English Premier League Vs Italian Serie A

Comparisons between the English Premier League and the Serie A have endured for the last 20 years. At some moments over this time there has been reason for this debate. As the fortunes of both leagues have varied between moments of great success and moments of limited achievement, they have been close competitors at times. But today, the English Premier League and the Serie A could not be further apart. In both off and on the pitch matters, the two leagues have little in common.

Off the pitch, the English Premier League is a case study in how to properly market a league. The thinkers behind the Premier League have been so successful that today the England’s top division is indisputably the most popular league in the world. The EPL is also way ahead of not just Serie A but every European league in terms of revenue partially because of the EPL's marketing genius. In terms of profitability, the EPL has only come second twice since its inception in 1992-93, with the Bundesliga being named the most profitable league according to Deloitte’s latest review of football finance.

La Liga has generally held the second spot, mainly due to the worldwide appeal of Real Madrid and Barcelona. But the Bundesliga, in Deloitte’s recent Annual Review of Football Finance, has the German league placed in second with La Liga third. The Serie A now occupies fourth spot, a position that it also holds in the UEFA Coefficient League Ranking. Therefore, from an economic perspective, it makes more sense for the EPL to be compared with the Bundesliga or La Liga, and not Italy’s Serie A. It is not only from an economic perspective that the debate between the English Premier League and the Serie A can be seen as senseless, but also from on-the-pitch performances.

The EPL currently occupies the number one spot in the UEFA Coefficient Rankings, a system of rank that employs simple math to determine the performances of the teams from the European leagues in European competition over the last five-year period. Second to the EPL is Spain’s La Liga, followed by the Bundesliga which has just recently overtaken the Serie A. English teams have comprehensively outperformed Italian teams since the 2006-07 European season. This has not only been evident by the overall performance of English teams and their number one spot in the Coefficient Rankings, but also in some of the astounding results that English teams have recorded over Italian teams in recent years. Two games in particular have highlighted the increasing distance between the EPL and Serie A teams. The first was Roma’s capitulation at the hands of Manchester United in a 7-1 drubbing and the other was last year when Milan also fell to United, this time by four goals to nil.

English dominance over Calcio has been especially evident in the recent editions of the UEFA Champions League. Since the 2005-06 Champions League season, there have been 11 knockout ties between English and Italian sides. Only on three occasions have the Italians defeated their English opposition. Today, English teams have the hold over their Italian counterparts. On the pitch there has been endless evidence of this. With the clear superiority of English teams on the pitch along with the great marketing success that has made the English Premier League the most popular in the world, there can be no argument that the Serie A is a better competition. In fact it is senseless for this debate to continue further. If the EPL is to be compared to another league, then it should be compared with the Bundesliga or La Liga, for it is these two competitions that have shown on or off the pitch that they can compete with the English game.

The Italian game has long lost its way since its glory days of the 1990’s. Scandal, corruption, and in-fighting continue to shackle the Italian game and progress since the 2006 Calciopoli scandal has been slow. It is a long way back to the top indeed for Italy’s Serie A.

Exclusively by Frank Tigani (AC Milan Featured Columnist)

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