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The Debate: Is The Premier League A Dream Worth Chasing?

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After the success of our safe standing debate a couple of weeks back, we've decided to try and make debates a semi-regular feature here on the website. Today Wimb & Matt Duncan debate whether reaching the Premier the League is the be all and end all of modern day football.

Alex Livesey

Money

MD: This has to be the most obvious. The amount of money that can be gathered through the Premier League is absolutely staggering and it doesn't just end there. There is a huge amount of money for teams who are relegated to. As long as a team doesn't go all QPR and spend massive amounts trying to stay there or remain there the financial benefits that can be acquired from the Premier League are staggering and epically with the new TV deal that came in this season that money is just constantly increasing. It won't be long before it is too hard to remain in that league and we need to get there while we can.

But with the money comes the risk of ruin....

W: Sure you go up to the Premier League and bask in its wealth and riches, but with relegation an ever haunting prospect even for those who you think are stable (Bolton, Blackburn, Southampton, Coventry, Charlton, Middlesbrough) it's income you're never guaranteed in the long term. Yet in order to compete, clubs have to hand out big money contracts that often end up crippling them upon relegation and when some clubs fall, they fall hard (see Bradford, Leeds, Portsmouth, Swindon). Surely it's better to live within your means rather than risk the long-term health of the club trying to fight it out with the big boys?

No risk no reward?...

MD: The problem is that if we never try to reach the Premier League we are not really testing ourselves. It is like sitting in the middle set in school and never pushing yourself even though you know you can. I'm not saying we go all out and invest a load of money in one season but we could slowly build up a squad. I'm not saying there aren't risks but if we never take them then are we not residing to a stale and boring life in the lower leagues

The impact of FFP...

W: Obviously you want to be up there in the league that brings in the most money and hopefully the new financial fair play rules will ensure that clubs are forced to spend that cash more carefully. Sadly those very same rules are likely to keep the rich very rich and more often than not keep them in a tier above those yo-yo clubs like Reading. Still, if there's a way to exist in the top division without risking financial ruin, I'm all for it.

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Media Attention/Profile

MD: Being in the Premier League increases the profile about a club ten fold. I'm a university student at Keele and so far this season I've only been able to actually watch two live games this season, both against QPR. The Premier League means I can watch more games live and don't have to stay up as late at night to catch Steve Claridge and his obvious statements on the football league show every Saturday. The profile of a club just goes through the roof. You're included in more stories and the media attention can even garner more support/fans around the world. Plus you end up with higher attendances which on occasion can make the Mad Stad a great place for atmosphere.

Media Attention/Profile for all the wrong reasons....

W: Sure we get attention but how often is it simply a case of being the last game on MOTD, or if we do pull off a good result, it's because the other team were bad? On top of all that you see disputes and backroom issues blown up by the media, look at the problems with Pearce, Federici and Guthrie last season.

Learn to love the spotlight...

MD: There is always going to be pressure with increased pressure but there are also huge benefits. Yes the players have more to handle but they're not always looking to get away from the spotlight. Some players love the attention as it gives them an opportunity to play on the larger stage. Who wants to play at the 24,000 odd Mad Stad when you could walk out infront of 80,000 odd at old Trafford even if it is full of opposition supporters.

The pressure can break younger players....

W: While the successes at Southampton to provide us with hope for the future the financial pressure and media spotlight means it's a lot harder for clubs to blood younger players and keep them in the team if they have teething problems. For example, Reading missed out on seeing Simon Cox develop, while the likes of Ryan Bertrand, Steve Sidwell and James Harper all had to go down to get back up. I'd like to think we'd be able to still develop our own talent in the top division but it is a lot harder to give them that experience in the Premier League.

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Big Clubs

MD: Maybe not Man Utd so much this season but the number of big games against big clubs in the Premier League is exciting. Who doesn't want to see likes of Mata, Silva, Hazard etc. The Premier League allows to go up against the best in the world and while this can mean very bad score lines it can also garner up great games and a sense of pride. Sure cup games become more of a slog but playing the likes of City and Chelsea conjures up something special and exciting.

Big Clubs v The Small Fish....

W: Sure we all remember those famous wins over Liverpool and Tottenham, or the morale boosting draws against Chelsea and Manchester United but how many times did we have to witness our team getting taken apart by a multi million pound outfit who won with relative ease? I can take my team going into the game as an underdog but the Premier League isn't a level playing field any more and the fact that Reading have to go head to head with teams that can spend more in a single summer than we've spent in over 100 years in existence just isn't fair, nor fun.

Embrace the Challenge

MD: Yes we will get beaten more often than not but a truly good team needs to be tested. I don't want to see us doing well in the Championship every season (not so much this year :/) it would just get boring. I'm not insinuating that we'll become world beaters but the feeling of a win against Charlton doesn't compare to a win against Tottenham. The Championship can be fun but I don't want to be stuck there forever.

But it can leave fans jaded

W: While I'm sure there are those that love being 'entertained' by some of the world's best players you only have to look at some of the comments from fans last season to say they were getting turned off from football by the bloated over-hyped composition of some of the bigger teams and the media spotlight that comes with them. Do Reading fans want to see some of the diving, theatrics and sometimes outright cheating that comes along with the bigger clubs?

It's harder and harder for fans to connect with players but at least with the Reading squad you run the risk of bumping into them in town or being able to chat with them after the game. While it's not what it was even 15 years ago, it's even more difficult to feel a connection to the mercenaries you end up having to recruit when you get to the top division.

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The Best League in the World

MD: Although as time goes on English teams seem to do badly in Europe the Premier League, for now, stands as the greatest league in football. There is drama, there is foul play and there is constant coverage. Who doesn't want to be part of a league that stands on top of the world. The amount of excitement that happens in a season from deadline day all the way to last day relegation scraps is something that I personally think we should be a part of. It is less competitive and expensive but the experience is worth it and is football after all not all about the experience?

Is it? Is it really?

W: How many teams have finished in the top 4 places over the last 15 years? Every season it's the same teams fighting it out and it's only when you get a massive, massive injection of wealth does that change. Teams like Reading are left fighting it out for the scraps. As for quality, I can remember being just as bored for any number of Premier League games as I have been watching us in the second or third tiers. Heck, for as much as it's fun seeing skillful players like Ronaldo, it can sometimes be just as entertaining seeing awfully bad players make cockups in the lower divisions. What's more in the Championship you can have pre-season title favourites end up scrapping it out at the bottom and those teams on tiny budgets expected to struggle rise to the very top. If you're one of those top teams I'm sure you love it but for the rest.... meh I'm not convinced.

The power of the league

MD: The reputation of the Premier League has been falling in recent years, you just have to look at Europe to see that we are falling behind. Yet the Premier League holds almost a mythical power. It's like the "in" crowd in school, everyone wants to be part of it and no one likes to be kicked out. The Premier League dream ultimately gives us as a club an ambition to aim for. If not the promotion then what do we aim for? Sitting in mid table mediocrity in the 2nd tier? The Championship is a better league but the Premier League is one for those with ambition.

Does the league have a long term future the way it's going?

W: For me, the Premier League is going to need to find a way to at least keep the top and bottom teams in the league competitive against each other if it's to grow and stay as attractive as it is now. We don't want the league to end up like La Liga where it's two or three teams hammering the weaker sides week in week out. While I'm sure fans of the big clubs love seeing teams hand out a spanking now and then, you don't want it to feel like it's a given three points and right now the gap is only getting wider. Perhaps in the long run we'd just be better off with a European Super League that separates those financial heavyweights?

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Conclusion

MD: To be honest the Premier League is a target to aim for but as long as I am seeing a Reading side I enjoy who gives a damn where we play. There is success to be had I find it hard to think that aiming for the top is a bad idea. Yeah there are risks but there are also rewards. At the end of the day I want Reading in the Premier League but regardless of the division I just want to enjoy football!

W: I'm not someone that's against going up, I just think that the current model is broken and we're heading towards a point where there's more risk than reward. Reading should always be striving to move forward and I'm hopeful football will sort out some of its problems over the next few years as things like FFP start to make an impact. At the end of the day I'll celebrate promotion as much as anyone but when that initial euphoria dies down, I'm sure I won't be alone in feeling a touch of fear as much as anticipation.

So we've had our say but what do you think? Is the Premier League a dream worth chasing or is it just more trouble than it's worth? Let us know below.