|Jamie Vardy against Liverpool.|
The Action Replay column from the June 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard
Against all the odds and prognostications of sports journalists and pundits, Leicester City, the team that narrowly missed relegation last season, silenced the doomsayers and doubters by winning the English Premier League.
Leicester could be described as a team of journeymen who have been rejected by former clubs or have joined from lower leagues. But led by manager Claudio Ranieri they have been transmuted from base metal into gold. The total cost of the team is £55 million, only 2 million more than the £53 million Manchester United spent on one player, Ander Herrera.
Now after the joyful celebrations that took place in Leicester and echoed in other parts of the country by neutral football fans impressed with Leicester’s endeavour, Ranieri will look forward to next season knowing that without significant investment to strengthen the squad it will be difficult to compete for the top prizes.
Since wage bill data was first released by the Premier League 16 years ago, the ledger shows that the clubs with the biggest wage bills claim the top four places 80 percent of the time. Only twice, Manchester United in 2013 and Chelsea in 2001, have the team with the biggest payroll finished outside of the top four.
Leicester are by no means paupers. Actually they are one of 17 teams on the Deloitte list of the world’s 30 richest clubs, coming in at no 24 with revenues of £137m. Owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabba features in the Forbes rich list at 714 in the world.
They are, however, competing against clubs that have far deeper pockets. Even with the £90 million winner’s prize, £19m up on the club’s take last season and the increased handout from the new Premier League broadcast rights deal, which sees an increase in value of 71 percent from last season, Leicester do not have the same financial underpinning as the elite clubs they triumphed over this time.
It’s been an invigorating season watching the big teams flounder against them and getting a timely comeuppance.