The worldwide popularity of the Barclays Premier League grows with every European football season. Just look at how much coverage and attention the league gets in the United States these days, if you had any doubts on that. It wasn't that long ago that one could only find Premier League matches on FOX Soccer, a channel that either wasn't available or was only aired in standard definition. Fans had to practically work in order to watch and follow the England top-flight.
Those days are now well into the past. Premier League games air on a weekly basis on NBC Sports Network AND even on NBC every now and again. All indications are that NBC will, down the road, have to splash a hefty amount of cash to keep the likes of ABC (ESPN) and FOX from swooping in and attaining the television rights for the league. Live Premier League action is now must-see and must-watch sports television in the US.
Club owners who can boast about the overall successes of the Premier League and also their own personal professional endeavors are able to invest high sums of money into squads that take pitches on EPL weekends. The hope is that expensive Premier League squads will "pay" owners back by earning wins and making runs in domestic competitions such as the League Cup and the FA Cup. Those teams can earn even more profits by qualifying for European football, either the Champions League or the Europa League.
That, as you'll see, is not always the case. One of the teams in the top-ten of the most expensive Premier League squads has been held on the outside looking in on Champions League football for the past several years. One of the clubs seems destined to be in a relegation battle next spring, while another could be on the verge of being sold for only a fraction of their worth before the campaign comes to a close.
The amount of money that separates what smaller Premier League clubs can afford to spend on wages from the giants of English Football who are mainstays in the country's top-flight league is absolutely massive. Burnley, who were promoted to the Premier League last spring, has a squad that costs £10.4 million. That is nearly £70 million under what the first team on this list spends on a squad that is, as of the posting of this piece, only two points safe of the relegation zone.
In the end, the Premier League is not that much different from Major League Baseball. Just because clubs can and do spend boatloads of money to acquire the rights to the best players in the business, does not guarantee those sides anything other than debt. Equally as important as having talented footballers is a club finding the right man to manage those players and lead them into battle in multiple competitions.
Chelsea and Manchester United are examples of how to do it right and how to do it wrong in the Premier League. The Blues did not hesitate in bringing beloved manager Jose Mourinho back to the club the second that Mourinho became available and made it known that he would be willing to return to Chelsea, United, meanwhile, have had three managers in three years.
10 Aston Villa: £79.9 million
9 Sunderland: £82.2m
8 Southampton: £90.4m
7 Everton: £95.7m
6 Tottenham Hotspur: £178m
5 Arsenal: £242.7m
4 Liverpool: £253.8m
3 Chelsea: £301.8m
2 Manchester City: £353.7m
1 Manchester United: £379.4m
It's a new, unfamiliar and unhappy world for United and for the club's fan base. While City have been the country's most successful club over the past several years, United have experienced quite the falloff since legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired. David Moyes, Ferguson's hand-picked replacement, could not keep United in the Champions League let alone in contention for trophies. United acquiring Louis van Gaal, who managed the Netherlands leading up to and during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and spending more money on a squad than what any other Premier League club spent has not yet generated much success for the club. The Red Devils are currently tenth in the Premier League table.
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