GPL – Global Premier League

February 11, 2008

Hooray for English Premier League soccer fans worldwide!

Apparently, news has it that the Premier League is toying with the possibility of playing one more round of matches on foreign soil, as they come up with a radical proposal to extend the season to 39 games from the 2010-2011 season, up from the current 38 games.

TNP Columnist Iain Macintosh sums it up well enough about the fallacies in this plan.

1. Money No Enough for the EPL, even with it already being the most profitable league, with fans all around the world who will not hesitate paying money on all sorts of paraphernalia ranging from jerseys to endorsed sports equipment.

2. As if the world around will care so much as to watch a boring ol’ match between, say, Birmingham and Derby County.

3. The entire issue of fairness. While the international round will not be the first or the last match of the entire season, being slated to be played in January in five cities worldwide, the extra round simply takes away the fairness of the current league system of having two rounds of matches per team, one home and one away, such that each team plays each other once. This is not a cup tie for goodness sake, and having that single solitary match is bound to have far-fetched implications. Everybody knows about the ridiculous amount of money involved in the EPL, with all sorts of rights ranging from live telecasts, exorbitant season ticket prices etc, and the huge implications one club will face at being relegated from this entire money tree. Let’s have 2 clubs A and B, both engaged in the relegation dogfight going into the last game of the season. The case is that Club A may not even be in that predicament in the first place had it drawn a weaker team during the international round, instead of lady luck dealing a cruel hand as it plays Manchester United or Arsenal or something. How about two teams locked at the top of the table for the championship title, one having a trickier international round tie than the other? What does this show? It’s not as if the matches are being played as friendlies or something – it will certainly make more sense to haul all these teams halfway across the world to play matches which will not have any bearing on the league standings – people will still be interested in these matches of course, as it’s after all the EPL, and the amount of money involved will still be phenomenal.

All these implications certainly make the plan less attractive, doesn’t it. Let us do the Math. An entry ticket for an EPL match sums up to approximately 100 pounds a match. Doing the conversion rates to SGD, that will sum it up to an approximation of S$275 a match. Factoring in all the other costs such as first-class air tickets for the management team and the footballers, the bodyguard crew (they’re so not about to be mobbed by gaga fans), five-star hotel accommodation and publicity, and you get an idea of how much the cost price per ticket can get inflated up to.

Not that the EPL will actually come to Singapore in the first place, of course, but this is just a case in point kind of thing. What, you think those people who came up with this idea will actually find it profitable enough to hold matches here, considering the miniature stadiums we have (the largest should be the 6,000-seater Jalan Besar Stadium, since the National Stadium will be demolished by then… Don’t think it will be rebuilt yet by then?), and that Singapore players are not allowed in their league at all in the first place as the nation is not within the Top 60 of the world ranking? Those friendly matches once organised between, say, Manchester United and the Singapore team was handled by the clubs themselves in their free time between seasons. I guess, they will be concentrating on, say, the Chinese, Japanese or Korean markets for Asia, considering that there’re players from those nations playing in the EPL.

I apologise if I sound demoralising here, and for all the buckets of reality I have splashed through this viewpoint. However, do not get muddle-headed over the prospects of EPL happening in Singapore, and the prospects of the Singapore Sports Scene, so don’t get me wrong — I am all for Singapore holding the inaugural Youth Olympics come 2010, and I urge all fellow Singaporeans to show your support towards this bid (On another note I just cannot stand how cocky Moscow is)!

*Written by aR