Posted by: davidjmarlow | 18/08/2012

Regional Economics of the premiership – revisited

After my pitiful predictions on Premier League relegation last year, I am naturally hesitant to revisit my regional economics of the Premiership. However, with the first action ‘in play’ and before I get sucked into Spurs’s visit to Newcastle, it is probably worth posting a very brief reprise and update.

To remind you, last year’s blog analysed the premiership over five years in regional terms – looking at promotions and relegations. For 2011/12 the Premiership was rather more balanced than in previous years, but was still heavily weighted to the North West (35%), London (25%), and the West Midlands (20%), with lesser contributions from the North East (Newcastle, Sunderland), East of England (Norwich) and Wales (Swansea). Based on promotion and relegation probabilities over the previous five seasons, I predicted two of Norwich, QPR and Swansea plus either West Brom or Wolves to be relegated.

At the end of 2011/12 the three newly-promoted clubs stayed up and Wolves were joined in relegation by Bolton and Blackburn from the North West. Southampton and Reading from the South East were promoted, along with West Ham making a swift return to the top flight.

So, as we kick off 2012/13, the Premiership has firmly rejected the coalition’s ambitions for rebalancing (towards West Midlands and the North) with the lowest number of clubs from those regions in recent memory. The North West still has relatively healthy representation (two Manchester, two Liverpool and Wigan), but have now been overtaken by London with six clubs. The remaining nine are distributed to the west midlands (3, down one), north east (two), south east (two), Wales and east of England (one each). Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands, and South West remain with no representation.

For LEPs, London has strengthened its representation, Greater Manchester now only has three representatives, and there are two each for North East, Greater Birmingham & Solihull, and Liverpool City Region, with one each for New Anglia, Solent, Stoke and Staffordshire, and Thames Valley Berkshire. Swansea is obviously not in a LEP, but has just been given ‘city region status’, by the Welsh Assembly Government. So, of 39 LEPs, 30 have no premiership presence – with Lancashire and Black Country losing their representatives at the end of last season.

In terms of my predictions for 2012/13, I have to say the coalition’s new economic geography is as devoid of footballing coherence as it is of functional economic area rationales. As favoured core cities I would not put it past Bolton to return swiftly to the Premiership, and it is surely long overdue for Bristol City to fly the flag for the South West. But they will be pressed hard from their colleague core cities in Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, and Nottingham Forest, and from Brighton as part of the resurgent south east.

In terms of Premiership relegation, I continue to believe in the precarious character of Swansea and Norwich. Swansea have just won 5-0 and Norwich have just lost 5-0 which might be prescient in this regard (except Bolton beat QPR 4-0 on the opening day of last season and they went down and QPR stayed up). So, I’ll go for one of Swansea/Norwich. Surely London will suffer some sort of post-Olympic hangover (QPR or West Ham). This government certainly neglects the north east – but O’Neill at Sunderland will probably keep them safe. Perhaps Stoke, with its customary economic woes will struggle, and completes a pretty unscientific ‘three from five’ prediction. But like Norwich this afternoon, I may well be on the receiving end of a 5-0 debacle – and in some ways, I rather hope I am!

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