| Sat 10/03/2018 - 11:37 EST

      For and Against: An English Premier League All-Star Game

      For and Against: An English Premier League All-Star Game

      An All-Star Match in the English Premier League?

      Lukaku Twitter Premier League All-Star Game

      All of the major North American sports feature an exhibition match at some point in their season. The NFL and MLB split their players into their two leagues, while the NBA feature a game between the eastern and western conferences. In the NHL, teams from the league's four divisions face off, and the MLS name one all-star team to take on one of the world's biggest soccer clubs (last year it was Real Madrid).

      The English Premier League has few things in common with the major leagues across the Atlantic in terms of format, although the competition is certainly up there in terms of popularity. The EPL boasts the world's most expensive television rights and the largest television audience of any league in the world, while it's average attendances are third behind the German Bundesliga and the NFL. In short, the fan base is enormous.

      For this reason, we certainly believe there is a place for an All-Star match in the EPL, and if nothing else it would give something back to the hundreds of millions of fans that tune in to the sport throughout the season. Oh, and the English Football Association would make some serious cash.

      Ideal Format and Team Selection Criteria

      North Against South

      Romelu Lukaku suggested in his tweet that he would like to see a regional-based split featuring a North XI vs South XI. As it stands, an imaginary line would be drawn across the U.K. between Birmingham and London, so that there would be ten teams in each half. 

      North XI South XI
      Burnley Arsenal
      Everton Bournemouth
      Huddersfield Brighton
      Leicester City Chelsea
      Liverpool Crystal Palace
      Man City Southampton
      Man United Swansea City
      Newcastle Tottenham
      Stoke Watford
      West Bromwich West Ham

      This split would be beneficial as the league's standout teams (listed in bold) would be evenly split. As the EPL table currently stands, the North would be heavy favourites, but a team of champions doesn't necessarily make a champion team...

      Number of Matches / Hosts

      There are a number of ideas floating around the internet as to the ideal format. For us, it has to be a two-leg fixture similar to a Champions League knockout round. The North and South will each host a match, and the venue is to change year on year (for example, the first leg could be held at Old Trafford, and the second at the Emirates, while next season it could be Anfield and Stamford Bridge).

      Team Selection

      At present, Manchester City could probably beat any team that the South could conjure up, so there would need to be rules enforced to ensure no teams have more than say three players in the starting eleven. We envision that at least one player from each of the ten clubs would need to be included, allowing for all fans to have an invested interest.

      In total there would be a squad of eighteen (seven reserves). We would like to see the fans responsible for selection of the teams, with a global survey released. As long as the criteria is met, there is no reason why the best players won't be selected via this method.

      Possible Date

      We're selecting the top players from the campaign, so you would need to see the game played relatively late in the season. Scheduling may be tight in an already packed calendar, and player welfare would need to be considered, however we think the Easter weekend is the perfect time for the matches to be played (the first on Good Friday and the second on Easter Monday).

      Possible Lineups

      With a maximum of three players per team in the starting eleven, it is really difficult to leave players out, particularly from Manchester City in the north. We have stuck with including all teams in our selections.

      EPL All-Star Game - North XI

      North XI

      EPL All-Star Game - South XI

      South XI

      Benefits of an All-Star Fixture

      The Fans

      The fans are essentially the leading stakeholders and can only benefit from an All-Star fixture. It is an opportunity to see the best players on the pitch at the same time, and it is the type of spectacle that can bring rival clubs together, similar to how club differences are forgotten when the FIFA World Cup comes around. Additionally, there is scope for the league's global fan base to have their say on who is in the team. Whether or not the fans have full control of the squad is something that will need to be determined, although it seems essential that we as the sporting public have an opportunity to have our voices heard.

      The Players

      Each year, players begin a season with a number of team-related aspirations, and will rarely tell you that they are looking to achieve anything other than helping their club win trophies. But every person who plays the beautiful game (or anyone who has played career-mode in FIFA) will know that there are a number of individual accolades that players can strive for during a long campaign.

      Player of the Month and Player of the Year awards give league participants recognition for their hard work, although these incentives are extremely hard to come by, especially if you're a defender! An All-Star game would give every player in the league a decent opportunity to not only be named as one of the best in the competition, but also give them a chance to play alongside some of their outstanding peers. It will do plenty to boost player motivation across the board.

      Broadcasters/Sponsors

      It's a no-brainer for these guys. The NBA and MLB all-star matches generate anywhere up to $100 million in economic impact in the host cities alone, which includes money spent on hospitality, transport etc. The television audience would be colossal, and the bidding war for jersey sponsorships, advertising boards, television advertisements and even match naming rights would be astronomical. It would mean a huge amount of money is injected into the game.

      The Game

      In an era where everyone is forever turning to social media and negativity spreads like wildfire, it would be nice to see an event that focusses solely on what we all love - soccer. Instead of corruption, racism, homophobia, illegal transfer scandals, and Twitter fights between former players and current stars, we could focus on one of the oldest debates in sport - "who is the greatest and why"?

      Everyone will be talking about the likely lineups, and every single fan will have an opinion and a reason for how their ideal team will look. Lukaku or Aguero? Sanchez or Sane? Lloris or Courtois? Let the debate begin. There is absolutely no reason why this match shouldn't go ahead, and we hope the league considers Lukaku's tweet seriously. Stay tuned for more on this story...

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