The Santa Clara
May 4, 2017
The pursuit of the 62nd UEFA Champions League title continues this week and yet again, no English teams are in contention to take the trophy.
Only one English Premier League club has taken the title in the last eight years of the tournament when Chelsea improbably defeated Bayern Munich in penalty kicks in the 2010-2011 campaign. The English Premier League is by all accounts the most storied, popular and highly regarded professional league in the world. So why can’t they deliver on the biggest stage?
The fierce English Premier League competition and spending war waged by the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool has stripped the best EPL teams of chemistry and cohesiveness and has played a big part in their downfall in the Champions League. These world famous clubs are constantly changing who they put on the pitch—given their massive spending sprees and an influx of clashing, egotistical personalities.
According to a list compiled by soccer magazine FourFourTwo, from 2010-2016 Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United have combined to spend 2.3 billion euros in the transfer window—far and away more than any other league. The amount of money spent by premier league clubs in search of domestic and international success is ludicrous.
Couple that with the fact that each team currently residing in the EPL’s top-5 have hired a new manager in the last three years and the circus that is taking place is clear. Each new manager wants to bring in the world’s biggest superstars and it leads to a never-ending shuffle of team personnel at incredibly costly fees. How can you build a cohesive team that can play for each other with all the egos and a lack of continuity? Money runs everything in EPL and in world soccer in general, but it doesn’t always translate to success.
Despite all the money and managerial changes in the EPL, Leicester City, whose transfer budget was 17th out of 20 EPL teams in 2015, took home the title in 2016. The underdogs also fared the best out of all EPL teams in the Champions League this year among world soccer’s financial juggernauts. Compare them to Manchester United, who had the second highest transfer budget, yet did not even qualify for the tournament. The best two teams in the EPL right now are the teams with most unchanged talent from the previous year—Tottenham and Chelsea. Both teams retained their key players and were relatively tame in the summer transfer window.
Tottenham’s roster is almost identical from last year and they have relied on fostering their own young talent. For Chelsea, new manager Antonio Conte has deftly managed a mix of superstar egos. Meanwhile, a clash of egos in the midst of multiple disappointing seasons has been very highly publicized over at Arsenal, leading to a fractured locker room and noticeable incompatibility on the field.
Money doesn’t buy titles, and the sooner the EPL elite come to their senses, the closer they will be to regaining international glory.
Ben Epstein is a senior finance major.