Which Premier League clubs could become contenders after TV cash deals?
Holly Thackeray | February 10, 2016
Can Premier League TV cash create new contenders?
This season, battles for places within the Premier League have become increasingly ferocious, with one eye on next term, when England’s already wealthy top-flight will become flush with cash thanks to extra TV revenue.
Currently, over £5bn is expected to line the league’s coffers, hence the hectic scramble for Championship promotion and tight scrap for Premier League survival. These end-of-season skirmishes could become even more intense, as clubs crave a slice of the cash injection.
Arguably, an increase in money and competitiveness can only be good for the Premier League. So, Coral writers consider whether, after a campaign full of surprises, are there any also-ran English clubs that could harness this extra revenue to upset the apple cart and established order long-term, to become serious contenders at the top end of the table?
Of course, investment can be a blessing or a curse; as Chelsea and Manchester City’s title riches, but also QPR’s calamities, can attest.
We’ve seen big money arrive on English shores before so, will anything really change?
Pressure to spend
With a gaggle of clubs always ambitious but never quite able to compete with the financial lure (and prestige) of Arsenal, Manchester United and co, this deal was tipped to skew the balance a little, and potentially stop the wealthiest plundering their smaller in stature competitors so readily.
With the financial backing to finally resist the overtures of big spenders, perhaps poorer clubs can cling onto their star players for a little longer, without needing the funds to pad out other areas of the squad in need of transfer surgery.
Yet, the impact of investment could be overstated, doing little to actually increase competition or level the playing field, as the already rich will also become richer, though the merit money rewards for performance and league standings regardless of reputation act as an incentive.
Long-standing Gunners gaffer Arsene Wenger also appeared dubious of the new TV rights deals, telling press that wages and fees would only naturally rocket as a result: “What will happen is the prices of the players will go up and you will need this supplement of money coming in to buy new players.
“I believe the pressure on spending the money will become bigger and you cannot necessarily distribute the money to other people.”
Though, the usually frugal Frenchman did speak of the cash influx in relation to new global competition, adding: “China looks to have the financial power to move the whole league of Europe to China.”
Savvy spenders could provide shocks
However, while the Chinese Super League may be currently throwing its financial weight around by capturing the likes of Jackson Martinez, this TV revenue could perhaps see lower-ranked Premier League clubs competing for better quality from abroad instead.
West Ham United are one of those such clubs and, if you believe the tabloids, are currently fending off interest in star dangerman Dimitri Payet and striker Nikica Jelavic from East Asia, with other top-flight rivals circling for young-gun Reece Oxford, who has barely set foot on the Upton Park pitch.
Should the Hammers’ piggy bank instead be buoyed and they manage to keep hold of their prize assets and finally build for the longer term, they have already proven they can mix it with the best on the field.
Hammers hopeful of progress
An excellent summer window saw the Irons outshine the lavish sprees of Man Utd and co, as canny coach Slaven Bilic arrived at the club alongside the likes of playmaker Payet, winger Michail Antonio, free agent Darren Randolph and Serie A stars Angelo Ogbonna and Pedro Obiang.
While, opportunistic loans were added in the form of Alex Song, Manuel Lanzini, Victor Moses and Carl Jenkinson. West Ham saw that smart spending pay dividends as Payet ran riot to help them to early scalps against Arsenal and Liverpool among others, with their most recent giant toppling knocking the Reds out of the FA Cup.
On that occasion, summer signing Antonio drew first blood for the Londoners, before Payet’s extra-time set-piece saw fellow fresh face Ogbonna rise highest for the winner, reinforcing the success of their transfer policy in play.
With such superb scouting and spending on their current budget, and a renowned youth academy, even before the stadium switch, Bilic’s boys look best placed to make the most of any extra money. It may take a few years but, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd in flux, this ambitious club can be hopeful of eventually aiming higher than the Europa League or a top six finish (for which they are a 10/3 chance with Coral this term).
The foundations, fierce fanbase, and soon the infrastructure, are surely there to build upon if the Irons can prevent themselves from being plundered so easily over the next few seasons.
While West Ham lurk just outside the Champions League spots, table toppers Leicester City are the name on everyone’s lips.
The fashionable Foxes do have sound financial backing, but have so far squeezed every drop out their pennies spent with bargains such as Jamie Vardy, N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez lighting up the Premier League as if from nowhere.
Claudio Ranieri’s men are now joint 9/4 favourites for the title, which would have been a more than eyebrow-raising prospect if mentioned last season, as they strove for survival in the relegation wrangle.
Having been propelled from one end of the league to another, the Foxes are enjoying the limelight but with that comes unwanted attention for their top players.
Whether or not Ranieri’s guys rally for what would be one of the biggest sporting shocks of recent years, they will have to hope increased revenue arrives at just the right time for them to cling on to star performers in case of Champions League participation.
Leicester’s terrific team balance is due to tight-knit ranks and an underdog spirit running right down their spine, and there is no guarantee they can repeat next season. Reinforcements will surely be required, and the right replacements, especially if key cogs are captured.
Without the attraction and glamour of London, or the surprise factor, the Foxes may have a tougher challenge on their hands to stay relevant if silverware is not secured this time around, money or no money.
Spurs seeking chance to shine
Tottenham, meanwhile, could be the biggest club in a position to benefit. Notoriously tough to negotiate with, Spurs have struck gold when having their hand forced to sell the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric in recent times.
No team looks forward to going head-to-head with Daniel Levy and, while Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Hugo Lloris and Dele Alli may be much coveted around England, it seems unlikely in the current climate they would have a price; at least an affordable one.
This new money could certainly go furthest at White Hart Lane, where Mauricio Pochettino presides over a base of young, hungry and talented players and a sturdy, experienced defence.
Just a few tweaks could change this team from infamous almost men into regular Champions League qualifiers and title chasers, with Spurs already well positioned for both this season at 9/2 to win the league and odds-on 1/5 chances for a top four spot.
The ability to resist raids and prove to current players that they can challenge on all fronts while adding more quality across the squad could make these sleeping giants a real force. Though, coach Pochettino is crucial to this project and if his head is turned, it may not be quite so clear cut.
Premier League bubble
With talk of Everton receiving more outside investment, Stoke City already drawing big names to the Midlands and Watford stars of the summer transfer window before going on to solidify themselves as a top 10 team, the Premier League is looking more competitive than ever.
There is certainly no longer a top four, but instead an array of clubs with the quality and finances to make a splash. Can this possibly be sustained with so much money at stake? It remains to be seen, but the Premier League and its bloated battles for trophies and European places will surely only become an even more exciting place to be.