Tuesday, October 18, 2011

To Relegate Or Not To Relegate

A story has come out where the owners of certain English Premier League football (soccer) teams want to banish the relegation system. Of course these owners are from foreign lands and so relegation would negatively affect their pocketbooks. But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.

Each season the English Premier League plays it's matches and there is one table for standings. The top teams get to play in the European cup leagues. The bottom three are relegated. What is relegation? Let's use Major League Baseball as an example.

Today let's say the three teams with the worst record in Baseball were relegated. What would happen is that next year they would play in AAA baseball. The top three AAA teams would be promoted to Major League Baseball and play at those levels. Players would migrate from the relegated teams to other Major League teams.

This is what happens in the English Premier League. The bottom three teams get relegated to the First Division. The top First Division teams get promoted and play with the big boys the next season.

I love this system. Why? Because it makes those end of season games meaningful to the teams facing relegation. Could you imagine how hard a 4 - 11 team would play in its last game in the NFL if it knew that next year it might not be in the NFL? What about the end of the baseball season and all those games that don't have an affect on the playoffs? Could you imagine if the Royals and the Pirates were playing for their MLB lives in games 155 - 162? And what about the fans? Would the fans not come out to support the team to ensure that next year they had a Major League team?

This is what English football is all about. Passion and drive. Relegation makes it so that teams play hard throughout the season. They literally play for their Premiership lives. You get two races in effect. The race for league champion and the race to not be relegated. Imagine the lead in Sports Center if there was relegation in the major sports of America.

The foreign owners of the EPL teams need to understand that this is part of football and if they don't like relegation then they need to take the steps to put a quality product on the field. This in turn will bring fans as the team fights to move to the top and distance itself from the relegation zone.

Personally I would love to see relegation in the American Sports system, however that is unlikely. But think about the owners of teams who don't spend money on their product and what relegation would force them to do. I can see the squirming and I like it.

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