The Premier League is no better than the Chinese Super League

Ben Mountain

The following may come as a concerning shock to the knuckle-dragging nationalists of you out there: England isn’t actually the best country in the world. The weather, public transport and James Milner make this once green and pleasant land actually somewhat greyer than we think. As for the Premier League football, well that’s a whole other issue.

As publicly demonstrated on several occasions, the England national team are a bit shit. World Cup after World Cup, manager after manager, golden generation after golden generation; since that almost glorious triumph at Italia ’90, we’ve just got worse and worse. The days of World Cup Willy and a bloody Terry Butcher are long behind us. And we’ve come to terms with that, mostly.

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So why is it we persist in pretending that our top domestic league is still something to be so intensely proud of? The Premier League is the best in the world. Bore off.

Let’s start with the first lie: the Premier League is the most competitive league in the world. Okay, Leicester City aside and, yes, it thankfully hasn’t got the two-horse race style that haunts La Liga and the Bundesliga – or even the lone horse that races triumphantly each season in the French Ligue 1 – but it’s not the most competitive. The very fact that we all had a great big, nationwide hard-on over the Foxes’ miraculous victory is proof of this. When has anyone ever been so amazed by a Championship or Division One club storming to victory, having been odds-on relegation favourites? And when somebody says to you; “name the top six clubs in the Prem”, you do it instantly – little thought or debate required. “Now name the bottom six”, same again – there’s the exact same generic underdogs propping up the bottom every season and the exact same smug chaps up at the top.

Football is competitive in its nature. It’s a sport, for Christ’s sake; they all are. The Premier League mirrors the typical European format of a few wealthy ‘big boys’ who jostle for first every season, the uninspiring gang in the middle who occasionally flirt with the wrong end of the table and then the minnows down at the bottom, one of which will scrape through to consolidate their Premier League stay.

As for the aforementioned Championship, teams vie for the top spot (and to avoid the bottom spot), season in, season out. Just look at Wigan Athletic, once those textbook whipping boys in the top tier who just about made it every season in the same manner until they met their inevitable fate, are now battling it out against Blackburn – a club once in the exact same position, against relegation back to a league with the likes of Port Vale and Chesterfield in it. Then there’s Barnsley, who was expecting them to be the dark horses for the play-offs, having only just been promoted from third place?

But who cares? There’s no glitz and no glamour down there, no snazzy presenters and no millionaires, no Sky cameras every week or flamboyant hairdos or anything else that sounds just a little too Hollywood for the traditional football fan. But, then again, the Premier League is the most competitive in the world, so it doesn’t matter. It warrants this, no? Hmm. That italicised slogan is looking worryingly more and more like something peddled out from a marketing office in central London for Rupert Murdoch’s pals to get a little wealthier on.

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And really it’s no better for scandal, either. We have the frustratingly unfair and arrogant view that everything that happens in our country’s sport is properly done, so to speak.  We assume that every deal, every game and every player, is honest and respectable. But they’re not. Just look at the endless amount of corruption that has been leaked recently. From subtly bending the rules for the odd £400k to the most abhorrent crimes committed at youth academies across the country: the English system is inherently flawed and corrupt and we can’t get over that. So it’s easier to point the finger at the Albanian ‘keeper who threw the ball into their own net or that fella in South America who bets on his own matches; shock, horror.. The reason why? The spectacle of the Premier League is too well maintained, it is simply the greatest league in the world.

Furthermore, we pour scorn onto the Chinese Super League, quite rightly, for buying talent over with little other genuine incentive. Disgraceful. Yet, in England and more specifically the Premier League, we happily spend £89million on a largely unproven 23-year-old who dabs his way through a few YouTube compilations. He was winning everything with Juventus and was the star boy of the team. He then moved to a club who finished outside the top four where he has currently won sweet-FA and is no longer the top dog.

Ademola Lookman is 19 and was plying his trade in Division One. This week, Everton snapped him up for a fee rising to £11million. When the Premier League first started in 1992, you could buy the most expensive player in Britain, Paul Gascoigne, twice with that sum.

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But it’s not all about money in this league, it’s the raw passion that accompanies it. Just ask all the tourists outside the 60,000-seater Emirates, sponsored by the £7-8.5 billion company that’s owned by the £9.4bn Russian business magnate.

Fucking Chinese, though, eh?

Oh, but the Prem does have one redeeming feature. Its quality. The infinite quality that oozes from the 20-team table and puts the rest of Europe to shame. I mean, the last Ballon d’Or winner from that lot was only a decade ago and, hey, not one of them made the UEFA Fan’s Team of the Year. Yes, even though Joe Allen was shortlisted. Must be corrupt then, bloody foreigners. If only it had been done in this country… Come on, the Premier League is the top league in the world, ffs.

Now, this is all a big shame. It’s not the fans fault, is it? There are thousands of loyal hordes out there who simply want to love as much football in their lifetime as possible. And who doesn’t want it to be their country that boasts the highest class of teams in the best footballing competition in the world? So, let’s not stop loving what is, admittedly, a good calibre of football in an entertaining league. But, please, stop droning out that old phrase – the Premier League is not the best, most competitive, fair, attractive or passionate in the world. Suggesting that it is, I’m afraid, is simply flogging a dead horse until it can no longer be flogged anymore. At which point Sky will come along and resurrect poor old Hector with a big sugar cube and flog, with as many channels and promo-ads as possible, until the poor lad is flogged out, very much six-foot under; his soul desperately digging its way from the corporate brainwashing shovel of the media elite’s perma-digging arm of Murdoch and Co.

So don’t condemn the exhausted fella to anymore flogging, please. Stop telling people that the Premier League is so superior and just enjoy the football before we can no longer afford it. It’s not the best, but it’ll do. Much like the rest of England, really.

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