How the Premier League Became the Richest, Most Disruptive Business in Sport
By Jonathan Clegg and Joshua Robinson
The never-before-told inside story of how the Premier League became the wildest, richest, most popular entertainment business on the planet.
How did English football - once known for its stale pies, bad book-keeping and hooligans - become a commercial powerhouse and the world's premium popular entertainment?
This was a business empire built in only twenty-five years on ambition, experimentation and gambler's luck. Lead by a motley cast of executives, Russian oligarchs, Arab Sheikhs, Asian Titans, American Tycoons, battle-hardened managers, ruthless agents and the Murdoch media - the Premier League has been carved up, rebranded and exported to phenomenal 185 countries. The United Nations only recognizes 193.
But the extraordinary profit of bringing England's ageing industrial towns to a compulsive global attention has come at a cost. Today, as players are sold for hundreds of millions and clubs are valued in the billions, local fans are being priced out - and the clubs' local identities are fading. The Premier League has become the classic business fable for our globalised world.
Drawing on dozens of exclusive and revelatory interviews from the Boardrooms - including Liverpool's John W. Henry, Tottenham's Daniel Levy, Martin Edwards and David Gill at Manchester United, Arsène Wenger and Stan Kroenke at Arsenal, Manchester City's sporting director Txiki Begiristain, and executives at Chelsea, West Ham, Leicester City and Aston Villa - this is the definitive bustand boom account of how the Premier League product took over the world.
Jonathan Clegg is a senior editor for The Wall Street Journal, his work has also written for the Daily Telegraph, the Independent and FourFourTwo magazine.
Joshua Robinson is the European sports correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, and has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated.
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- Publication date:
10 Jan 2019
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A fascinating and necessary investigation into the forces that led to the creation of the Premier League. Meticulous in its research — Jonathan Wilson, author of Inverting the Pyramid
Clegg and Robinson are expert storytellers in unspooling the narrative of one of Britain's most successful exports, illustrating the creative tensions between owners that made it possible. The work is at once thorough but also readable and entertaining, with protagonists presented as real live characters, rather than faceless suits: a testament to their reporting and writing skills — Gabriele Marcotti
Richly detailed, remarkably told . . . Clegg and Robinson provide unparalleled access to the people who make the league go' — Billy Beane
The transformation of the English Premier League, from the muddy pitches, primitive tactics, and unglamorous pub culture of its early days to the coveted, lavish, global colossus we now know and love is a rollicking tale. Robinson and Clegg delight in every detail of that evolution from backwater to behemoth, spinning a narrative that is part Great Expectations, part Game of Thrones, in equal measure — Roger Bennett, Men in Blazers