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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

Are the English bad at playing football?


The Economist (it likes to call itself a newspaper not a magazine) runs the occasional article on football.  It ticks a number of boxes: globalisation; popular culture; big money; unusual markets.  It also shows that the magazine is not too stuffy and can get down with the masses.

It argues that the Premier League is not very good, pointing out that an English club last reached the final of the Champions League in 2012.   Rankings suggest that none of the top five clubs in the world is English and it claims that England's lower ranked teams are much worse than their equivalents in Spain and Germany.

Yet the Premier League goes on getting richer.  How can one explain this paradox?  In an argument that ties in with the paper's advocacy of free trade, it argues that a major factor is the Premier League's openness to foreign managers, owners and players.  English teams have also been quicker than others to market themselves abroad.  Manchester United began making pre-season trips to Asia in 1995, Real Madrid did so only in 2003.

The Premier League is more competitive.  Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich take a greater share of their leagues' profits.  However, it is suggested that English clubs spend more on ageing stars that draw in the crowds but do less to win matches.   Continental teams do more to develop youngsters.

Geography also helps.  Being in a European time zone means that early risers in America and night owls in Asia can tune in to matches.  Mind you, it can mean a very early start if you are on the Pacific coast.  I remember getting up in Seattle at the crack of dawn to get the trolleybus to an Irish bar.  Of course, it is an advantage that other European leagues have, but Spain has evening fixtures while England has more afternoon games that are convenient for Asians (although kick offs at 7.45 pm on Saturday are being considered).

It's difficult to substantiate this, but I would argue that the Premier League offers a livelier atmosphere than other leagues.