Will Interest Wane in One-Horse Premier League Race?

West Ham Vs Birkrikara by joshjdss, on Flickr
“West Ham Vs Birkrikara” (CC BY 2.0) by joshjdss

The Premier League has, since its introduction in 1992, prided itself on being the most exciting and watchable top-flight brand in European football. That standing has allowed superstar performers from every corner of the globe to be enticed to English shores, with big money invested in delivering the best possible product.

With audience figures growing alongside revenue, noses have been turned up at rival divisions that apparently lack the same level of intrigue and competition. Questions have been asked of why you would look elsewhere for a sporting fix when the destination of major silverware is entirely predictable.

If only two or three teams are capable of challenging for trophies, where is the sense of wonder and anticipation? If hopes and dreams are dashed before a ball is kicked in anger, why bother at all?

For a long time, even when Manchester United were dominating a domestic scene, the Premier League was able to point at thrilling encounters and nerve-shredding battles at opposing ends of the table as proof that they were undoubtedly number one.

Are those bold claims starting to be turned on their head? With just over half of the 2021-22 campaign completed, betting on football at Paddy Power has Manchester City at 1.03 for title glory. A race that is supposed to build towards a thrilling finish would appear to be over before spring has sprung.

Pep Guardiola’s expensively assembled cast of world-class performers at the Etihad Stadium are brushing aside all before them, with a Premier League crown seemingly set to be defended with the minimum of fuss.

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Is this exciting?

The obvious question now is, how long will interest be held in such a one-sided affair – especially as this is becoming something of an annual trend for the Premier League.

Back in 2017-18, City collected a record-setting haul of 100 points and finished 19 clear of the chasing pack. The following year delivered an epic tussle between Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, but the Reds ran away with things in 2019-20 and had a first title in 30 years sewn up long before getting their hands on a sought-after prize.

Last season delivered more of the same, as City cantered over the line, and those at the Etihad Stadium can probably get their order in now for another delivery of ticker tape and ‘Champions’ t-shirts.

One saving grace for the English top tier may be that a lack of serious competition has spread elsewhere. Bayern Munich are chasing down a 10th successive crown in Germany, Paris Saint-Germain can outspend everyone in France and the recent demise of Barcelona has left a door wide open for Real Madrid in Spain.

Italy can claim to be producing a spectacle, but Inter are back at the top of Serie A and it could be argued that a playing field has leveled there due to a collective dip in standards rather than improvement across the board.

With all of that taken into account, the Premier League should – as it remains an attractive proposition to some of the best in the business – continue to occupy a standing atop of a footballing mountain, but it cannot afford to have too many one-horse races as interest among punters will start to wane.

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