Leicester's fairytale story may only be the start for EPL's 'lesser lights'

Leicester City’s English Premier League triumph has been regarded as a fairy-tale story and while there was indeed a perfect storm of events that led the title, it’s the kind of thing that may soon become more frequent in the EPL.

Leicester City hold up the EPL trophy

Source: Getty Images

Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, only five different clubs had won the title and they were already powerhouse names in English football or benefited from wealthy owners pouring money into their clubs.

That was until 2016 when a side that only just escaped relegation the previous season went on to shock the sporting world by doing the unthinkable and winning it all.

Les has brilliantly detailed the reasons for Leicester City’s success in his blog and pondered how they will fare next season.


While I am not about to claim that they can repeat the feat next season, I am willing to make the less bold prediction that this could just be the beginning for the ‘lesser’ clubs in the Premier League in challenging the established hierarchy.

Arsene Wenger has hit the nail on the head by suggesting that the money flooding in to the Premier League will end the dominance of the big four, or even the big six.

Already the league’s top teams are recruiting the world’s best talent on and off the field and when the mega $10 billion deal kicks in next season, that is going to filter down the competition.

As Wenger said: "Clubs down our league can buy the best players in France, Spain and in Italy. So they have the potential to build a big team."

Not only that, they will also be able to afford the best coaches, assistants, doctors, physios etc.

Only the likes of Spain’s big three, Bayern Munich, PSG and Juventus will be able to compete with the English clubs for talent.

It will create a virtuous cycle (or vicious, depending on your point of view), where the Premier League will produce a better product by attracting better talent, leading to more attention and viewership, leading to bigger broadcast deals… and the cycle continues.

I’ve mentioned before that this deal and the lack of competitive balance in other competitions, including the UEFA Champions League, has the potential to make the EPL the dominant football competition in the world.

Outside the latter stages of the UCL, the Premier League has become the must-see football league around the world, from the United States to China to India.

With all this money flooding into English football, clubs lower down the ladder have been forced to become less accepting of failure and therefore smarter and more efficient.

Aston Villa and Newcastle United are examples of two clubs that are suffering the consequences of poor decision making on and off the pitch and now must adapt or risk further failure – a positive of promotion/relegation from a good governance perspective.

At the other end, we’ve seen clubs that have adapted are beginning to significantly challenge the top teams.

West Ham, Watford, Southampton and Stoke City are all sides that have invested shrewdly in talent, including technical staff, and have managed to defy expectation with strong performances throughout the season.

As more money is made available they will be able to build on this and promote their brands more heavily in outside markets, which will be crucial for those from smaller centres like Stoke and Southampton.

They can take inspiration from smaller market teams like Oakland Athletics (baseball) and Green Bay Packers (NFL) that, if well managed, they can achieve relative success.

While it’s likely the big market teams of Manchester and London will continue to be the most likely to win the Premier League, the idea that a club like Leicester can rise to the top may soon stop being seen as the stuff of fairy tales.

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4 min read
Published 10 May 2016 at 2:48am
By Vitor Sobral