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FeaturesMelting potIf the Premier League were a closed shop of 20 clubs, which would they be?

If the Premier League were a closed shop of 20 clubs, which would they be?


By Sportingintelligence

17 October 2011

At a conference in London on Monday, the chief executive of the League Managers’ Association, Richard Bevan, claimed there were foreign owners of Premier League teams who wanted to end relegation from England’s top division. A ‘closed shop’, he said, is attractive to owners who want to protect their investment.

A BBC story is linked here and it contains an interview that suggests (in Sportingintelligence’s view) Bevan’s claim is as much about bargaining positions over the future governance of football than any real threat to promotion and relegation. Bevan did not name any of the clubs allegedly interested in closing the shop. (And a closed shop is not going to happen, because the FA also have a veto, and veto they would).

But whatever the truth of the matter, the story has provoked instant debate about what a 20-team permanent Premier League would look like.

Who would be in? Who would be out? And why?

(Journalist Alex Kunawicz, or @AlexKunawicz on Twitter,  has even started a poll on the microblogging site, which you can follow or contribute to using the hashtag #EPL20).


Here are some Sportingintelligence suggestions based on objective criteria.


1) Based on success (league titles in English history), the 20 would be:

Manchester United (19 titles), Liverpool (18), Arsenal (13), Everton (9), Aston Villa (7), Sunderland (6), Chelsea (4), Newcastle (4), Sheffield Wednesday (4), Leeds (3), Wolves (3), Huddersfield (3), Blackburn (3), Preston (2), Tottenham (2), Derby (2), Man City (2), Burnley (2), Portsmouth (2), Nottingham Forest (1).

(NB: Forest get the nod over other sole title winners Sheff Utd, WBA and Ipswich for being most recent, 1978).


2) Based on most points in the Premier League era (only 1992-93 onwards considered as this would be PL closed shop), the 20 would be (see all-time table below):

Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Tottenham, Everton, Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham, Manchester City, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Bolton, Fulham, Coventry, Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday, Wimbledon.


3) Based on the biggest grounds (because you want big teams getting big revenue because the spoils will be shared), the 20 would be:

Manchester United, Arsenal, Newcastle, Sunderland, Manchester City, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Tottenham, West Ham, Middlesbrough, Derby, Southampton, Sheffield United, Coventry, Leicester, Blackburn.


4) Based on brilliance of individual players in history (number of Footballer of the Year wins by club), the 20 would be:

Liverpool (11), Manchester United (9), Tottenham (8), Arsenal (7), Leeds (4), Manchester City (3), Chelsea (2), Everton (2), Stoke (2), Wolves (2), Preston (2), Blackpool (2), West Ham (2), Blackburn (1), Sheff Wed (1), Ipswich (1), Nottm Forest (1), Fulham (1), Derby (1), Burnley (1).

(With other winners Luton and Bolton, 1 each, missing out for being too long ago).


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