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Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter believes it has become ‘close to impossible’ for one of the Premier League’s outsiders to challenge to the firmly established big six at the top of the table.
While Leicester’s remarkable title triumph in the 2015/16 season confirmed miracles are possible in the Premier League, Ireland star Arter has told Yahoo Sport that the gap between the elite six teams in English football and chasing pack is now to wide to breach.
In a summer when top flight new boys Wolves and Fulham have both spent in excess of £20m on individual transfers this summer, Arter suggests the giants of the game are now in a league of their own, leaving the rest to fight for the scraps and avoid relegation from the richest league in world football.
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“The divide between the top six and the rest is massive now,” begins Arter, in an exclusive interview. “That gap was big five years ago, but it has probably got even bigger now because those big six clubs have resources and revenues the rest simply cannot compete with for a variety of reasons.
“Some of them have big money investors, the Champions League money is huge for English teams now with the BT Sport deal and it means they can spend £100m on a player if he ticked all the boxes for them.
“Liverpool have just spent £70m on a goal keeper and that was impossible to imagine not so long ago, so a team outside of the top six have no chance of competing with that.
“We saw Leicester pull of a miracle a couple of years back when they somehow won the Premier League, but I think that was a a one-off that will never happen again in my view. For those players to achieve that, they should be proud of it forever.
“It would take something magical for a club like Bournemouth to break into the top six now. In fact, I would go as far as to say that any team breaking into the top six this season would be as good an achievement as Leicester winning it in many ways. Those top six are in a league of their own now.
“The aim for everyone is to finish seventh, eighth and have a go at getting into Europe. Burnley are the model for what we are all striving for after they finished seventh last season and that is a realistic target for a club like Bournemouth.”
Arter is benefitting from the biggest financial explosion in the history of the English game, with the lucrative contract he signed at Bournemouth last summer making him one of the club’s biggest earners and securing his future for life.
Even though Bournemouth are operating in a stadium boasting a capacity that would not look out of place in the League of Ireland, they can still pay their biggest earner Jermain Defoe £100,000-a-week in a game of real life fantasy football that shows no sign of slowing down.
“When you see clubs like Bournemouth spending tens of millions on a single player, the people making those decisions clearly believe that level of spending is sustainable,” continues Arter.
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“The TV deals are funding the game at the moment and the explosion we have seen in the transfer fees and wages has been on an upward spiral for so long now, but I’m glad I’m not working in the commercial side of a football club because the numbers they are dealing with would scare me.
“Clubs in the bottom half of the league are signing up to transfer fees and wages packages that are just extraordinary and while it is a great time to be a player, it is frightening to see the kind of money that is going into the game.
“We are still seeing newly promoted clubs spending £20m and £30m to sign a player and that is maybe what you need to spend now just to stay in the Premier League.
“These are crazy times, but it’s not new to have three or four big teams at the top of the table dominating everyone else. The difference now is that the top six look set to stay that way for the next few years.
“They are setting the mark for the rest to follow and the dream for any young kid in Ireland or England is to make their way through the ranks and get into a position where they have earned the right to be at a top club.
“Everyone reaches a stage in their careers when they realise they are not going to reach the very top and they accept that. When you play against the very best, you appreciate that maybe you won’t get to that level, but the talented ones coming through have to aspire to play for one of the top six clubs and Tottenham and Liverpool have given kids opportunities to play in their first team in the last few years and they have taken it.
“That proves it is still possible to play for those top clubs if you are good enough.”