom and European qualification at the top in the major leagues of Europe there are far fewer meaningless games.

    The fact that the owners of the franchises run the NFL makes for a cozy relationship where no-one loses their licence to print money by being relegated, in fact the worst team gets rewarded with the first draft pick

    Salary Cap - well with 80 odd players on a team, most of whom do not play for more than 5 minutes of action - a cap is not a bad idea!

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  • 74. At 10:02pm on 02 Feb 2009, Edmund wrote:

    Salary caps mean that NFL owners can actually make money from the clubs unlike the Premier League. It is therefore in Association Football's interest on many levels for it to be introduced.

    Competition also makes for a more 'entertaining product' or better sport which is, ultimately what the fans are buying into.

    Of course, it would have to be agreed across FIFA. That's more money for poorer leagues.

    Everyone wins.

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  • 75. At 10:26pm on 02 Feb 2009, sniper83 wrote:

    for every-manc-a-religion be quiet. I enjoyed the article and I think the premier league could learn a lot from the NFL. I know it will not directly translate. But at least they get different winners each year.

    How many non-mancs are fed up with man utd winning at least every other year.

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  • 76. At 10:29pm on 02 Feb 2009, Edu Gomez wrote:

    If you had the ability to play professional sports at the highest level, how would you feel about a salary cap?

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  • 77. At 10:29pm on 02 Feb 2009, bk9061 wrote:

    Salary caps are BS.
    Think about it, if this was the case, the money wont just dissapear (it definetly wont bring down ticket prices, thats just supply/demand), what will happen is the financiers will get to pocket it.
    I for one want as much money to go to the actual people that entertain me, not the fat cats.
    If you really enjoy football, why are you focusing on the money these guys get, ok ok you pay for season tickets etcc (see above supply/demand).
    The question to ask is what beneft to society do these footballers give to society? My answer is a dream, one for the kids in our society, exactly how do you value something like that. There are a lot of positive aspects of sports that they can learn from. ok some of the players are nothing but thugs, but they can make mistakes too.
    Enjoy the game for what it is, a game.

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  • 78. At 11:10pm on 02 Feb 2009, Ben wrote:

    I'm afraid you're comparing apples and pears. The NFL is a cosy little cartel, but still a thrilling sport with a nurturing system through college football for young athletes, mostly American born. Compare this with the capless EPL where there is no nurturing system for British players and less than half the first-teamers are English. Yet the system of promotion/relegation makes it also thrilling.
    The point here is that national teams of the British Isles are talent-poor, whereas Italy, Spain, Germany-where the proportion of foreign players is much lower-are better at nurturing their own talent. And it shows in World Cups/Euro Championships
    But seriously, what would be wrong with having Springsteen doung the halftime show at the FA Cup Final?

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  • 79. At 11:22pm on 02 Feb 2009, tarquin wrote:

    75 Sniper83

    How many non-mancs are fed up with man utd winning at least every other year.


    I think we all are, but does that mean we want to see the teams forced into selling their best players to lower teams (I'm going to ignore european competition for now) so that everyone gets a level playing field?

    Where's the excitement if you know your team has an equal chance of winning the league every year? - it would be mediocre, tight leagues are great, as we have had this year, but to artificially induce that would make it dull - everybody scrapping for the top spot, knowing the winner is effectively random

    I readily admit we have a problem with money and the top heavy nature of the league, but to stop teams building squads would ruin football for me

    And the relegation system I think provides enough excitement through the season - as a counter weight to giving everyone the same chance, in a league where the teams don't change

    It's an imperfect system, and it could do with a few tweaks, but it's still going strong - obviously there's something more than winning titles that keeps the toon army et all going every week

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  • 80. At 11:52pm on 02 Feb 2009, TheLegendDinho wrote:

    I don't think you can compare the Premiership and the NFL, or impose the same conditions;

    1) Firstly, American Football is unpopular in the rest of the world, therefore the players only have one choice, the NFL is not competing with other leagues in a different country.

    Football is a global sport and players can choose between England, Italy, Spain or many other leagues, therefore imposing a salary cap in England would only hinder the EPL and benefit Spain/Italy. A global salary cap would be possible, not just EPL

    2) Secondly, because of this salary cap and I admit a more level playing field, NFL isn't a global sport. To me I understand it as not being exciting enough for people to follow (only my opinion - if it was more exciting more people would watch!).

    You could argue the EPL wasn't global 10-15 years ago; since the influx of money and the attention of the EPL, it is the strongest league globally (again, my opinion). This system itself had led to the EPL being more exciting and therefore more popular globally.

    As a fan I want to exciting football week-in week-out, therefore I don't feel a replication of the NFL system would improve the sport.

    In essence, with a 'socialist' NFL system there is no risk (if you lose or are a poor team you get the better players!?); with no or little risk, there is no or little reward. This is unfair on the team that wins who probably train harder, coach their players better, practice more tactics etc..

    3) Finally, getting at a point where someone mentioned that the NFL is fairer and that there are different winners each year, therefore more competitive and exciting.

    This is true but the EPL is one league whereas the NFL is split into two conferences and then in each conference there are four divisions. They are too different.

    Comparing the Champions League to the NFL in terms of structure, format and winning teams and the number of teams is a better comparison.

    In the Champions league the teams have no salary cap etc.., so assuming the NFL system would lead being fairer over a football system is incorrect.

    Last 8 years:

    Champions League:

    Winners: 7 different teams
    Finalists (max): Milan 3 times


    Winners: 5 different teams
    Finalists: Patriots 4 times

    Comparing more comparable 'leagues' instigates that in fact the Champions League is fairer, despite the system in place.

    Main point: the EPL and football doesn't need changing.

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  • 81. At 00:27am on 03 Feb 2009, PaulieNumbers wrote:

    #73. What are you talking about? There are always a handful of teams that must use their remaining games to secure a play-off spot or others who are trying to lock up home field advantage or get a higher seed. There's always drama at the end of the season and all I can figure is you don't pay attention until January rolls around.

    All I can figure is none of you watch college ball. Take away big salaries, contracts (except bowl sponsors), and full of rivalries (ever walk into an Oklahoma pub with Texas on your shirt?) that vastly out date and out number ones in the NFL. It's just a bunch of teenagers and twentysomethings playing a game they love.

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  • 82. At 00:57am on 03 Feb 2009, U9746596 wrote:

    The draft system that is in effect in ameerican sports is totally borked. It effectively turns the entire competition into a lottery. Maybe that works for the shallow american audience but I really can't see it translating well to the rest of the world.

    I would hate it if I supported a team that had a good chance of doing well this year because we were terrible last year.

    It also brings the quality of the sport down too. At the moment we have a few big teams with most of the best players, and those teams play incredible, beautiful football. If that changed to them being spread across all of the teams we would never see teams playing incredibly well together, only flashes of individual brilliance.

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  • 83. At 01:02am on 03 Feb 2009, U9746596 wrote:

    Also on a side note..

    I think actually the NFL could learn a lot from the Premier League, after all the PL is much more successful on a global scale after less than 20 years compared to over 80 years of NFL.

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  • 84. At 03:10am on 03 Feb 2009, Brummerdickens wrote:

    "1. At 12:49pm on 02 Feb 2009, For-Every-manc-A-Religion wrote:

    What a pants article Mihir. Not at all interesting.

    American football - True foorball!!

    There is no need for a comparison, our way is the great way, the passionate way. Not a circus act like across the pond."

    This is perhaps the most painful comment one could have made on the subject, you completely missed the point of the article (one that highlighted the business practise of a sport rather than the on-field entertainment you are referring to) and it is such an attitude that will see the Premier League spiral into a farcical circus act, one which will serve as a lesson to the Italian, Spanish and every other football league the planet over.

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  • 85. At 03:14am on 03 Feb 2009, Brummerdickens wrote:

    "83. At 01:02am on 03 Feb 2009, ringsting-iom wrote:

    Also on a side note..

    I think actually the NFL could learn a lot from the Premier League, after all the PL is much more successful on a global scale after less than 20 years compared to over 80 years of NFL."

    Hardly a fair comment either, the EPL is a football league, if you hadn't noticed. The success of the EPL isn't down to the leadership of the FA, it is down to the product it is selling: Football.

    The article is about the operation and processes of a sporting league.

    I, personally, don't think we should follow the NFL's example completely as I find the NFL quite shallow. I find being a supporter of an NFL means nothing if one year you can be dragging along the bottom of the league to winning the super bowl. It feels like there is little "earned" success, more random chance...

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  • 86. At 07:15am on 03 Feb 2009, WebPendragon wrote:

    A very perceptive article.The problem is that the EPL and European Football has imported the worst aspects of American Football's structural model and ignored the best.

    We now have all-powerful owners,astronomical salaries , corporate interferance and prohibitive season ticket prices.Our elite Leagues will soon see preasure to end relegation as it now has such serious consequences for Clubs.

    However,the big Clubs would have no interest (to put it mildly) in the better American ideas like a Draft to ensure that wealthy Clubs have to compete on a level playing field. Nor will the fact that transfer fees are not common in American Football so the elite are not able to consume other Clubs talent impress them.For our top players a Salary Cap and not being to move to where the money is regardless of contracts would be anathama.

    Football (Soccer) may be doing well at the moment but the injection of absurd amounts of money has meant that Leagues (including the Champions League) are dominated by a handful of Clubs and the lack of Competition has made the Sport extremly tedious.

    Maybe we do have somthing to learn from American Sports before it is too late.

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  • 87. At 08:31am on 03 Feb 2009, supa1878 wrote:

    Not sure whether it's true or not but I read somewhere that the biggest money earning sporting event in the world is our very own Championship Play - Offs with the winner being promoted to the Premiership being guaranteed a minimum of 40 million Quids, even if relegated the very next season.

    Says a lot about the state of football doesn't it?

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  • 88. At 08:58am on 03 Feb 2009, Lilywhite_King wrote:

    I agree with the fact that all the teams get an equal amount of revenue and with the idea of the draft where the teams who finished last get the first pick of the new players.

    However it's the lack of promotion and relegation in the NFL that i find stupid. Theres nothing to play for if a team is doing bad. It's not going to get relegated so they can just float along and wait until the next year. This is where the passion is lacking in the NFL and where it excels in the Premier League. Take Fulham for example, last season they were on the brink of relegation but the whole club, fans and staff, pulled together and fought their way to safety. Thats real passion and football for you.

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  • 89. At 09:45am on 03 Feb 2009, Scott wrote:

    Sorry Mihir but I think your off the mark on this one. The superbowl isn't a 'sporting party'. It's a regular party with a bit of US football thrown in as an optional extra. If Americans were as passionate about their sports as we are about ours they'd never have let it get become sush a circus of distractions. There's no way I'd want a single match with either my team or my country in it ruined this way.

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  • 90. At 10:19am on 03 Feb 2009, jjp_rec wrote:

    I love the NFL, but it could learn from other systems as much as we can learn from it.
    Leaving college straight into a company you have little chance of choosing and having your salary capped sounds a little too much like communism to me.
    To reduce the danger of stagnation, the best players are given to the worst clubs, so that there's some sort of equality i.e. names and money mean nothing. This is called handicapping.
    And if Canada decided to inject billions into it's own football system, with no wage cap, how long do you think it will be before you start seeing the better American players joining?
    About as long as it takes to spike a ball!

    And I still laugh when they declare the Superbowl winners as World Champions :-)

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  • 91. At 10:25am on 03 Feb 2009, Pendle_Witch wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 92. At 10:34am on 03 Feb 2009, American Sport Fan wrote:

    RE number 86,

    As an American, I can honestly say that a player draft is a bad Idea. What it has done has increased saleries for young players at the expense of Veterans. In the NFL, for example the top picks get millions of dollars, while some veterans have to settle for a league mandated minimum.

    It actually creates a lack of competition for players. I believe that if every play had to actually go and compete for players who come out of college, it would drive down saleries for rookies.

    It has also allowed the Professional Leagues to use the colleges as a minor league system. This in itself creates problems since many of these kids simply stop attending classes onces they have decided to turn pro. And what is worse, is the fact that the NCAA has allowed this to happen, because they don't penalize schools for poor graduation rates.

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  • 93. At 10:47am on 03 Feb 2009, U11846789 wrote:

    No question that Man U (etc..) should share the cash out a bit.

    We need 92 clubs to keep our football as good as it is.

    So yes, there are some lessons to be learned from the NFL.


    If footballl was ever go down the tawdry route of the 'Superbowl' circus, then I won't be the only one to stop watching !!

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  • 94. At 10:50am on 03 Feb 2009, Storm of Swords wrote:

    American sports are not suited for England. They are more of a TV event than a sporting one, games can go on for 4 hours with all the stopping and starting. We prefer games with a constant flow rather than disruption for TV ads. Isn't American football just rugby for girls anyway?

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  • 95. At 10:50am on 03 Feb 2009, bennlloyd12 wrote:

    I think that having a salary cap in football would be another step towards the sport being governed by those who know very little about it.

    For example; I am suprised that nobody thus far has mentioned one man in particular: Sepp Blatter. Here is a man who wants to sanction a rule stating how many british players are in the squad, or start an EPL game. As a lawyer, he should know about freedom of movement in the EU and the limitations of passing this football legislation. Mr. Blatter has always had a bias AGAINST British football and has really only seriously pushed this proposal since there was two English teams in the Champions League final. There were no problems when the Italians or Spanish were doing so well in the Champions League.
    I guess that's a bit off topic, but I think it serves as a marker to where football is headed. In essence it is a free flowing game enjoyed by the richest (Beckham) and the poorest (kids from areas such as Argentina and Brazil and Africa). However, football has become about rules, and I am not talking about game rules, but rules about how it is run. It has become sucessful off it's own back and I cannot see that changing anytime soon.
    If the EPL goes bust, then I honestly believe that is a problem we will have to face at the time. It would hurt the British game, but it would rebuild, thanks to the loyal fan base.

    On a positive note, there are people who have had a positive effect on our game at the moment. I think the biggest example of this (sorry, I am a bit bias, but will try and get my point across) is Randolph Lerner. Funnily enough, he came from a background in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns. Even before his tenure as owner, his father had spent millions of dollars to re-locate the Browns BACK to Cleveland, so the fans could have their team back. Mr. Lerner has done so much for the fans and the team image. Examples of this are: Putting so much money into the Aston area to repair the Holte Hotel; paying for around 5,000 fans to travel on the buses from Villa Park to Stamford Bridge from his own pocket; foregoing all revenue generated by shirt sponsorship so a local childrens hospice would benefit from the exposure and so forth.
    Lerner is a shining beacon of light in all this doom and gloom, and also serves as a statement that owning a club for a long time is not such a good it Mr. Ellis???

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  • 96. At 10:52am on 03 Feb 2009, gunnerslover2007 wrote:

    Cracks me up that people are saying the NFL system is fairer. Where only those who are part of the "franchise" ever get a chance, for ever. What a nonsense, wheres the fairness in that, people here rightly protest against the formation of the "European League", if this were ever formed have no fear it would closely resemble the workings of American Football in the states, do any of us (top 4 fans like myself included) want this? No I don't know a single person who does, it would take away the glory of playing in Europe, the romance of the minnow punching above it's weight but most importantly the ability to go on and play in say the club world championship and say your the best in the world, as after the CL your the best in Europe or after winning the PL the best in England. The super Bowl winner is oftened claimed as the best in the world but seeing as they operate purely in a franchise closed to outsiders the only legitamacy can be found in their higher wages. What a hollow claim "the best in the highest paying league, therefore the best in the world", who wants to associate in the least with that sort of mentality?

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  • 97. At 10:55am on 03 Feb 2009, SA-EAGLE wrote:

    #34 I agree 100%. Salary caps in football (The real one) would have to be done by FIFA/UEFA and across ALL leagues. I think it would be a good thing, but hey with the salaries where they are at now 200K+ a week where would you set it? I for one think it is getting crazy, but on the other hand guys careers are getting shorter and shorter and if Ronaldo broke his leg in 28 places and could never play again and he did not have his salary what would he do then?
    As for the article itself totally pointless to compare the two!? That said they can both learn certain aspects from one another perhaps? Money talks ANYWHERE! It may not buy you happiness, but it sure does help?
    Let's be fair though, the American Pro's also get paid fortunes, make fortunes on ads etc, so I guess there is not much difference there then??

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  • 98. At 11:02am on 03 Feb 2009, Davie Dale's square slice wrote:

    I think people are missing the point of the blog.

    I don't think that Mihir was suggesting that the American system of salary caps and franchising is something that is going to affect the EPL, however i'm sure it is something that some of the larger clubs in Europe would welcome.

    The top 4 in England have virtually become the big 4 in Europe over the past three years because of all of the Sky money that is sloshing around.

    Teams like Barca, Real, Milan, Bayern will only accept this situation for a short period.

    If it becomes clear that nobody can compete with the EPL for salaries and transfer fees, these clubs will be banging the door down of people like Michel Platini (not known for being sympathetic to all things English)
    and demanding that the Champions League is restructured in a way that makes it more competitive.

    The way the Champions League is currently structured is only a small step away from the franchise system that is in the NFL. The G18 clubs are very powerful within UEFA, and I can forsee a time when these 'Superclubs' vote for a European superleague, with all of these things agreed at the start.

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  • 99. At 11:05am on 03 Feb 2009, glenalva wrote:

    i feel there is a very limited appeal in a sport that consists of enormous armour plated men with the names of various household appliances bumping into each other no wonder they needed bruce springsteen if only to prevent the unfortunate victims enduring this from becoming catatonic

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  • 100. At 11:17am on 03 Feb 2009, Davie Dale's square slice wrote:


    'what a hollow claim, the best in the highest paying league, therfore the best in the world- who wants to associate with that kind of mentality'

    I'm sorry, but does this not sound exactly like every commentator that covers the EPL?

    Every player in the EPL MUST be the best, because they are the highest paid. We've been listening to people going on about Petr Cech for the past 3 years, about how he's the best keeper in the world.

    What about Buffon and Casillas?

    Then we've got Terry, Ferdinand, Lampard and Gerard, all of whom are proclaimed every week as being the best in the world in their position.

    Torres MUST be the best striker in the world, cause he plays in England!

    I'm not saying that these players aren't fantastic, but the people who only watch the EPL are always going on about how the EPL is the best in the world, with the best players in every position.

    My point, Gunnerslover2007, is; the attitude that you righty deride, is the very arrogance that affects everybody when discussing the EPL.

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  • 101. At 11:37am on 03 Feb 2009, spensaurLFC wrote:

    94: rugby for girls? You have got to be kidding me.

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  • 102. At 11:37am on 03 Feb 2009, Storm of Swords wrote:


    As far as I am concerned comment 96 made no mention of your theory that every player playing in the Premiership (please don't call it the EPL, this isn't America) is "the best in the world". Your accusation of arrogance does nothing but highlight you own ignorance to other peoples points.

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  • 103. At 11:55am on 03 Feb 2009, ttoal11 wrote:

    I cannot believe the BBC pay you to write such boring stories that are in no way related to english football.

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  • 104. At 11:56am on 03 Feb 2009, David wrote:

    Another excuse for a jolly up.

    Trying looking closer to home Rugby League has a salary cap!

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  • 105. At 12:18pm on 03 Feb 2009, galgenfrist wrote:

    Some of the comments here are spectacularly bad. How exactly would introducing salary caps a la NFL reduce salaries in the EPL? Ever cared to compare salaries earned by players in both competitions?

    Also, mentions of "socialism" are outright stupid. It is a matter of internal organisation, as both systems are monopolistic because none of us can simply devise a new league with new rules and invite clubs to take part in it. Now, the European system is, in effect, much more inclusive because it allows teams to come through the lower divisions and have a chance at competing at higher levels.

    Other things that have seemed entirely stupid with the comments are the idea that English clubs are monopolising Europe (how many English teams won the CL in the past 10 years? That's right, 2 teams, 3 times). Chelsea and Arsenal have never even won it. If anything, Spain and Italy continue to have far too much say in it. And for those talking about the non-British players being key for the success of English clubs, where do you think Real Madrid gets the bulk of its players? The outskirts of Madrid?

    There is a lot of bitterness about the bigger clubs spending their way to a title. That's just outright stupid. Just look at Tottenham. Or Chelsea right now. The fact is that you need money, talent and a structure to win anything. Period. Just buying players willy nilly gets you absolutely nowhere. Looking at the example of my own country's League, where money does not abound, you can see that the nexus is reversed. Big clubs have such power because they are the clubs with the most fans. And even though my own club, Benfica, has spent vast sums (compared to its direct competitors) in the transfer market in recent years, it has managed a staggering 2 championships in the past 15 years. And this is by far the biggest club in the country. So all this talk about Man Utd bullying other clubs into success and essentially rigging the game in their favour is just plain stupid. You need a plan to succeed in football, and they had one. Simple as that.

    In short, money is a part of every major sport because we like them so much we are willing to part with it to take part in the thing. That's just a fact of life, deal with it. In my view, the American system is much less genuine because it favours the organisational side of the sport, whereas in Europe it is more about talent, perseverance and a long term plan. It also allows you to identify much more with a club, its progress and history, its ups and downs in history than a silly competition where the worst team is given the better chance, the chairman gets the title at the end and you need some rock band to liven things up so you don't fall asleep into your bucket of chicken wings.

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  • 106. At 12:23pm on 03 Feb 2009, POMPEYGRAY wrote:

    Who cares about the American Super Bowl. I think it's the most boring brand of football in the world. Tackling blokes without the football - what a bunch of idiots, and as for those shoulder pads and head guards. Why even with their pants pulled up so high it is a wonder they don't all snooker themselves...Long live the English Premier League at least it's a global game respected all around the world.

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  • 107. At 12:43pm on 03 Feb 2009, wurstboy wrote:

    I agree with the many comments above that an arbitrary salary cap enforced solely by the English Premier League could / would not work - perhaps a viable alternative, to be pushed through by FIFA to the local FAs, would be to insist on zero debt. Clubs owing more than eg 10% of their annual turnover on the last day of the regular season should be relegated, clubs owing more than 5% at any time should be excluded from any cup competitions (including the Champions League).

    A bit harsh I know, but it would promote healthy fiduciary policies and hopefully push the obscene wages back down again.

    I would also be in favour of a more even distribution of the money pot at the start of the season, however income from cups (and Champions League) needs to remain competitive in order to be interesting - this might then make some teams play their A teams in cup competitions

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  • 108. At 1:13pm on 03 Feb 2009, Davie Dale's square slice wrote:


    I wasn't saying that the person who made the comment was being arrogant. I was saying that the commentators are the ones who are constantly going on about these players being the best in the world.

    My point is that '96' was commenting that the winners of the superbowl claim to be the world champions- only because they are the highest payers in the sport, ergo the best players play there.

    My point is that the Premiership calims that all of the players I mentioned are routinely described as the best in their position, because the Prem pays the most, therefore they must be the best!

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  • 109. At 1:31pm on 03 Feb 2009, Craig wrote:

    The salary cap is a "hard" cap in the NFL; however, NBA and Major League Baseball teams have a "soft" cap. This means rich teams, such as the NY Yankees, can obliterate the cap so long as they pay a "luxury tax," one dollar in tax for every dollar over the cap. That money is then paid to smaller market teams (there's that Sports Socialism again). Another NFL difference is that only a percentage of a contract is guaranteed. One can sign for five years for $80 million dollars but, if one doesn't perform, the contract can be terminated with no money owed. One might receive "only" 30% of the money. As many of you have written, this wouldn't work in the EPL because, unlike the NFL, the EPL is not a monopoly.

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  • 110. At 1:45pm on 03 Feb 2009, lems87 wrote:

    I have to agree with the majority here. I've just spent six months in North America. I went to American Football, ice hockey (NY Rangers) and baseball games. The overriding impression I got was the dull atmosphere at all these things compared to football.

    If I ever hear fans in football singing 'Lets go Arsenal lets go' for four hours I'll eat all my hair! The fans sit and wait to be entertained which rarely (although it does happen) happens in football. There is such little atmosphere.

    One point to some of the comments, a wage cap wouldn't necessarily mean Man U would loose Ronaldo, it could be an overall wage cap for a club so they'd have to spend a large amount on Ronaldo for instance.

    One problem, how would wage caps work for teams in Europe who need more players?? You couldn't just alter their caps each year or they would be forever changing players!

    Winning the title isn't everything, some teams are thrilled to stay in their league each year. The American way would do away with relegation/promotion which I think definitely lets down their system. There is a reason why they are one of the few countries in the world that operates like that!

    Be patient, Man U won't always be the best, look at Nottingham Forest. Please don't let their dull ways invade our games. Mihir I'm sure you do but try going to a variety of normal league games in American sports and I challange you to get excited by the play rather than the sponsors trying to excite people with adverts playing on the screens (WITH SOUND!) all the time!

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  • 111. At 1:48pm on 03 Feb 2009, bannedgunner wrote:

    I am an American and follow all major sports in US, and Football/Soccer in England and elsewhere.

    In terms of the way financially as well as the path to winning the title, and passion it is baseball that is closer to PL rather than American Football.

    There is something artificial in NFL (American football version of PL) and other major sports, in that, relegation and promotion (i will explain this cause there is no real relegation) is function of gate reciepts, TV audience. The word used for relagation and promotion in American sport is franchies moving from one city to another.

    I think only baseball fans (older generation) in US feel the passion about their team in same was a Football fan in England and other Football following nations.

    This detachment (emotional detachment) of fans from franchise, allows the leagues be it NFL or NBA and to some lesser extent major league baseball, to work as corporations with all teams being part of it.

    A team in corporations can lose its place ( relegated)-if, it much like a salesman in company failing to bring business-in this case low TV audience or attendance.

    Almost all of the sporting events in US are just form of entertainment.
    It is all about "GOING to Football game"
    outcome of the game itself is not much of concern. There are some true die hard fans for many of the older teams, but for most part, all US sporting events (perhaps baseball can be excluded from this) can be viewed as large entertainment companies who can tinker any which way they like to keep it healthy financially.

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  • 112. At 2:49pm on 03 Feb 2009, AlanGreen1234 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 113. At 2:56pm on 03 Feb 2009, corknorr wrote:

    I enjoyed the blog Mihir as I do on most occasions. Although some points made may be obvious I sometimes find that hearing or reading the obvious being stated makes me more aware of it. I think there are similarities between the premiership and the NFL already, the Premiership uses collective bargaining for TV rights and splits the money among the teams, not quite evenly but much more so than in Italy or Spain and this benefits the strength of the entire league. I feel I remember reading before that the NFL holds ownership of the brand of each club (franchise) with merchandising revenue again being shared, I'd be interesting in hearing if this is correct. If the names Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool etc. were owned by the Premiership who then marketed all to do with those clubs before redistributing the proceeds, it could change the way all clubs in the Premiership are funded and then by allying this to salaries being controlled by restricting spending on salaries to a proportion of a clubs turnover it could start to even out the wealth in the Premiership. Although this system would not appeal to the big clubs now if it would ensure the long term health and wealth of the league it might be considered.

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  • 114. At 2:58pm on 03 Feb 2009, il_dolce_far_niente wrote:

    An interesting article but fudamentally flawed because the comparison of the two games doesn't stand up.
    Despite the hype, American football is a minor game played by a few clubs in just one country.
    The EPL is part of a global game with global interests, fan-based commercial and financial.
    There is a certain democracy about the EPL. Manchester United became very wealthy after becoming successful and Arsenal enjoyed much success without ever really becoming particularly wealthy. Chelsea are the anomaly - becoming successful only after becoming wealthy.
    Even the Champions League enjoys a certain democracy with two smaller clubs, Porto and Liverpool, becoming champions within the last six years.
    Sharing revenues is a good idea but winners should be rewarded.

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  • 115. At 3:26pm on 03 Feb 2009, Czechmate wrote:

    Many people think cpaping salaries means capping the amount one player can earn, it is partly that but mroe importantly it caps a teams total wage bill which means there is only room for a certain amoutn of 'star' players meaning th ebest players get divided up evenly throughout the legaue and there is no incentive to move for money aas you would be paid pretty muchthe smae whereever you played and a team must make room for a star player by getting rid of an incumbent one. the reason this woudln't work in football is becuase you would need to enforce it world wide which isn't feasible, it works in the USA becuase that is the pinnacle of the sport.

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  • 116. At 3:57pm on 03 Feb 2009, Hughton is my brother - my captain - my king wrote:

    I just want to clear up some uneducated misconceptions about NFL. I love both sports, with Newcastle and Rangers being my first love. But I enjoy NFL and people don't seem to understand it at all.

    NFL is rugby for girls? so the life threatening injuries that occur in the NFL are just because they are pansies right? What a chauvanistic comment, that's also wrong. Look at the TE for the Buffalo Bills last year who had his spine damaged and struggles to walk. In NFL, anything goes, that's why they have to wear pads where as Rugby there are rules in tackling and ball carrying. Plus, in NFL most positions have a career span of 10 years, with kickers being the exception but they dont do much to be frank.

    And all this "there's no long term plan" is rubbish, and "its a lottery". In the past 10 years the same teams are reaching the play offs, like the Pats, Colts and Steelers. Even though they get later draft picks, good players go there for the passion of the fans and prestige.

    The Raiders get an early draft pick every year and they havent got to the play offs in 7 years? maybe more, I can't remember. Same with the Texans, Lions and a couple of others. The Draft is to help even out the league by allowing them to pick talent that may become great. But most players are just potential so its not as much as an advantage to be made out.

    Finally, I'd love to have a spectacle like Springsteen at half time. I see alot of football in Scotland and England and the atmosphere isn't the amazing thing everyone thinks. Craven Cottage is a graveyard, as is the JJB.

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  • 117. At 4:42pm on 03 Feb 2009, dhimmi wrote:

    "The Premier League is successful,"

    I would not call a league where the same 4 teams compete for the title/CL places every season successful

    Self-destructive yes, successful no!

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  • 118. At 4:46pm on 03 Feb 2009, jerrygoss wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 119. At 4:51pm on 03 Feb 2009, Dead_Shot_Keen wrote:

    Have to take issue with 14. “The NBA suffers because teams lose their best players”. No they don’t. The NBA is in rude competitive health quite because of the same salary cap we’re discussing here. You never really “lose” a player in the NBA as such – they are traded for 1 or more player of comparable weighted quality or sometimes future draft picks (or some combination of those). It’s certainly refreshing compared to, say, Man Utd nabbing Rooney off Everton for megabucks that doesn’t really translate to the pitch and just reinforces the inbalance in the 2 clubs’ power.

    For a so-called American Sports Fan I find that an odd and unsubstantiated comment.

    However, I agree with the consensus that the model doesn’t translate easily. You’d need a European Super League of some kind without vertical movement up or down. I wouldn’t rule it out at some point, personally and for all the pride and chest-beating here it would have some benefits, most notably different teams getting a look in at the top end each year.

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  • 120. At 4:51pm on 03 Feb 2009, jerrygoss wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 121. At 4:51pm on 03 Feb 2009, jerrygoss wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 122. At 4:51pm on 03 Feb 2009, jerrygoss wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 123. At 4:59pm on 03 Feb 2009, smokybeckham wrote:

    Well I guess I am pretty depressed reading the comments from the blog.

    Getting rid of the the 'NFL is crap' and 'we hate America stuff', plus the it wouldn't be fair for it to just be applied to the Premier league (well I think we all know it would need to be UEFA-wide.)The majority of posters seem to hate the idea of the salary cap- which is fair enough. However, there is not a lot of other suggestions thrown up about how to stop the current situation in football.

    I mean seriously, honestly- deep down does everyone really feel the current 'Big Four' monopoly is a good thing?

    Man Utd have one the league 10 times in the last 16 seasons! And who of use doesn't usually assume that the clubs that get relegated will just be the same clubs that got promoted the year before.

    Look at the cups- the FA Cup has been one by two non big four teams since the premier league was formed. The Carling cup whilst less big four dominate even has issues as the likes of Arsenal and Man Utd use 'B' squads and still get to the later stages, whilst the rest of the premier league teams field weak sides as finishing 16th in the premier league is more preferable.

    Is there not something inherently sad about this? That I can say with complete conviction that my team (Norwich City) will never, ever win the premier league as things stand? (Just like Ipswich, Derby, Leeds, Forest, Villa, or Everton.)

    So the cap is not everyone's cup of tea- but what about other ideas instead of criticisms. Football is losing, or has already lost its soul. It needs to be fixed. My proof of this- well I guess the fact that walking around Norwich city center and in youth training sessions, the number of Norwich shirts is dwarfed by the big four, is pretty soul destroying to me!


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  • 124. At 7:41pm on 03 Feb 2009, NFLfan wrote:

    Excellent understanding of how the NFL works! Let me add to you list of why it works so well. First, in addition to salary caps and the very equitable sharing of TV revenue there is the fact that the lowest placed team of a given year has the opportunity to select first among college graduates in the next year, while the Superbowll champs chose last. This has the effect of distributing the talent very well. It is rare to see a college player refuse to sign a contract with the team that selects him. This stems from a respect among all for the system. Secondly, it is unheard of for managers in the NFL to trash each other. Managers have a high degree of mutual respect and simply get on with the job of making sure that their team is as wrell prepare as possible. NFLfan

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  • 125. At 8:01pm on 03 Feb 2009, BigJohnd wrote:

    There's a very fundamental difference.

    The American grid football has no competition; it can do what it likes as it's a monopoly and even pretend it's "democratic".

    The EPL is competing with at least the La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 other European Leagues and indeed US Soccer.

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  • 126. At 8:17pm on 03 Feb 2009, Joe Lewis wrote:

    Yes in Premier League we have the footballing equivalents of ASDA, Tesco, Sainsburys and Morrisons in Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

    Not very good for competition, and the critics level that accusation at socialism!

    - Yes, NFL clubs can suddenly up sticks and move but the owner remains the same. -

    This sucks.

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  • 127. At 10:46pm on 03 Feb 2009, Neil Desperandum wrote:

    The "socialist" system of the NFL definitely produces a more competitive game, as shown by the large number of different teams who have won the title. Compare that to our Premier League, where the usual suspects always dominate and I would definitely adopt their way of doing things.

    The trouble is the game itself and it is no surprise that only Americans play it. We have three types of football: Association, Rugby Union and Rugby League, and all three are so much better to watch than American "football". Why do they need all of that paddding and helmets when rugby manages fine without? How come it is a "touchdown" when they don't touch the ball down but just run over the line? Worst of all why do they have to stop the game so often and then repeat exactly the same move - scrabble about, throw it back to the star man who then throws it forwards? Dull or what?

    I'd rather pay to watch five minutes of rugby than two hours of dreary NFL. Why do we even bother televising it when our alternatives are so much better?

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  • 128. At 00:29am on 04 Feb 2009, Gary wrote:

    This would not work (obviously) as Football as opposed to American Soccer is a global sport.

    If the premiership does not pay the best wages, other league's will (La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A) - and so the best players will simply leave and go there.

    Capitalism at work I think.

    Frankly the fixing of wages seems very much against the free-market, something you would find in a Communist state or such.

    Very interesting article nonetheless. I learn't something.

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  • 129. At 01:04am on 04 Feb 2009, Gary wrote:

    #59 Brilliant points

    #123 I hear what you are saying (and I am a Portsmouth supporter, most likely to be relegated this year).

    But the top4 were not the top 4 10 years ago, and there was a different top 4 20 years ago - so the system has been working.

    My point really is, if you believe in the free market as being a fair system (And I do, and I think most Americans do too), then why treat certain businesses (sports) differently.

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  • 130. At 01:57am on 04 Feb 2009, icecreammn wrote:

    Unfortunately the best part about the NFla dn the franchise system is al so the worst, that it's a franchise system. The fact that a club can go under is the most exciting part. Since they're franchises, it's the equivalent of watching one franchise McDonalds play another franchise McDonalds, over and over again. Even as an American, I think it sucks. How about McDonald's v Burger King at least?

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  • 131. At 03:11am on 04 Feb 2009, cfcapitol wrote:

    I live in America and I am a huge football fan (both real and American).

    Although I think that the salary cap is a good thing for american sports there is no way for it to translate to the European model. If a player is not happy with the terms of his contract he can just move to another team. There is no threat from the CFL (canadian football league).

    And even though this cap is supposed to mean a more competitive league, I'm a Detroit Lions fan and have no idea what it's like to root for my team in the playoffs.

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  • 132. At 03:16am on 04 Feb 2009, tarquin wrote:

    114. At 2:58pm on 03 Feb 2009, il_dolce_far_niente

    Even the Champions League enjoys a certain democracy with two smaller clubs, Porto and Liverpool, becoming champions within the last six years.


    Sorry? Liverpool are small?

    The team regarded by Forbes as the fourth most valuable in the world? and the 8th richest club? the most successful English team of all time? You make it sound they like are 'the small team that could', not 5 times european champions with a massive following

    I guess you could argue that Liverpool are ever so slightly smaller than United, Arsenal Chelsea in financial terms right now, but seriously - in no way are they considered a 'smaller' club by any sane person

    129 PFC_Gaz

    chill mate, you're fourth favourite to go down - only 3 can go down ;)

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  • 133. At 06:36am on 04 Feb 2009, Slimboyslim wrote:

    The English Football system is, like many systems in England, very very old. Especially compared to the USA, which has only a couple of hundred years of history, never mind sporting history. Hence, the English have a tendency to be stuck in their ways. The NFL was set up fairly recently in comparison, and as such, set up very sensibly to cater for things like spiralling cash income, retaining competitiveness, and incorporating new young players. That is why the draft, salary cap and franchising concept all work so well. However, the English game has just grown up organically from a scattering of professional teams, so to attempt a large-scale restructure would be impossible and unfair.

    There are two major points that should be made though, in terms of the NFL's flaws...

    1. There are only 32 teams, spread between 50 states, compared with England's 92 professional teams. In certain parts of the US, getting to a pro Football game means hundreds of miles of travel, and hundreds of dollars in tickets. Some teams are impossible to get tickets for without getting them second-hand from touts for $200-500. Wherever you are in England, you can see a professional team within a short drive, and tickets are less like gold dust. The NFL is more comparable to the Champs League or even International competition in terms of this elitism.

    2. The college system is totally different, and somewhat lopsided. Some college teams win every game but their players don't get noticed (and hence, drafted) because they play in weak conferences, and after 3 years' collegeiate play, they either go pro or quit football. There is no League One/Two for decent players to make a living.

    Of course, the fact that you can win your entire season (a la Patriots 2007-8), lose in the playoffs and be forgotten forever also deserves mention... The Cardinals' 9-7 record this season was equivalent to a Premier League finish of about 8th, yet one minute less on the clock and they'd be 'World Champions'.

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  • 134. At 06:42am on 04 Feb 2009, Averd58 wrote:

    "Parity" is the word the NFL uses. The NFL salary cap is just part of the process for achieving "parity". All NFL teams share their revenues from ticket sales to apparell. The first pick in the draft goes to the team with the worst record in the previous season. Even the schedule is worked to give the better teams the hardest schedule next season. The "salary cap" is the total player payroll per team not per individual. The players union negotiate the salary cap based on total revenues generated by the NFL. "Parity" is what makes it possible for an NFL team to go from worst to first in just a few years. Detroit fans are counting on it.

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  • 135. At 10:08pm on 07 Feb 2009, invisiblenewsman wrote:

    Dear me Mihir, you have hit a new low. What is this article about? How is it the 'inside track on sport' in any way? A blog is supposed to be exciting, informative, provocative. Yours is dull, dull dull. Please BBC, recognise your stipulation that journalists follow the 'on the one hand, but on the other hand' type of (supposedly impartial) journalism produces a boring mess.

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  • 136. At 11:57am on 12 Mar 2009, Seymour Totti wrote:

    The parity that the NFL system creates is something that I personally like. Every year, you know that your team either has a chance of some success or is only 2-3 years away from challenging. With the Premier League, you know before the start that the top 6 will contain Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and 2 others having a good year. If you happen to support one of the other 88 league teams in the country, the Premiership loses some of it's excitement.

    17 different franchises (from a current total of 32) have won the Super Bowl in its 43 years. That's half of the entire league! Compare that to the English Premiership; 11 winners from 92 clubs in 43 years. The Scottish Premiership is even worse; 4 winners in the last 43 years and 39 of those titles going to Rangers or Celtic.

    When teams like Fulham, Middlesborough, Wigan etc view a draw at home against one of the big 4 as a good result, year in and year out, surely something is wrong.

    With the equal sharing of TV money, sponsership, merchandise sales; it means teams in smaller markets like Green Bay can compete with big cities like New York. The salary cap system means that a team with a rich owner cannot buy up all the best players and leave them on the bench to stop other teams having them. Yes, you can pay a fortune to one player, but you then have to cut back on spending on all the others. The draft means that the worst team has the first choice in picking the best college player whilst the Super Bowl champ picks last.

    I fully appreciate that we cannot directly just pick up some of these ideas and dump them into the Premier League. If we have a salary cap in England; the top players will go to Spain or Italy. If we put a draft system in, that means ALL new players would need to come from a central pool rather than teams finding their own new talent. The top teams would never agree to revenue sharing as they would lose their position of superiority. Mind you, when you see a team in League 2 going into administration for debts of a few hundred thousand pounds but then see a Premier League player earning the same in a few weeks, something needs shaking up.

    At the very least, some of the NFL structures should provoke food for thought. We may not be able to copy them, but we should appreciate that by running the systems they do, the NFL as a whole has seen its revenue and TV audience increase.

    As a fan of a League 2 team, I know that without a rich benefactor buying us, it is very unlikely my team will ever even make the Premier League (I know Hull are the exception). At least as an NFL fan, I know my team has a chance of making at least the playoffs again in the next few years.

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