|EPL Table - Dec 5, 2012|
With little mystery left as to the fate of Wigan Athletic's EPL status (despite not having even passed the mid-season/ December break yet), I can therefore begin the process of determining what may be next for me as a fan of English Premier League Football.
It is with some regret (but more relief) that I must remove myself from the scattered hundreds of fans worldwide who support Wigan Athletic, for there is certainly no logical way this team will survive the top shelf of English Football beyond this season.
Since I have decided that personal sanity and mental well-being is more important than any loyalty to my very first EPL team, I am finding this bit of freedom in looking for a new team quite welcome. This is not an indictment of loyalty (more the opposite actually - maintaining loyalty to self-preservation), nor is it band-wagon-off-jumping as I see it more as self-preservation than fleeing a disaster. Think of it as losing that first love. Years from now, there will be clarity and a realization that it just wasn't meant to be, but you will always look back with fondness and wistful sentiment at those early days.
Unfortunately, and what does cause some considerable conflict at this point, is that much of what Wigan Athletic does as a professional sports organization, I have great respect for. By most all reports, owner Dave Whelan is generous, loyal, professional, and runs his local club in a proper manner. It is therefore sad to see such an honest, hard-working (albeit relatively small) club have to be relegated to a lower division because they cannot compete with the over-spending, hardware-seeking zealot owners from around the world who choose to 'smash-and-grab' their way into the top flight by spending beyond their means, often leaving their 'toy' with little choice but to be sold off to the next-in-line suck-errr... buyer.
I want the little club to triumph by being a well-run, financially-conservative club with an eye to longevity whose top-flight status is not a perennial question. Maybe that's too much to ask. Maybe FIFA's much-needed and more-equitable Financial Fair Play rules phasing in over the 2012, '13, and '14 seasons will come after the demise of Wigan's top-flight status. At any rate, it's become too much for me to shoulder anymore as a fan and I for my own good I need to change teams. Top level stability is nothing but a predetermined security blanket in the American sports world to the delight of mega-buck owners with little impetus to defend their status and detriment to lovers of a more pure style of competition.
So in looking for a new team, and being faithful to my original tenets of club selection back in 2006 (in order of priority; EPL-level club, non-'Top-4' club, nice looking kits, English-owned, newer to the EPL), I am now a crossroads from which my future EPL fandom will set out.
Option 1. Choose one of the three newly-promoted sides each season to cheer on with survival being the benchmark for success.
Option 2. Pick another club whose chances of survival are significantly greater and meets as many of my original tenets as possible.
Option 3. Get over my own limits, grab a big club, and bandwagon it like everybody else.
Here's where you, my beloved readers, come in:
I am open to your input, so you therefore will help determine what my decision will be.
Give me your selection of the three Options above in my comments section below. The most-popular suggestion will showdown with my personal favorite option to determine the system for selecting my next EPL club.