Champions League – Wow

30 08 2007
The word League in the title of the competition always seemed a little incongruous to me, wasn’t it a cup? However it’s presence seems to be more relevant after today’s draw. The same teams seem to be qualifying each year, the usual suspects from England and Spain, both Milan clubs, Lyon, etc etc. Roughly the same teams play in this competition each year, a league in any other language. It is, to quote the great Homer “Boring!!!!!”.

I yearn for the old times. I want to see grainy pictures, I want to hear less than clear commentaries from Eastern Europe, I want a flashing R with replays, I want different advertising boards so that you actually feel that you are watching football from another country. Above all I want uncertainty and unfamiliarity. We used to get more of a surprise; We had Borussia Dortmund winning in 1997 (I know that Porto and Liverpool won in a surprising fashion but they were aberrations), we had Sampdoria in the final in 1992, we had Aberdeen and Lahti in the Quarters in 1986, we even had Dundee United in the semis in 1984. What have we got now; an over-branded and over-hyped behemoth with few genuine surprises.
It’s no secret why the same clubs keep getting in; money. In other words the copious amounts of prize money they’re awarded. It reinforces and even exacerbates the differences between the clubs that qualify for the Champions League and those less than legendary clubs that can only enter the feeble UEFA Cup, never mind the gap those clubs not even good enough to qualify for European competition or even in a lower division.
The Rich Clubs Closed Shop, the G14, has been making dissatisfied noises for couple of years. Federations must pay players during competitions; federations must pay compensation for injuries sustained; we must have a European Super League; we must maximise income. UEFA seemed to be scared of this group, so scared that they cave in to their demands.

The power of these clubs has to be lessened. Imagine if this Super League is instituted then its existence might damage the present structure of football in Europe, a system that has grown organically from local communities to Europe-wide competition via national leagues. Some may argue that the Super League is the local conclusion of this process but they would probably be the owners. These are not the owners of yesteryear, people who were certainly rich but also more paternal. The modern owners are unafraid of using a club to maximise income. David Dein anyone. If that means playing Barcelona twice a year instead of Portsmouth then that’s what they’ll do, especially if they originate from outside the country of the club. Hopefully Monsieur Platini can help put a stop to this, if not this tendency then at least my boredom.

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