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Is there a Big 6 bias in the Premier League Hall of Fame shortlist?

Posted by john smith on

So the next round of nominations for the "Premier League Hall of Fame" have been announced.

Before I start, I must say I am not a fan. It feels very American and is another attempt to ignore the century of football that went before the Premier League. That National Football Museum have their own list which delves properly into our great games history.

The nominations for the 2023 inductees are:

One thing every player on this list has in common is they all played for the "Big 6". And this has led some to say "Big 6 bias again". 

So why is there a Big 6 bias?

The simple answer is if you are a top Premier League player, you have probably played for at least one of the Big 6 at some point in your career.

Whilst winning the Premier League does not define a players induction, it does play a huge part. And as the Big 6 have won all bar 2 of the 30 Premier League titles, it makes sense that their former players are over-represented.

Of the 16 inductees thus far, 15 played for a Big 6 side. The only man that did not was Alan Shearer.

But Shearer played for Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers (as well as Southampton).

With Blackburn, he won the Premier League, and also finished 2nd, 4th and 7th before joining Newcastle for a world record fee. Newcastle, meanwhile, finished 2nd in his first season. You could argue that during this period, Manchester United, Blackburn and Newcastle were a Big 3. Time moves on.

And Les Ferdinand is another great example.

Ferdinand is one of this years nominees. He is in there for his exploits Newcastle and QPR. Yes, he played for Spurs, but they were certainly not a "Big 6" side during that period.

Ferdinand played for Spurs from 1997-2003. They finished higher than 10th just once in the 7 seasons.

If I was to ask you "name a player who did not play for a Big 6 side who should be nominated?" it would probably get your head scratching.

My mind went to Gareth Barry; the Premier League record appearance holder. then I remembered he spent 5 years at Manchester City.

Just one player in the top 20 Premier League appearances did not play for a Big 6 side - Gary Speed. And he is worthy inclusion. But also never won the Premier League title.

Aaron Hughes, Kevin Davies, Shearer, Jussi Jaaskelinen, Gareth Southgate, Leighton Baines and Mark Noble  are the only other non-Big 6 players in the top 40

Can anyone say Hughes or Southgate deserve to be in there ahead of Tony Adams, Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry or Nemanja Vidic? Or Kevin Davies ahead of Andy Cole, Jermain Defoe, Les Ferdinand, Robbie Fowler or Michael Owen.

Baines ahead of Ashley Cole? Noble ahead of Michael Carrick or Yaya Toure? I think not.

Petr Cech (most clean sheets in Premier League history) surely deserves to be inducted before Jaaskelinen?

Whilst we are talking about clean sheets, Nigel Martyn is the keeper with the most clean sheets who did not play for a Big 6 side. He has the 6th most clean sheets in the league. Top 5 are Cech, David James, Mark Schwarzer, David de Gea and David Seaman.

The only other two goal keepers in the top 20 who did not play for a Big 6 side were Jaaskelinen and Thomas Sorenson. Lukas Fabianski is 20th. He played for Arsenal.

Shearer is the all time top scorer. Already inducted.

Behind him is Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Andy Cole (Manchester United) and Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).

Jamie Vardy is the only man in the top 20 who did not play for a Big 6 side. And he won the Premier League. but he is also still playing and one of the requirements is you must be retired.

Dion Dublin is 24th, but he played for Manchester United. Darren Bent 30th. Played for Spurs.

The first non-Big 6 eligable player you get to in the top scorers chart is Matthew Le Tissier. He is 33rd.

Le Tissier certainly has the credentials to be a Hall of Famer, but he is a very controversial individual right now. Can understand why he has been excluded. He is also the first "Assist King" to not play for a Big 6 club - Le Tissier has the 19th most assists in the Premier League. Nobby Solano is the only other man in the top 20 who did not play for a Big 6 side.

So is there a Big 6 bias? Well yes, but it is very hard to make a case for someone else to be ahead of any of those mentioned, bar Gary Speed.

And lets role forward 5 years. Newcastle have won 2 league titles and it is now a Big 7. The induction list contains Gary Speed, who played for Newcastle. I imagine fans will be saying "Big 7 bias".

The likes of Speed, Baines, Coleman, Vardy, Le Tissier, Martyn and more were (and in Coleman and Vardy's case still are) fantastic players. But Speed aside you would struggle to make a case for any of them to be nominated above those names today.

Enjoy your Friday.