Will United repeat? Probably

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

Now the English Premier League battle is over, who will win it next year? Manchester United again.

They have the best manager in football. They also have the most depth. They also have the most money.

It has a lot to do with the money, which team can make it, who can retain it and who will be best situated to survive the economic crunch that will affect almost everyone.

Look at United's closest competitors, and until some form of financial cap is placed on football, United's competitors will remain the same big-name teams.

Liverpool is swimming in debt. When feuding owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks purchased Liverpool, they took out $500 million to build a stadium that never was built. This July, that debt comes due and those owners will have to sell assets to make payment. Big moves in the transfer market may not be an option.

Arsenal has indicated they won't be spending a lot to bring in more players.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is known to spend big, but he is still paying out large payments for contracts to coaches he has fired.

With the economic downturn, reports indicate Abramovich's fortune has been cut by at least a third. A study indicates club revenues on average come from 41% broadcasting rights, 33% from commercial deals, and 26% from game-day sales.

United is positioned strongly for funding. It isn't that United hasn't been impacted by the economy because it has. Jersey advertising is a major source of revenue. United's jersey sponsor was AIG. They won't renew.

But a number of teams have also lost their sweater sponsors and they do not have the kind of money brought in by United's commercial or broadcasting rights to fall back on.

When the economy slumps, teams like United are more able to replace the loss of a jersey sponsor because a sponsor knows by having their name splashed across the chests of United players, they'll get better exposure.

Famous teams often attract famous commercial partners.

The rest of the teams in the Premier League will continue to count pennies and go door-knocking to find commercial partners.

The stories about big-money transfers will continue to circulate. There will be the usual Cristiano Ronaldo or Kaka being wooed by Real Madrid stories. There will be Manchester City opening the vault for whatever big-name star eventually decides to head to Manchester's ignored sibling. There will continue to be rumours of enormous amounts like the 100 million euros supposedly being thrown around for the likes of never-won-anything Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Inter Milan.

The most likely move is Ibrahimovic, but it won't be for the kind of money everyone is talking about.

As crazy as teams have been about spending money they don't have, there is an economic reality that will limit 90% of the teams in the world.

Real Madrid may wind up being one of the exceptions because they are a team in transition, a team shedding contracts and a team that will have some money to spend.

But when it comes to the Premier League, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise this time next year when the same names are filling out the same positions at the top of the table.


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