Should football clubs be financially rewarded for securing relegation?

The Premier League is box office. Thanks to buckets of sponsorship and companies fondness for lavishing funds on clubs in the top flight, inclusion in the country’s elite circle is lucrative business for football clubs, as even being relegated from it brings a hefty financial reward.

And from next season that amount is to increase to a whopping £60m spread over four seasons, marking an increase of £12m from this term, which compared to Manchester United’s £15.22m haul for winning the league title in 2008-09, leaves Alex Ferguson’s side only marginally better off than a relegated team over a four year period, even taking into account a five percent increase per year.

Introduced in 2007 to help bridge the financial gap between the top flight and second tier, parachute payments were designed to help relegated clubs absorb the losses in revenue that accompany dropping out of the Premier League.

With this landing cushion in place, clubs have been increasingly willing to gamble their finances to ensure Premier League survival and all the additional fiscal benefits associated with it, which has been epitomised by QPR’s lavish spending in an attempt to secure survival, but the odds on achieving this are slim at FREEbets.

However, with UEFA’s financial far play regulations due to come into effect in 2015 – which intend to prevent clubs from spending more than they earn – relegation could prove to be as lucrative as winning at free bets so this begs the question, should clubs be financially rewarded if relegated?

Not everyone is in agreement that the payments are a beneficial element to the game though, with current Rochdale boss, Keith Hill describing them as “rewarding failure”.

Following defeat at Blackburn in September last year, the former Barnsley manager criticised the gulf in financial clout the payments create.

“I’ve never been rewarded for doing anything wrong or being relegated,” he told BBC Radio Sheffield. “Clubs that get relegated get rewarded financially, how does that make sense?

“A long time ago teams like Bradford and Barnsley overspent when they were in the Premier League but it’s not like that anymore” he added. “Teams don’t need these solidarity payments.

“They’ve invested £8m in one player to replace a player that they spent over £2m on.”

And he is not alone in his belief that the payments have a detrimental effect on the Football League as a whole and are in fact a divisive influence.

“In a few seasons’ time the top of the Championship will be dominated by teams who’ve benefited from these parachute payments”, said former Lincoln City chairman Steff Wright.

“Nobody’s arguing against the idea of more money coming down but it’s the way that that will now distort the Football League.

“Instead of there being a problem between the clubs that have the money in the Premier League and the clubs without in the Championship, you now have that problem moved further down the league.

“It will make it more difficult for clubs like Lincoln to get promoted to League One and eventually find their way into the Championship.”

Over a four year period relegated clubs will now receive £15m and £17m for the first two seasons out of the top flight, followed by two instalments of £8m. Despite the Premier League’s generosity, the belief that such payments create an uneven playing field and gives relegated teams an unfair advantage is prevalent and not only confined to those in the Football League.

“What worries me is the rich are getting richer again” said Stoke manager Tony Pulis in 2010.

“We were 25/1 to get promoted in the season that we did, so we came from nowhere. If clubs are given more opportunity to maintain their better players and stronger squads, that isolates the teams that could surprise everybody and get into the Premier League.

“If you’re asking me is the Premier League looking after the Premier League? Yes, they are.”

Even the boffins agree, as Sheffield Hallam University sports finance specialist Rob Wilson told BBC Sport: “The bigger increase in parachute payment should, by rights, help the transition for any club that gets relegated to the Championship. What it will also do is make it a little bit more difficult for other clubs in the Championship to compete.

“It is almost like, in many ways, they [the Premier League] are protecting the integrity of the three clubs that are relegated to the Championship, giving them a lot more money to survive in the league below which might then increase the same three clubs’s chances of getting promotion at the first attempt.”

And if these managers concerns prove to be valid, fans could well witness the birth of a two tier Premier League in time, in which clubs even struggle to break into the elite of the second level. And while the self-serving idea seems ludicrous to many, Bolton chairman Phil Gartside worryingly holds a candle for such an idea being realised.

Tags: Championship, League One, League Two, Premier League, QPR, Stoke City

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