Champions For Change!
Tomorrow is the 9th of July. Happy Retaking of Vows Day to Mr and Mrs CELTICROLLERCOASTER!!!! Only time I’ve ever been to such a ceremony,and a smashing day for one and all it was too. Though I did attend a couple’s second marriage after they’d been divorced for about ten years- not sure that counts! But I digress. Tomorrow sees the start of our season. Yep,9th of July and the fitba’s back!
Three weeks off work for our players,and it’s putting a huge strain on them. Callum McGregor for instance-he played 69 games last season,including internationals. And he gets three lousy weeks to recuperate? Not so long ago there was a three MONTH break,near enough,between the seasons. And as I said the other day,Celtic only played 46 games in 81/82-and that included six sectional League Cup games and the European Cup.
Ah,the European Cup. Remember it? When you took your chances on the draw,you could get the champions of Luxembourg or the champions of Italy? We got Juventus that year,papped oot in the first round despite beating Platini et al at Celtic Park. Now? Well,we have four bloody qualifiers to play before we get a chance at that level. Win yer league,play four qualifiers. Come fourth in your league,don’t play any qualifiers at all.
Madness. Money-driven madness. So how did it come to this,and why am I talking about it?
A lot of the problem is geo-political. In the days of the Lisbon Lions,there were only 30 member associations. Add the holders and in the first round,one team got a bye.
Now there are 55 members. So an extra round and nine byes,no? Not a chance. It’s eight groups of four,six games in each per team. And it’s open to non-champions. Loads of them-in fact you’ll be lucky if there’s a dozen domestic champions in The Champions League these days. Greed has become the mantra. Greed has become the driving force. Your admission to the Champions League is a variable depending on how big and how rich your country is.
Of those 32 places,one goes to the holders. Not a problem there. Then the five biggest countries get four each! Add in the holders of the Europa League and the winners of the next-four highest rated countries,and the champions of more than 80% of member countries are scrapping it out for a disgraceful SIX places. And that can include the likes of,for instance,Ajax,who made it to the semi-finals last season before losing to a rather fortunate Tottenham.
So,it’s not The Champions League. It’s the big boys league,and it is designed to keep the big boys getting bigger. And that’s just wrong. It goes entirely against the ethos of rewarding sporting excellence. It means that Barcelona can have a turnover approaching half a billion while Dundee United-who have never lost to Barcelona in European competition-can’t even achieve 1% of that total. It’s wrong.
It was MICK WHELAN who prompted this article. He’s mightily miffed about the whole arrangement too. He mailed me suggesting I did an article about the inequity of it all,and gave his thoughts on how to change things.
I have been thinking for some time about the unfairness of the Champions league. It’s simple enough to put the 3rd and 4th placed teams in the so called big leagues into the qualifying rounds this would create 8 places for the winners of the so called smaller leagues and the bigger leagues would still have a great chance of qualifying. I was hoping that if the Celtic blogs went with the idea that clubs like Ajax Celtic might try and push the idea through the G14. (It was suggested that) I put my thoughts on an Email to you and that you might put flesh on the bones and make appealing to the general support. Thanks,Mick Whelan
Well,Mick. Two teams for each of the top five leagues,plus the two holders. That’s twelve,leaving twenty places. I’d suggest ten to a Champions Route and ten to a non-Champions group.
Politically that would be wise as it still allows the possibility of the Big Five having four teams each. Don’t forget,of course,that these teams think they are so important to the group stages that they demand to be there by right. So it surely shouldn’t be a difficulty to qualify then? After all,if they are concerned about not being good enough to qualify,why do they think they are good enough for the group stages? They are clearly bringing nothing to the party in terms of sporting excellence. And they know it!
It would also mean that at least fifteen teams in the group stages were domestic champions and would provide a wider distribution of the prize pool amongst the minor European Leagues.
Every country with at least one representative gets around €5m,remember. That is a vital cash supplement in many countries. Bate Barisov,for example,had been regulars at the table for years before the latest carve up. Belarus is one of the poorest countries in Europe,might well be the poorest in fact. That €5m would have been a godsend. Those thieving greedy fatcat basturts in Madrid,London,Milan etc CGAF.
They CGAF about the wider game either. They are viewing this as a long-term self-survival policy. The big teams in the big countries have let the genie out of the bottle with spiralling transfer fees and player salaries. They know that it is unsustainable. So,if by their own stupidity and self-importance they can no longer control costs,then they must control income. And The Champions League is the biggest income driver available to them. It’s all about money,it’s all about monopolising it for the few and to hell with the rest of you.
Think about it. Most countries have a top two and a regular third team scrapping it out nowadays. Two or three teams might be in the fray to hang on to their coat tails. But the days of a Cloughie Forest,a McLaren FC Twente,even outliers like Leicester are a thing of the past. I remember Celtic being knocked out of Europe by Alberto’s Real Sociedad. It might happen again-but not in The Champions League.
The big teams are on a road to utter domination of the sport,and I fear it will wreck it. They are operating a cartel,with the full co-operation of UEFA. Mick Whelan is right. This must be stopped,and parity returned to our game.
Football is nothing without supporters. It is also nothing without reward for sporting excellence. It is nothing at all if you can’t play with the big boys.
Above article by BMCUWP. But only thanks to the welcome thoughts offered by MICK WHELAN. If you would like to see your thoughts on just about anything posted as Article of the Day,mail it to Mahe.
As above,if you would like us to explore a topic for you,do what MICK did. We are grateful for all and any input.