Despite Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham all doing well in the Premier League this season the spotlight remains firmly on the Northwest, helped most certainly by the arrival of both José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola in Manchester.

The area provides the most interesting football and, generally speaking over the last forty years or so, the best and most successful football.

Last weekend a collective groan was to be heard at WSA when the live games were advertised as being all-London affairs. This was not because there would be no decent football on display, although that was a possibility, no it was because the feeling of boredom when no Northern team is involved is overwhelming.

Football is as popular as ever around the world and nowhere more so than in England. Tottenham will move to a “new” White Hart Lane, West Ham have already re-located and Chelsea have forwarded plans to increase their capacity to around 60,000, Arsenal moved home a few years ago. All this bodes well for football down South providing the interest in the game can be retained.

If, for example, Diego Costa decides to clear off to China, where he will join the likes of Ramires, Oscar and Axel Witsel, will this affect attendances at Chelsea games? Whilst it is unlikely at present, it wouldn’t need a lot of big name players to leave before the crowd figures started dwindling.

The main reason for the popularity of the game in England is the wealth of the clubs. This has allowed them to vastly overpay in attracting some of the best players in the world and has resulted in massive attendances which, in return, has resulted in even more wealth through gate receipts.

What will happen if football in China really catches on? They can afford to vastly overpay for players on a scale which is much higher than the Premier League clubs, Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG and Bayern Munich!

Providing the Premier League clubs are pro-active as opposed to re-active then general opinion seems to be that the China problem will fizzle out over time, a little like the threat of the J-League in Japan a few years back.

The immediate concern for fans of football in England generally and the Premier League in particular is the amount of long term money being spent based on short term predictions and this is happening in London more so than anywhere else at present.

The hope is that the bigger London clubs will be able to fill their newly expanded/acquired stadia. The fear is that the team does not achieve the success needed to sustain the cost of the grounds. This will result in even more sackings as managers now HAVE to produce winning teams immediately and will get even less time to do so in the future.

All of this, to an extent, plays into the hands of the Northern clubs. Old Trafford, The Etihad and Anfield already have massive capacities and Everton are looking to either expand or move. The big difference is that these teams are renowned for being very well supported even when not experiencing success.

The crowds this weekend for the Manchester/Merseyside games reflected the passion for the game in the North. There would be little difference in the size of the attendances even if none of the teams involved were in the top ten. Granted, there wouldn’t be as much interest around the country as there currently is but the games themselves would still be very well attended.

Football is definitely alive and well in the North and looks to be in the same condition down South. Let’s hope this remains the case for a long time to come. Then all we need to work out is how to achieve consistent success in European competition.


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