Case study of a national sports league


Hierarchy: Placing things in an order of importance. Usually in Geography it refers to placing settlements in an order of importance. Here it will refer to placing football leagues and football teams in an order of importance.

Sphere of influence: The area people will travel from to access a service. Here it will be the area that people travel from to support a football team.

English Football League


The English football league (or football pyramid) is a series of interconnected leagues for association football. The system is hierarchical and linked by promotion and relegation. The Barclays Premier League is at the top of the pyramid. There are more than 140 individual leagues, containing over 480 divisions. On average each division contains 15 clubs so there are over 7,000 registered football teams. This number can vary as new clubs are created, old ones go bankrupt or others merge. The top four leagues are often referred to as the league clubs and are almost entirely played by fully professional clubs. The league system is overseen by the Football Association (FA) which is the oldest football association in the world being founded in 1863. Its headquarters are in Soho, London. As well as the football leagues the FA also overseas a number of cup competitions including the world famous FA Cup.

Level
League(s)/Division(s)
1
Premier League
(Barclays Premier League)
20 clubs
2
Football League Championship
(npower Championship)
24 clubs
3
Football League One
(npower League 1)
24 clubs
4
Football League Two
(npower League 2)
24 clubs
5
Conference National
(Blue Square Bet Premier)
24 clubs
6
Conference North
(Blue Square Bet North)
22 clubs
Conference South
(Blue Square Bet South)
22 clubs
7
Northern Premier League Premier Division
(Evo-Stik League Premier Division)
22 clubs
Southern Football League Premier Division
(Zamaretto League Premier Division)
22 clubs
Isthmian League Premier Division
(Ryman Football League Premier Division)
22 clubs
8
Northern Premier League Division One North
(Evo-Stik League First Division North)
23 clubs
Northern Premier League Division One South
(Evo-Stik League First Division South)
22 clubs
Southern Football League Division One Central
(Zamaretto League Division One Central)
22 clubs
Southern Football League Division One South & West
(Zamaretto League Division One South & West)
22 clubs
Isthmian League Division One North
(Ryman Football League Division One North)
22 clubs
Isthmian League Division One South
(Ryman Football League Division One South)
22 clubs
Table taken from: Wikipedia - English Football League System (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_football_league_system)

Barclays Premier League


The Barclays Premier League (also known as the English Premier League, The premiership, The Premier League and the FA Premier League) was established in 1992. It replaced League One which was formed in 1888. The Premier League has 20 teams, with three teams being relegated and promoted each year. This makes it different to many leagues (NHL, NBA, Super 15's) which operate franchise systems with no relegation or promotion. Because the Premier League is the only level 1 league in England, it is obviously at the top of the hierarchy in terms of English football. The league season consists of each team playing each other home and away (38 matches in total). There are no play-offs, the team to finish at the top of the league are crowned champions. The top four team qualify for the lucrative European competition, the Champions League.

The Premier League is the most watched league in the world, watched by half a billion in 202 countries. It is also the world's richest league generating about $3 billion in income during the 2009/10 season.

Since 2004 the Premier League has been sponsored by Barclays, so that it why it is often referred to as the Barclays Premier League. The television revenue for the Barclays Premier League is huge, rights for 2010-2013 were sold for $2.7 billion. Extra revenue came for selling overseas rights, highlight rights and internet rights.

Premier League benefits from new overseas TV deal - BBC article

BskyB snatch Setanta TV rights - BBC article
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Measuring Hierarchy:


The Barclay's Premier League is the only level one league in England so it is top of the hierarchy in terms of football leagues. The Barclays Premier League is often considered to be the number one league in the world as well, because of its viewing figures, average attendances and income generation. In terms of the football team at top of the hierarchy, things get a little bit more complicated. If we just look at the current champions, then Manchester City (2011/12) will be top of the hierarchy. However, if we look at different measures then Manchester United, Manchester City or Liverpool could appear at the top of the hierarchy.

Biggest Stadium: Manchester United (Old Trafford)
Average Attendance: Manchester United
Most Premier League Titles: Manchester United
Current Champions: Manchester City
Most FA Cup titles: Manchester United
Most Champions League Titles: Liverpool
Highest Wage Bill: Chelsea and Manchester City
Richest Club: Manchester United

TEAM
CITY

CITY POPULATION

STADIUM NAME
STADIUM CAPACITY
Aston Villa
Birmingham
1 million
Villa Park
42,000
Norwich City
Norwich
132,000
Carrow Road
26,000
West Bromwich Albion
Birmingham
1 million
The Hawthorns
28,000
Reading
Reading
232,000
Madejski Stadium
24,000
Manchester City
Manchester
500,000
City of Manchester
47,000
Manchester United
Manchester
500,000
Old Trafford
75,000
West Ham
London
7.5 million
Upton Park
35,000
Newcastle United
Newcastle
260,000
St James Park
52,000
Sunderland
Sunderland
280,000
Stadium of Light
49,000
Stoke City
Stoke
250,000
Britannia Stadium
28,000
Wigan Athletic
Wigan
81,000
JJB Stadium
25,000
Fulham
London
7.5 million
Craven Cottage
25,000
Swansea City
Swansea
228,000
Liberty Stadium
20,500
Tottenham Hotspurs
London
7.5 million
White Hart Lane
36,000
Arsenal
London
7.5 million
Emirates
60,000
Chelsea
London
7.5 million
Stamford Bridge
42,000
OPR
London
7.5 million
Loftus Road
19,000
Southampton
Southampton
239,000
St Mary's Stadium
32,000
Liverpool
Liverpool
435,000
Anfield
45,000
Everton
Liverpool
435,000
Goodison Park
40,000
Looking at the list of Premier League clubs above, a city needs a population of about 250,000 to support a Premier League football club. Wigan, Norwich and Swansea all noticeable exceptions. There are also some big cities in England that don't have Premier League football teams; Derby, Nottingham are a couple, but even more noticeable are Sheffield (535,000), Leeds (770,000) and Bristol (420,000).

Manchester United - Top of the Hierarchy?


Manchester United has the biggest stadium, the highest income, the most FA cups, the most league titles and the most global fans. Because of this it is often considered to be the number one club in England - top of the hierarchy.

Manchester United was formed in 1878 but was not an original founding member of the football league. Originally called Newton Heath it changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to Old Trafford in 1910. Manchester is owned by the American Glazer family and is estimated to be worth about $2 billion making it the most valuable club in the world.

The club's worldwide fan base includes more than 200 officially recognised branches of the Manchester United Supporters Club (MUSC), in at least 24 countries. The club takes advantage of this support through its worldwide summer tours. Accountancy firm and sports industry consultants Deloitte estimate that Manchester United has 75 million fans worldwide, while other estimates put this figure closer to 333 million.

Manchester United is currently sponsored by Aon who are paying about $120 million over 4 years. The clubs brand and trademarks are estimated to be worth about $525 million. Manchester United manages to maintain its number one position through:
  • Merchandise sales (shirts, mugs, posters, bed spreads, etc.)
  • Season ticket and match day ticket sales
  • TV money (Sky)
  • Transfer market (selling players e.g. Ronaldo to Real Madrid)
  • Global pre-season tours (usually to Asia) - Japanese gripped by Man United fever - BBC article
  • International players e.g. Ji-Sung Park of South Korea
  • Website and supporters club (http://www.manutd.com/)
  • Winning trophies (prize money)
  • MUTV (television channel promoting itself)
external image Manchester-United.png

Manchester United reports 110.9 million pounds operating profit - BBC article

Man United accept 80 million pound Ronaldo bid - BBC article

Man United in new shirt sponsor deal - BBC article

Manchester United announce details of pre-season tour of North America - Guardian article
Do Man Utd really have 659m supporters? - BBC article

Manchester United - Factfile


Date Founded: 1878

Stadium: Old Trafford

Stadium Capacity: 75,957

Income (2009/10): Turnover of over $460 million

Premier League Titles: 12

League Titles (including Premier League): 19 titles

Champions League Trophies: 3

FA Cup Victories: 11

Highest Earning Player (salary): Wayne Rooney ($11.6 million a year)

Total Wage Bill: About $193 million a year

Global Fans: Up to 330 million
10729_ori_old_trafford.jpg
Manchester United is world's richest club says Forbes - BBC article

Warning over Premier League wages - BBC article

Manchester United to break 100 million in commercial revenue - Guardian article

Stadium Branding

Some football teams have actually changed the name of their stadiums to increase revenue. Two examples in the Premier League are Arsenal who have changed the name of their stadium to the Emirates Stadium and Bolton Wanderers (now in League One) who have changed their name to the Reebok Stadium. By changing their names they are effectively being sponsored. Traditionally sponsors have only been able to sponsor shirts and have billboards along pitch side. Sponsoring stadiums therefore is helping both sides.

external image Reebok%20Stadium%208.jpg
external image Emirates-stadionin_etupuoli.jpg