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Soccer Capital: Lure of London, and Its Money, Reshape Premier League

Another consultant to foreign investors into English soccer put it more bluntly: London, he said, acts as a “giant magnet to money.” Increasingly, that magnet is powerful enough to bend and shape the very landscape of the Premier League.

Ten years ago, on the eve of the 2008-9 season, six teams in English soccer’s top division came from the capital and its general vicinity. Nine, by contrast, hailed from England’s North West, representing not only the powerhouses of Manchester and Liverpool, but also towns like Blackburn, Wigan and Bolton. Soccer’s other traditional heartlands — the Midlands, around Birmingham, and Yorkshire and the North East, home of Newcastle and Sunderland — took up the remaining five spots.

Shifting South

Teams from London, its neighboring towns and England’s affluent south coast now make up nearly half the Premier League, a noticeable migration from 10 seasons ago.

A decade on, the picture has reversed. When the Premier League opens its new season Friday, it will do so with two teams from the Midlands (Leicester and West Bromwich Albion), one…

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