Earlier this month, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher discussed the apparent power shift in English football from the north to the south. Middlesbrough and Sunderland have both been relegated and Hull are fighting for their lives while at the other end of the table its two London teams who are battling it out for the title. Even when you factor in the Geordie’s coming up next season, on the face of it there is a definite shift.
Historically teams from the north and midlands; Liverpool, Manchester United, Leeds, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Blackburn have dominated the top division in England. However, teams in London and surrounding areas have seen a great deal of foreign investment which has propelled them to the top. But this is power shift real or is it superficial?
The investment and lure of the south is apparent. Owning and playing for a club in London is more alluring for a lot of people than somewhere in the north. This has meant that people are buying clubs in the south.
Take Chelsea, Brighton and Watford as prime examples. All three clubs have seen major foreign investment. For Chelsea, it meant they went from a lower-mid table Premier League team to one of the best teams in Europe. Watford have established themselves as a Premier League team after spending years yo-yoing between the top three leagues in England. While Brighton have pushed up the Championship to be promoted.
Neville and Carragher talked in depth about how players signing from Europe will be more attracted to a move to the south rather than the north. National newspaper reports earlier this year suggested Sunderland were considering exploring the possibility of a London base to aid recruitment.
This would be an astonishing move. But the investment is into the South, the players want to live in the south. It’s a scary suggestion, having bases in the south. The idea of departure from your territory would be unfathomable but might be necessary to attract players and compete.
However, it is not completely at loss for northern teams. Manchester United and City, Liverpool and Everton will all challenge for the title in the next few years. Newcastle have the potential under Rafa Benitez to return to their previous best and there is a high chance that another northern team will join them in the Premier League next season through the play offs. But the money in football is in the south and there is a definite dominance of southern regions.