What the Premier League can learn from the NFL

The NFL and the English Premier League are two of the most significant professional sports leagues in the world, drawing millions of spectators on TV and in stadiums every season. While they are similar regarding reputation and global stature, the two leagues go about things very differently. For example, in the NFL, franchises cannot ever get relegated, while the Premier League loses three teams each year.

This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the differences between the Premier League and the NFL. Another key factor is the NFL Draft at the start of each season. Premier League fans are accustomed to teams buying players – with increasingly extortionate transfer fees – but the NFL has a different approach.

The NFL may also have the upper hand in the realm of sports betting. Sportsbooks are proliferating across the US as more states legalize online sports betting. The number of incredible bonus promotions and interesting bet types is increasing exponentially, providing countless opportunities for bettors.

Nowadays, numerous NFL betting apps offer a far more exciting user experience than UK-based bookies concentrating on the Premier League. This is another area in which the Premier League could learn a valuable lesson from the NFL. Keep reading for more ways these two leagues can learn from each other.

The importance of college football

One thing that simply doesn’t exist in the Premier League is the huge focus on college football. The NFL and NCAA work together to ensure that young football players have the best chance of entering the league. Promising college football players enter the NFL Draft every spring, where franchises can choose new players to add to their roster.

It would be great to see something similar in the Premier League. Over the last two decades, teams have poured millions into upgrading their lineups but rarely turn to their youth academies for help. When a transfer ban hit Chelsea in 2019, it meant the London club had no choice but to give academy players such as Mason Mount and Reece James a chance.

These two players, in particular, are fantastic examples of how much talent lurks in the Premier League youth academies. A lot could be learned from how the NFL nurtures young talent in a structured and direct way.

Protecting players

Although both leagues are pretty good at protecting their players, you do have to wonder why NFL professionals tend to have much longer careers. Just look at Tom Brady, for instance, who is still at the height of his powers at 45 years of age. You rarely, if ever, see soccer players in the Premier League make it to their mid-40s before retiring. Could this be because they’re not protected enough?

A big difference for NFL players and Premier League players is that there are way fewer games per season in the US. Managers like Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp are repeatedly calling out the FA for putting too much pressure on players. Maybe it’s time they listened.

NFL salary caps

NFL professionals still earn a remarkable amount of money. However, the salary cap on teams prevents situations where one player earns as much as the rest of the league combined. Or alternatively, where one team consistently gets all the best players due to its ability to offer more lucrative contracts.

Currently, the NFL salary cap is set at $208.2m per team. It is a much clearer and easily understood limit than the Premier League’s FFP rules. Financial Fair Play is dependent on the amount of revenue brought in by each club, and there are far more ways to get around the rules. Would a salary cap work in the Premier League? There’s only one way to find out.

Revenue in the Premier League and the NFL

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has targeted $25bn in yearly league revenue by 2027, a clear example of the league’s approach to generating revenue. While the Premier League turns over several billion dollars of revenue each season, it pales in comparison to the NFL.

One of the main reasons for this is the fact that NFL teams are on a much more equal footing financially and reputation-wise. Things like the salary cap and NFL Draft keep things interesting, whereas the Premier League has a handful of teams that compete at the highest level each year. Smaller clubs don’t make nearly as much revenue, which impacts the league as a whole.

About the NFL Draft

The NFL Draft is a unique and useful way to keep the league as competitive as possible. Before each new season, teams take it in turn to pick new players coming out of college football. But here’s the twist: the last placed team from the previous season gets to pick first, while the Super Bowl winner picks last.

Teams are able to trade their draft position for players or other draft positions, but it generally means that the weakest team from the previous season gets to improve their roster first. Although it would never happen in reality, this would be a great way to enhance the Premier League.

Teams like Manchester City or Liverpool have grown accustomed to getting the best players, while teams below them in the pecking order have to make do with cheaper and less talented individuals. This only serves to widen the gap between the winners and the losers, eventually reducing the competitive element of the Premier League.

Holding games abroad: could the Premier League do it?

Since 2007, the NFL has hosted games in various worldwide locations. This is mainly an attempt to increase its global audience, something the Premier League could replicate in places where it isn’t as popular.

Sure, the Premier League arguably has a bigger worldwide audience than the NFL, but it could definitely benefit from playing games overseas.

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