Leicester City’s 4-1 defeat against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup yesterday further highlighted their underwhelming season after getting demoted to the European Conference League from the Europa League and they currently sit 10th in the Premier League.
Leicester’s recent struggles reaffirm the point that football clubs backed by oligarchs and wealthy states are too far ahead with their resources to catch up with. Without persistent injections of capital, even clubs with consistently above average scouting and coaching, will find it impossible to consistently challenge the traditionally successful clubs and their revenue steams.
That leaves us in an unsatisfactory position at the moment, whereby you either have to be historically very successful or be funded by an oligarch/state to be consistently competing at the top of the sport.
Their poor form has many variables, with injuries, games getting postponed and question marks over Brendan Rodgers’ future. However, after missing out on Champions League football for two seasons in a row, a lack of investment on first team players has begun to take its toll on the Midlands club.
Chelsea finished just four points above Leicester and made the FA Cup final at the end of the 2019/20 season, but entered the next season with over £200 million spent in the transfer window and six new first team players. It resulted in them winning the European Cup.
Leicester, on the other hand, won the FA Cup in 2021 and entered the 2021/22 season with four players signed and just £60m spent. Unable to match or getting anywhere near the spending of the traditional ‘Big 6’ has led to them to stagnate this season.
Football clubs’ unregulated embrace to capitalism has created a growing financial disparity that is now ruining the inherent unpredictability of sport. It’s also why so many unprecedented events have taken place over the last decade from Bayern and Juventus winning nine league titles on the bounce, Real Madrid winning four Champions League titles in five years (including a first three-peat in 42 years) and Manchester City winning a historic English treble in 2019 and winning three of the last four Premier League titles (two of them with a margin of over 10 points).
Furthermore, 13 of Europe’s 54 leagues are currently seeing their longest run of titles by a single club or longest period of domination.
Many of these feats appeared to be impossible for decades. They have now all taken place around the same time in the last decade. There are exceptions however, with Leicester winning a historic Premier League title in 2016 and French side LOSC Lille beating Paris Saint-Germain to the Ligue 1 last year.
“There are humans involved so there will be fluctuations and rises and dips,” says football finance expert Kieran Maguire.
“These bigger clubs are now massive money monsters.
“COVID has only increased the wealth inequality between the clubs and the rise of the Super League last year shows that it is only going to increase going forward.”
Modern day football might be too far ahead to catch up, and with the trajectory only rising, it looks like we’re set to stick with this path for the foreseeable future.
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