EPL sets high bar in European soccer, finances and glamor

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Geneva, The world’s richest soccer league starts a new season in England on Friday as the rest of Europe looks for ways to catch up.

Off the field, the English Premier League is a commercial juggernaut with broadcasting deals worldwide fueling player transfers and wages most others cannot match. It helps explain why some clubs created the Super League project.

League riches helped English champion Manchester City make the marquee summer signing. Erling Haaland’s arrival from Borussia Dortmund cost City more than 100 million pounds ($122 million) in transfer and agent fees.

On the field, five different teams have won the Premier League in the past 10 seasons, including Leicester’s stunning 2016 title. Though City has four of the past five titles, two were epic duels with Liverpool.

The Champions League is also feeling Premier League power with four different teams in the past four finals, including two all-English games. Liverpool was in three of the past five finals while winning just one Premier League title.

Those same four teams — City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham — are England’s entry in the Champions League this season.

Manchester United and Arsenal qualified only for the second-tier Europa League and are by far the wealthiest clubs in it.

Premier League broadcast rights earned 3.64 billion euros ($3.7 billion) last season with Spain’s La Liga next best at around 2 billion euros ($2.04 billion), according to UEFA’s annual survey of European soccer.

La Liga skews prize money toward top clubs with the winner taking about 160 million euros ($163 million), up to three times more than other clubs.

It’s good for Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid — who have won all the league titles since Valencia’s in 2004 — though not for competitive balance.

The Bundesliga’s “50+1” ownership rule is widely liked for protecting clubs’ identity and preventing takeovers.

Clubs controlling a majority of voting rights is embedded in German culture, which also curbs ticket and pay-TV prices — a principled stand which reduces revenue.

After hosting the 1990 World Cup, Serie A was the rich, glamor league. Decline followed the 1992 launches of the Premier League and Champions League, and Italian stars started moving to Chelsea and even unfashionable Middlesbrough.

Serie A clubs fell further back by playing in city-owned stadiums — some shared, with an athletics track, and dating fast — they could not exploit commercially.

Ligue 1 has mostly been owned by Paris Saint-Germain since Qatar bought the club in 2011 months after being named the 2022 World Cup host.

Lyon and Marseille have not won titles since 2008 and 2010, respectively, and both are now in American ownership.

Lyon’s new majority owner, John Textor, arrived in June promising to spend to pursue PSG at home with European ambitions next.

Marseille has had turmoil in six years under former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, though is now back in the Champions League.

Source: Bahrain News Agency