The Premier System

I love brilliant systems. The English Premier League’s ranking system is quite brilliant, and I want to talk about it briefly today.

There are 20 teams in the EPL. The top four teams from this year are entered in the Champions League, which is an extended tournament held during the regular season of all of Europe’s top teams. There’s a similar second-tier tournament called the Europa League that teams 5-7 are entered into the following season.

Also, at the bottom of the chart, the bottom three teams in the league are relegated to the English soccer league that’s one level below the EPL (it’s the equivalent of Triple A baseball in America). At the same time, the three top teams from that second-tier league move up into the EPL the following season.

There’s a lot going on here, but as I’ve watched the EPL highlight shows over the last month, I’ve realized how important this system is. There are four different races going on, so almost every game in the EPL matters even though it’s the last week of the season (this is so different than most American sports). There’s the race for the league title, the race to get into the top 4, the race to make it into the top 7, and the race not to be in the bottom 3.

Imagine if American baseball had this same system. For a lot of teams, the last few weeks of the season don’t matter all that much. I think the relegation idea would be particularly effective–you don’t want your MLB team to be relegated, and/or you want your Triple A team to move up. So games at the end of the season really matter.

What do you think? Does this system apply to your sport?

6 thoughts on “The Premier System”

  1. This would be awesome in any American sport. We’d need to reconfigure how our systems work (e.g., the Cardinals couldn’t just pluck someone from triple-A Memphis anymore), but it’d be worth it. Also, in some sports, it’d require a lot of work to create such a system. In professional football, for instance, there really isn’t a league that even comes remotely close to the NFL (in terms of talent), as far as I know. Still, this would be awesome.

    • That’s a good point about the current state of “call-ups” and a second NFL-type league. I think EPL teams may call up players in a similar way to MLB teams, though, so maybe that’s not too much of a hassle.

  2. I agree with T-Mac. Our sports would definitely become more exciting if this system were implemented. It might cause fair weathered fans to want to keep score the entire season rather than just a few games through out a instead of just going for the big games like the World Series or Super Bowl. Even though it would be a lot of work to create a system, the overall benefit would be worth it. (Think of the merchandising possibilities when people start to care about their teams!)

    • That’s a great point about fair-weather fans–I think this type of a system promotes a lifetime fanship for a certain team.

  3. One major difference in the EPL (that I kind of like, but also takes away a lot of drama in other ways) is that there aren’t any playoffs. So the winner of the league is often not in doubt in the final week (though this year it is — for apparently just the 5th time in 19 years).

    I like that it values the regular season but the postseason in baseball and football is pretty awesome (and also there are too many teams/unbalanced schedule that just taking the regular season champs as the overall champs wouldn’t work in those sports).

    Anyway, relegation in baseball would only work if minor league teams were independent of major league teams. The whole system would have to change — there also wouldn’t be an amateur draft, for example. It would also cause havoc on fantasy baseball…it just really wouldn’t work. Teams in soccer are independent and not affiliated with each other, which is why they can do it.

    • I think the key to your post is the impact on fantasy baseball–let’s face it, that’s the most fun part of baseball. So if you had players on a team that will be relegated…well, that’s rough. I think it would just become part of the game.

      I also hear you about the fun of playoffs. I like the certainty of the EFL league, though. You know for sure when your team’s season is over. And you always have something to root for.

      I think it’ll be close to impossible for Chelsea to not take the league this year–they’re playing a pretty bad team, and I think they’re at home. If they win the game, they win the title.


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