At last, proof that football is boring

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The Independent Online

The first scientific proof of how cash is killing football is unveiled today in a report into the Premiership's increasing predictability.

The first scientific proof of how cash is killing football is unveiled today in a report into the Premiership's increasing predictability.

Falling viewing figures and declining gates - already down 6 per cent on last season - suggest fans are already tiring of one-sided fixtures. Until now, however, there has been no proper statistical analysis into the so-called "competitive balance" between England's 20 top clubs.

A new study, which was commissioned by an independent sports body, gives fans the ammunition they have been waiting for.

It shows that the number of points won by the top five clubs was stable for the first four decades after the war. Since 1987, however, their dominance has become increasingly marked, particularly over the past 10 years.

The report shows that there has been a 21 per cent increase in the dominance of the top clubs in the post-war era. England's leading five clubs took 35 per cent of all available points last season compared with 29 per cent in 1993.

The authors, two management professors, blame unequal distribution of broadcasting revenues and access to European competition. They point out that there has been a 6.5-fold increase in the Premiership's revenue, driven for the most part by huge rises in broadcasting cash which rose from £15m in 1992 to £543m last year.

The experts argue that unless the imbalance in how this cash is distributed is addressed the Premiership will lose fans' interest and could even be threatened with a rival body.

Philip Snape, director of the Sports Nexus, a lobby group that commissioned the study and which claims to represent the views of the average fan, said: "This should be a wake-up call to the people that are running this business. Each year the Premier League is becoming more and more predictable - the question, is where does it stop?"

The former England manager Graham Taylor said that the owners of the country's leading clubs should take the report seriously. "The Premiership is in grave danger of losing its competitive balance - if it has not already done so," he said.

The lobby group is pushing for the equal distribution of any increase in broadcasting revenue to even up competition on the field.

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