First and foremost, this is a wild stab at a
hypothetical scenario that will never occur. What if the English Premier League conducted an annual draft for teams to replenish their ranks from? How would it work? How would the teams that lost players be compensated? Why would this be a thing? These are all questions you might have right now.
Therefore, let's introduce the premises. Without a pool of unattached talent like what's available across the pond for American franchises to draft into their ranks, the teams of the Football League will be where the players are poached from. Only one player can be taken per team, and teams that qualify for automatic promotion or the promotion playoffs in any league are exempt from the draft.
Since the Premier League is the top flight of the English football pyramid, they will be the ones to reap the spoils from clubs lower on the food chain. Like an American draft, the team that finishes worst in the league will receive the worst pick. Well, not exactly. There will only be 17 picks in this draft. See, the bottom three teams will be relegated, and therefore cannot participate in the draft, as the clubs will not be playing in top division competition the following season. Sorry, but Villa are out. Luckily, the FA decided that their players aren't draft eligible to spare adding insult to injury. They'll lose enough to vulturing clubs in the summer.
The reason for this is that it makes tanking redundant. Toeing the line between the top selection that comes with finishing in the dubious position of 17th and relegation which never is far away--just one spot lower--at 18th is a risk that no sane person would take. So let's take the (current) table positions of Premier League clubs to determine the draft order, and then select a player for them!
1. Sunderland: Just ahead of Norwich on goal difference, Sunderland are first on the clock. With the top pick in the draft, they're looking at striking options and central defenders. The Black Cats have decided to go for a forward, and it's Moussa Dembélé, the 19-year-old French frontman from Fulham. He's got 15 goals to his name this season.
2. Crystal Palace: The Eagles could really use a goalkeeper, but it's probably better to spend money on one than draft one. They also need major help up top, so it will be another forward off the board at number two. Crystal Palace selects Nahki Wells from Huddersfield. Wells has netted 17 times this year, but can he cut it at Selhurst Park?
3. Swansea City: Unable to replace Jonjo Shelvey in midfield since selling him to Newcastle, the Swans will be looking to improve in that area. Alan Judge of Brentford is a perfect fit. He can control the midfield and chip in with goals too. They hope.
4. Bournemouth: The Cherries need help at centre back, and badly. They'll take a chance on Tom Lees of Sheffield Wednesday.
5. West Bromwich Albion: Tony Pulis could use a dynamic attacker to bolster his side, so he's decided to go with Tjaronn Chery of QPR, linked with Villa last summer before moving to London from FC Groningen. He's scored 10 and assisted four this season.
6. Watford: The Hornets will be angry at West Brom for selecting a QPR player, as they'd have liked Massimo Luongo from QPR. Maybe they should have traded up. They settle for Aron Gunnarsson from Cardiff, a 27-year-old Icelandic central midfielder.
7. Everton: Everton are on the clock, and they have plenty of needs. With John Stones leaving, central defence is most pressing and they select the Grant Hanley of Blackburn Rovers, a 24-year-old centre back.
8. Stoke City: Breaking the mold and selecting the most valuable player on the board are Stoke City, taking Britt Assombalogna from Nottingham Forest. He's only made two appearances (playing seven whole minutes) in the Championship this season following a knee operation, but shows promise at striker, having scored 15 times for Peterborough in the FLC in 14/15.
9. Chelsea: With an army of youth talent already at their disposal, Chelsea don't make a selection.
10. Southampton: The first side to dip into League One, Southampton select Che Adams, 19, of Sheffield United.
11. Liverpool: The Reds are taking a chance, and spring for Jonson Clarke-Harris of Rotherham United, aged just 21. He's scored six times in 34 appearances, and will probably be loaned out instantly.
12. West Ham: With a host of ageing centre backs, the Hammers select Tommy Smith, 26, from Ipswich town.
13. Manchester United: We're down to the last five picks. United go with Gaël Bigirimana from Coventry City.
14. Arsenal: Arsenal select Callum Robinson of Preston North End with the 14th pick in the 2016 EPL Draft.
15. Manchester City: The Citizens draft James Henry of Wolverhampton Wanderers, because he's English.
16. Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs are on the clock. They've chosen Devante Cole from Fleetwood Town, who has experience playing for the England youth national teams, but is also eligible to play for Jamaica.
17. Leicester City: With the final pick in the draft, Leicester City select Chris Gunter from Reading FC. Mr. Irrelevant, if you will.
Note: Burnley, Middlesbrough, Brighton, Hull City, Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday from the Championship are ineligible as they are in automatic promotion or playoff spots. MK Dons, Charlton and Bolton are out, since they're going down. From League One; Wigan, Burton Albion, Walsall, Millwall, Bradford City and Barnsley need not concern themselves with losing a player, as they're in the promotion hunt too.
My methodology was to try to find a weak area of the team and find players that could theoretically slot into the first eleven or at least be in the squad, rather than just taking the most valuable or highest rated player available. The teams that lost players would be compensated by the club that drafted their players. They'ed be paid the player's current Transfermarkt market value, or the value the team most recently paid for them, whichever is higher. Teams also can pass on picks.
Furthermore, this could be expanded by having a foreign player draft, however, that would require compliance by all leagues which is certainly impossible. But if so, that could allow a second round to take place. Or, the Championship could pluck from League One, and so on and so forth.
What do you think? Would you like to see this implemented or have it as a one-off event just to see what happens? Let us know in the comments!