A Different Opinion – is money the top factor in a Premier League title chase?

Each week, A Different League takes an emerging issue from the Premier League and gathers the viewpoint of three of our expert writers. This week:

“With rich clubs Chelsea and Man City topping the Premier League table, is money the top factor in a Premier League title chase?”

Alex Bath: “Money is obviously the most important factor in the Premier League. I don’t think you even have to look at the top two to see that. You could point to Tottenham Hotspur as an example of money’s role; you could look at Stoke for a similar story. Tottenham had to take their spending to the next level to take the club to the next level. Luka Modric, Roman Pavlyuchenko and David Bentley all cost around £15m, and Pavlyuchenko and Bentley are no more than squad players. Stoke City, meanwhile, can be as grateful to Peter Coates as they can to Tony Pulis for their success. The local millionaire has bankrolled the club’s singing of players like Kenwyne Jones for £8m. Stoke are currently ninth in the table.

Chelsea and Manchester City are currently sitting pretty at the top of the league, and both also rule the spending charts. Is this a coincidence? Obviously not. They have spent a fortune, but that money has been spent on brilliant players. Carlos Tevez and Didier Drogba are two of the best strikers in the world. David Silva was courted by teams across Europe when he moved to City. James Milner and Florent Malouda would walk into every team in the world.

The best teams have the best players. The best players cost a lot of money. Money is the biggest factor, but it always been the biggest factor in the Premier League. ”

Frank McCann: “Yes. Money is more important than ever when it comes to challenging for the Premier League title.

All you have to do is look at Manchester City’s steady progress up the league table. It has been just over two years since Sheikh Mansour purchased the Eastland’s club and the team has already jumped from 10th in 2009 to 5th at the end of the last campaign, and it is hard see Roberto Mancini’s side finishing lower than that this time around. The steady progress comes with the money provided to build a new squad.

In some ways, City are the new Chelsea.

When Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 – since spening £600 million on the football club, which has brought three Premier League titles – few would have expected that a rival billionaire would outspend Chelsea’s owner. But it seems Manchester City have become the newest side to create a modern day dream-team.

With Manchester United struggling financially in recent times, and Arsenal unwilling to spend, Chelsea and Man City are better equipped for the future than England’s other big guns. I haven’t forgotten about Spurs either, I just feel they need a few years of consistency before they can be considered an elite club.

It is hard to look past Chelsea as this season’s title winners. They have an excellent first-team, great individual talent, but most importantly they have a great team unity.

Although Man City possesses some magnificent talent, they may still need another season to fine-tune the first eleven and work on their away form. However, if they discover a weakness anywhere, they have the resources to strengthen it with the cream of the crop. They are the envy of every other club.”

James McLean: “Everton chairman Bill Kenwright declared a couple of years ago that in order to win the Premier League, a club needs a billionaire owner – and while historically this may not always have been the case, certainly since the formation of the Premier League in 1992 finances have become an increasingly significant factor.

Clearly, the money on offer will tempt most top players, especially when you get to the financial gains at clubs such as Chelsea and Man City. When Roman Abramovic purchased Chelsea, the first thing he did was throw money at bringing in top players – and that gave the club the final push they needed from almost-but-never-weres to potentially dominant champions of England. Let’s face it – they were on the cusp of the top anyway, but that takeover gave them what they needed. The same appears to be happening as the sleeping giant begins to awaken at Man City.

When Andy Cole joined Man United from Newcastle in 1995, it was for a British record of £6m plus Keith Gillespie. Now, clubs in much less secure financial positions than United were 15 years ago are having to spend twice that on players who simply add some depth to the squad – not necessarily star strikers. Players’ fees are going up considerably, as are their wages – hence why the divide between the elite and the merely stable/solid clubs continues to grow almost by the day.

Back to the question, however – the way things are going I would still have to say yes – in the modern day where the sport seems sadly second to the business (at least in most owners’ eyes), money is king – and the crown will continue to rule for the forseeable future in all but the most bizarre of seasons.”

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