by Jack Heaney

Sadly, the Euros are coming to an end. The days of group games galore are replaced with dramatic yet hasty quarter and semi finals. Before we know it, we will be back in the doldrums of a sickly summer devoid of football – but not devoid of silly transfer rumours and controversial Joey Barton tweets.

Unfortunately, when the domestic game lights up once again we will have the typical levels of nonsense spewing out. With the Premier League, we will have pundits and commentators of the game saying the most rehashed nonsensical comment of all: ‘this IS the best league in the world’.  Why, oh why, must we be concerned with this debate? This league is not the best league in the world. It isn’t even close to being the best league in the world. And neither is La Liga or the Bundesliga or Serie A. Why? Because no football league is the best in the world. It really is that simple. And that is what is so infuriating about pundits and self-aggrandizing lovers of English football glowering on about this league being the best and whatnot, because it is an entirely subjective debate that has no ultimate, final or conclusive answer.

Take this statement for example: I like the Premier League the most. I’ve tried out Spanish football on many occasions and though I am infatuated with the cauldron of emotion that is El Clasico, and like some aspects of the league, generally I like the English gig more. But that doesn’t mean I will tier it as the absolute super fragilistic-expialadocious best. It’s just what works for me.

Because someone out there in sunny Spain will think the exact opposite about the Premier League. That person will believe it is stupidly chaotic and dislike the influx of foreign players in the country, that person might long for the larger amounts of technical skill and finesse of the Spanish League. Who am I to say that opinion is invalid? And who is the Spanish football fan to say my opinion is invalid? We are nobody. As the endless forum debates about the best league in the world drone on the answer is crystal clear: not one of them is because it isn’t objective, it cannot be proven with fact. It’s just a battle of perfectly valid opinions. And there may be a gent who only follows the Conference because he likes the smaller surroundings and the physicality and the simplicity (not to be patronising). Who are we to say because the Premier League is of a larger quality, or is pacier, it is better? What are we supposed to measure ‘greatness’ by anyway? It is too diverse.

It is an unsolvable argument and we should enjoy the fact that it is a unsolvable argument. That’s the beauty of it: debating why we like each aspect of football yet also at times finding small chunks of other styles of football we can enjoy and appreciate. Why would we want an answer? Why would we want to prove any other league better and only follow that? That’s what makes football brilliant. If everyone just copied English football because ‘it is the best’ then how stale and monotonous would that become? Sure I like the EPL the most…but don’t confuse that with me thinking it is the ‘best’. I wouldn’t put leagues into tiers or proclaim it to be the ‘best’ – it’s just one league I subjectively like the most. Why would anyone want to put leagues into tiers when variety is the spice of the football life?

It’s the arrogance I despise. The arrogance of one person saying this IS the best league and being so narrow-minded as to reject any other differing opinion or viewpoint, and then they look down upon any other league or country that produces some great football and (ha, get this) produces great players which then reproduce the football they were playing in their ‘lesser’ league, for the Premier League and we all bask over it. That last point has been well-documented so I’ve kind of stolen it but it is true: a major factor in the success of our league is foreign imports, bought with foreign cash. So is it ‘our’ league that is the best, Mr Gray?

Don’t let others speak for you when the joy of football is finding new things to love and get in a fuss over. There is simply no joy in confining greatness to one league when there are a host of different football fans in a host of different countries with a host of different leagues, each with their own story to tell and each with their own personal preferences. Take a slice of each because that is what makes football grand – it is universal and unpredictable and varies. But by proclaiming one to be the overall ‘best’ league – doesn’t it just seem such a playground argument? The self-perpetuating nature of the debate is tiresome – so much so that in some ways it turns people off it. There really isn’t any ultimate answer and neither should there be: if you offer me the pace of the Premier League, I raise you the atmosphere of the Bundesliga. Football is beautifully subjective, mazy and unique – don’t exhibit arrogance and dismiss other leagues, or twist football to conform to one way, to one form of entertainment or to one fashion and, of course, to one ‘best’ league.  It just stinks of narrow-mindedness to me, to brand one league as ‘oh that’s the best, there it is, that’s how we all should do things’. Take and embrace every league as it is because if you don’t, you are only opposing everything our fluctuating game is about.

By all means, follow one league that brings you the most entertainment if you so wish – mine is for all it’s annoyances the Premier League. But open your eyes to a vast world of football outside your favourite league. And don’t do a disservice to other leagues – or a disservice to other fans – by proclaiming your favourite to be the ‘best’ in the world when that title is a purely mythical, infuriating and inherently wrong one to bestow.