The Judgment-Free Soccer Questions Thread

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 2, 2006
22,693
Philadelphia
Great post OCST.

I would just add that everything OCST just explained is linked to issues like why many of the American owners of big clubs supported a European Super League and also why the two most popular and prestigious clubs in the UK, Manchester United and Liverpool, also arguably two of the biggest sports brands on the planet, are currently for sale but seemingly having trouble attracting any buyer who actually cares about money.

There are many good sides to the club model but from the perspective of the big club owners, at least those who care about money and aren't doing it totally as vanity projects or to sportswash their dictatorships, its a bad system. From a financial standpoint, owning a big European football club nowadays is a really terrible proposition. You invest huge sums of money to fund an entertainment product, but because you are a club not a franchise holder, you have very limited leverage over the national and continental bureaucrats who (a) play a huge role in deciding how to market the product and monetize its broadcast rights and generally do it poorly (b) decide how to create and enforce - mainly not enforce - regulations about competitive balance and issues like state ownership of clubs. Basically, you have limited control over your own revenues and you can't really put any cap on the cost to compete either. Its a totally different relationship to governance than the owners of Americans sports franchises are used to enjoying, where they can get together and ensure that Roger Goodell, Adam Silver, or Rob Manfred are looking out for their interests as well as not playing favorites.
 

Mr. Stinky Esq.

No more Ramon
SoSH Member
Dec 7, 2006
2,421
Sometimes it was a cricket club whose members wanted to do something else when cricket wasn't being played. A cricket club in Sheffield, the hub of feet-only football in the mid-1800's, started holding football games for its members on Wednesdays, when the cricket ground wasn't in use; Sheffield Wednesday Football Club still exists and currently plays in the second tier of English football.
I have a very off-topic question but I think there's probably a decent amount of overlap between soccer and cricket fans (if there are any cricket fans here) so this seems like a decent place to ask. If this possible digression leads anywhere, I'm happy to start another thread elsewhere. I'm somewhat interested in starting to follow cricket, is anyone equipped and willing to give poor ignorant me a primer on following cricket like the ones several of you so graciously did regarding European soccer? (Again, happy to take this elsewhere if anyone is so equipped and willing).
 

67YAZ

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 1, 2000
9,259
This is huge, huge, huge. It's fundamental to understanding European footy and it's fascinating. I'll speak about England, since it's the oldest and best known.

"Football," encompassing all codes of a "move the ball from one end to the other" games, grew organically in England in the mid-19th century, and took different forms in different places. In the London area and in public (ie private) schools, the game where you could pick up the ball and run with it was favored (but some schools still played feet-only). In the industrial north, the game with feet-only was favored (but the other was still also played).

There were various meetings and codifications of rules and whatnot. The game got divided into Rugby football,* named after the public school where its history was most rooted (imagine if gridiron was called "Yale football," that's the idea), and Association football, from the Football Association and its predecessor Associations that organized various clubs. "Soccer" is the shorthand/bastardization of "association football." So don't let anyone tell you that Americans are wrong for calling it soccer. The term has plenty of history and current usage in England.

*Rugby branched into rugby league and rugby union. I'm not going into that now.

But this was all drawn up by mustachioed dudes in sepia photographs. At root level the game was played by clubs, which were groups of men who associated voluntarily. Again, sometimes these were at elite schools, and sometimes at factories and the like. Arsenal trace their roots to workers at a munitions factory. What is now Manchester United started as the Newton Heath Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Football Club, a group of railway workers. Sometimes it was a cricket club whose members wanted to do something else when cricket wasn't being played. A cricket club in Sheffield, the hub of feet-only football in the mid-1800's, started holding football games for its members on Wednesdays, when the cricket ground wasn't in use; Sheffield Wednesday Football Club still exists and currently plays in the second tier of English football.

Notwithstanding the various attempts to "associate," these clubs were atomistic. They were member-goverened and member-financed and the members played the games. Competition was arranged informally. A bunch of handlebar mustache dudes would travel to play a bunch of other handlebar mustache dudes on a sepia mud-field somewhere. Sometimes they would play one game of pick-up-the-ball and one of feet-only.

Since these were self-financed efforts, and adidas and Nike didn't exist, uniforms were makeshift. Just as American baseball clubs crafted a "uniform" by intially having its ragtag players wear the same color stockings, creating team names that carry on to today, soccer clubs created their "uniform" by pinning the club's badge or crest over their heart, on the left side of whatever sepia-colored shirt they had.

Gradually, as the boundary between rugby and soccer became distinct and the rules standardized, various efforts were made to organize ongoing competitions. These were mostly regional. There was a desire for a national tournament to crown a king, so the FA Cup was instituted in 1872. England-wide leagues as we know them now did not yet exist. There was no real way to make sense of a seeding system or anything like that, so all of the teams, of whatever strength, went into a hat, completely random draw. You might get a string of home games against weaker teams all the way to the final, or a string of away games with bad travel against stronger teams, or whatever mix. That format essentially remains today.**

In 1878, the forerunner of the Premier League, the Football League, was founded. As soccer was still relatively stronger in the north compared to rugby in the south, and with the impracticalities of traveling up and down the country every week, it was initally all northern clubs: Accrington, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Of these, the bolded are currently among the 20 PL teams, and the italicized have been in the PL in the recent past.

Just as in American baseball, in the 1870's-80s, what had been a pastime started to become a cutthroat affair, and these genteel "clubs" began to pay professionals, and just as in American baseball, this was controversial. The solution was much different. American baseball created closed leagues with franchises that were monopolies, as blessed by one of the handful of worst SCOTUS decisions of all time. You had to buy your way in, and once you were in, you were in for good. Other teams only existed as franchises of the major league clubs.

That did not fly in England. The soccer clubs were, at heart, still clubs. Baseball was popular in America, but soccer clubs were at the beating heart of their communities - like Texas high school football x1000. So the clubs became formal business entities, joint-stock companies like the Green Bay Packers, essentially*** and started to pay players. After the Football League was founded in 1878, lower tier leagues with greater geographical reach were assembled, and at the turn of the century promotion and relegation was introduced. This solved the problem of competitive balance and incentivized sound club management.

So the English football pyramid now looks like this. The league names smack of the same kind of what-the-fuck-is-this of American college football conferences, now that the Big 12 has four teams and the Big 10 has thirty seven; or Spinal Tap being called "the New Originals."

1. Premier League/20 clubs
2. Championship/24 clubs (not to be confused with the pan-European Champions league)
3. League One/24
4. League Two/24

Even more confusingly, these four are together known as "the Football League," and everything below it is "non-league football."

Beyond the fifth tier the leagues are regionalized to minimize travel for what are semi-pro clubs and to reflect the wider pyramid - eighth tier has 160 clubs, the 11th and bottom tier has 792 clubs, now we're into pub-club territory.

View attachment 59192





There is promotion and relegation all up and down the pyramid, every year. Three teams go down from the PL to the Championship, and three up the other way; three down from the Championship to League One, and three up the other way; etc.

So in theory, DC Auto Repairs in the eleventh-tier Devon Football League, whose players are not paid, and which is so small-bore that clubs either don't have websites or use the kind of website that my kid's youth sports leagues use to schedule games, could rip off eleven championship seasons in a row and win the Premier League.

Last year, the "top six" English clubs - Man City, Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs - along with the heavyweights from the other big European leagues like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, PSG etc. announced the formation of a "Super League," or closed-competition permanent Champions League, where they would play each other in and around their domestic league seasons every year, without having to qualify for the Champions League by finishing at the top of their domestic leagues. In short, they wanted the guaranteed money streams from guaranteed Liverpool-Barcelona games, without the risk of not qualifying. Or, the American model.

Fan reaction was extremely negative, and in some cases violently so. I have to go earn a living now... but the point is that at the heart of the European system is the idea of a "club," run by and for its members, that earns its way into the top league and stays there by competing, and not by having a billionaire buy its way into a closed cartel. They are still, literally, clubs. I am a member of Everton Football Club, for real. (For the same reason, "moving" a club in England is just unheard of. If you can't profitably run yourself, you don't move to the biggest city lacking a franchise in the closed cartel, you sink down a level. If you look at the way that so many baseball franchises are basically pocketing the TV money and betting on franchise appreciation, and not putting it into payroll, you see the downsides of this. The Rays would spend if the alternative were home games for the next year with the Augusta Greenjackets and no TV money).

Goodbye.
I’m just honored to have played a small part in this post.

In 2016, Fenway Sports Group, which owns Liverpool, announced a ticket price hike. The fan response was immediate and passionate. They sang songs about John Henry’s greed. They hung protest banners in Anfield, Liverpool’s home stadium. They staged a 10,000 fan walkout during a match! And they forced FSG to scrap the plan.

I’ve been thinking back to this a lot right now as I live in Chicago and married into a family of Cubs fans. Wrigley now has the highest cost of attendance in MLB, and what are the fans getting for it? A gutted rostered and the club president telling local radio that Jed Hoyer has left over budget from previous years he can roll forward…which was used to sign all of Dansby Swanson. Why don’t Cubs chant down the Ricketts? Where’s the walkout? Why is the American fan relationship to their teams so different than the Europeans’? (OCST provides great background on that!)

After the Super League disaster, FSG created a formal supporters’ group that has an advisory role enshrined in the club bylaws. It’s meant to rebuild public trust and prevent more American bumbling that alienates the fans. It will be interesting to see how that goes.
 

dirtynine

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 17, 2002
8,568
Philly
I have a very off-topic question but I think there's probably a decent amount of overlap between soccer and cricket fans (if there are any cricket fans here) so this seems like a decent place to ask. If this possible digression leads anywhere, I'm happy to start another thread elsewhere. I'm somewhat interested in starting to follow cricket, is anyone equipped and willing to give poor ignorant me a primer on following cricket like the ones several of you so graciously did regarding European soccer? (Again, happy to take this elsewhere if anyone is so equipped and willing).
Caveat: I have not watched this, but the YouTube algorithm suggested it to me yesterday, so it must be somewhat popular.

edit - this is a primer on the rules, not on following clubs / competitions - not sure if that's what you want

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWpbtLIxYBk
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
23,252
Pittsburgh, PA
I think a barrier to entry for me is understanding the various top tier European leagues, when their seasons are, and how the leagues interact. I’m sure this is stupid because I could probably figure it out with enough googling but this thread is judgment free, right?
Yep, judgment free, the only barrier is everyone's willingness to answer - and that willingness seems to be in abundance.

Things I don't see covered above include:

- Firstly, league standings award 3 points for a win, and 1 point for a draw. This changed in the 80s (from W = 2, D = 1) in order to encourage teams to attack more and not be satisfied with draws, because relative to a tie, now winning is more good than losing is bad. So when they talk about getting 3 points from a game, or "sharing the points" (= 1 point for each team), that's the lingo.

- The various countries' leagues don't interact, except in UEFA-wide competition. That competition is just for the top teams in each league, and dates back to the European Cup in the 1950s; it became the present "UEFA Champions League" (UCL) in 1992. That's the big money-maker, and highest level of competition in club football. Prior to the start of the competition proper (the Group Stage), in late summer a series of playoff matchups (home-and-home) take teams from lower leagues and play them off to qualify a handful of them for the Group Stage with the big boys; the top 4 teams in each of the top 4 leagues (plus 3 from France, etc) who these days all qualify for the Group Stage directly. The GS has you play 6 matches over the course of the fall, home-and-home against the other 3 teams in your group, and then group winners move to the Round of 16 and play 2-legged (home-and-home) knockout matches, leading to a single-legged final whose location rotates around the various nations.

- Teams who just miss out on the UCL can qualify for the "UEFA Europa League" (UEL), which likewise grew out of the "Cup Winner's Cup", a competition between the champions of the european nations' domestic cup tournaments. It makes a decent amount of money for UEFA and the participating clubs, though still well below the UCL. UEFA also instituted a third-tier competition this past season, called the UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL), whose focus is on the smaller nations; top-ranked countries only get 1 entrant, whereas smaller nations get 2 and 3 entrants (the reverse of the UCL).

- There are sometimes club "friendlies" (exhibitions) during breaks from league play, in the summer and during winter breaks, for training purposes, or as preseason barnstorming internationally to build a fanbase in Asia or the US (etc). But no other official competition between teams from different countries.

- Because the leagues date back a century and the UEFA competitions only a half-century (if that), the leagues all play on the weekends, and so the other competitions - UEFA play, domestic cups, etc - all happen midweek. UCL plays on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, UEL and UECL play on Thursdays, and have a game every 2-3 weeks. Because top teams who advance far into each of the competitions end up playing a boatload of games, and players can't play 2 full matches a week without much-heightened injury risk, this leads to complaints from top clubs about "fixture congestion" and a need for them to basically have two full lineups of starting-worthy players, and somehow keep them all happy. Top clubs regard this as unsustainable and unnecessary pressure, and so they've pushed to do things like getting rid of the secondary "League Cup" tournaments in England and France.

- "Clubs" are so-called because a lot of them grew out of local athletic associations that date back over a century, providing a vehicle for recreation or socialization, not unlike the Knickerbocker Club in NYC, which was a society institution that then developed a baseball team (and standardized rules) and then offered competition against teams from other social clubs. A number of them were basically public recreation centers for the city, and offer memberships, youth play and instruction, and various adult rec leagues and field "club first-teams" in various sports, not just football. And women's teams, in some of them. Over the decades, as professional football became more of a big-money spectator sport, the business interests of the football first-team (and associated youth / academy teams) became more pre-eminent, some of them lost that rec-center aspect or let it atrophy, but others remain a focal point for local recreation and source of pride for people who are both fans and members. That professionalization has led to tensions over club ownership vs being public-serving institutions, in a way that american leagues' "franchises" have never had to contend with (other than rumblings from politicians when owners try to relocate the teams). It also means that clubs basically never relocate, because they're part of the local community's social fabric.

- One big exception to the above sort of proves the rule: Wimbledon FC, a team with deep roots to the 19th century, were relocated for financial reasons to Milton Keynes, which so infuriated the Wimbledon fans that they started a new, collectively-owned club called AFC Wimbledon, to which they could buy swag and attend games and still feel like it represented their part of London. MK Dons has done OK, but doesn't have the same level of local support they might've enjoyed had they stayed. AFC Wimbledon, meanwhile, entered in like the 8th or 9th tier, built momentum, had a steady run of promotion over the next decade, and then somehow won promotion to the fully professional tiers ("League Two", the 4th tier, is fully professional and run by the EFL, English Football League, the pro governing body; it has pro/rel exchange with the National League, the 5th tier, which is not fully professional and is run, like those below it, by the FA, the nonprofit national governing body). Then they got promoted again to League One, and somehow found themselves in the same division as MK Dons. To say those matchups are spicy is to put it lightly. It's a great story, well worth reading about. Imagine if a big group of St Louis football fans formed an amateur club, gradually took it professional, and ended up joining the NFL and playing the LA Rams. Point is, teams are avatars of their region to an even greater extent than US sports teams are, and there's never any threat of relocation to get new stadiums or anything of the sort.

- The other thing to know is that there's no salary cap. There's functionally no limit on spending (there are some half-hearted attempts to do so, but nothing with real teeth at the end of the day). Club revenue comes from the gate, from the share of their league's TV revenue, from merch sales, and from competitive results (e.g., your finish in the Premier League can result in big financial disparities; Man City who won last season got $183M, whereas Norwich in 20th got $114M), particularly including money from participating in UEFA competition. Winning the Spanish league is worth $154M, and the German one only $103M. Domestic cups are financial footnotes; the biggest, the FA Cup, awards only £ 5M to the winner. As a result of money being so disparate, it entrenches a hierarchy and reduces the range of a club's ambitions season-over-season. It also creates such an incentive to spend-to-win (or even just spend-to-avoid-relegation) that clubs push themselves beyond their means, and the long-run average profit margin of most football clubs is indistinguishable from zero, despite how much money flows through the sport. So teams are occasionally susceptible to blowing up and being put in receivership (bankruptcy). More often in Italy. And far more rarely in Germany, where the clubs largely remain controlled by the club's membership due to a domestic law.

Someone else can explain transfers to you (players are "sold", not traded), depending on your interest, but that's another way that the club pecking-order gets ossified.

Those are a few of the things that an American would probably not guess just from a bit of casual watching, but which I think help give someone enough grounding to follow what's going on and enjoy it.
 
Last edited:

Dummy Hoy

Angry Pissbum
SoSH Member
Jul 22, 2006
8,399
Falmouth
Nice post @OCST, excellent detail for a newcomer.

Small clarification though- The Wednesday Cricket Club (formed in 1820) was looking for something to do in the offseason, so in 1867 they formed a football club to help them keep in shape. That football club quickly grew massive and still exists to this day, in the third tier of English football.

Greatest Club in the world though
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 2, 2006
22,693
Philadelphia
I’m just honored to have played a small part in this post.

In 2016, Fenway Sports Group, which owns Liverpool, announced a ticket price hike. The fan response was immediate and passionate. They sang songs about John Henry’s greed. They hung protest banners in Anfield, Liverpool’s home stadium. They staged a 10,000 fan walkout during a match! And they forced FSG to scrap the plan.

I’ve been thinking back to this a lot right now as I live in Chicago and married into a family of Cubs fans. Wrigley now has the highest cost of attendance in MLB, and what are the fans getting for it? A gutted rostered and the club president telling local radio that Jed Hoyer has left over budget from previous years he can roll forward…which was used to sign all of Dansby Swanson. Why don’t Cubs chant down the Ricketts? Where’s the walkout? Why is the American fan relationship to their teams so different than the Europeans’? (OCST provides great background on that!)

After the Super League disaster, FSG created a formal supporters’ group that has an advisory role enshrined in the club bylaws. It’s meant to rebuild public trust and prevent more American bumbling that alienates the fans. It will be interesting to see how that goes.
And the very same fans are currently up in arms that FSG has not invested enough into the club and therefore isn't keeping up with City.

The remit is effectively:

-Don't raise ticket prices.
-Don't do the thing (Super League) that would allow you to generate much more revenue and for state-owned clubs to be regulated and reigned in.
-Spend enough to compete with the state-owned clubs or else.

No wonder they want to sell.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
SoSH Member
Jan 10, 2004
24,975
The 718
I was about to recommend Dummy Hoy as our resident Championship (not Champions League) maven, expert, and promoter, and Wednesday fan.

The PL is awash in money. Just about every country in the world has a PL TV deal. The CL even more so. The CL final is the most watched annual sporting event in the world. But all but a handful of PL clubs have been relegated or have come close in the past few years- Everton had bern in the top flight the longest of any current side but due to catastrophic mismanagement came within a knife edge of relegation last season, surviving only due to an improbable comeback from an 0-2 halftime deficit against Crystal Palace. And there are really only a half dozen clubs in the big Europe leagues that can count in making the CL year in year out and they are increasingly the sportswashing clubs. For the likes of Liverpool to miss the CL, or Everton to get relegated, means crippling losses and a corresponding inabilityto compete. So I understand why John Henry the bean counter thought he should maximize revenue by bumping seats up to what American fans pay. But- club vs franchise. English fans expect the club to spend the millions it makes from TV, sponsorships, merchandising, etc (these last two are mostly per club and not shared) - but you can’t raise the price of Grandpa’s seats, he’s been coming to the ground since he was a wee lad with his grandpa. Our family was here before these (Saudi Russian American) investors and we’ll be here after and it’s OUR CLUB.

I’m going to my first Everton game in April. Group tix. About $130 for me, my wife, and daughter- youth tickets are half price.

There is legislation afoot to require supporter representatives at the board level and to require fan sign off on matters such as changing the crest, colors, or name. I believe Germany has such.

It’s just a different level of intertwining between fan base and club. American college sports may come closer in spirit but still doesn’t capture the intensity. In the other hand that intensity has had a downside, hooliganism and fan violence. I can wear a Sox jersey to Yankee Stadium and maybe get some razzing and in an extreme case there might be a fistfight or two but it’s more likely I’ll chat about whatever with the guy in pinstripes next to me. The PL had become much more tranquil but away fans still sit in their own sections, cordoned off by security, the way from the train station to the park likewise cordoned off, certain pubs set aside as “away” pubs. Throughout the country pubs an restaurants say “No football shirts” because they don’t want fights. Now again it’s much better than it used to be and I don’t want yo stereotype the English fans, I’ve gotten to know many through chat on Everton boards. But it just is not the same.
 

McBride11

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
22,802
Durham, NC
This is huge, huge, huge. It's fundamental to understanding European footy and it's fascinating. I'll speak about England, since it's the oldest and best known.

"Football," encompassing all codes of a "move the ball from one end to the other" games, grew organically in England in the mid-19th century, and took different forms in different places. In the London area and in public (ie private) schools, the game where you could pick up the ball and run with it was favored (but some schools still played feet-only). In the industrial north, the game with feet-only was favored (but the other was still also played).

There were various meetings and codifications of rules and whatnot. The game got divided into Rugby football,* named after the public school where its history was most rooted (imagine if gridiron was called "Yale football," that's the idea), and Association football, from the Football Association and its predecessor Associations that organized various clubs. "Soccer" is the shorthand/bastardization of "association football." So don't let anyone tell you that Americans are wrong for calling it soccer. The term has plenty of history and current usage in England.

*Rugby branched into rugby league and rugby union. I'm not going into that now.

But this was all drawn up by mustachioed dudes in sepia photographs. At root level the game was played by clubs, which were groups of men who associated voluntarily. Again, sometimes these were at elite schools, and sometimes at factories and the like. Arsenal trace their roots to workers at a munitions factory. What is now Manchester United started as the Newton Heath Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Football Club, a group of railway workers. Sometimes it was a cricket club whose members wanted to do something else when cricket wasn't being played. A cricket club in Sheffield, the hub of feet-only football in the mid-1800's, started holding football games for its members on Wednesdays, when the cricket ground wasn't in use; Sheffield Wednesday Football Club still exists and currently plays in the second tier of English football.

Notwithstanding the various attempts to "associate," these clubs were atomistic. They were member-goverened and member-financed and the members played the games. Competition was arranged informally. A bunch of handlebar mustache dudes would travel to play a bunch of other handlebar mustache dudes on a sepia mud-field somewhere. Sometimes they would play one game of pick-up-the-ball and one of feet-only.

Since these were self-financed efforts, and adidas and Nike didn't exist, uniforms were makeshift. Just as American baseball clubs crafted a "uniform" by intially having its ragtag players wear the same color stockings, creating team names that carry on to today, soccer clubs created their "uniform" by pinning the club's badge or crest over their heart, on the left side of whatever sepia-colored shirt they had.

Gradually, as the boundary between rugby and soccer became distinct and the rules standardized, various efforts were made to organize ongoing competitions. These were mostly regional. There was a desire for a national tournament to crown a king, so the FA Cup was instituted in 1872. England-wide leagues as we know them now did not yet exist. There was no real way to make sense of a seeding system or anything like that, so all of the teams, of whatever strength, went into a hat, completely random draw. You might get a string of home games against weaker teams all the way to the final, or a string of away games with bad travel against stronger teams, or whatever mix. That format essentially remains today.**

In 1878, the forerunner of the Premier League, the Football League, was founded. As soccer was still relatively stronger in the north compared to rugby in the south, and with the impracticalities of traveling up and down the country every week, it was initally all northern clubs: Accrington, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Of these, the bolded are currently among the 20 PL teams, and the italicized have been in the PL in the recent past.

Just as in American baseball, in the 1870's-80s, what had been a pastime started to become a cutthroat affair, and these genteel "clubs" began to pay professionals, and just as in American baseball, this was controversial. The solution was much different. American baseball created closed leagues with franchises that were monopolies, as blessed by one of the handful of worst SCOTUS decisions of all time. You had to buy your way in, and once you were in, you were in for good. Other teams only existed as franchises of the major league clubs.

That did not fly in England. The soccer clubs were, at heart, still clubs. Baseball was popular in America, but soccer clubs were at the beating heart of their communities - like Texas high school football x1000. So the clubs became formal business entities, joint-stock companies like the Green Bay Packers, essentially*** and started to pay players. After the Football League was founded in 1878, lower tier leagues with greater geographical reach were assembled, and at the turn of the century promotion and relegation was introduced. This solved the problem of competitive balance and incentivized sound club management.

So the English football pyramid now looks like this. The league names smack of the same kind of what-the-fuck-is-this of American college football conferences, now that the Big 12 has four teams and the Big 10 has thirty seven; or Spinal Tap being called "the New Originals."

1. Premier League/20 clubs
2. Championship/24 clubs (not to be confused with the pan-European Champions league)
3. League One/24
4. League Two/24

Even more confusingly, these four are together known as "the Football League," and everything below it is "non-league football."

Beyond the fifth tier the leagues are regionalized to minimize travel for what are semi-pro clubs and to reflect the wider pyramid - eighth tier has 160 clubs, the 11th and bottom tier has 792 clubs, now we're into pub-club territory.

View attachment 59192





There is promotion and relegation all up and down the pyramid, every year. Three teams go down from the PL to the Championship, and three up the other way; three down from the Championship to League One, and three up the other way; etc.

So in theory, DC Auto Repairs in the eleventh-tier Devon Football League, whose players are not paid, and which is so small-bore that clubs either don't have websites or use the kind of website that my kid's youth sports leagues use to schedule games, could rip off eleven championship seasons in a row and win the Premier League.

Last year, the "top six" English clubs - Man City, Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs - along with the heavyweights from the other big European leagues like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, PSG etc. announced the formation of a "Super League," or closed-competition permanent Champions League, where they would play each other in and around their domestic league seasons every year, without having to qualify for the Champions League by finishing at the top of their domestic leagues. In short, they wanted the guaranteed money streams from guaranteed Liverpool-Barcelona games, without the risk of not qualifying. Or, the American model.

Fan reaction was extremely negative, and in some cases violently so. I have to go earn a living now... but the point is that at the heart of the European system is the idea of a "club," run by and for its members, that earns its way into the top league and stays there by competing, and not by having a billionaire buy its way into a closed cartel. They are still, literally, clubs. I am a member of Everton Football Club, for real. (For the same reason, "moving" a club in England is just unheard of. If you can't profitably run yourself, you don't move to the biggest city lacking a franchise in the closed cartel, you sink down a level. If you look at the way that so many baseball franchises are basically pocketing the TV money and betting on franchise appreciation, and not putting it into payroll, you see the downsides of this. The Rays would spend if the alternative were home games for the next year with the Augusta Greenjackets and no TV money).

Goodbye.
Nominate for SoSH ( long O) HoF post. This is incredibly detailed. Hope IT wasnt tracking time off business sites.

I think one of the most unique / cool things if the FA cup. SoSH beer sport ball club could theoretically win over the likes of Man U , Man C, Spur, Liverpool, etc. Just such a cool thing
 

Zososoxfan

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 30, 2009
9,422
South of North
Read all the posts here, but also consider watching the Netflix miniseries 'The English Game' from a few years ago for the Cliffnotes. It was a great watch for me and Mrs. Zoso, as it combines the history of the sport with Victorian era sets and costumes. They also tackle (ha!) some real human condition issues. The male lead looks like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jaime Lannister), so I kept expecting him to do awful things, but alas it never transpired.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
SoSH Member
Jan 10, 2004
24,975
The 718
Another strong recommendation for Sunderland Til I Die on Netflix. Sunderland is Newcastles neighbor in the English Northwest. The city was once a thriving shipbuilding port and coal mining center, but both the city and Sunderland FC have fallen on hard times. The club were relegated from the PL the season before the documentary was shot. It’s a great look at the towns passion for the team and the inner workings, as the club,, the players (who are all just a little too old, too raw, too something to be playing for a better side) and the coaches try to get it together.
 

Nick Kaufman

protector of human kind from spoilers
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Aug 2, 2003
13,605
A Lost Time
And the very same fans are currently up in arms that FSG has not invested enough into the club and therefore isn't keeping up with City.

The remit is effectively:

-Don't raise ticket prices.
-Don't do the thing (Super League) that would allow you to generate much more revenue and for state-owned clubs to be regulated and reigned in.
-Spend enough to compete with the state-owned clubs or else.

No wonder they want to sell.
European football is in desperate need for a cost cap. The grass always seems greener on the other side, but despite the capitalist nature of the country, American sports league organization is more socialist than European Leagues. It aims at parity, uncertainty of outcomes and opportunity for all, not the 4-5 better funded clubs.

And for those of us who grew up on our national leagues, it seems that some version of the European Super League that was nixed a while back seems inevitable. To me this is a problem, because I scratch my head trying to figure out a solution that keeps national leagues competitive, while allowing for a pan european compeition, but the way we are going, domestic leagues are bound to be dominated by a few national champions while they may or may not compete in a wider European league. The truth is you can have a few strong European clubs like Real, Man U, Bayern, but not competitive domestic leagues, or you can have competitive domestic leagues, but weakened big clubs.
 

Titans Bastard

has sunil gulati in his sights
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 15, 2002
14,554
Another strong recommendation for Sunderland Til I Die on Netflix. Sunderland is Newcastles neighbor in the English Northwest. The city was once a thriving shipbuilding port and coal mining center, but both the city and Sunderland FC have fallen on hard times. The club were relegated from the PL the season before the documentary was shot. It’s a great look at the towns passion for the team and the inner workings, as the club,, the players (who are all just a little too old, too raw, too something to be playing for a better side) and the coaches try to get it together.
My wife doesn't care all that much about soccer but we watched Sunderland Til I Die and she loved it. We had to turn on the subtitles to make sure we understood everything, though — the Mackem accent is tough.

Sunderland is in the northeast of England — the northwest is Manchester & Liverpool.

European football is in desperate need for a cost cap. The grass always seems greener on the other side, but despite the capitalist nature of the country, American sports league organization is more socialist than European Leagues. It aims at parity, uncertainty of outcomes and opportunity for all, not the 4-5 better funded clubs.
"Wait, bad NFL teams get a top draft pick for sucking? What is this welfare queen bullshit?"
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 2, 2006
22,693
Philadelphia
European football is in desperate need for a cost cap. The grass always seems greener on the other side, but despite the capitalist nature of the country, American sports league organization is more socialist than European Leagues. It aims at parity, uncertainty of outcomes and opportunity for all, not the 4-5 better funded clubs.

And for those of us who grew up on our national leagues, it seems that some version of the European Super League that was nixed a while back seems inevitable. To me this is a problem, because I scratch my head trying to figure out a solution that keeps national leagues competitive, while allowing for a pan european compeition, but the way we are going, domestic leagues are bound to be dominated by a few national champions while they may or may not compete in a wider European league. The truth is you can have a few strong European clubs like Real, Man U, Bayern, but not competitive domestic leagues, or you can have competitive domestic leagues, but weakened big clubs.
I agree although I'd say that its useful to distinguish a couple different if intertwined issues here.

First is whether you can generate a degree of competitiveness up and down the table in national leagues in a world in which the income generated by football has gone through the roof but been very disproportionately reaped by the big clubs because its largely about commercial revenue and the expansion of broadcasting revenue to audiences that wants to see the big clubs and big players. I don't know that there is any real solution to this, other than in the PL where the very high shared broadcast revenue for even the bottom rung PL clubs ensures a degree of competitiveness. In a league like Ligue 1, I don't see any viable path to making it competitive up and down the table. The revenue of PSG versus everybody else is just too disproportionate and there is no chance of generating enough shared broadcast revenue that you can raise the floor of the other clubs that far.

Second is whether you can apply some kind of workable cost cap to the biggest clubs, so at least among some group of 10-20 clubs across Europe (with hopefully from 2-6 in each of the biggest leagues) you have relative parity. I don't think this is actually that hard to do in theory, the problem is just that the most important national regulator (the FA, as an extension of the British government) and, even more critically, UEFA have both been bought off by the sportswashing states. They could do it if they wanted, they just have decided not to do it. The only way to do it is through the creation of a new competition that big clubs felt like they had to participate in but also could impose its own rules on members - ie, the Super League. But that project looks dead in the water right now.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
SoSH Member
Jan 10, 2004
24,975
The 718
Yes, of course northeast. Duh.

and yes on the subtitles. after listening to Everton podcasts for a couple years, I can navigate scouse well enough, but Mackem is tough.
 

DontTauntOrtizMe

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
1,361
I’m watching today’s Manchester City v Leeds match. For the second goal, Grealish received a forward pass at midfield and was on side. Haaland was nearby but also in an on side position. Grealish broke toward Leeds goal and got ahead of the last defenders. Haaland ran with him. Grealish passed the ball to Haaland who tapped it in. When Grealish passed, both he and Haaland were ahead of the last defenders. Was that not offside because the original pass at midfield was received in an onside position?
 
Last edited:

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
23,252
Pittsburgh, PA
Yeah the way I think about it is "if the attacker goes past the last defender before the ball does, then he's offside", and it's a violation if it's passed to him while in an offside position. Where "goes past" means "closer to the attacking end-line", of course.
 

BrazilianSoxFan

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 11, 2006
3,761
Brasil
Yeah the way I think about it is "if the attacker goes past the last defender* before the ball does, then he's offside", and it's a violation if it's passed to him while in an offside position. Where "goes past" means "closer to the attacking end-line", of course.
Second-to-last, and after midfield*
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
23,252
Pittsburgh, PA
yes, the statement above is a deliberate simplification. "last defender" as in "other than the goalie" (and yes I know it's not always the goalie who's the last one, on e.g. a goal-line scramble).

There are nuances you don't need to get into when crafting a basic statement for a beginner - such as "you can't be offside on a throw-in".
 

BrazilianSoxFan

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 11, 2006
3,761
Brasil
Yeah, but we're starting to get questions about the corner cases and not just the basic principles. Based on his post, @DontTauntOrtizMe already knew the gist of the offside rule, but got confused because of one of the technicalities.
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
23,252
Pittsburgh, PA
Fair.

The one of those that I've seen get beginners is that the key moment is when the pass is made, not received. You can be way past the last defender (OK, the penultimate defender) by the time you receive the ball and touch it, so long as at the moment when it was played to you, you were onside. But the visual trick of a guy receiving the ball way past the defense can even fool commentators on occasion, until they see the freeze-frame replay.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
SoSH Member
Jan 10, 2004
24,975
The 718
For most purposes, including this Grealish case, it helps to think that the last defender is a human, mobile, hockey blue line. That just about does the trick for purposes of your live-game-watching, is-it-offside thought process, if you know hockey.

So, for example, just as an attacking hockey team will dump the puck into the corner from just the other side of the blue line, and then follow it, you will often see a soccer passer hit the ball toward the corner, past the last defender, and his teammate run up on it. Same thing. If perfectly weighted, the through-ball will travel fast enough to get past the defender, and then slow down in time for the attacker to put it onto his foot, in stride, and dribble, pass, or shoot. (Which is gorgeous if done right).

Anything too complex for that rule-of-thumb is going to be dissected ad nauseam by the commentators and reviewed by VAR anyway, so there will be plenty of time to get more nuanced.
 
Last edited:

Joe D Reid

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jan 15, 2004
4,271
Sunderland Til I Die is the funniest season of the UK version of The Office.
 

Zososoxfan

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 30, 2009
9,422
South of North
For most purposes, including this Grealish case, it helps to think that the last defender is a human, mobile, hockey blue line. That just about does the trick for purposes of your live-game-watching, is-it-offside thought process, if you know hockey.

So, for example, just as an attacking hockey team will dump the puck into the corner from just the other side of the blue line, and then follow it, you will often see a soccer passer hit the ball toward the corner, past the last defender, and his teammate run up on it. Same thing. If perfectly weighted, the through-ball will travel fast enough to get past the defender, and then slow down in time for the attacker to put it onto his foot, in stride, and dribble, pass, or shoot. (Which is gorgeous if done right).

Anything too complex for that rule-of-thumb is going to be dissected ad nauseam by the commentators and reviewed by VAR anyway, so there will be plenty of time to get more nuanced.
QFT, I always use the hockey moving blue line explanation for gringos new to the game.
 

ddeveau

New Member
Apr 5, 2006
37
I have a twitter account designed for following the USMNT. All the accounts I follow provide player/team content. It's been a convenient way to keep up on news and rumors about the players, and to watch edited videos of the players in their games. Now I would like to cancel my twitter account. Are there means outside of social media to replace this content? I am subscribed to many of the podcasts mentioned earlier, which are great for after-the-fact analysis, but don't know how to replace the real time news/rumors and especially the player specific video highlights.
 

Titans Bastard

has sunil gulati in his sights
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 15, 2002
14,554
I have a twitter account designed for following the USMNT. All the accounts I follow provide player/team content. It's been a convenient way to keep up on news and rumors about the players, and to watch edited videos of the players in their games. Now I would like to cancel my twitter account. Are there means outside of social media to replace this content? I am subscribed to many of the podcasts mentioned earlier, which are great for after-the-fact analysis, but don't know how to replace the real time news/rumors and especially the player specific video highlights.
There is no ideal replacement, as far as I am aware. There is no other place where you curate a feed from among a variety of journalists, comp-makers, and whoever else you like to follow.

The best bet is probably Reddit (r/ussoccer in particular, also r/mls but that might be a bit outside your wheelhouse). The quality of discussion in these places can be rather poor at times (IMO), but it's a useful way to see aggregated headlines.
 

NYCSox

chris hansen of goats
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
May 19, 2004
10,608
Some fancy town in CT
Apologies in advance if this was asked but what I don't understand at all is the need to play a full OT of 30 minutes plus stoppage. Argentina scored in the OT - the game should have ended right there. By continuing the match you are begging for the game to be tied up and thus go to PK which is just not a satisfactory way to settle these (albeit I get you can't play for hours on end either). That seems like a simple enough fix. What am I missing here?
 

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
SoSH Member
Apr 15, 2006
8,843
Somers, CT
Apologies in advance if this was asked but what I don't understand at all is the need to play a full OT of 30 minutes plus stoppage. Argentina scored in the OT - the game should have ended right there. By continuing the match you are begging for the game to be tied up and thus go to PK which is just not a satisfactory way to settle these (albeit I get you can't play for hours on end either). That seems like a simple enough fix. What am I missing here?
That used to be how things were settled- Golden Goal. It clamps play down a lot because teams are too afraid to concede. The goals are exciting, but were infrequent.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
SoSH Member
Jan 10, 2004
24,975
The 718
Following up on earlier discussions of the roots of the English game-

This weekend the PL pauses for the third round of the FA Cup. The first two rounds featured the lower levels of the pyramid. PL clubs enter in the third round. Here are the games. It's complete random draw- every team has a numbered ball, they pick a ball for the home club in a fixture, next ball out is the away club, and so on.

59720

There are games with PL sides playing each other, with lower-league sides playing each other, and a few David-v-Goliaths - Arsenal, at the very apex of the pyramid (1st in PL) vs Oxford United (14th currently in League One, the third tier, so 20 PL + 24 Championship + 14 League One = the 58th place team in the land) seems to be the biggest gap. It's fun that Oxford is drawn as the home side there. Having a PL side, especially the league leader, come to a lower-table's side ground is a once-a-decade thing and it will be great fun.

In my long posts I talked about how leagues started regionally due to decentralization (bottom-up club model vs. centralized league/franchise model), difficulties of travel, competitive imbalance, and even rules variations - but maybe for the same reasons the nationwide, all-comers, single-elimination, random-draw FA Cup became immensely popular. For much of its existence it was arguably more prestigious than the league. As the PL grew in international stature with TV money and then Internet/social media the FA Cup became relatively less "important."

For example, Man City hosts Chelsea. Once upon a time that would have been the highlight of those sides' calendars, but Chelsea is struggling to catch fire under a new manager, and City is unexpectedly 8 points adrift of Arsenal in second, which is huge at the top of the table, and these clubs also have Champions League which is arguably the biggest prize of all now, so these managers (their other proclivities aside) might be inclined to not play their best XI, prioritizing the league instead. Similarly, my Everton are fighting for their lives in the PL, and have a trip to Man U in the Cup, so rather than prioritize a game in a competition that they have little chance of winning, if push comes to shove re: the availability of Player X, they might choose to feature him in the league instead.

Of course, for a lower league side, it's great fun to compete for the Cup.

Successive rounds of the Cup are played interspersed in the league season. The final is at Wembley, weekend after the PL season ends. It's fashionable to say that no one cares about the FA Cup anymore but it's one of those things where as it gets closer they really do care.

Some games are on ESPN+, such as the impending defenestration of Everton tomorrow.
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
23,252
Pittsburgh, PA
Right, "nobody cares about the FA Cup", until you look up and find yourself in the quarterfinals and can start to imagine yourself carrying a huge trophy off the field.

Certain teams may deprioritize certain early-round games, but I've noticed plenty of investment from, for example, Big 6 teams who are knocked out of Europe.

The other cup competition that's a lot of fun is Germany's DFB-Pokal, because the results of it have been far less predictable than the league. Last year the final was contested between Leipzig and Freiburg (who are respectively in 3rd and 2nd in the league as of right now).
 

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
SoSH Member
Apr 15, 2006
8,843
Somers, CT
Coupe de France is mildly interesting this year as it's now the only senior competition Messi has played in but not won.
 

Titans Bastard

has sunil gulati in his sights
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 15, 2002
14,554
Coupe de France is mildly interesting this year as it's now the only senior competition Messi has played in but not won.
One cool thing about the Coupe de France is that it is a massive cup competition, probably(?) the largest in the world. To enter the FA Cup, there are certain minimum stadium standards that must be met (floodlights, I think) and that weeds out all of the lowliest amateur teams. It had 732 entrants in 2022-23, as compared to the 7,292 participants in this year's Coupe de France. Some teams even qualify from regional tournaments in French Guiana, Reunion, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Mayotte, Tahiti, and New Caledonia, and the FFF covers expenses to fly them to Paris to play mainland teams. This year, a team from Réunion has made it to the Round of 64, where they've drawn a fourth division team instead of a flashy game against a Ligue 1 club.
 

singaporesoxfan

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2004
11,970
Washington, DC
One cool thing about the Coupe de France is that it is a massive cup competition, probably(?) the largest in the world. To enter the FA Cup, there are certain minimum stadium standards that must be met (floodlights, I think) and that weeds out all of the lowliest amateur teams. It had 732 entrants in 2022-23, as compared to the 7,292 participants in this year's Coupe de France. Some teams even qualify from regional tournaments in French Guiana, Reunion, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Mayotte, Tahiti, and New Caledonia, and the FFF covers expenses to fly them to Paris to play mainland teams. This year, a team from Réunion has made it to the Round of 64, where they've drawn a fourth division team instead of a flashy game against a Ligue 1 club.
That is very cool about the Coupe de France.

As a correction, FA Cup entry isn't based on stadium standards , it's based on being a club in one of the following: (i) The Premier League; (ii) The English Football League; or (iii) Steps 1-5 of The FA National League System. There is also provision for teams from Step 6 of The FA National League System taking part "subject to availability" (i.e. if one of the teams above them decides not to participate in the Cup). FA Cup rules do state the stadia need to meet National Ground Grading - Category G standards at a minimum, but Category G is the basic standard for Step 6 clubs, so barring something happening to a stadium, all of the clubs that qualify should have stadia that meet the standards. But yeah, the criteria by definition weeds out the lowliest amateur / Sunday league teams.

The FA also runs two other knockout competitions: the FA Trophy for clubs playing in Steps 1–4 of the National League System (covering the National League, the Southern League, Isthmian League, and Northern Premier League), and the FA Vase for teams playing in Steps 5 and 6 of the National League System. As you can see, this repeats the criteria for FA Cup entry. and indeed the FA Cup rules states essentially that non-league clubs that want be part of the FA Cup must be competing in either The FA Challenge Trophy or The FA Challenge Vase Competitions in the current season. The FA Trophy and FA Vase are seen as a chance for smaller amateur clubs to have a shot at the glory of playing at Wembley, since both finals are held there.

When I was a kid I got the FA Annual, and it was filled with records of not just the FA Cup but also the FA Trophy and FA Vase games and detailed descriptions of the finals of each of the competitions, and it was thrilling to my young far-away-from-the-action self to read about those.
 

Titans Bastard

has sunil gulati in his sights
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 15, 2002
14,554
That is very cool about the Coupe de France.

As a correction, FA Cup entry isn't based on stadium standards , it's based on being a club in one of the following: (i) The Premier League; (ii) The English Football League; or (iii) Steps 1-5 of The FA National League System. There is also provision for teams from Step 6 of The FA National League System taking part "subject to availability" (i.e. if one of the teams above them decides not to participate in the Cup). FA Cup rules do state the stadia need to meet National Ground Grading - Category G standards at a minimum, but Category G is the basic standard for Step 6 clubs, so barring something happening to a stadium, all of the clubs that qualify should have stadia that meet the standards. But yeah, the criteria by definition weeds out the lowliest amateur / Sunday league teams.

The FA also runs two other knockout competitions: the FA Trophy for clubs playing in Steps 1–4 of the National League System (covering the National League, the Southern League, Isthmian League, and Northern Premier League), and the FA Vase for teams playing in Steps 5 and 6 of the National League System. As you can see, this repeats the criteria for FA Cup entry. and indeed the FA Cup rules states essentially that non-league clubs that want be part of the FA Cup must be competing in either The FA Challenge Trophy or The FA Challenge Vase Competitions in the current season. The FA Trophy and FA Vase are seen as a chance for smaller amateur clubs to have a shot at the glory of playing at Wembley, since both finals are held there.

When I was a kid I got the FA Annual, and it was filled with records of not just the FA Cup but also the FA Trophy and FA Vase games and detailed descriptions of the finals of each of the competitions, and it was thrilling to my young far-away-from-the-action self to read about those.
Huh, I used "stadium standards" as a shorthand for levels 1-10 of the pyramid, but I guess they must have tightened the requirements a bit because all Step 6 and even a few Step 7 clubs used to be able to participate.
 

singaporesoxfan

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 21, 2004
11,970
Washington, DC
Huh, I used "stadium standards" as a shorthand for levels 1-10 of the pyramid, but I guess they must have tightened the requirements a bit because all Step 6 and even a few Step 7 clubs used to be able to participate.
Yeah, they changed the eligibility in line with the remodelling of the National League System around 2020 (can't remember when they actually went into effect since COVID came in the middle of the plans) - they added more teams in the upper steps (one more Step 4 division, two more Step 5 divisions) as part of the changes to the system, so I think the FA Cup essentially ended up with a similar number of teams participating. And Step 7 doesn't even exist anymore! What was step 7 is now just called "NLS Feeder Leagues", and administered by the County FAs
 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
11,959
Following up on earlier discussions of the roots of the English game-

This weekend the PL pauses for the third round of the FA Cup. The first two rounds featured the lower levels of the pyramid. PL clubs enter in the third round. Here are the games. It's complete random draw- every team has a numbered ball, they pick a ball for the home club in a fixture, next ball out is the away club, and so on.

View attachment 59720

There are games with PL sides playing each other, with lower-league sides playing each other, and a few David-v-Goliaths - Arsenal, at the very apex of the pyramid (1st in PL) vs Oxford United (14th currently in League One, the third tier, so 20 PL + 24 Championship + 14 League One = the 58th place team in the land) seems to be the biggest gap. It's fun that Oxford is drawn as the home side there. Having a PL side, especially the league leader, come to a lower-table's side ground is a once-a-decade thing and it will be great fun.

In my long posts I talked about how leagues started regionally due to decentralization (bottom-up club model vs. centralized league/franchise model), difficulties of travel, competitive imbalance, and even rules variations - but maybe for the same reasons the nationwide, all-comers, single-elimination, random-draw FA Cup became immensely popular. For much of its existence it was arguably more prestigious than the league. As the PL grew in international stature with TV money and then Internet/social media the FA Cup became relatively less "important."

For example, Man City hosts Chelsea. Once upon a time that would have been the highlight of those sides' calendars, but Chelsea is struggling to catch fire under a new manager, and City is unexpectedly 8 points adrift of Arsenal in second, which is huge at the top of the table, and these clubs also have Champions League which is arguably the biggest prize of all now, so these managers (their other proclivities aside) might be inclined to not play their best XI, prioritizing the league instead. Similarly, my Everton are fighting for their lives in the PL, and have a trip to Man U in the Cup, so rather than prioritize a game in a competition that they have little chance of winning, if push comes to shove re: the availability of Player X, they might choose to feature him in the league instead.

Of course, for a lower league side, it's great fun to compete for the Cup.

Successive rounds of the Cup are played interspersed in the league season. The final is at Wembley, weekend after the PL season ends. It's fashionable to say that no one cares about the FA Cup anymore but it's one of those things where as it gets closer they really do care.

Some games are on ESPN+, such as the impending defenestration of Everton tomorrow.
5 years ago Arsenal played a non-league team, Sutton United, in the FA cup, at their grounds. It had one small stand and only seated ~5k. The backup goalie was a chubby 40-something who also tended bar during half time. He got temporarily famous for eating a meat pie on the bench during the game after he heard people were gambling on whether or not he would. Arsenal put in their stars at the end of the game, so that the Sutton United players would get a chance to play against them. Some of these guys were hanging drywall for a day job, and they'd get to tell people they played against Mezut Ozil for the rest of their lives. The Sutton coach said Arsene Wenger brought a bottle of wine to his office after the game and talked to him for hours about tactics while they drank it. These stories are what make the FA cup special to me. I didn't watch it as a kid, so I don't have the sort of connection a lot of English fans would, but I've been lucky enough to go to a bar and watch Arsenal win a few finals (and lose a couple too). That game made a bigger impact on me than any of the finals did. That sort of game just can't happen in American sports, and if it did, I know the teams wouldn't handle it with that level of class and respect.
 

BrazilianSoxFan

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 11, 2006
3,761
Brasil
5 years ago Arsenal played a non-league team, Sutton United, in the FA cup, at their grounds. It had one small stand and only seated ~5k. The backup goalie was a chubby 40-something who also tended bar during half time. He got temporarily famous for eating a meat pie on the bench during the game after he heard people were gambling on whether or not he would. Arsenal put in their stars at the end of the game, so that the Sutton United players would get a chance to play against them. Some of these guys were hanging drywall for a day job, and they'd get to tell people they played against Mezut Ozil for the rest of their lives. The Sutton coach said Arsene Wenger brought a bottle of wine to his office after the game and talked to him for hours about tactics while they drank it. These stories are what make the FA cup special to me. I didn't watch it as a kid, so I don't have the sort of connection a lot of English fans would, but I've been lucky enough to go to a bar and watch Arsenal win a few finals (and lose a couple too). That game made a bigger impact on me than any of the finals did. That sort of game just can't happen in American sports, and if it did, I know the teams wouldn't handle it with that level of class and respect.
 

Titans Bastard

has sunil gulati in his sights
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 15, 2002
14,554
Sutton United have since won promotion to the Football League, are full-time professional, and mid-table in League Two.
 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
11,959
Wow, that's great. Looks like they totally redid their grounds too as a result. That's a big win for the whole community.
 

Dummy Hoy

Angry Pissbum
SoSH Member
Jul 22, 2006
8,399
Falmouth
In 2004 Exeter City were in the 5th tier and run by a supporters trust that had gone broke. The team looked like it may collapse but in the third round they shocked with a draw at Old Trafford and got £650,000 in shared gate receipts. The replay was televised and adding on the money from that ECFC got out of debt. Last year they finally got promoted back to League One.
 

BrazilianSoxFan

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 11, 2006
3,761
Brasil
Why isn’t 2. Bundesliga called something else?
Because it's the second "Federal League". Most leagues follow a similar naming pattern:

Brazil: Brasileirão Série A, Brasileirão Série B, Brasileirão Série C, Brasileirão Série D
France: Ligue 1, Ligue 2
Italy: Serie A, Serie B, Serie C
England: Premier, Championship, League 1, League 2
Spain: Primera División, Segunda División (re-branded as LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank for sponsorship reasons),
 

Ale Xander

Hamilton
SoSH Member
Oct 31, 2013
76,318
Because it's the second "Federal League". Most leagues follow a similar naming pattern:

Brazil: Brasileirão Série A, Brasileirão Série B, Brasileirão Série C, Brasileirão Série D
France: Ligue 1, Ligue 2
Italy: Serie A, Serie B, Serie C
England: Premier, Championship, League 1, League 2
Spain: Primera División, Segunda División (re-branded as LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank for sponsorship reasons),
Thanks!

yeah, I prefer the English/Spanish nomenclature that have different words for the top two leagues
 

BrazilianSoxFan

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 11, 2006
3,761
Brasil
Thanks!

yeah, I prefer the English/Spanish nomenclature that have different words for the top two leagues
Primera and Segunda just means first and second.

The English nomenclature is a little different because the Premier was created somewhat recently as a new league above the structure of the time.
 
Last edited: