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"If you want some accessible but informative insight into football then I suggest you couldn't do better than the Political Economy of Football website, which is not only intelligible but comes with the added bonus of being written by Addicks fan Wyn Grant."
Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

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Swiss Ramble scales heights with United

The Swiss Ramble blog has scaled the heights of analysis once again with an impressive in depth treatment of Manchester United.   As always, there are lots of graphs and data to back up the argument.  It must take hours of careful work, but you also need the right skill set to do it properly.

England could lose fourth Champions League spot

There is a risk that England could lose its fourth Champions League spot.  It shouldn't be exaggerated, but England could be overtaken by Italy.

Manchester City freed of FFP penalties

Manchester City have had the penalties imposed on them for breach of Uefa's financial fair play rules lifted.   They have been subject to limits on transfer spending and Champions League squad size.  Paris Saint-Germain have also had their sanctions removed.

City were also fined £49m spread over three years, but only the first £16.3m has had to be paid,

Fear of qualifying for the Europa League

Fear of qualifying for the Europa League is gripping Premier League clubs.  It's the one contest nobody wants to win.

Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs believes that the experiences of Manchester United and Liverpool in recent years prove it is more of a hindrance than a help.   'You have the opportunity to stay closer to the top four if you only have to focus on the Barclays Premier League and the cup,' he said.

The gap with the super elite gets wider

The gap between the super elite of European clubs and the next tier is getting wider.   Clubs like Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Southampton have enjoyed success through good management and smart player acquisitions, but sustaining that success is difficult.

Champions league money boost

Premier League clubs are already desperate to secure one of the Champions League places, for the prestige as much as for the additional income.  For Liverpool it could make the difference between a season that is viewed as successful and one that is not.

The financial rewards are going to increase considerably next season.  Appearance money from the group stage is going to increase by 50 per cent.

Financial fair play boosts the super clubs

Policy analysts know that one of the many causes of governance failure is that policies can have unintended effects.   So it has proved with Uefa's Financial Fair Play (FFP) scheme.

It has boosted the super clubs that form Europe's elite which is why they did not oppose the measure.  It is now more difficult for a benefactor to boost a club just outside the top level like Manchester City or Paris Saint Germain.   They have been penalised under the FFP regulations for daring to break into the cartel.

Could the Premier League lose a Champions League spot?

Winning a place in the Champions League is the real prize in the Premier League these days.  With Chelsea seemingly champions-elect, all the focus is on which teams will be able to qualify.  

The Europa League is not a consolation prize, but more of a punishment.   It involves a gruelling season of long trips to little known teams in obscure countries.   It has probably held Everton back this season. Southampton fans I know are dreading a trip to Kazakhstan.

What the Premiership is all about

The exit of Chelsea from the Champions League, and the poor prospects of Arsenal and Manchester City, provides another peg on which critics of the Premier League can hang one of their eloquent denunciations.  West Ham's income is poised to pass that of Inter Milan, but still Premier League teams under perform on the European stage.

David Conn and writers like him have a case to make, but sometimes I think they miss the point of the Premier League.   It is as much about creating a televised entertainment spectacle for global consumption as it is about football.

Uefa urged not to penalise wealthy benefactors

Uefa have been urged by Manchester City not to penalise wealthy benefactors under their financial fair play (FFP) rules.   The meeting with Uefa president Michel Platini was also attended by Paris Saint Germain who, along with City, have received the heaviest penalties so far under the FFP rules.