Monday, May 16, 2005

Congratulations West Bromwich Albion!

The final weekend of the English Premier League season has just passed. All that remains is the FA Cup final between my beloved Arsenal and the pitiable and aged ManUre (may they continue to drop like a stone in water).

This year, the end of the season was not even remotely about who might be champion (Chelsea won it handily), but which three teams out of a possible four would be relegated to the SodaPopNickelDimeChampionship. Formerly known as Division One and, previously, Division Two, the league just beneath the Premiership is now called The Coca-Cola Championship. They don't even use the words league, division, or conference, or any other noun that might define it as a collection of teams competing for a common goal. It's a terrible monicker.

As I have explained in the past, the three bottom teams in the Premiership are relegated down to the Coca-Cola Championship, and the top three teams in the Coca-Cola Championship are promoted to the Premiership. It's an approximately $50 million loss in revenue to be relegated, and conversely it's a financial windfall to be promoted!

All sports leagues should work this way. There is always something to fight for! In American sports, a crap team like the Montreal Expos can limp through thirty years of sporting fraud offering losing season after losing season to an empty stadium while sucking like so many parasites off the good fortune and huge profits generated by teams like the New York Yankees. If a baseball team finishes last in it's league, it should be relegated to Triple A, and the best team in Triple A should be promoted to the Major League. Sadly, in America, sports are controlled by a form of socialism for the rich and when a gazillionaire purchases a franchise, the league, with the blessings of the government, makes certain he will not lose any real money on the deal and tax cuts, free stadia, anti-trust exemptions, and subsidies are provided to guarantee that this gazillionaire can limp from year to year with a losing team, no fan base and no ramifications. American sports are an embarrassment to the free market and modern capitalism. Well, I guess all of America is an embarrassment to capitalism, but that's a different article!

If an America team might lose fifty million in revenue by finishing in 18th place, you can bet your last dollar that no team would limp from season to season banking on a slice of the winners' profits!

Going into this weekend four teams, West Brom Baggies, Norwich Canaries, and Crystal Palace Eagles (the three teams promoted at the end of last season), and Southampton Saints were clumped together at the bottom and any one of them could remain in the top-flight, depending on the results of many different matches.

I was pulling for Crystal Palace to stay up. Of the four teams, Palace was the best squad. I have become a fan of manager Iain Dowie, even if he wears workout scrubs on the sideline. He looks fantastic in a suit, but refuses to wear one while managing. Palace looked like they would be the team to stay up, but a late Charlton goal in the 82nd minute led to a 2-2 draw which was insufficient to keep Palace in the top-flight.

Norwich City (my second choice to stay up) had to beat Fulham, away at Craven Cottage, to remain up; but, an unlikely thrashing by Chris Coleman's side led to a 6-0 defeat. American Brian McBride scored two goals for the Cottagers (blessing himself with the sign of the cross as the new breed of American athletes are frighteningly wont to do) and Delia Smith's Canaries went down. I suspect that Norwich and Palace will return next season.

Southampton, managed by the loathsome Harry Redknapp, needed to beat Manchester United, and had the luxury of playing at home. The Saints folded, of course, under the tutelage of the only manager more despicable than Sir Anus Fullocrap. I am happy Southampton went down and I hope they stay down until Harry Redknapp is fired, and then I hope his next team is relegated, and so on.

Which leaves West Brom, the worst team of the four! I was certain they would go down and I am shocked that they are remaining in the Premiership! I am happy for Bryan Robson and his team; but still shocked they are the team to stay up.

My Gunners lost their final match to Birmingham City. Henry, Pires and Reyes were all kept out of the line-up (I assume in preparation for the FA Cup Final).

The sad story of the day was Manchester City's cinderella run at a spot in next year's UEFA Cup, ultimately losing the spot to Middlesborough. After Stuart Pearce took charge of City late in the season, a remarkable run of wins and draws brought them to the brink of Europe. Sadly, it was not to be as Robbie Fowler missed an injury time penalty and the 1-1 draw gave 'Boro the final spot to Europe.

Pearce will return as City manager next year, and I predict great things for them over the coming seasons.

How long before ManUre and City are battling for a spot in the UEFA Cup?

Dick Mac Recommends:

Playing for Uncle Sam
by David Tossell


Liz said...

I am glad the leagues here will always have promotion/relegation. There is no point to sport otherwise! What is there to fight for if there is only one race (to win the league) and only about 3 teams are strong enough to win it. There must be more to fight for. The Prem has UEFA Cup places up for grabs and relegation to avoid. Every European country has the same.

I love how you call them by their team name plus nickname! i.e. West Brom Baggies. Adorable! I like Dowie too and wanted Palace to stay up but West Brom have been fighting bloody hard in the last couple of months and I applaud them. PLUS they are the only team in Prem history to escape relegation having been bottom of the league at Xmas! A fine achievment!

McBride's (I assume) Cathlolic celebration is pretty rare here but very common in Italy. Most players cross themselves. Kezman also. We view it in a rather quaint way, we're not used to seeing religious people being open about it. When the English declare they are religious they are viewed as a little crazy, lol.

I am fine about the game, I will need a little time to forgive Fowler though. It's SO like City to be presented with a perfect ending and make a mess of it!

DM said...

I feel terrible about Fowler. Poor bloke! I hope he is forgiven and leads the Citizens to Europe next year!

Although I am religious and not even remotely shy about it in public, I find it vulgar for athletes to make religious gestures during sporting events. Do they do it in practice or training? It's just a self-serving public display of controversy to bring attention to themselves.

Glad you like the article, Liz!

Liz said...

I don't think they do it to be controversial! I think they are doing it for luck and as what they consider to be a tribute to their particular deity. It's almost superstitious in the execution, I've seen many players cross themselves no less than THREE times when running onto the field of play. I don't think they are doing it for effect. I think they believe God will help them score goals! :p