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The England national side may have battled bravely through the Euro 2012 group stage this summer before their limitations were exposed, but there can be no doubting the strength of the English game at club level. 

The financial power and enduring appeal of the Premier League were demonstrated during the close season with the announcement of a record domestic TV rights deal that will see clubs receive more than £3billion
over three years, from the 2013-14 season.

The deal struck with BSkyB and British Telecom, who outbid current rights holders ESPN, represents a 71 per cent increase on the current domestic TV deal and will guarantee that even the bottom team in the league receives more than the £60.6m Manchester City earned
for finishing last term as champions.

Premier League revenues are likely to be boosted further with a new foreign television deal and the biggest winners, as ever, will be the players and their agents, who are set to benefit from further increases in wages.

The irony of the new riches on offer was not lost on Arsenal, who were stunned by an announcement from their captain, Robin Van Persie. The Dutch striker declared that he would not be renewing his contract, which has one year remaining, leaving Arsenal with
the dilemma of whether to keep him on their payroll or cash in before the transfer window closes on August 31.

Both Manchester clubs and Juventus have an interest in Van Persie who, after a meeting with club manager Arsene Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis, said: “It has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.”

Wenger, having stood by Van Persie through long periods of injury, is entitled to feel aggrieved at such an attitude. However, his early transfer-market activity, signing Lukas Podolski from Cologne and Olivier Giroud from Montpellier, suggests Arsenal are more prepared for Van Persie’s exit than they were for the departures of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas this time last year.

Arsenal put a brave face on the situation and said they still hoped to negotiate a new deal with Van Persie, who employs Kees Vos as his agent, but also has Darren Dein – the son of former Arsenal vice-chairman David – as a “commercial advisor”.

Dein has had a hand in most of the high-profile departures from Arsenal in recent seasons, including Fabregas and Nasri last summer, and Thierry Henry.

With the new TV deal kicking in from 2013, clubs will be more desperate than ever to avoid the drop this season. There has also been a rush to escape the second-tier Championship in time to enjoy the Premier League’s new riches.

This summer there have been foreign takeovers at Nottingham Forest and Watford, and they will be competing with ambitious foreign owners at the likes of Cardiff City and Leicester City. All are keen to repeat the success of Reading’s new owner, Russian tycoon Anton Zingarevich, who bought the Berkshire club for £25m from John Madejski earlier this year and within months was celebrating the club’s promotion to the top flight.

Success in English football is rarely that easy to come by, as many of the new Premier League managers will discover this season. There were more managerial changes this summer than in the entire previous campaign.

Most of the new faces were not new, however. Tottenham Hotspur hired former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas, while former Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton was installed at Norwich City, replacing Paul Lambert, who moved to Aston Villa. West Bromwich Albion chose former Liverpool and Chelsea number two Steve Clarke as their replacement for new England manager Roy Hodgson. Liverpool hired Brendan Rodgers from Swansea City, who turned to Dane Michael Laudrup – the only genuinely new appointment.

There may have been plenty of change in the dugouts but the only certainty is that not all of the new men will be around this time next year when the new TV cash comes on tap.

Gavin Hamilton


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