Monday, April 8, 2013

The Cream Rises

Ball Harambee By Bagga Wilks

Football or soccer, as it is called in the United States, is known as a working class sport. In Britain, cricket and polo are seen as the sport of the upper class. The fans who pack the stadiums on weekends are still very much the working class of Britain but some soccer clubs have become the “play thing” of the rich and the no-so-famous.

Clubs are divided between the haves and the have-nots. It has become extremely difficult for the have-nots to compete on the same level of the richly endowed clubs. In fact, the UEFA Champion’s League has become the playground of the wealthy clubs.

As we enter the remaining stretch of the EPL, Manchester United is far in front of their closest rival, Manchester City. Competing for the remaining two places for the Champion’s League for 2013-2014, are Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton. Everton is a club of modest means and if they fail to qualify for the Champion’s League, it is likely that their top players will peel off and seek contracts with the more richly endowed European clubs.

As the struggle for the top four becomes fiercer, in the waning days of the season, the teams at the bottom, predominantly comprised of have-nots, are struggling to remain in the Premier League where the television money for next year will be more fulsome. Reading’s fate has already been sealed and Queens Park Rangers despite the influx of new dollars is destined for relegation.

Interestingly, Aston Villa that has been experiencing tough financial times jettisoned their expensive players and started a youth campaign with a reduced payroll. They have played spectacular ball in recent matches and have slowly climbed out of the relegation zone. Wigan and Sunderland are still battling to avoid the pitfalls of relegation.

Newly promoted Southampton has performed well on their return to the Premier League. Newcastle at times looked shaky but has done enough to distance themselves from the precipice of relegation.

The influx of foreign capital in this age of globalization has rescued some fledgling clubs but in a league of twenty competitors, there will be an ongoing division between the haves and the have-nots.

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