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The Mediocrities’ League

4 Mar 10 | Re: Reminder of pointlessness of stupid competition

Here’s a good opportunity to plug the excellent Back of the Net News that has been linked in my handy sidebar for a while: this article about the Champions League might not be the funniest piece ever posted on there but it does get straight to the heart of the matter. The Champions League has been messed up for so long that it’s easy to forget just how infuriatingly ill-conceived it is.

What is the point of having a Champions League that is stuffed full of teams that aren’t champions of anything? I have no interest in a competition that features the same cartel of teams from Spain, England and Italy every single year, regardless of whether they’ve won anything or not the previous season. I want to see a quarter final stage with eight teams from eight countries, where Slovan Bratislava have a chance of going on a decent run if they play well in a given year and happen to be drawn against Rangers. The current format doesn’t allow that.

You’ll notice that the World Cup is set up so that a set number of teams from Asia and Africa have to qualify, even if they’re not actually quite as good as the European or South American sides. This is because it’s the WORLD Cup, and it would look pretty stupid if what was supposed to be a global tournament was contested by 23 teams from Europe, 7 teams from South America, 1 from Africa and the USA who will always find a way to qualify from now until kingdom come no matter how appalling they are. However UEFA has no qualms about a so-called European tournament that is fought out between England, Italy, Spain and Portugal (or in the later stages England, England, England and England) so long as it brings in the maximum cash possible. Never mind that UEFA is primarily meant to be promoting football in Europe, if it’s a choice between that and cash for Man United and Real Madrid, cash comes first.

Finally, letting the top four Premiership teams into what is meant to be an elite competition every year can only be having a detrimental effect on the English game. As the superb Harry Pearson has pointed out, it can be no wonder that England can’t get past the semis of a major tournament, when all our players are conditioned to see a top-four finish as the acme of footballing achievement.

If it was changed, obviously Liverpool would moan about not being included, but there’s an answer to that: play better and win the league once in a while if you’re the big club you claim to be. It might even give them the incentive they need to do that. I support Spurs and I still say that rewarding 4th place with the highest prize helps no one - I would much rather finish 4th and go into the UEFA Cup, which would itself be far more credible if all the big sides weren’t playing in their own closed-off round robin every year.

Posted by MARTIN HOLE at 18:37

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