How much money will footballers make in 20 years? The money in the game is skyrocketing. Well, it is in England at least. This week the Premier League signed a new broadcasting rights deal in England for the 2016-2019 period of time. They sold for a record 5.136 billion pounds. Currently, EPL games are shown on Sky and BT in the United Kingdom. They currently pay 3.018 billion to show all the games. This rise will have a large impact on the game. In the EPL, the difference between the top TV earners and the bottom TV earners is not that different. Last year Liverpool made the most with 97.5 million pounds. Cardiff finished bottom with just 62.1. That is just a difference of 35.4 million pounds. Compare that to Spain, where Barcelona and Real Madrid each made 103.74 and Valencia made 35.57. Oh and they were the 3rd highest earners. Atletico Madrid was the champions last year and made only 31.12 million pounds. The champions of Spain made less money via TV rights than the worst team in the EPL. The bottom earning club in Spain was Granada, Elche, Valladolid, Rayo Vallecano, and Almeria. They each earned 13.34 million pounds. The Spanish Giants made almost 8 times more money than the bottom clubs. They made more than 3 times the amount that the Champions made. The figures are not great for other countries either. Bayern Munich only earned 27.34 million. In France, PSG, Marseille, and Lyon combined made less than Liverpool. How will the influx of more cash to what is already the richest league change the landscape all over the world?
It is already having an impact as teams look at the money. They are able to sign players to bigger contracts, but more importantly, hopefully it will lead to more collective bargaining. In England, there is a collective bargaining agreement that helps spread the wealth to all of the teams. This helps provide some parity to the league. While I understand that only about 5 teams can ever really win the league, there is more hope for those teams. There is also more hope of new teams that come up can stay up in the Premier League. In Spain this does not exist. Barcelona and Real Madrid are allowed to negotiate their own TV rights. This has helped create the great gap between earners. Those two teams are the two favorites every year with Atletico. In Italy, it has turned into Juventus every year. Guess what, they are the top TV earners. In Germany, it is a Bayern Munich runaway this year, but even Dortmund who won the last couple years is the second highest earner. Beyond that, there are not many real challengers to the title. In France, PSG, Marseille, and Lyon dominate the league and TV earnings. Finding the balance of sharing the wealth will be important. It will be interesting to watch Spain over the next couple weeks as legislation tries to get passed for collective bargaining.
BALOTELLI is back. He has finally scored in the Premier League and it could not have come at a better time for Liverpool. After being pegged back twice, Liverpool were looking for a hero and Balotelli stepped up. The 3-2 win over Tottenham gives them a fighting chance at qualifying for the Champions League. They now sit just 5 points behind United in third and 4 points from fourth place. Arsenal also came away with a big win in the fight for the top 4. Chelsea kept their 7 point lead at the top with a 1-0 win over Everton. There was a controversial moment when it appeared Branoslav Ivanovic either head butted McCarthy or bit him. Manchester City got back on track as Aguero scored twice with a 4-1 win over Stoke.
In the Copa Del Rey semifinals, Barcelona continued their fantastic form. They hosted Villarreal in the first leg of the semi-finals. They got goals from Messi, Iniesta, and Pique in a 3-1 win. In the other semifinal, Athletic Club and Espanyol drew 1-1. The second legs will be March 4th.
The Coupe de France played this week. The quarterfinals are now set and 8 of the teams come from 4 different leagues in France. From the 4th tier for French football is US Concarneau. The third tier also has a representative in US Boulogne. There will be a Second Division team in the semi-finals as Stade Bretois 29 host AJ Auxerre. The last four teams are from top tier. Guingamp travels to US Concarneau. Saint- Etienne travels to US Boulogne. The marquee matchup is Paris Saint-Germain hosting Monaco.
The battle for the top spot continues in Ligue 1. Marseille plays today as they host Stade Reims. They will look to take the top spot briefly before the other two play. PSG take the field on Saturday when they host Caen. They can then take the top spot with a win. Marseille and PSG are tied in Goal Difference so whoever wins by a bigger difference will be top spot going into Sunday. On Sunday, the top team Lyon will most likely need to win. They are also the only team on the road. They travel to Lorient. A win will keep them on top of the table.
The other tight title race is in Spain. This week Real Madrid host Deportivo. They have beaten Deportivo 5-1 and 6-1 in the last two matches at the Bernabeu. Real Madrid will also look to get back to winning ways. Barcelona hopes to keep pace and pressure on Real Madrid when they host Levante. Messi has scored in 8 of his last 9 games. Barcelona wants to win their 11th game in a row. Atletico Madrid are the only team on the road as they travel to Celta Vigo. They will try to keep their momentum rolling. It should be an interesting weekend if any of these three drop points.
Juventus will attempt to keep their 7 point lead at the top. Their opponent, Cesena, is battling a relegation fight, whereas Juve have gone on a 19 game unbeaten run. Roma will look to keep place and string a second win in a row as they host Parma. Napoli will look to get their 5th win in a row to firmly plant themselves in the all important third place.
In Germany, Dortmund takes on Mainz today. They are doing their best to get out of the bottom 3. Neither of these teams are really on form, and both desperately need a win. Bayer Leverkusen host Wolfsburg as Wolfsburg wants to cut into the 7 point lead into Munich has. Munich host Hamburg as they work to extend their lead at the top.
Lastly, the EPL takes the weekend off and the FA Cup resumes. The Fifth Round takes places and a spot in the quarter-finals is on the place. Bradford City hosts Sunderland as they work to beat their second top division team. Preston North End hosts Manchester United in the other tier 3 versus tier 1 matchup. Arsenal host Championship team Middlesbrough and Liverpool travel to Crystal Palace. Will the dream final for Steven Gerrard remain alive?
Don’t forget to check out the twitter feed this weekend – @SoccerPond