After reading an article on ESPN about American Owners threatening to sway the vote to end Promotion and Relegation.
Here we go again… America is posed to be the big bad bully and rip out England’s Football soul worse than Robert Green ever could. The board of owners for the English Football Association will hold conferences about abolishing promotion and relegation in English Football. And for the first time ever, people feel that there might be enough votes to succeed. Due to the influx of foreign owners, namely American owners, people around football feel that they will get the 14 votes needed. The concept is that with 5 American owners who also own Professional U.S. teams, they will want to get rid of it because it is non-existent in U.S. sport and it is considered better for business. However, I implore all parties involved… DO NOT DO THIS!!!!
This is an absolutely terrible idea for so many reasons. If anything, U.S. sports should think about adopting the promotion/relegation. Does this sounds crazy? Maybe, but if it makes the sport and the competition better, then why not? It would create competition on BOTH ends of the table and ensure that EVERY game matters. How many fans of their team tune out after they are eliminated from play-off competition? Who actually wanted to watch the last 15 games of the Cavs this past season? Not many, however if the promotion and relegation were in place, those games would matter. At the death of a season it makes every game matter, not just at the top. The stadiums are full, the tension could be cut on a knifes edge, and your team’s fate hangs on each kick and save. People talk about how great the final day of the MLB regular season was this year; what if that happened every year? The top teams playing for the post-season and the bottom half playing for MLB survival. This would this create a more exciting year round competition if every game matters.
Relegation would keep teams from tanking or owners from being cheap asses and not fielding a quality product for the fans. No longer would an owner be able to cut stars and trade away assets in order to get salary cap relief. Because now at the end of the season the owner would stand to lose millions if his team dropped to the lower division. All of a sudden he cares if he trades the aging star during the season to get draft picks for the future; assuming that means the team might now win enough games to stay afloat. It makes the owners much more accountable for putting together a quality product. I’m not saying they have to spend money, but they need to find creative ways to succeed within their means (need an example, look at Everton).
Relegation and Promotion makes every player work harder. It gives them incentive to perform well and always give maximum effort. How many NBA, MLB, and NFL players simply shut it down after their team is eliminated from the post-season? They come up with some sort of injury that requires “season-ending” surgery or go through the motions the second half of the season. Now these players are still getting paid, but what do they have to play for anymore? It brings down the level of competition and completely destroys the entertainment value for the common fan. Imagine if all player contracts were cut in half if their team was relegated? You think those guys are not going to go out there and bust their ass every game to make sure that doesn’t happen? It would create a level of intensity that professional sports in the U.S. see in the postseason, every game. What a fan would not want to see that?
Promotion and Relegation is also made for the underdog. The small market team creates a cohesive unit with great coaching that battles, and works it’s way up to the top. Just imagine if a triple AAA team in Albuquerque got a season in the bigs. Every game in their 12k seat stadium would be sold out and it would be a huge story if they did well. It gives every player, coach, and fan the dream and possibility that they could one day travel to Old Trafford (Yankee Stadium, in the baseball analogy) and see their team play against the big boys. It is that fanatical dream that inspires such a rabid fan base in English soccer.
“So basically you are telling me that with a simple addition of one element, every professional sport will instantly get more entertaining?” Yes–but because of money, the threat of relegation and loss of TV money will never allow it to happen. If for some reason the New England Patriots had a terrible season and were dropped, there is no way the networks would allow one of their highest rated teams to not be in prime time. Speaking purely hypothetically, could it work and how? In order for this to work, we have to assume that all TV revenue would be split equally with all teams in the top division and that smaller networks would agree to carry for a discounted rate most of the second division games. Also, all professional contracts would have a relegation clause and release fee built into them (the clause would state that if their team was relegated, their pay would be cut in half and the release fee would be a certain dollar amount). Assuming those things would be in place, you could set up the major leagues in the following fashion:
Cut the League to 22 teams in a double elimination round-robin style tournament for the teams that did not make the playoffs last season. The new NBA is called the NBA Select and the bottom eight join with the 16 NBA D-League teams to form the NBA Regional Select. Promotion is given to the team with the best record, and the next 8 best records play in a knock-out tournament. The Champion will earn promotion and the runner up in a 3 game play-off with the NBA Select team that has the third lowest record. The teams with the two worst records are relegated automatically. This would greatly help the quality of the NBA game, because right now the talent pool is spread entirely too thin. There are not enough quality basketball players to fill up rosters, which is why you there are so many shitty players sitting on the bench making $8 mil a season. In any market place, if you get rid of 120 of the 450 jobs available, it will increase the quality and competition of everyone left.
The system is already in place, just simply remove the Major League affiliation with the triple A teams and reduce the size of the current MLB to 26 teams. The MLB keeps its name and the second division becomes known as the National Baseball League. Promotion and relegation is given to the top and bottom three. The Current farm system could then be rearranged so that AA would feed a MLB affilate chosen at random at the start of the season. The single A teams would feed a NBL team. This will put the less marketed teams in small ballparks that they can fill and make everything more competitive.
This would be hardest one, and also the one that would benefit the least. As everyone knows the NFL does not really need to be fixed. It is a ratings juggernaut, everyone and their mother plays fantasy football, and it’s popularity has never been higher. Most of this goes back to one of my initial points, EVERY GAME in the NFL season matters. So for argument’s sake, here is how one would set up the NFL based on winning precentages over the last ten years. The top 18 teams would be from the NFL Premier and would go to a 18 week season. There would be one bye and everyone would play each other. The remaining 14 teams join two CFL (Toronto and Vancouver), an Arena League team (maybe Las Vegas), and a new team out of Los Angeles to form the NFL Elite. They would also play 17 games in an 18 week schedule. The top four teams would move up and the bottom four would go down. The top placed team in the NFL Elite would be given a wild card spot for the NFL playoffs, which would only take the teams with the 4 best records (no more shitty 7-9 teams getting into the playoffs because their division sucked). The fourth best record would play the best NFL Elite team for the right to play the 1st seed, and 2 would play 3 for the other spot in the Super Bowl. Now here comes the real kicker, what to do about the NFL draft?? Simple, expand the rounds to 36 picks. The team with the worst record in the Elite gets the first pick, and the team with the worse record in the Premier gets the second pick, with it continuing in that pattern. All rookie contracts would be 3 years, with the option of an Elite team to sell the player for a fee to a Premier side.
Again all of this is hypothetical and will NEVER happen, but it could be really great. Just look at how long the EPL has been around, and how every year it never fails to excite the fans. They are never worried about work stoppages or revenue sharing, because the focus has stayed on the competition and the product that is generated on the field. Maybe that is why the passion of their fans is nothing like what we have in the states, because they come first and hopefully always will.