Is the first division crap?

Discussion in 'Other Divisions' started by kerpow, Oct 23, 2003.

  1. kerpow

    kerpow New Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    Just been reading this article and have to agree with them about the standard of the teams in the first division. All the big traditional big teams of the first division have either been promoted eg. Wolves and Birmingham, or through lack of finances have turned into minnows eg. Forest, Coventry.

    Where are the decent players in the division? In my mind the only team that has a half decent squad is Sheffield United.

    Wigan at the top of the league? Sunderland, the worst team in the premiership ever, in a playoff position after they sold half their squad? Doesn't sound very encouraging does it.

    Obviously the collapse of ITV Digital has hit all the clubs extremely hard.
     
  2. Peakite

    Peakite Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    Berkshire
    Club:
    Halifax Town
    Wigan have quite a bit of money behind them. Wolves traditionally claim to be big, but no-one who has yet brought up the half century can actually remember them being so.

    Money presumably plays a large part, that teams have significantly lower incomes, it is just a matter of how well they can cope.
     
  3. RichardL

    RichardL BigSoccer Supporter

    May 2, 2001
    Berkshire
    Club:
    Reading FC
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    Well if you'd asked my during Reading's 1-0 defeat at home to Walsall on tuesday I'd have said yes, but the question that needs asking is "what is the yardstick you are defining 'crap' by?"

    Compared to the premiership, then yes it is. Compared to the old second division in pre-premiership days, I'd say not. It's probably improved a bit on average since then, it's just that there's no way it could match the improvement made in the premiership.
    There are two main reasons for this. One is that the scouting network of top clubs has vastly improved. There are very few good young players signed from Nationwide league clubs any more, because the number of good young players who slip through the net is much smaller than in the past.
    The second reason relates to this - the ridiculously high wages paid by premiership clubs to reserve team players. Reading are an averagely supported club in Division 1, but we can only afford to pay our top earners around £4000 a week at most. There are young premiership reserve players, who may not have played a first team game in their entire lives, who are on more than that. How many 20 year old players are going to take a 50% pay cut to drop down a division? Not many. In the past if a player got to about 20 and hadn't made the breakthrough into the first team he'd look for a move to get playing first team football. Because of the pay drop, many won't even consider that option any more. The one's that do, often a year or two later, are so conditioned to the easy life in the reserves that they find it hard to adjust to playing competitive football for the first time and drift out of games when the going gets tough.

    One other reason why Nationwide football is considered mediocre is that sports journalists and premiership fans, so totally conditioned to the premiership where the quality of a team is strongly linked to the size of a club, can't get their heads around the fact that a team like Wigan really could be the best team in the division. The thought process appears to be "well Wigan are a small club and I haven't heard of their players, so they must be rubbish. If they are top then every other team must be even more rubbish, therefore the whole division is utter crap."

    It is also a very tight division. Confidence plays a much bigger role in this division than the premiership. Confidence can make the difference between a team being play-off contenders and relegation candidates, whereas in the premiership the effect would be about half of that.
    As to the relative success of the relegated clubs, this is one of those stats that only works one way. Relegated clubs doing well always prove the gap is huge, while relegated clubs doing poorly is never said to indicate the opposite. Similar to how Chelsea winning 4-0 at Shrewsbury was taken as an indicator of the gulf in class, while Shrewsbury beating Everton was just a fluke that could be dismissed.
     
  4. kerpow

    kerpow New Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    I find that very surprising considering the size of Wigan as a city and more importantly the competition of such a well established Rugby League side. Throw in their proximity to all the other Lancashire sides and it's a wonder that they have any fanbase at all.

    Wolves certainly are a big team compared to many other 1st Division sides. Nice 28,000 all seater stadium that was usually near capacity when I used to visit my mates at Wolves Uni about 5 years ago. And always spending money on big name (if not big quality players). Jack Hayward was hardly the poorest 1st Division chairman was he?

    As the article mentions, the gap between the Prem and the 1st is getting larger.
     
  5. NER_MCFC

    NER_MCFC Member

    May 23, 2001
    Cambridge, MA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I am pretty sure that Luan wasn't talking about Wigan's fan base. If my memory is correct from the dark days when Man City was playing Wigan in D2, they have a sugar daddy and so aren't financially restricted to what they can pull as the second sports option in a smallish city. I think it's whoever owns the company that's on their shirts that is providing the additional funding.

    Walsall is essentially the opposite case. They don't have financial support beyond their modest fan base. However, the organization seems to be very well run and consistently fields teams that (cliche alert!) play within themselves. They don't try to do what they can't, so they consistently outperform their financial profile.

    RichardL, how are Reading folks liking Sean Goater? From the scoring charts, it looks as though the Goat is being fed.
     
  6. kerpow

    kerpow New Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    Richard, your second point is very true and as I'm living in America now and unable to watch these teams play on a regular basis I can only say "guilty as charged".

    However, I think you're being a little harsh on some of the young premiership players in your first point. The old cliche of "footballers just want to play football" is as true today as it ever has been. They may not be the brightest bulbs in the box but I'm sure that young football players know that if they're not playing competitive football their value, and consequently earning potential, will drop very rapidly. I think the lower number of players leaving premiership teams to go 1st division teams is as much down to the Premiership managers being unwilling to let them go. At Everton we have a number of very good young players such as Leon Osman, Nick Chadwick and Peter Clarke who are desparate to play first team football but the generally astute David Moyes won't let them go.

    When I asked if the 1st was crap what I meant was that, to me, it seems to have lost a bit of its sparkle. I remember not that long ago a top of the table clash in the 1st division was often more appealing than a relegation scrap in the premiership. I don't think its like that any more.

    Obviously someone like yourself is far more qualified to comment on the standard of play in this division but as an outsider looking in it doesn't look very attractive.
     
  7. Peakite

    Peakite Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    Berkshire
    Club:
    Halifax Town
    Wigan's chairman (Dave Whelan) is the owner of the JJB chain. He also owns the rugby club, both of whom play in the relatively recently constructed JJB Stadium. He also owns the Orrell rugby union side too, bought since they dropped down the leagues.

    The football team isn't going to get much income from its fanbase, the town is situated between Liverpool and Manchester, and I'd suspect a lot of football fans in the area would tend towards these places, and it is itself well known for the local rugby team.

    Currently the side has the 19th highest average attendance in the first division, and certainly not due to the size of the ground.
     
  8. RichardL

    RichardL BigSoccer Supporter

    May 2, 2001
    Berkshire
    Club:
    Reading FC
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    to be honest, at the risk of sounding harsh, he currently looks a complete waste of money. I know some people say we perhaps expected a bit too much of him, and that he's really just a predator to finish off chances rather than create them, but we had a perfectly good player in Jamie Cureton who did that for us last year, and we got rid of him for nothing, then paid £600,000 for a player who is similar, except a bit taller and less mobile. Did he ever win a header for Man City? Currently every single player at Reading is playing crap, so maybe when/if things pick up, he will too.
     
  9. RichardL

    RichardL BigSoccer Supporter

    May 2, 2001
    Berkshire
    Club:
    Reading FC
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    I'm not a fan of baseball at all, but when I've been over there in the past I've been to the odd game as something to do for an evening. What I noticed was that the club programme is very open about salaries. What I also noticed was the huge difference in salary between a rookie and a star player. The star might be on $10,000,000 a year, but the rookie would only be on about $200,000. Compare that to the premiership, where a star player might be on $4,000,000 a year, but a young fringe player can easily be on $400,000. They are often completely out of touch with the reality of football outside the premiership. You get young players, with perhaps 2 or 3 first team appearances to their name, asking Div 1 teams trying to sign them for up to £10,000 a week in wages.

    A promotion battle is often great, but SKY really don't know how to present it. With the premiership you can package it as being top quality football between big name teams with big name stars. You can't really take that approach with division 1 as it often isn't true. The football can be great (& dire) but it has to be taken in the context of a season, rather than a one-off event. I really think the people who choose live sky nationwide games just stick a pin in the fixture list as they've no idea about what would make an interesting game.

    It is true that the appeal of promotion is somehow losing its sparkle and is being viewed by many clubs as something of a poisoned chalice. I really do believe the FA have got to have a look at how the TV cash and sponsorship money is distributed to make the transition from 1st to premiership (and vice-versa) less of a leap. After all, they are meant to be overseeing the whole of the game in this country, not just the 20 clubs in their competition. It's going to take a Leeds or a Sunderland to go bust to make anyone take notice.

    The only thing trickling down from the top division is higher wages and higher ticket prices to pay for them. Ticket prices have risen by about 400% since the introduction of the premiership, but whereas premiership fans have seen a clear rise in quality for their money, outside that rise has been much smaller. Perhaps the most surprising thing, bearing in mind all that, is that crowds outside the premiership have actually risen by more than the premiership's crowds.
     
  10. Prenn

    Prenn Member

    Apr 14, 2000
    Northern Ireland
    Club:
    Bolton Wanderers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    The population of Wigan is 450,000, the population of Liverpool is 550,000. You made a small mistake there ;)

    Wigan should be able to draw about 30,000 fans but the big problem, as you rightly pointed out is that they're surrounded by traditionally bigger and more successful clubs. Also given that Wigan's rugby team dominated for so long it means that this town has more than its fair share of rugby fans. There are a lot of young Wigan Atheletic fans but there aren't a lot my age (25).

    Wigan also have more money than half the teams in the Premiership, I predicted that they'd walk division 1 when they got promoted and I'm right. I also predict that they'll do a fulham in the Premiership.
     
  11. jcdavies

    jcdavies New Member

    Sep 18, 2003
    Woodbridge
    i have to disagree with teh 1st division being *#*#*#*# teams seem to have closed the gap on what it used to be more and more teams who get promoted are staying in the league just look at the teams who got promoted over the last couple of seasons the majority seem to challenge and hold there own. You just have to look at the playoff games to see that the football can often be more exciting than a premiership game. birimingham did well to stay up last year and seem to be doing well this year portsmouth seem to be holding there own and it was not to long ago that ipswich finished 5th in there first season in the premier league only to be relegated the next season. The 1st division in much more competative than the premiership and many of the players can hold there own just look at players such as Alan Mahon on loan at ipswich and david james, jermaine defoe, micheal dawson, Merson etc
     
  12. DevilDave

    DevilDave Member

    West Bromwich Albion/RBNY/PSG/Gamba Osaka/Sac Republic
    United States
    Sep 29, 2001
    Sacramento, CA
    Club:
    West Bromwich Albion FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    If a crap team like West Brom is top of the table, maybe the First Division is crap...


    Erm... did I just say that? :D


    Seriously, I think if the standard you are trying to hold football clubs to is the upper echelon of the Premiership, perhaps the First Division is "crap." But when teams like Bolton, Birmingham and Fulham get promoted and stay up (after a bit of investment) I don't think you can write off the top of the Nationwide League as being completely devoid of talent.
     
  13. Lauren9

    Lauren9 New Member

    Dec 21, 2003
    Near Brighton
    When it's crap, it REALLY is bad. I have watched some utter shite, notably this season between Palace and Crewe. But there have been quite a few decent games - Reading vs Palace yesterday for example!
     
  14. ButlerBob

    ButlerBob Moderator
    Staff Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    Evanston, IL
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think that it says alot of the Wign squad. They have been at or near the top of D1 most of this season. And this is basically the same squad that won the D2. They didn't really go out and bring in a lot of players.
     
  15. Atouk

    Atouk BigSoccer Supporter

    DC United
    Apr 16, 2001
    Arlington, VA
    Club:
    Queens Park Rangers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think that's the reality -- the top of D2 is pretty competitive with D1. Wigan, Crewe, and Cardiff were promoted last year and all are in the top half of Division One. Wigan ran away with the Second last year, so you'd think they'd do well, but Crewe and play-off promoted Cardiff (6th in D2) are sitting at 11th & 12th just over halfway.

    For my sake, I hope that form holds if QPR gets promoted this year.
     

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