If you look at the history books, you have to go all the way back to 1978 to find anything comparable to Leicester’s triumph. Join expert as he unfolds if another outsider can repeat history.
Last season Leicester made a mockery of betting odds of 5,000/1 to win the Premiership title, causing bookmakers to suffer the biggest antepost loss in history. The odds were greater on Prime Minister David Cameron taking over as Aston Villa manager or Hugh Hefner declaring he was a virgin, but they somehow pulled it off. This season the bookmakers have learned their lesson, sort of, and the longest price you can get on anyone winning the title is 1,500/1.
That dubious honour is shared by the clubs most likely to battle it out to avoid relegation: West Brom, Hull, Bournemouth, Burnley, Sunderland, Watford, and Middlesbrough. They are the smallest, weakest clubs in the division and it is highly unlikely they will win that. But last season Leicester was in that group – tipped for relegation, having survived by the skin of their teeth the previous season – and yet they won it by 10 points. Lightning could strike twice. A new TV deal has made all the clubs in the league relatively rich and many have been spending ambitiously on new signings this summer. It could happen, but it probably won’t.
If you look at the history books, you have to go all the way back to 1978 to find anything comparable to Leicester’s triumph. That season, Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest had just been promoted to the top flight and somehow finished ahead of a Liverpool team inspired by the likes of Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Sounness to win the league. It is likely to be another 40 years before something like that happens again. The Premiership is almost always won and generally contested by an elite group containing Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City, with honourable mentions for Liverpool and Tottenham.
It is likely to be these established clubs that make up the top six again this year. They have the wealth, the support, and the culture. They are the elite. It is the same in Spain, where Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico have a three horsed race each year, while in Germany Bayern Munich are dominant, with Borussia Dortmund a decent challenger, and in Italy Juventus are always in control, with rivals coming from a small group containing the Milan clubs, Roma and Napoli. In 1998 Kaiserslautern surprised everyone by beating Bayern to the Bundesliga title, but in the last 20 years, that win and Leicester’s are the only time's anyone from outside the elite group has won one of Europe’s top leagues.
This year the traditionally powerful clubs are expected to reassert themselves after they were all uncharacteristically poor last time around. Man City, bankrolled by Middle Eastern billionaires, are the world’s richest club and have spent top dollar on recruiting the extremely successful Pep Guardiola as manager. They have invested another fortune in the playing squad and their substitutes bench alone will be worth several times the value of Leicester’s entire squad. The City squad will probably be worth that of Leicester, West Brom, Hull, Bournemouth, Burnley, Sunderland, Watford, and Middlesbrough put together. They are 5/2 favorites with Bet365 and deservedly so as they have the best players because they pay the highest wages and the largest transfer fees. That is not a guarantee of success – as Leicester showed last season – but typically in each of the top leagues, the winner comes from a group of the top few richest clubs each season.
Man Utd, who were dreadful last season, have brought in Jose Mourinho, who has won league titles with every club he has managed. Antonio Conte, who won several titles with Juventus, has taken over at Chelsea. One of this three might have a poor season, but it is extremely unlikely that all three will struggle. Throw in an improving Tottenham, a massively improving Liverpool, and an Arsenal side that always, without fail, makes the top four, and the chances of West Brom, Hull, Bournemouth, Burnley,
Sunderland, Watford or Middlesbrough claiming the title are slim to none, while Leicester cannot hope to have such a great campaign for a second season runnings they have to compete in Europe and stars are heading for the exit door. Many punters will be buoyed by Leicester’s success last season and start throwing money at minnows winning the Premiership – SkyBet has taken more than a thousand bets on Burnley, for instance – but lighting is highly unlikely to strike twice and you would be far better off backing Man City for your betting pick as normal service will be resumed next season.