Broadcasters regularly tell viewers the Premier League is the greatest league on Earth.
However, as Lionel Messi’s hat-trick against Manchester City in the Champions League demonstrated this week, for all its riches, British clubs fail to attract the very best players. While Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale have been praised for their record goal tallies in recent seasons, critics have used their achievements to highlight the unbalanced nature of the competition in La Liga.
Premier League executives have always fallen back on the argument that the division is the most competitive in Europe, yet it has now been six seasons since a team last needed to reach the prized 40-point mark to guarantee safety. Indeed, teams such as Sunderland have survived with fewer points numerous times over this period. If the teams coming 17th are only garnering around 37 points, it begs the question whether they really are posing that significant a threat to the big clubs. Either that or the division always has three whipping boys facing relegation. Regardless, the evidence doesn’t bolster the Premier League’s marketing campaigns. Equally, a truly competitive league would also be tight at the top, but the title has only been contested on the final day twice in the past six seasons. In the other four seasons, the champions have won by an average margin of 9.5 points.
It remains to be seen the impact Brexit will have on the league’s competitiveness in the coming years.