Sport is often seen in the media as an ultra-monied, corrupt system which is no longer about the game - and, well, you can see why. Lionel Messi, one of the world’s top footballers, is paid a whopping £26 million per year, while Cristiano Ronaldo recently became football’s first billionaire player.
While these guys are undoubtedly talented, their salaries are called into question when it comes to addressing the growing wealth divide around the world.
Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the economic conditions around the world are becoming more turbulent and less safe than ever before, some look at the wealth surrounding popular sports with disgust.
However, sport is, and remains, a democracy. At least, most of the time. Take UK football, for instance. Football stars are unthinkably rich, there’s no doubt about it. Teams bid to ‘buy’ players for themselves, in order to boost their team’s game and become the best of the best.
So how is it democratic? Well, the answer lies simply in the English Football League Pyramid System. This system is a little complicated, but it ensures every single team has a chance at success. Here’s how it works.
The Different Teams At Play
The way the English Football League operates is through a pyramid system. This makes it possible, theoretically, for any team, no matter how small, to make it through and win. So which different clubs and teams can play?
Well, there are over two hundred teams in the pyramid. These span from the Premier League teams at the top of the pyramid, including the huge clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea.
Next below it is the Championship League, followed by League One, League Two, the National League, then National League North and South, followed by the smaller clubs in lower divisions.
Does The English Football Pyramid System Actually Work?
In theory, yes. Any team, if they win their league, is promoted up the chain, and if they lose, they are relegated down the chain. This means that in theory, a team from the fourth of fifth level down the pyramid could play in the Premier League, if they are good enough. This is where it gets a little tricky. Has this ever happened?
So although this pyramid system is perfectly democratic in theory, in practice, much like other forms of democracy, the money, power and talent held by the higher achieving teams often drowns out any possibility of smaller teams having access to the cup.