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relegation battles!

Alan Wanwierd
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Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
So we're a little over 24 hours away from the conclusion of the most intense English Premier League relegation battle of all time:

Quick explanation for those not aware of things:
1) Premier league consists of 20 teams each playing each other twice, recieving 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw..(38 games per team in all)
2) At the conclusion of the season the bottom 3 teams are "relegated" from the league and lose cast amount of TV income in future seasons - the effect is devastating... (If point scores are even, then goal difference over the entire season is taken into account and if thats even then goals scored by the team over the entire season)
3) 3 teams are "promoted" from the lower league to take part in next years Premier League.

This year for the first time in history, the bottom of the league is so close that with only 1 game remaining, any of the bottom 4 teams could "survive" if the results go their way (Norwich, Southampton, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion). This weekends games will be ELECTRIC with 4 teams battling for their lives in "must-win" situations!!!

For fans of these clubs its nail-biting stuff (personally if my team Southampton dont stay up I may never see a game of theirs televised again - since I'll no doubt drop the cable TV subscription!) - BUT even for neutral fans this situation means that there is excitment and tension in games throughout the season as "winning" the league is not the only important thing - so theres always a reason to compete hard...

I've tried explaining this to my Australian friends and they seem to find it very hard to grasp! None of the Australian league sports (Rugby League, Rugby Union, Aussie Rules, Soccer, Netball etc etc etc..) have a system like this in place - consequently once az team is out of the running for "winning" in any one season they may as well kick-back and relax until the start of the next season - they have nothing to fight for...

Do other sports have similar promotion/relegation battles - or is this phenomenon unique to european soccer?

Do US NFL teams or NBL teams at the bottom of the rankings have to fight to stay alive even after they're out of contention for 'winning' - If not, does that mean their games are a complete waste of time at the end of the season? Why does anybody go?
Roger Johnson
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Joined: Feb 24, 2004
Posts: 311
Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
Do other sports have similar promotion/relegation battles - or is this phenomenon unique to european soccer?

Do US NFL teams or NBL teams at the bottom of the rankings have to fight to stay alive even after they're out of contention for 'winning' - If not, does that mean their games are a complete waste of time at the end of the season? Why does anybody go?


it certainly is not unique to european soccer. south america soccer is the the same, other soccers are pretty much the same.

firstly, i think this has to do with the number of the teams participating. if you got a league of 50 teams, a season of 9 months, it is hard to fit ~100 games (home/visit) into a team's schedule. it also has something to do with the intensity of the sport. soccer is a very intense sport (i forget how much beckham run each game?), much intense than baseball, basketball, or football. it takes longer to recover.

why there are so many soccer teams, it is less expensive to organize a soccer team, of course, at the top level, star players are all expensive, but it is relatively easy to start a soccer team. when a team is too expensive to organize, there is less teams produced. the number of teams is also related to the nature of the sport. soccer is more unpredictable, there are 11 people in the field, it is a highly team sport. unlike in baseball, pitcher is the name of the game. in basketball, there are only 5 player in the court. if you have someone like micheal jordan/shaq o'neil, he can really play by himself. football is similar to soccer in this regard, but it is more expensive to maintain a football team.

but is it a waste of time for bottom teams near the end of the season? not really, well, if you are in the last place, you have more right to pick new players next year.

again, it has to do with the nature of the sport. soccer has more motivation and endurance in it, basketball/baseball has more skill in it, football has more speed/strength in it.

besides, statistics follow you all your career, people here also believe in momentum. if you have a sloppy season ending, it will affect your next season's start.
[ May 14, 2005: Message edited by: Roger Johnson ]
Alan Wanwierd
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Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
Roger I'm not sure I understand what you're saying.

In what sport is there 50 teams in one league? How does that work?

Surely almost all sports (irrespective of whether the team is massively influenced by one player such as 4trback or pitcher) have some sort of 'feeder' or 'junior' league system before you break into the 'big-time'.

My suggestion would be that to keep low achieving teams motivated at the end of the season a relegation system works... Now I dont know how US basketball works at all (apart from the fact that as far as I can see the score is almost always statistically insignificant and should be declared a draw [sorry - thats another argument and not one we should get sidetracked by!]),

but lets assume for the sake of argument that below the NBL are a number of regional leagues??? Would it not be possible to relegat the lowest NBL team at the end of the season and promote the highest performing team from that region?- Thereby giving teams in regional competitions something to aim for (a chance at the big-time) - and really making for some good low-level fixtures in NBL?

can you expand on this statement - I dont understand it at all:
"well, if you are in the last place, you have more right to pick new players next year. " - Surely if you are in last place you have less money to spend so are in a tighter position for getting good signings for next season? Actually reading your statement again this seems to suggest theres a huge advantage in coming last?!!?? that cant be right! (What sport were you talking about there anyway?)
Dave Lenton
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Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 1241
Originally posted by Roger Johnson:
why there are so many soccer teams, it is less expensive to organize a soccer team, of course, at the top level, star players are all expensive, but it is relatively easy to start a soccer team. when a team is too expensive to organize, there is less teams produced. the number of teams is also related to the nature of the sport. soccer is more unpredictable, there are 11 people in the field, it is a highly team sport. unlike in baseball, pitcher is the name of the game. in basketball, there are only 5 player in the court. if you have someone like micheal jordan/shaq o'neil, he can really play by himself. football is similar to soccer in this regard, but it is more expensive to maintain a football team.


Another factor in the huge number of football teams in some countries (Within the UK, England alone has 92 professional teams and tens of thousands of unprofessional teams, Scotland has a professional league (well, they like to think so ) and Wales and Northern Ireland also have semi-professional leagues) is the cultural background to the sport. Football is very cheap to play - all you need is a ball. For the goals, a pile of jumpers, some sticks, a spare wall etc. Other sports such as cricket, baseball etc need more equipment. This means that in many countries around the world kids can play football even if they don't have much money. Its become the sport of the masses, with billions of people playing it.

I'm not so sure about other countries, but within the UK there is a strong community tie to football teams. Every town and village has a team (although most have unprofessional ones), many with a history stretching back to the 1800's. This means that even when the economic environment may suggest reducing the number of teams (in the UK there are probably 4 or 5 profitable professional football clubs out of more than a hundred), people scrape together the money to keep the other teams going - they have become a part of the local community.

The team I support is rubbish. They've never been in the top division, and yet again have just had a miserable end to their campaign to try and get there. They've nearly gone out of business numerous times, and only survive because the chairman puts a lot of his own money into keeping them afloat. Despite that, I'd never support another team. I grew up watching this particular team, and my Dad grew up watching them. You could say that the team is in my blood now! This is fairly common, and means that we have many more teams than can be supported by the market - fans would rather donate money to a struggling, hopeless, boring local team then go and support another rich club. This has lead to a huge number of clubs in the UK. I guess its a similar story in other countries.


There will be glitches in my transition from being a saloon bar sage to a world statesman. - Tony Banks
Damien Howard
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Joined: Apr 01, 2003
Posts: 456
Sorry if this is a little off topic, but out of curiosity, has there ever been a team that has moved up from the lower league and then won the premiership?
Or vice versa has there ever been a team that has won the premiership and then been relegated to the lower league? Are the teams which get relegated usually the poor ones. Is it mostly a matter of money?
fred rosenberger
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Surely almost all sports (irrespective of whether the team is massively influenced by one player such as 4trback or pitcher) have some sort of 'feeder' or 'junior' league system before you break into the 'big-time'.


Baseball in the U.S. has this... they're called "farm teams". Each professional team (like the St. Louis Cardinals) has many farm teams, at different levels: Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A. individual players can be moved up or down (although i believe there are rules and contract negotiations about this), but the Professional teams are always the professional teams.


There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
Peter Rooke
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Joined: Oct 21, 2004
Posts: 805

Sorry if this is a little off topic, but out of curiosity, has there ever been a team that has moved up from the lower league and then won the premiership?

- This happened many years ago: First World Cup - West Auckland Amateur Team


Regards Pete
Alan Wanwierd
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Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
Originally posted by Damien Howard:
Sorry if this is a little off topic, but out of curiosity, has there ever been a team that has moved up from the lower league and then won the premiership?
Or vice versa has there ever been a team that has won the premiership and then been relegated to the lower league? Are the teams which get relegated usually the poor ones. Is it mostly a matter of money?


hmmm... over a long enough period yes. I dont think any promoted team has ever won the top division immediately, and no winners have been relegated in the next season BUT:

Blackburn Rovers who won the premiership in 94-95 were relegated after the 98-99 season - and then gained promotion after 2 years to be back up for the 2001-2002 season!

In lower divisions there are stories of teams who have climbed the ranks quickly - I'm sure I read of one team (I forget who) who got promoted 3 seasons in a row and conversely there are teams who struggle so badly after relegation from the Premiership they just keep going down further and further!!


The reality of Premiership soccer these days is that there are at MOST 4 teams capable of winning the thing, the amount of money pumped into the big clubs is such that they will NEVER be relegated, the ability to do what Chelsea have done recently and spend offensive sums of money to bring in top players will ensure survival (The spending of any of the top 3 clubs in the UK is many times greater than the 4th ranked team! and probably lots more than 10 times the spending of the lower ranked temas in the premiership).

For the modern English football fan the choice is simple - support a team who will win (ManU, Arsenal Chelsea) OR support a team who actually employee and develop the talent of Englishmen! - In many circles its considered unpatriotic to support one of the major teams!
Roger Johnson
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Joined: Feb 24, 2004
Posts: 311
Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
In what sport is there 50 teams in one league? How does that work?


that is just a example, but MLB has many teams, people talk about yankee's 105 wins season ... etc. (but i think yankee may play some teams 4 times in a year)




Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:


Surely almost all sports (irrespective of whether the team is massively influenced by one player such as 4trback or pitcher) have some sort of 'feeder' or 'junior' league system before you break into the 'big-time'.

My suggestion would be that to keep low achieving teams motivated at the end of the season a relegation system works... Now I dont know how US basketball works at all (apart from the fact that as far as I can see the score is almost always statistically insignificant and should be declared a draw [sorry - thats another argument and not one we should get sidetracked by!]),

but lets assume for the sake of argument that below the NBL are a number of regional leagues??? Would it not be possible to relegat the lowest NBL team at the end of the season and promote the highest performing team from that region?- Thereby giving teams in regional competitions something to aim for (a chance at the big-time) - and really making for some good low-level fixtures in NBL?


i definitely think you got a point. in my last post, i list a bunch of difference between soccer and MLB/NFL/NBA, but did not emphasize enough on my points:

1) i think the reasons for relegation system in England soccer are: many soccer teams, and/or low game frequency allowed, too many for every team to playing every other teams during the same year; good teams are not dominant enough to seperate from less good teams;

2) the reasons for no relegation system in North American professional sports are: not too many teams, and/or high game frequency allowed, just good enough for every team to playing every other teams during the same year (i believe NFL is an examption, a team does not play every other teams in the league); major teams are dominant enough to seperate from minor teams;

but i think there is not a clear line between them, image in England, if same teams play in the series-A every year (that is, even the teams are relegated form series-A to B, they all get right back to series-A the next year, no former series-B teams can survive series-A for consecutive 2 years), then what will happen: people perhaps begin to talk about seperating them into major/minor.

same thing could happen in North American, if NBA/NFL/MLB wants to expand, more teams are added, too many for a single series, perhaps people begin to talk about division of NBA/NFL/MLB into series-A/B/C... and all the relegation stuff.



Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:


can you expand on this statement - I dont understand it at all:
"well, if you are in the last place, you have more right to pick new players next year. " - Surely if you are in last place you have less money to spend so are in a tighter position for getting good signings for next season? Actually reading your statement again this seems to suggest theres a huge advantage in coming last?!!?? that cant be right! (What sport were you talking about there anyway?)


i am refering to the lottery pick. a system pretty unique to NA professional sports. each year, college/high school/foreign/others players want to go professional, to keep a balance among different teams, the last place finishers of last year have more priority to pick them.

but all kinfds of things can happen, in june of 1997, NBA lottery pick, San Antonio Spurs picks the #1 lottery Tim Duncan, together with existing David Robinson, forms a formitable twin towers (both of them are ~7 feet). Spurs won their first NBA championship on 1998-99 season, that is 2 years after picking of Tim Duncan. and they won NBA championship again in 2003.

What happened is that spurs is a good team before pciking Tim Duncan, they should not pick lottery, but David Robinson was injured, missied most of the season. so spurs headed to lottery.

But you can see, even lottery system is not always fair.

Speaking of funding, at least in NBA, every teams are subject to salary cap (the total of player roast's salary), so even you have tons of money, you are not allowed to spend beyong the salary cap. That is what get me puzzled about this year's Houston Rockets. During the championship run from 2000-2002, LA Lakers can afford Shaq and Kobe, two NBA superstars, exactly under the same salary cap, Houston only pays T-Mac, Yao Ming is still on Rockie contract, only making ~1/3 of T-Mac's salary. So where did the money go? did they spend it on cheerleaders?
[ May 17, 2005: Message edited by: Roger Johnson ]
Raghuraman Muthuswamy
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Joined: Mar 18, 2003
Posts: 73
Hi Adrian,
You mentioned your home is near Australia Zoo. I was in Melbourne. I think the zoo is in Queensland. You must be following AFL, which team you support. Iam sure it must be "Brisbane Lions". Hope my guess would be correct.
Dave Lenton
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Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 1241
Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:

In lower divisions there are stories of teams who have climbed the ranks quickly - I'm sure I read of one team (I forget who) who got promoted 3 seasons in a row and conversely there are teams who struggle so badly after relegation from the Premiership they just keep going down further and further!!

I think Swindon Town managed three promotions followed by three relegations, up to the top league and back down again.

The reality of Premiership soccer these days is that there are at MOST 4 teams capable of winning the thing, the amount of money pumped into the big clubs is such that they will NEVER be relegated,

Probably the only thing which could relegate some of these teams would be some kind of spectacular business mistake causing a loss of money, but this is unlikely. It did happen to Leeds though - in the Champion's League and then soon afterwards relegated after spending too much money on players and running out of money. The lesson has probably been learnt though, and I expect the "Big 4" to dominate for a long time.


For the modern English football fan the choice is simple - support a team who will win (ManU, Arsenal Chelsea) OR support a team who actually employee and develop the talent of Englishmen! - In many circles its considered unpatriotic to support one of the major teams!


It also seems a bit unsporting that money should play such a big role in the success of teams. Although Chelsea fans can be pleased at winning their first championship in umpteen years, if I were a Chelsea fan I would feel a bit like we'd just cheated a bit. If it wasn't for Abramovich's millions, they would still be an average team.

Its probably far more satisfying to support a small team and see them struggle their way up through the leagues and manage a small blip of success through their own efforts. That's what I like to tell myself anyway, as its not likely that Reading FC will be spending millions on players any time soon. Or winning much, given the recent performances.
Alan Wanwierd
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Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
Originally posted by Raghuraman Muthuswamy:
Hi Adrian,
You mentioned your home is near Australia Zoo. I was in Melbourne. I think the zoo is in Queensland. You must be following AFL, which team you support. Iam sure it must be "Brisbane Lions". Hope my guess would be correct.


Just because I live in Brisbane doesnt mean I'm an ALF fan! - I'm a proud Englishman and will always be a supporter of SouthamptonFC where I used to go to every home game with my dad when I was a child. From my point of view AFL is quite a good game - it flows well and has moments of great skill as well as team awareness, strength and fitness... (its a WAAAY better game than either of the Rugby codes, or stop-start advertisers dream of Gridiron!)... But even if its a good game, it doesnt do anything for me in terms of passion - I can be interested and enjoy watching it but I never CARE who wins!.. Put me in front of a proper Football game featuring either Southampton or the English National side and I'll scream the place down, sweat profusely, bite my nails, pull my hair out and leap for joy! No other sport comes close to getting that reaction from me!!

(Leaping for joy seems to have been a bit of a rarity for Southampton fans of late though!)
Dave Lenton
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Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 1241
Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
(Leaping for joy seems to have been a bit of a rarity for Southampton fans of late though!)


Maybe that could change soon with the drop down to the Championship. I'm not sure what most Southampton fans would do if their team was doing well though - they're a bit out of practice at being cheerful about their team

Its funny how it all works out. I remember a few years back Reading played Southampton in the cup, and at the time the Reading fans were so pleased about drawing a "top team", who were that much better then us. The fact that we won against a team higher up the league structure, and the tremendous strop by Graeme Souness, made it quite a memorable evening. Now its changed a bit - next season the two teams will meet as equals. Well, equals in theory anyway. I imagine that Southampton's budget and promotion hopes will be considerably higher than Reading's.
Angela Poynton
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- Sorry Footie talk does that to me!!


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