Tuesday 06 August 2013
This time last year we said that the dramatic climax to the 2011/12 Barclays Premier League season was unlikely to be repeated. We were right. However, that is not to say that the 2012/13 campaign has not been without its own merit: intense competition, record attendances and landmark departures on the pitch. Off the pitch we have seen significant amounts of activity and change in almost every aspect of the business.
"Tottenham Hotspur amassed a points total that would have secured them second two seasons ago"
The 2012/13 Barclays Premier League was notable for its competitiveness, and that is not just Manchester United's steely determination to win, but things like Tottenham Hotspur amassing a points total that would have secured them second two seasons ago. There were 1,063 goals, maintaining our three-season average of at least 2.8 goals per match. Before 2010/11 no season had reached this average.
Our clubs deserve great credit for a range of supporter initiatives that brought 13.6m supporters through the turnstiles last season, producing record stadium occupancy of 95.3% – up from 92.6% in 2011/12, and breaking the previous 2003/04 record of 94.7%.
The quality of the football and the matchday experience remain the principal factors in driving attendance, but clubs are sensitive to the costs borne by fans, with a significant number of innovative and accessible pricing strategies throughout the League. The status quo is not an option if this positive aspect of English football is to endure.
As we continue to evolve, certainly one thing will be different next season: the man who epitomises the necessarily restless nature of success, Sir Alex Ferguson, will not be there. He bid the Barclays Premier League farewell on his own terms; lifting the Premier League trophy for the 13th time.
Sir Alex and Manchester United have, in many ways, been the talisman and standard bearers respectively of the League. They remain committed to playing attacking and skilful football, while combining some wonderful home grown players with the best talent the world of football has to offer. They underline what this competition is all about: it starts and ends with the football.
The future landscape of football in this country was dramatically altered in more ways than one during the 2012/13 season. The agreement to introduce Goal-Line Technology (GLT) and the appointment of Hawk-Eye as the Premier League’s provider was a landmark moment, but much more important was the implementation of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), which is transforming the way we develop young talent.
"Eight English Manchester United players who started the Barclays U21 Premier League Final came from within 21 miles of Old Trafford"
At every level of Youth Development there is a new approach to pursuing best practice. This will continue as the £340 million commitment to Youth Development across the top four divisions delivers a sea change in how the professional game approaches the recruitment and development of Academy players. There can be no argument; we need to produce more and better home grown players, capable of making the transition to first teams.
The bar needs to be raised, along with the levels of investment and quality of coaching. The signs are encouraging, as anybody who watched the inaugural Barclays Under-21 and Under-18 Premier Leagues will attest. If these early developments progress, there is confidence from within the system that a greater number of talented players will be produced and progressed. One of the most inspiring statistics of the season was that eight English Manchester United players who started the Barclays U21 Premier League Final came from within 21 miles of Old Trafford.
It is vital that we have the best talent to entertain because the interest in the Premier League is reflected in the value our broadcast rights and other commercial partnerships attain. The investment by our UK and international partners allow the clubs to keep competing in every sense. Clubs recognise the high levels of public, media and political scrutiny they operate under and the resultant need to keep standards at the highest possible level in everything they do.
Financial regulation may be a less celebrated story but it is equally important. In 2012/13 the League, in consultation with the clubs, took further steps to ensure high standards across all areas of activity and long-term sustainability. Secure owner funding and enhanced future financial information are exactly the sort of provisions that will help preserve our reputation for responsible self-regulation and integrity, as well as promoting investment.
This commitment to good governance, aligned with the strength of the competition, allows the League to continue to meet its responsibilities in other areas. The £1.2 billion the Premier League contributes in taxes each year and the half a million individuals engaged by clubs' community programmes are just two examples of the positive benefits Premier League football, clubs and players have on a macro and micro level.
"We continue to be the most watched football league, broadcasting to 804 million homes in 212 territories"
The Premier League remains a vital asset abroad too. We continue to be the most watched football league, broadcasting to 804 million homes in 212 territories. The Premier League has had the honour of being invited on the Prime Minister’s trade missions and in February 2013, on a trip to India, David Cameron hailed us as “one of Britain’s great exports to the world”. Some call that ‘soft power’, but we know there is nothing soft about the economic dividends that a great reputation overseas can bring not only us but this country.
The togetherness and sense of purpose displayed by the clubs creates the conditions to deliver what we believe is the best of football. There is a stability in terms of policy and revenue streams that is central in allowing the high-octane, competitive and compelling action that Premier League clubs deliver to thrive season after season.
And that is the central purpose of the Premier League as an organisation, year in, year out.
This introduction is taken from the Premier League's 2012/13 Season Review. To read more from the review, click here >>