The Spectator

The Premier League has never been more popular — globally as well as at home, says Mihir Bose. But the explosion of money is pushing clubs into insolvency — and squeezing British players out

As a global brand, English football has never been more powerful. The Premier League crosses all cultural barriers and has devotees in every corner of the world. Fans in Singapore, for instance, even change their sleeping patterns to keep up: on match days, they go to bed early evening and get up at 3 a.m. to watch live broadcasts. It is hard to think of anything else this country produces that has such reach. No matter how England’s national team fares in the World Cup this year, England’s football industry reigns supreme in the world’s favourite sport.

So it is odd, indeed, to talk about the death of English football. Look closely, however, and a financial plague is spreading. Last week’s Financial Times carried an advert seeking a buyer for the bankrupt Crystal Palace. Portsmouth FC, winner of the FA Cup just two years ago, is unable to meet players’ wages or pay for a website. Dozens of clubs are wrestling with their creditors, and the game is effectively divided into two financial leagues: those with, and without, a foreign sugar daddy to write the cheques.

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