Aug 8, 2009

Big four

Another major criticism is the development of the so-called "Big Four" clubs. From the 2005-06 season onwards, the "Big Four" (Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal) have dominated the top four spots (Only Everton in 2004 - 2005 have broken this sequence), thus a place in the UEFA Champions League. Since Blackburn Rovers lifted the trophy in 1994–95, only three clubs have won the Premier League title – Manchester United (nine of the club's eleven titles), Arsenal (three times) and Chelsea (twice). In addition, Manchester United have not finished outside the top three since the formation of the Premier League, with Arsenal finishing inside the top five in all but two seasons, while Liverpool, without an English league title since the pre-Premier League era, have only finished outside the top 4 twice in the last 10 years. Also, in the last two seasons, three of the "Big Four" teams have reached the Champions League semi-final stage, and all four teams have reached the quarter final stage, with the team eliminated being eliminated by another member of the "Big Four". Also, in the last four years, two members of the big four have won the Champions League (Liverpool in 2005, Manchester United in 2008) and each of the big four has been a runner up in the last four years (Arsenal in 2006, Liverpool in 2007, Chelsea in 2008 and Manchester United in 2009). In recent years, the success of these clubs has led to these four teams being increasingly referred to as the "Big Four". The Big Four clubs have finished in the first four positions for the last four seasons, therefore they have all qualified for the last three seasons of the Champions League and receive the financial benefits of such qualification. The benefits, especially increased revenue, is believed to have widened the gap between the Big Four clubs and the rest of the Premier League.In May 2008, Newcastle United manager Kevin Keegan said the Big Four's dominance threatened the division, saying, "This league is in danger of becoming one of the most boring but great leagues in the world." Following Keegan's comments, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore defended the league, saying, "There are a lot of different tussles that go on in the Premier League depending on whether you're at the top, in the middle or at the bottom that make it interesting."
Marcelo Pantanella of The Times also criticised the widening financial power of the division's top teams, naming the Premier League the 2nd worst thing about modern football, saying "What’s changed since the Premier League broke away from the Football League in 1992? Everything. If you won the First Division title, you were the best team in England. If you win the Premier League, you owe someone £500 million.

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