Sunday, May 22, 2011

English Premier League 2010-11 Season Review

As I said last week in my running diary of Manchester City's FA Cup win over Stoke City, I am a Man City fan so this will be a another soccer post in as many weeks. Don't worry though because this post involves at least one Cheesehead sports connection to justify posting it on my Cheesehead sports related blog.

For those of you that don't know, soccer has relegation and promotion. In England that means that every season three teams are relegated from the Premier League (top division in England) to the Championship (second division in England) while three teams from the from the Championship are promoted to the Premier League. Unlike almost all other professional sports, relegation and promotion means that the last day of the season in the Premier League is one of the most fascinating days on the entire sports calendar.

With that background on relegation and promotion out of the way, now for the Cheesehead sports connection to justify posting this on the blog. A few years ago a Cheesehead soccer player (grew up in Green Bay, WI) and United States Men's National Team player Jay DeMerit scored the first goal for Watford on a header to help Watford defeat Leeds United 3-0 and gain promotion from the Championship to the Premier League. Some media outlets claim that DeMerit scored a £30 million goal thanks to the television rights alone for playing in the Premier League as opposed to the Championship.

The conventional wisdom is that 40 points (teams get 3 points for a win and 1 point for a tie) out of 38 matches will keep you in the Premier League. That conventional wisdom held true for the 2010-11 Premier League season because the three Premier League clubs relegated: Birmingham (39 points), Blackpool (39 points), and West Ham United (33 points) amassed less than 40 points while the three clubs that narrowly avoided relegation: Blackburn Rovers (43 points), Wigan Athletic (42 points), and Wolverhampton Wanderers (40 points) all earned at least 40 points.

The other conventional wisdom in the Premier League is that 70 points will get you automatic qualification for the UEFA Champions League from the Premier League. The Premier League puts three automatic qualifiers in the UEFA Champions League with the fourth team having to go through the qualification process. The conventional wisdom held because Manchester United (80 points), Chelsea (71 points), and Manchester City (71 points) all earned at least 70 points and automatically qualified while Arsenal (68 points) has to qualify for the knock-out stages of the UEFA Champions League because they finished 4th in the Premier League.

In somewhat related news, my buddy Gaber's favorite team Arsenal finished 4th while my buddy Uncle Patty's team Newcastle finished 12th. Both Arsenal and Newcastle have to be relatively pleased with their position since Arsenal still has a chance to qualify for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League and Newcastle was just promoted back to the Premier League this season.

As you can see the magic numbers of 40 points and 70 points held for another year in the Premier League. All of that is great but selfishly the best part for me as a Man City fan is that they qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in club history. That means that Man City will continue to invest in big name players to try and improve on their best Premier League finish ever. The next goal for Man City is to win the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League for the first time in club history.

If there is one takeaway from the post, relegation and promotion is simultaneously the most nerve wracking and exhilarating thing in sports. There is no real feasible way to implement this in the the major professional sports in North America because most major professional teams own the rights to the players that make up the minor league teams (MLB, NBA, and NHL) or do not have any actual minor league teams besides a small practice squad (NFL). This should be the last soccer post for a while unless something Cheesehead soccer related happens. Please check back for more non-soccer related Cheesehead sports content on the blog.

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