Premier League could be a more level playing field, eulogising the unity seen in American Football.

I want to look at the notion of a draft system and consider whether it could be implemented and if it were, how it might play out over here.

The draft system is a recruitment process where the worst team in any given year is given the first pick of that year’s talented crop of college stars. The Super Bowl winners obviously have less of a recruitment need and are accordingly given the last pick. In this instance, the Premier League champions would pick last and the 20th placed team get a chance to sign up the next Wayne Rooney. If the worst team in the league can make the right choice, the potential for success is huge.

Firstly, the Premier League is not a closed league like the NFL, where 32 teams compete against one another each and every year. A closed league makes it easy to spread the wealth of talented nascent superstars coming through college level and onto the professional scene. I don’t have to tell anyone of the many falls from grace experienced by countless managers, players and fans after relegation from an open league, never to reach the top flight again. Although, the relegation rule renders a draft system a pretty difficult idea to bring about.

Lets look at Andrew Luck, drafted by last year’s worst team – Indianapolis Colts – with a win/loss record of 2-14. With Luck they managed to finish the 2012/13 regular season with a record of 11-5, qualifying for the postseason and a chance to compete for the Super Bowl. The same applies to the Washington Redskins and RGIII, another bad team who made the postseason after picking the second overall pick behind Luck. These guys could potentially dominate the league for years to come. Although, there are a few anomalies in the draft, like Mr-Ugg-himself-Tom-Brady who was the 199th overall pick in the 6th round of the 2000 draft. He’s kind of like the greatest quarterback of all time (discounting the fact that he lost in the AFC Championship on Sunday night to the Ravens). Some people get overlooked and drafting isn’t a key to success – it just helps to level the field.

But imagine the Premier League is a closed league, and that young players are recruited for college teams (managed by more than capable coaches) before being drafted to the Premier League according to league position. We’re not going to come up with a solution here and the results of this fantasy game won’t exactly result in hard-hitting evidence, but it’s fun to make believe now and then. So we walk through the wardrobe and are transported to the land of drafting and fairness. Lets imagine again that when Rooney was 21, and performing pretty amazingly I might add (he scored 20 goals in all competitions and United won the league), that at 21, Rooney was picked up by last place Derby in 2007/08. Plus, he was accompanied through the doors of Pride Park by a few other key players in the 2007/08 draft, players who might compliment him in the 2008/09 season (a season where Rooney and United won the league again, by the way). Think of the difference it would make on both Derby’s season and United’s. Lets not forget that Derby finished 18th in the Championship after relegation. I feel pretty confident in saying that Rooney could’ve helped them back into the top flight if the relegation rule was still in place. Otherwise in a closed league I’m sure Rooney would help Derby compete, and consequently help to attract better players who might be at the end of their contract. What would that mean for a team like Derby? If the same theory were to be applied throughout the league do you think things would be a little more competitive? Unfortunately, it’s not possible. Why would the Premier League’s top six or seven teams agree to send the country’s top talent to the worst team? And if the relegation rule is still in place in our crazy world of fairness, would they want to see the best players go to the Championship? They wouldn’t. We haven’t even factored in UEFA, a European footballing organization with regulatory powers over Europe –but you knew that. All of the top leagues around Europe would have to agree to a draft system, leaving a lot of empty trophy cabinets and perhaps even a few empty pockets. We haven’t even brought up the EU, with the freedom of movement for workers opening up the draft to a potentially bigger market. The issue gets muddied, politicized and a little more complex the deeper you get into it.

The idea, as Lawton implies, is something that the NFL can teach us. His headline exaggerates things a little, but the implication is that we could learn from American sports. Simply put, this isn’t something that the NFL can teach us. Such drastic changes are unworkable, but it doesn’t stop a few people from paying homage to an American sport with impractical ideas. I can’t see Barcelona training up the best of the best at La Masia, only to give them up to Deportivo. We can only learn from North America on a commercial basis. But perhaps there’s another solution to make the game fairer. To start with, how about a salary cap to stop teams like Manchester City and Chelsea from stockpiling players to warm their benches. It’s a waste of talent with wider repercussions – both financially and competitively – for the rest of the teams. City wouldn’t be able to bench a player on £200,000 a week if there was a salary cap in place. Instead, you’d have to start using cheaper, younger players hungry for an opportunity.  Personally, I’d like to see a little more fairness – spreading the talent around – for teams and fans who deserve to enjoy good football and the glory attached to winning silverware.

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  • James Stolarczyk
    1 year ago

    The draft is not practical, but free agent rules and profit sharing could be made to work. Changes would have to be made to address the difference in games. Being able to place a “franchise tag” would prevent big money clubs from poaching stars from other teams. RVP would be a good example with a “franchise tag”, even if he left when his contract expired, ManU would still have to pay Arsenal a few million £ for taking a franchise player and Arsenal could receive that from profit sharing on ManU product sold outside the confines of Old Trafford or purchased directly from ManU Store. Teams can only designate one franchise player. Normally that would be a star player with one year left on contract. It would also prevent teams like ManU and Arsenal from going after Zaha before the end of the season. This and profit sharing would improve competition in the EPL as lower ranked teams would have the income to compete and keep quality players through their contracts.

    Reply
  • Rocket Sauce
    1 year ago

    Salary caps won’t work unless the rest of the world agree to the same. FFP is a joke as it only cements the elite in their position.

    There is NO way to reasonably fix what was broken 20 years ago by those clubs who sanctioned the creation of the Premier League. They did so at the peril of what was great about the league.

    Media money, sponsorship deals, and the Champion’s League money have tipped the balance so far in favor of the “haves” that the only way to break into that is to do what Chelsea and City are doing, which is to elbow their way into the elite positions by outspending any competition.

    It’s not City or Chelsea’s fault…it’s the fault of the system in which they are operating. And you aren’t going to change that without convincing clubs to give up all that media money.

    Reply
    • Lodatz
      1 year ago

      Or by doing what Spurs and Everton have done; build great squads with young talent.

      Reply
      • Dave
        1 year ago

        The day Spurs or Everton win the league I will eat my hat.

        Utd are already sniffing round Bale and Fellaini and Baines, Modric Rooney, Lescott Rodwell and VDV sold

        Clubs like Arsenal, Spurs and Everton have become feeder clubs to the moey clubs of United, Chelsea and City

        This will continue and the likes of Utd and Arsenal want FFP to stop another City or Chelsea as they are terrified that someone might take over Spurs and Everton and so increase the competition which is the last thing they want

        Reply
  • Jeremy Poynton
    1 year ago

    The Football League has been hugely exciting for over a century. Buying success is nothing new – indeed, in 1911, Manchester United bought the league, with a director investing the then huge sum of £6000 into buying players.

    There’s nothing new under the sun.

    Now – imagine this. Abramovich didn’t buy Chelsea. ADUG didn’t buy City. What would be happening now? With Arsenal a pale shadow of what they were, United would be winning the league every year.

    Is that what you want?

    Profit sharing. Think. Martin Samuel followed the money that City paid Wolfsburg for (Oh) Edin Dzeko. They bought five players, and the clubs they bought from bought another nine players. That’s real trickle down. Platini wants to stop that. FFP will simply seal the cartel at the top of European football; indeed, Platini’s buddy Abramovich lobbied Platini to introduce FFP, clearly with that intent. City kicked the door down as it was closing, but no other club will be able to do that now.

    Reply
  • DomOA
    1 year ago

    “City wouldn’t be able to bench a player on £200,000 a week if there was a salary cap in place.”

    But would United be able to bench a £250,000 a week player like they did yesterday?

    Reply
    • Jeremy Poynton
      1 year ago

      :-)

      Reply
  • Woodsy
    1 year ago

    American Football is played in one country, backed by the unique US College system which guarantees a wealth of fresh faces on an annual basis.

    Football is so different it renders this piece and any other comparisons utterly pointless. You may as well ask whether paying players will jelly beans would level the playing field. Nonsense.

    Reply
    • Chris Ioannou
      1 year ago

      Ditto on everything you said. It’s just a little bit of fun.

      Reply
  • Pete i
    1 year ago

    a good system would be that the champions who win the league are not allowed to make signing for the next season and the runners up can only make 2 signings. this would give the teams below ist and 2nd the chance to sign better players and improve whilst the previous winners cannot

    Reply
  • rolling
    1 year ago

    This article makes no sense. You can’t compare NFL with Premier League. It’s like comparing apples with onions(both of them are edible but one is fruit and the other vegetable). Now if you really want to compare Premier league then you need to compare with MLS.

    Now its apple and oranges but then again you don’t want to premier league turning into MLS.

    Reply
    • Chris Ioannou
      1 year ago

      The article was a response to a well-known journalist who tried to compare the NFL to the Premier League. That’s why we played a little imagination game here to show that it’s unworkable. We’re on the same page.

      Reply
  • Deneo
    1 year ago

    As you say the problem is the relegation rules of an open league…It could work if there was an acceptance by lower league teams that they would become feeder teams for the elite teams and be paid accordingly somehow, there would also need to be a way for a lower league team to pickup the franchise of a non performing elite team if the chance arose….lastly, this would have to be done on a national basis to negate international transfers at least initially, but also to provide potential for a champions league of nations. Would be a great leveller and improve financial viability of all leagues in the long term.

    Reply
  • Chris Ioannou
    1 year ago

    Some great comments from everyone, keep them coming – I think together we can solve all of football’s problems.

    Reply