The threat of a breakaway league of Europe’s finest clubs may have died down for now, but to all intents and purposes we pretty much have that situation anyway. And that’s bad news for the football purists among us.
A quick look among Europe’s top divisions, including the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga, quickly paints a picture. And it’s a picture of startling contrasts.
In the Premier League, the gap between top and bottom stands at a whopping 40 points. This time last year that difference was just 32.
And by the end of the season, we can expect to see a sizeable gap between the top six and the rest. The margin between Manchester United in sixth and Stoke in ninth today is 13 points, last season that difference was four.
In Spain, the gap from top to bottom is 34 points, that’s four more than last season.
And over in Italy, the difference between top and bottom is 39 points – and that’s only after 20 games.
The trend continues. Last season’s gap in Serie A was only 35 points.
France bucks the pattern, but that’s not exactly a glowing review when it ended with PSG winning the division by a quite staggering – and record-breaking – 31 points. Second to 18th were only split by 26 points, while Troyes won three times in total.
This now seems more of a precursor of what was to follow elsewhere in Europe, rather than an anomaly.
A deeper look into the situation doesn’t improve the feeling that the chance of anyone ever repeating Leicester’s success last season is next to none.
In the Premier League, the competition remains largely healthy, with every side winning at least four times, a ratio of just over one in five. And only Burnley and Leicester are yet to win away from home.
But in La Liga, both Granada and Osasuna have only a sole victory to their names, while four sides still haven’t won on the road. This time last season every side had won at least three games, and only Las Palmas remained winless away from home.
Things are arguably worse in Italy. Pescara have won once, while above them in the table, Crotone and Palermo can only count two wins apiece.
The former are yet to win away, while the latter still haven’t handed their fans a home win to savour. And in total, five sides in Italy have picked up just one away win or less.
As mentioned, France appear a little backwards in this recent trend, and every team this season has won at least five games. But with Marseille and Monaco financially backed to the hilt, it seems only a matter of time before they join PSG in a new league of competitiveness.
Widely regarded as the top-four divisions in the game, in reality these 20-team leagues have now indisputably become a series of multiple competitions within themselves.
The super-leagues have now firmly come to the fore, and that’s all but game over for the mere mortals left to fight it out at the bottom.
There’s no need for a breakaway league when Europe’s biggest already have a different whipping boy week after week.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing