Ryan O’Hanlon, a writer for ESPN.com, wrote an article on May 26, 2023, discussing Coventry City’s journey back to the Premier League. Although Coventry City has not been in the Premier League this century, they are on track to return to England’s top league. O’Hanlon discusses how one team can quickly secure their title, leaving the rest of the league far behind. For instance, Man United and Newcastle secured their spots with plenty of time to spare, and Arsenal surrendered after Easter, eliminating them from the top-four contention.
O’Hanlon then compares American sports and the Premier League’s structure to balance creating the most excitement and identifying the best teams. Michael Lopez studies the best teams and how, 80% of the time, they advance from the best-of-seven NBA series. On the other hand, baseball schedules a 162-game regular season to determine the best team as equally as NBA playoffs. However, O’Hanlon finds that the structure of a typical European domestic league is mostly fair, and whoever earns the most overall points wins regardless of the week.
Additionally, O’Hanlon highlights the championship playoff final as a well-designed competition found in football. This competition is considered to be the most profitable match in sports and the most lucrative match in football. Whoever wins the championship playoff final will receive £110m just for finishing last in the Premier League, £10m for a good performance in the championship, and £70m or more in parachute payments after relegation. O’Hanlon explains how a wide range of earnings can be expected based on the results, with the richest team in the Championship bringing in £71.6million.
Furthermore, O’Hanlon discusses how the championship playoffs find a better way to balance the competitive structure combined with an unfair financial environment in European football. The top two teams in the league automatically qualify for the Premier League, creating a fair competitive structure that still holds great value. However, adding a four-team playoff introduces ultra-high stakes matches that attract Premier League-sized TV viewers. O’Hanlon believes that more teams have a chance to reach the Premier League each season with the introduction of playoffs, greatly impacting team spending.
In conclusion, O’Hanlon discusses how the championship found a better way to balance the competitive structure and financial environment in European football, creating a competition that rewards more teams for reaching the Premier League.