When I was asked to write for Let Me B-Frank I was asked to start some blog posts about football. It took me a long time to come up with what I wanted my first blog to be about. I decided that it would be best if I started with a piece highlighting reasons I think every American can get into this beautiful game. Now there are many pro leagues in the world and they all, for the most part, play high level football, but the one I find the easiest for a fan, old or new, to get into is the Barclays Premier League.
Now to understand what makes top flight football so great I’m going to have to give you a brief explanation of the promotion and relegation system that European football uses for the lower divisions of pro football. I’ll start with relegation, if your team finishes in the bottom three in the standings your club will get sent down a division, which if you’re demoted from the Premier League, can have disastrous effects on your club due to loss of TV revenue. It would also affect the quality of players you’re able to bring in. So this, in turn, makes the bottom teams in the league play hard all year, in order to stay in the Premier League. The promotion side allows clubs from lower divisions the ability to finish in the top of their standings and get promoted to a higher division. Promotion will help raise club revenue, which will make your club a more attractive option for higher quality players to go to.
One thing that I think makes the Premier League an attractive option to a new fan is that it has the most parity of any professional sports league on the planet. Now I’m not saying that every team can win the league, although as we saw last season
the long shot club can pull it off. But really no match is a guarantee. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a team in the relegation zone pull off a season saving win against a team at the top of the table.
Now another thing that helps make this league interesting is the fans. Every fan base is riled up and will show up to every match to support their club. In the U.S. we think that we have rowdy fan sections, but I promise you we don’t even compare to the English football fans. They have coordinated songs and chants that they sing and yell the entire game. They also have pre-match traditions that U.S. sports teams can’t even imagine. There’s an amazing camaraderie among fans that I don’t really see with American sports.
Another great thing about the Premier League is even if you haven’t watched football you have probably heard of the clubs that are main stays in the league. You have Liverpool (my favorite club), Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United (the ISIS of world football), Chelsea…I mean I can go on and on, naming all twenty teams in the league and you will probably have heard of them all. Now, if you’re going to take my advice and start watching football, I have a little friendly advice: pick ONE club and follow them like a religion. DO NOT be a two club guy. I used to make that mistake when I was young, I regret it still to this day. If you read through this and decided that ‘hey maybe watching football is for me but I don’t know who I should pledge my allegiance too’. Then I suggest that you watch a game! They’re only ninety minutes and there’s only commercials at half time. But pay attention to the fans, manager, and the stadium. Then make your decision about what club to follow. If I may offer one last piece of friendly advice, watch a Liverpool home match at their beautiful stadium (which is the picture for this post) and listen to the fans belt out ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ before the match. This tradition has turned me into a fan for the rest of my life and it may just happen to you.